how to prevent razor bumps on face

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How To Prevent Razor Bumps On Face

When men shave, they take part in a time-honored tradition of hygiene and grooming as far back as prerecorded history. Most of us learned to shave from our fathers, uncles, or older brothers, who themselves passed the ritual down through countless generations. Along the way, we may have picked up some bad habits or methods that don’t work on our skin. If you are having trouble with bumps, burns, or irritation while shaving, follow these instructions for healthier, smoother skin.


Shaving to Prevent Bumps

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    Take a hot shower or wash your face with warm water. A hot shower with frequent face scrubbing will cleanse your pores more thoroughly than splashing water on your face a few times, but sometimes the snooze button wins that morning time struggle. Use soap and warm water if you’re washing your face. This will soften the hair and remove any grime or bacteria that clogs pores and leads to bumps.

    • This also opens the pores and cleanses the skin (it has to be warm, though). Not only will you be working to eliminate the bumps, you’ll get a closer, cleaner shave, too.
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    Use a pre-shave oil. A pre-shave oil is optional, but using some will add another layer of protection by moisturizing the skin and getting the hair to stand straighter off the skin. The straighter it is, the less likely it is to curl, grow in your skin, and form bumps. (This is why those with curly, coiled hair get razor bumps more commonly.)

    • Oddly enough, you can find pre-shave oils at health food stores. But don’t eat it. It’s made of silicone and is just used to cut down on friction and soften your hairs.[1]
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    Use shaving cream to work up a thick lather over the hair. The thicker, the better. Never shave dry! Some men find lathering up easier to do with a shaving brush. Reapply for every additional pass of the razor.

    • Choosing shaving cream is usually a matter of personal taste. However, the better creams on the market are glycerin-based and contain these ingredients: aqua, stearic acid, myristic acid, coconut acid, sodium and potassium hydroxides, and triethanolamine. It’s best to avoid benzocaine and menthol, as those are both rather pore-clogging.[1]
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    Always use a clean, sharp blade. A dull or dirty blade will cut your skin more often than a sharp one will. Replace your blade frequently, especially if you shave often. Cleaning the blade and removing any hair will extend the life of the blade. A blade with rust should be discarded immediately.

    • You can extend the life of your razor by taking good care of it. Wash out any hair trapped in the blades, but don’t leave it wet — the water will wear down the blades.
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    Shave with the grain. That is, in the direction your hair grows. You may think shaving up or against the grain gives you a closer shave, but cutting the hair this way changes the way it grows back, increasing your risk of razor bumps and ingrown hair.

    • Use light pressure. Pressing the razor too hard against the face or shaving the same patch in multiple strokes will cause irritation.
    • Don’t stretch the skin! For your pubic area this may be necessary, but your beard will do just fine on its own, thanks.
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    Take care of your shaving brush. You may think that the only culprit when it comes to razor bumps is, namely, your razor, but your shaving brush can be a bad guy, too. Make sure it’s clean when you’re done with it to prevent bacteria from starting their own little colony on your brush.

    • Hang it bristles downward so it drains after you’re finished using it. The shape of the brush will stay more intact, but you’ll also cut down on bacteria, cutting down on razor bumps.[1] Everybody wins! Well, except the bacteria.
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    Rinse off the shaving cream with cold water. Warm water opens your pores, which makes it easier for the razor to get the hair. Cold water closes your pores and makes it more difficult for bacteria to get inside. You started with warm water, right? So finish with cold.

    • You can also press a cold, wet cloth against your face for five minutes to really seal the deal. Really, the more time you take, the better.
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    Rub the area with an alum block. That’s a bar that kind of looks like soap, but can be used as a blood coagulant. This can be purchased online or at any specialty shaving store and is more effective than cold water alone in closing open pores. This step is optional, but many men prefer to use one.

    • They are especially useful healing accidental cuts. If you get a quick nick, moisten the block and apply it to the area. It works as an antiseptic![1]
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    Apply aftershave. Either a splash of lotion or a smear of balm. Choose a product that has a scent you enjoy. Using aftershave will help prevent infection. If you’re more of the Chuck Norris/MacGyver type, why don’t you make it yourself? But it’s best not to use gasoline as aftershave like Chuck Norris does.

    • This step is imperative to restoring moisture to your skin. Go for an alcohol-free one to stay derma-hydrated. If that wasn’t a word, it sure is now.
      • You may wish to choose a product specifically made for sensitive skin. If you know yours reacts to everything under the sun, spend another dollar or two to go for the good stuff.


Shaving Your Pubic Area

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    Trim it. If you’re growing the Forbidden Forest down there, your razor doesn’t stand a chance. Trim the hairs to about 1/4″ (.6 cm) before you go near the blade. Don’t wanna use scissors? No one will blame you, that’s for sure. Electric clippers are like the sippy cups of pubic hair trimming. Use them to avoid snipping your skin.

