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Shaving can be very hard on your skin, and razor bumps can be enough to tempt even the most adamant daily shavers into growing a beard. According to dermatologist Samer Jaber of Washington Square Dermatology, when we talk about razor bumps, we’re actually talking about ingrown hairs (whose technical term is pseudofolliculitis barbae). As Jaber explains, razor bumps occur when hair essentially grows back into the skin, often triggering an anti-inflammatory reaction which results tiny bumps that can be red and painful. Razor bumps can occur anywhere on the body where you shave, but they’re particularly an issue when men shave their faces, since beard hair tends to be coarser and curlier than hair on other parts of the body. “Thick curly hair is more prone to that inward turning,” explains Jaber, but razor bumps can be an issue no matter your facial-hair type. To find the best things for getting rid of razor bumps when they form, we turned to Jaber and eight other experts. And although a few of them say that the best way to get rid of razor bumps is to “grow a beard,” that isn’t an option for everyone. Thankfully, there are plenty of face scrubs, aftershaves, and spot treatments you can also use, all of which the pros say are actually quite effective.
Best overall way to get rid of razor bumps
Four of the experts we spoke with said using an exfoliating scrub is best way to get rid of razor bumps and ingrown hairs. According to Chad Beightol, the owner of grooming store Consigliere, “ingrown hairs are complicated by the buildup of skin, so you want to focus on removing the dead skin cells. This can be accomplished by a chemical alpha-hydroxy exfoliant like glycolic acid or lactic acid.” The key to choosing a good facial scrub is finding something that is effective but still gentle enough not to make things worse, which is why Jaber also recommends products with glycolic acid, because he says it’s “good for gentle exfoliation.” Beightol agrees, recommending this glycolic facial cleanser from Anthony. It also contains cetyl alcohol, which is one of the key ingredients master barber and education lead at The Shave Barber Company in Atlanta, David Rodriguez, told us to look for. According to Rodriguez, cetyl alcohol is a “fatty alcohol, so it still has the effect of contracting the skin,” but it’s less irritating than other alcohols.
Best (less expensive) exfoliant for getting rid of razor bumps
Echoing Beightol, David Rodriguez says the main cause of ingrown hairs is the buildup of dead skin over the hair follicle. His favorite gentle exfoliant for “removing the dead skin” is this Magic Bump Off scrub, which is formulated with charcoal. As Rodriguez explains, “charcoal has a detoxifying effect, it helps soak up impurities.” He’s a fan of the whole line of Magic products, but he particularly likes the scrub and told us he thinks it’s the best all-purpose treatment for most people. If you have some razor bumps on your face or neck, he recommends using this a day before shaving to prepare the skin. It also lists salicylic acid as an active ingredient, which Jaber says has “antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.”
Best plant-based exfoliant for getting rid of razor bumps
Barber Dreux Martinez of Urbane Blades in Chicago says that if you have sensitive skin and are dealing with ingrown hairs and razor bumps, it’s a good idea to look for for “plant-based” products, because harsher chemicals can often “make things worse.” He says Fresh’s exfoliant is one of the “best I’ve found,” noting that the soy is “very gentle.”
Best cream spot treatment for getting rid of razor bumps
If you want to target razor bumps more directly, a spot treatment might be a better option than a scrub, according to Jaber and David Rodriguez, who both recommend a low-concentration hydrocortisone cream. Jaber told us that a 1-percent hydrocortisone cream like this “will make the redness and inflammation go down” on most standard-issue bumps. But if you’re dealing with an ingrown hair that’s extremely painful, he recommends seeing a dermatologist and considering a steroid injection.
Best liquid spot treatment for getting rid of razor bumps
For those who don’t want to use a cream, Ron Jones of Pall Mall Barbers in New York City and Xavier Rodriguez of Fellow Barber Soho both suggest using an isopropyl-alcohol-based liquid solution like Tend Skin as another spot treatment. It’s highly concentrated, so Jones cautions to use it sparingly, but he says it can be a very effective treatment. “Bacteria forms when hair re-penetrates the skin and goes back in,” he explains, and alcohol-based solutions can “dry out and dissolve” that bacteria. Jones does warn that alcohol can also “dry out your skin if overused,” but he says that if you want something that “works fast,” it’s worth considering something like this. “I can put it on in the morning and by the next evening my face will be smooth,” he says.
