Razor burn may not get the highest score on the pain-o-meter compared to all other unpleasant side effects of shaving, but it definitely wins for being the most pervasive and unsightly. Anyone who has ever shaved a body part—man or woman, face or legs—has experienced some form of razor burn, and frankly, it’s never pretty.
But it doesn’t have to be this way—we swear.
Getting a great shave without feeling like you need a bucket of aloe vera and an xxl-sized roll of gauze is possible. With a few changes to your morning shave routine you can make painful bumpy and red skin go away.
Why it’s a drag: According to Dr. Vincent Deleo, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, razor burn shares the same irritable source as dry skin, namely the friction created by dragging a sharpened piece of metal across your face.
A dull blade—like the last of those expensive blades you’ve been milking since you bought them way back in June—can exacerbate the effect because older, duller blades require additional pressure to shave your stubble, and more pressure equals more friction. It’s simple science, folks.
Make it Go Away: First, use a great exfoliant before you shave to clear any gunk causing roadblocks for your razor. Second, Shave gently—as mentioned above, pressure causes friction, and friction causes razor burn. If you’re unsure if you’re doing it right, take a look at our guide to the perfect shave.
Finally, creating a protective, moisturizing barrier between your skin and the elements is crucial, so don’t skimp on a good shave cream. Look for something without propellants like Butane, Isobutane and Propane, ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin.
Razor burn is not inevitable. If you prepare your skin, use a fresh blade and avoid problem ingredients, it’s easily preventable. Save the pain for the more rigorous part of your regimen.