    • It doesn’t have to be even and pretty, it just has to be short. Make sure to check the hard-to-reach areas too!
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    Soak it. If you took the time to read the above sections on beard grooming, this is the exact same process. You want to soak the hair follicles in warm or hot water to open up your pores. They’ll be more receptive to shaving, resulting in smoother skin.

    • You can do this a number of ways. First off, the shower or bath is your best bet. The more time you spend under the water, the better. However, you could also take a wet washrag to the area if you’re pressed for time.
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    Exfoliate the area. Thought that one was coming later, didn’t you? If you want to get rid of the top layer of dead skin (relax, everybody has it) and align your hairs (both things aiding in a closer, better shave), you’ll exfoliate now. Just your normal shower gel will work fine!
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    Lather up generously. Gentlemen, hate to break it to you, but you may want to swallow your pride and grab your girlfriend’s shaving cream. Generally speaking, women’s shaving cream is better for sensitive areas and doesn’t contain any harsh perfumes.[2] If you can handle the pink container, you’ll be better off.

    • Don’t use the same stuff you used on your face, if you can help it. Choose a product that’s specifically made for pubic hair shaving (namely, scent-free). As you probably well know, your face is a completely different canvas than what’s down there.
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    Stretch the area taut and shave away. Your (new) razor needs a smooth, even surface, so stretch it taut and shave with the grain to prevent irritation and razor bumps. Yeah, yeah, yeah — shaving against the grain will get you closer — but that’s not what this article is about. If you really wanna avoid the bumps, you’ll shave with the grain.

    • Use a good razor. Throw out the ones you use every few shaving sessions. They just dull and do a poor job after too long (and can actually lead to spreading bacteria, creating bumps and burn). Treat yours right by rinsing all the hair off and drying it when you’re done — water will erode away the metal.
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    Exfoliate again. Now that your skin has been scalped and left to its own devices, it’s time to exfoliate once more. With your normal soap (so you know it doesn’t burn), rub down the area. You’ll realign the hairs, wipe away the excess dead skin particles that were brought up by shaving, and unblock any clogged pores. Win to the third degree!

    • If you must choose one exfoliating process to do, choose this one. You don’t want to leave your follicles all over the place, allowing for ingrown hairs and bacteria to spread. All that work for nothing!
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    Pat dry and moisturize. Now that the hard part is done, it’s simply time to dry off and moisturize. Don’t rub the area too hard as that may irritate it, but do pat it with a dry towel. Then, hit the unscented lotion, aloe vera, or baby oil. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, remember.

    • Do not go for aftershave. Do you want an ambulance to be called? Stick to alcohol-free, unscented creams and lotions. Baby oil is good if you’re not planning on having sex after, as it can deteriorate latex condoms.[2]
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    Wear loose clothing. You know when you wear tight clothes to the gym, sometimes after all the sweat and exercising, you get a few pimples? Well, loose clothing might’ve prevented that and the same goes for razor bumps. The area needs to breathe as much as possible — aka a great excuse for sweatpants.

    • This actually goes for your beard, too, if you keep clothing around your face. On the off chance you’re wearing scarves or turtlenecks to cover up the bumps, know that this could actually be making it worse!


Treating and Preventing Future Bumps

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    Shave less often. Not the sage wisdom you were hoping for, eh? But straight up, the less you shave, the less the top layer of skin from your face has to get ripped up and torn apart. If you can skip a day, do so. Your skin will thank you for it.

    • If you have razor bumps already, give ’em a chance to heal! Skip a few days of shaving to let them do their thing. You won’t have to grow a hobo beard (but if you could, that’d also be useful), but do grow some stubble. They’ll work themselves out.
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    Apply heat to the razor bumps. If you had a few razor bumps from before you embarked upon this safe, smooth, bump-free journey, wet a washrag with hot water and keep it on your bumps (your lovely lady bumps) for 5-10 minutes. This will open up the pore and kill the bacteria, which makes the bumps redden and more swollen.
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    Use glycolic acid cream to relieve preexisting bumps. You can find some at most pharmacies. Salicylic acid is also effective. Apply it immediately after shaving and again before bed. You may experience a bit of stinging, but it should subside almost immediately.[1]

    • In a pinch, aloe vera or hydrocortisone should also help. These products are a little easier to find in your mom’s/sister’s/roommate’s medicine cabinet, huh?
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    Don’t pick at them! Kinda like asking you to not look at a car crash, huh? But try your hardest. They may look like acne, but they’re actually irritations that can get infected. Mixing in your finger oils won’t make the situation any better.[3]

    • Don’t rub them either. When in doubt, stay away. They’ll go away with time. Patience, young Jedi.

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