Best liquid spot treatment for getting rid of razor bumps on sensitive skin
According to Jaber, Tend Skin “works great for some people, but others might find it really irritating.” If you’ve got more sensitive skin, he recommends using an alcohol-free witch hazel solution like this, which he describes as “a more gentle alternative to Tend Skin” and similar products. It’s not going to be quite as potent, but it’s easier on the skin and less drying, and Jaber says it still has “antiseptic” qualities. David Rodriguez is a fan or witch hazel, too, and suggests it for people who prefer “all-natural” treatment because “witch hazel is a natural anti-inflammatory.” He adds that the best way to apply is to “pat it on” with cotton ball or something similar (you would apply Tend Skin in the same way). “Never rub it in because then you’re aggravating [your skin],” explains Rodriguez.
Best aftershave cream for getting rid of razor bumps
Some of the experts also recommend treatments that are intended to be applied after shaving, when the skin on your face is the most sensitive and prone to developing razor bumps and ingrown hairs. These aftershaves help prevent razor bumps from occurring in the first place, according to the pros, and they can also help get rid of any existing bumps or irritation. Owner of Independence Barber Co., Heather Manto, and Anthony Michael Tapia, master barber at New York City’s Barbiere, both recommended Lucky Tiger’s “vanishing cream” as an aftershave lotion for getting rid of razor bumps. Manto says she prefers this to more traditional aftershaves, and she uses it on clients after straight-razor shaves. “It gives the menthol tingle but nourishes the skin instead of drying it out.” Tapia adds, “it’s really good for treating irritation and razor bumps. This product is 100-percent legit.”
Best aftershave serum for getting rid of razor bumps
If you prefer a facial serum over a cream, Xavier Rodriguez recommends this aftershave from Bump Patrol. It’s meant to be applied post-shave, and it’s designed specifically to clear up razor bumps and ingrown hairs, he says.
Best exfoliating brush for getting rid of razor bumps
Those open to a less conventional approach to getting rid of razor bumps might consider Art of Shaving’s “power brush,” which came recommended by barber Angelo Ruscetta of American Haircuts in Kennesaw, Georgia. He says that this electronic, vibrating brush is great for ingrown hairs “because it exfoliates and softens the skin to let the hair naturally break through.” According to the company, you can use it to prepare your skin before a shave, or can use it on its own, independent of shaving. You apply the included shave gel to your face and then run the power brush over it for about a minute. Then you can layer your regular shaving cream on top and shave, or you could simply rinse the gel residue off with water and call it a day.
Ingrown hairs are the result of whiskers that do a U-turn and grow back into and under the skin, creating a razor bump. The best way to avoid such issues is via regular cleansing and with a targeted face scrub. But that’s all before you shave. What do you do once the damage has been done? How do you get rid of razor bumps and post-shave irritation and redness?
Look for products that fight razor bumps with a one, two punch. Most utilize salicylic or glycolic Acid to exfoliate dead surface cells and free ingrown hairs. They can also heal and calm your skin with soothing ingredients like chamomile and aloe. We’ve rounded up our picks of the best of the best.
More Shaving Guides
Check out our favorite razor bump and ingrown hair fixes if you’re the type to see this problem often. If these aren’t helpful, it might be time to re-evaluate your shaving technique.
We don’t just get razor bumps from shaving–they also come from waxing, clogged pores, and as previously mentioned, ingrown hairs. Relieve yourself of all of those problems and moisturize, too, with the 1-2 punch of SteelMclean’s Parallel rapid smooth bump relief and exfoliant. Parallel does the job using vitamins and medicinal extracts to exfoliate dead skin rapidly leaving smooth, hydrated, and clear skin behind. The brand also notes it works on fine lines and dark spots (and we personally found it to be an effective acne spot treatment as well).
