Shaving rash can be a painful and irritating effect of shaving. The more sensitive your skin, the more likely you are to suffer and the more painful it can be. However, don’t despair; there are ways to stop shaving rash from happening. This includes modifying your shaving technique, your razor and razor blades, the shaving cream, aftershave and other products that you use to aid your shave.
What Causes Shaving Rash?
Shaving rash, also known as razor burn, is irritation after a shave. It has a red appearance with bumps and spots. There are two main reasons this occurs. Number one: when the hair follicles -- where the hairs grow from -- become inflamed or infected. This produces red bumps that are itchy and unpleasant. Number two: ingrown hairs. These are when a hair that has previously been cut grows beneath the skin. Rather than breaking through, they curl up and cause a red and itchy bump.
Shaving rash happens after a shave when the razor blade damages the skin and hair follicles. It’s very easy for infection to occur when the skin is damaged. If you shave while you’re still suffering from shaving rash, you can cut the bumps and exacerbate the issue. This can lead to further infection and, in more severe cases, scarring.
Don’t fret. Here are some simple tips on how to stop shaving rash that will both minimise the chances of it occurring and help your damaged skin recover.
How to Prevent Shaving Rash
There are several steps you can take before you shave to minimise the chances of shaving rash. Most of these also help produce a closer shave and keep your skin looking and feeling much healthier overall.
Exfoliating removes dead skin particles and helps prevent hairs from curling under the skin and becoming ingrown. You can find a range of exfoliating soaps. You don’t need to exfoliate every day, but a few times a week is more than enough to ensure your skin is healthy and free from detritus. Be careful not to scrub your skin too hard, as that can remove important oils. One of the benefits of a shaving brush is that it helps to gently exfoliate the skin pre-shave.
It’s also important that you keep your shaving equipment clean. Because brushes and razors are kept in the damp environment of a bathroom, bacteria can grow very easily. If they are not maintained, the tools can spread bacteria onto your skin, increasing the chances of infection. Rinse and dry your razor after each use and ensure there is no soap buildup in hard to reach areas, such as the hole in the handle where the screw thread of the top plate connects. For your brush, a good rinse with warm water following the shave is usually all that is required. A stand for your shaving brush will allow excess water to run off, keeping the hairs clean and dry. If you have had a razor blade for a long time, you could disinfect the metal with boiling water. However, we would recommend simply changing the blade frequently. Not only will this help keep your equipment clean, a sharp blade also ensures a better quality shave!
Shaving Cream and Soap
Using a high quality shaving cream or soap creates a slick texture on your skin, enabling the blade to glide more easily. A smooth, frictionless shave will minimise irritation and therefore reduce the likelihood of developing shaving rash. Avoid the stuff in pressurised cans.
If you have sensitive skin, you’ll develop rashes more easily than many other people. Use products that are especially formulated for sensitive skin. These usually have less ingredients, meaning they are more gentle on your face and so will minimise negative reactions to shaving creams, soaps, and your overall shave. Read our guide on how to spring clean your routine for some extra tips!
Your razor blade
It’s also important to keep your razor blade as sharp as possible. In the same way that quality shaving creams create a slick texture, a sharp blade keeps the shave smooth and consistent. It minimises friction and helps prevent irritation.
Post-Shave Tips for Shaving Rash
To stop shaving rash developing from infected hair follicles, it’s important to treat the skin with a disinfectant after shaving. This should prevent a flare up of razor burn. Applying an aftershave is a standard practice to disinfect any damaged skin. It’s important to note that you might not be able to see damage with the naked eye until after a rash has developed, so you should apply your aftershave following every shave. All good aftershaves will have disinfectant properties. You can also find ones designed for sensitive skin, such as the Proraso aftershave balm. The old-school method is a quick treatment with an alum block or styptic pencil.
How to Deal with Shaving Rash
We also have a range of products intended to help your skin repair after damage. If you’re already suffering from shaving rash or razor burn, skin repair and protection creams encourage healing.
If your skin is bumpy and sore, hold off shaving until the rash has reduced. Otherwise you can cause further, longer-lasting damage by cutting the spots with your razor blade.
In bad cases of shaving rash -- known as folliculitis barbae -- an antibiotic cream can be applied to the skin. Speak to your doctor if you’re suffering from severe or chronic shaving rash or razor burn.