Gilman suggests Grooming Lounge’s very own Shavior. “It uses ingredients that both uproot and dissolve ingrown hairs while calming down tender, persnickety skin”. This award winning treatment is a botanical-loaded lotion that goes to work on razor irritation, bumps and ingrown hairs. Dab it on to spot treat a problem area or slather it on after you shave. This barber-tested formulation will moisturize your skin while infusing it with antioxidants and a tad of sun protection.
This lotion frees skin-trapped ingrown hairs by exfoliating the top layer of dead cells with a combination of 2% Salicylic Acid and Lactic Acid. It reduces razor bumps while dissolving pore-clogging dirt and oils that often lead to acne and blackheads. Aloe Leaf and Organic Chamomile hydrate and soothe irritation.
Anthony For Men also takes a two-step approach easing razor burn and redness. First, Glycolic, Salicylic and Phytic Acids exfoliate the dead skin. The ingrown hairs are set free and the acids go to work killing the bacteria that causes bumps and inflammation. The second step soothes with Willowherb and Lavender calming down the trauma.
Use a cotton ball or your clean fingertips to apply this ingrown hair and razor burn treatment twice a day. It’s great for your face, but you can use it wherever you shave. It’s a mild exfoliation that won’t further traumatize your skin. Ginger Root soothes and helps to absorb excess pore clogging oil while Willow Herb, adds anti-microbial and soothing properties.
Oil and fragrance free with hella masculine packaging, Zirh’s Soothe Gel not only looks industrial, but also offers nearly industrial strength post-shave soothing. Imbued with aloe vera and the anti-inflammatory (and anti-bacterial) Artemisia Umbelliformis Extract, Zirh’s formulated a gel that cools and calms the skin all while reducing redness and those angry bumps.
Razor bumps treatment
Shaving is an art. When pulled off to perfection, any man can achieve the smooth, handsome look of an A-list celebrity. When poorly executed, well, he can butcher his moneymaker to the point where even his Bumble date is convinced that she’s being catfished. A nick here or there on the face is tolerable. But a set of razor bumps laid out across the neck…that is just not a good look.
Despite shaving being an age-old tradition, the mechanics and presentation of it have evolved over the past decade. What was once viewed as nothing more than a daily chore is now a staple for the modern man’s look. It’s all about promoting a clean and blemish-free appearance that complements one’s sophisticated swagger. Yet much of the male population still struggles with this common skin condition due to poor shaving etiquette or for reasons unbeknownst to them.So what exactly causes razor bumps? More so, what the hell are they? According to RealSelf Contributor Dr. Joel Schlessinger, these are ingrown hairs that begin “growing back into the skin instead of growing outward.” Men with curly hair are most prone to this form of inflammation as their threads naturally grow back into the skin, curling inward and creating an irritation effect that can be painful to both look at and have on the skin surface. The development of razor bumps can be attributed to a number of common shaving mistakes including the following:
- Not shaving in the same direction that hair grows
- Pulling on skin when shaving, as cutting hair naturally draws it back into the skin
- Shaving too close since multi-blade razors tend to shave below the skin, therefore creating razor bumps and infections
- Using the same dull blade and not replacing it often
Thank Dr. Schlessinger for dropping knowledge in bullet point form. Still, it’s never too late to switch up your shaving routine and save face, literally. Avoiding and treating razor bumps can be achievable if you follow the right steps. Take notes!
Get Facial Treatments Regularly
Sometimes one must mamper himself. Hitting the spa for a facial actually works wonders for what’s known as pseudofolliculitis barbae. Professional aesthetician Micheline Reboh from the Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa adds insight to this theory stating, “Facials are very soothing and they will relieve any skin irritation caused by razor burns. During the treatment we massage the skin with an oxygenating hydrating mask and then we apply a serum to help treat redness and/or sensitive skin.” She also recommends applying a face mask and moisturiser combo to “further protect skin from the wind” when caught in colder conditions.
Apply Warm And Cold Compresses To The Skin
Steam and water help stimulate your hair follicles, hence why real-deal barbers always press a hot/cold towel to the face before or after they use a straight razor. The reason is that it can help cease irritants. So whether it’s placing ice cubes in a soft linen wrap or soaking a towel in freezing water, heating up a cloth in the bathroom or taking a heat pack to your neck, either technique opens the lane to follow up with a soothing cream or lotion containing gentle ingredients like aloe vera, calamine, and others.
Practice The Right Shaving Techniques
Simply put, go with the flow. Meaning always shave in the same direction that your hair grows. Sure, shaving upwards can lead to smoother results. However, doing it in the opposite direction will reduce the chances and likelihood of hair retracting under the skin.
The end result of shaving against your hair’s growth is razor burn and bumps. It’s also worth noting to never pull skin taut when using a razor since it can cause ingrown hairs to form as well.
Laser Hair Removal
If a woman can get it taken care of down there, no reason why you can’t reciprocate the favour up there. Is laser hair removal a costly procedure? Depends on your budget. Getting your beard area lasered is likely to cost you upwards of £100, and you’ll need to return for at least a few sessions to prevent regrowth in the long-term. But it is a long lasting investment. A powerful light beam penetrates the skin surface to reach hair follicles and damages the hair at the roots, prolonging its growth for several months. It certainly relieves you of the unpleasant side effects that come with shaving regularly.
Avoid Shaving For 2-3 Days…
Taking a razor to the face every other day is overkill for the skin. Letting it rest for a good few days gives your hair time to develop more naturally (basically less coarse) and reduce the time it has to grow back and curl into the skin. It allows sensitive types to heal from razor burn and other skincare issues too. Any developed razor bumps are given a chance to heal with the right treatment applied.
Or Until Razor Bumps Heal
The shaver can only benefit from waiting until razor bumps heal completely. “Shaving over razor bumps can cause painful irritation and even scarring in some individuals,” says Dr. Schlessinger. Who are we to think any different? Learn of the several ways to speed up the process by referencing our definitive guide for dealing with ingrown hairs.
Invest In A Facial Cleansing Tool
Look. We get that image is everything. And maybe having a sonic brush sitting on the bathroom countertop sends the wrong signal to your Tinder hookup. But one can only gain from owning the grooming tool. Dr. Schlessinger advises picking one up, the Clarisonic Alpha FIT in particular, for it “cleanses six times better than hands alone, working to exfoliate skin, remove impurities from pores, and prepare skin for a smoother shave.” Not to mention the device’s exfoliation capabilities do prevent ingrown hairs from developing.
Use Grade-A Ingrown Hair Treatments
When laser treatment seems like a bit of a financial stretch, know you can settle for an over-the-counter solution. Look for something that features 2% salicylic acid and 2% glycolic acid, for the exfoliating ingredients aid with surfacing ingrown hairs, therefore preparing skin for a better shave as shared by Dr. Schlessinger. While he recommends a product like PFB Vanish due to its ability to soothe skin irritation and prevent barber’s itch, we’re fans of Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment for its cooling and ultra-moisturising properties.
Frequent A Soft Bristle Face Brush
Movember your time of season? It’s cool. In fact, some say the easiest cure for razor bumps is to let your beard grow out. Yet for the man seeking the George Clooney look, maintenance is a must. It’s said that using a soft bristle face brush is a great way of taming razor bumps, for applying it in a circular motion near affected areas will dislodge ingrown hairs. Follow up with an elite liquid cleanser to eliminate dead skin cells.
Master The Pre- And Post-Shave Routine
It all begins and ends with a proper shaving regimen. Nourishing and protecting the skin is key. Stimulating hair follicles with a hot shower is a great start, which should then transition into a pre-shave solution. Billy Jealousy’s
Hot Towel solution is a good one. Then kick gears into applying a shaving cream or gel like the AskMen Grooming Award-winning ClarinsMen Smooth Shave Foaming Gel. Aftershave or shave balm is a nice finishing touch, as not treating skin right after a shave only leaves skin irritated and creates bumps.