If you have sensitive skin and you shave quite often, you probably know the feeling of razor burn. It’s called burn for a reason because it makes you feel like your face is on fire and gives it unattractive, irritated look. This is the last thing you want to see in the mirror if you have just shaved before an important date or a business meeting.
While razor burn is usually associated with men, as they shave almost every day and make their skin more prone to damage caused by razors, women also have to deal with the symptoms of razor burn, especially in the zones where the skin is softer, like in the bikini area or under the armpits.
Causes and symptoms of razor burn
These burning, red bumps occur as a result of skin irritation that can be caused by the use of a blunt razor, a harsh shaving product (or no shaving product at all) or a wrong shaving technique. The advice we give in this article is focused on avoiding and treating razor burn on the face since this problem affects mostly men. However, every treatment we describe can be applied to the armpits, bikini area and legs or any area of skin that is damaged by inappropriate shaving.
How to get rid of razor burn
Razor burn is a type of skin inflammation and may be accompanied by pain and swelling. In order to diminish those symptoms, you can use a cold compress on the affected area. Take a few ice cubes and wrap them in a clean cloth, then press them gently against the recently shaved skin. This should give you an instant relief. Ice not only reduces the inflammation but also shrinks blood vessels and stimulates blood circulation. As a result, it boosts the regeneration of the damaged skin.
Make sure you don’t apply the ice cubes directly onto the skin as it may cause more damage.
If you don’t have ice, simply wet a washcloth in cold water, squeeze it and put it on your face. The low temperature will have the same effect on your skin as the ice pack. Keep the washcloth on your face for 10-15 minutes. If you feel that in the meantime the washcloth gets warm, just rinse it in cold water once again and repeat the procedure.
Aloe vera is well known for its soothing properties and has been used in many skincare products for years. Applying aloe vera gel on the skin affected by razor burn will reduce the redness almost instantly and will give you a nice, cooling effect. If you have an aloe vera plant at home, you can break one or two leaves, squeeze the pulp out and apply it on the skin. Rinse it off after 30 minutes and finish the treatment off with some jojoba oil that will enhance the skin regeneration process.
Glycolic and Salicylic Acids
Both glycolic and salicylic acids have antiseptic properties and the products based on them are recommended for men who shave daily. Applying salicylic or glycolic acid on a regular basis not only prevents the skin from infections but also strengthens the skin cells and makes the skin less prone to damage.
One of the most versatile home remedies for all kinds of skin problems is honey. It is used to fight bacterial and fungal infections, to smoothen and soften the skin as well as to rejuvenate epidermis. It can also bring a huge relief when you have a razor burn. All you need to do is apply a thin layer of honey on the affected skin, leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water. For best results, finish the treatment with an ice pack compress.
If possible, use organic honey in order to not put your vulnerable skin in contact with a product that may contain some harmful toxins.
Thanks to the fact that black tea contains tannic acid, it has anti-inflammatory properties and may soothe the skin and greatly help reduce the swelling and redness when you get a razor burn. The treatment is very simple. Just soak two or three teabags in warm water, cool them down and put on the area affected by the razor burn. Leave it on for 5-10 minutes and rinse the skin with cool water. For best results, chill the teabags in the fridge for 15 minutes before you put them on the skin. The lower temperature will additionally stimulate blood circulation, which is important for faster skin cells regeneration. You can repeat this treatment three or four times a day if necessary.
Soda, just like honey, has so many valuable properties that it can be used in the treatment of almost all skin conditions, from swelling to acne. No surprise that it’s recommended for those who want to reduce the symptoms of the razor burn. Mix two tablespoons of soda with a teaspoon of water and make a smooth paste. If needed, add a few more drops of water, but make sure that the paste is not too runny because it won’t stay on the skin. Apply the paste onto the affected skin with a cotton ball. Leave it on for 10 minutes and rinse it off with lukewarm water.
Repeat this procedure twice daily to reduce the swelling, redness and any pain caused by the razor burn.
Cucumber and yoghurt
Both ingredients of this mask are known for their soothing properties. Additionally, cucumber is an important ingredient in many skin-lightening products. That is why a cucumber and yoghurt mask is a great solution for the red, inflamed and irritated skin.
To make this mask, grate one medium-sized cucumber and mix it with one tablespoon of natural, unsweetened yogurt. You can also blend the two ingredients together. If you have to treat a larger area, like calves, use a larger amount of both ingredients. Apply the mask to the affected area and leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water.
If you need a really quick remedy and you have a cucumber at home, simply slice it and apply the cucumber on the irritated skin.
Tea Tree Oil
Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties, tea tree oil soothes the irritated skin and reduces the redness on the skin. Remember, however, that the tea tree oil you can buy in a pharmacy or a health food store is usually highly concentrated and should not be used on its own. The best way to make use of all the benefits of the tea tree oil without causing further skin irritation is to mix equal amounts of tea tree oil and olive oil or jojoba oil and then apply it to the skin affected by the razor burn. Rinse the oil mixture off after 10 minutes and repeat the procedure two to three times a day if necessary.
How to avoid razor burns
Even if you have sensitive skin, you can avoid razor burns by following some of the advice below.
The cheapest razors are not so cheap when you think about how many times you can use them and how much trouble they cause due to their poor quality. Consider investing into a razor that has three or four blades and that has a flexible head which adjusts to the shape of the shaved surface. When you use a good quality razor, you won’t have to repeat the strokes in the same spot more than once or twice, which will reduce the possibility of skin irritation.
Prepare the Skin For Shaving
Whether it’s facial hair or the hair on your legs, it should be softened before the shaving. The best way to do it is to take a shower before you shave. If it’s not possible because you have a different hygiene routine or you are in a rush and don’t have time to spend in the shower, apply a shaving product to the skin and leave it on for one minute before you start using the razor. This way you will protect your skin from irritation and will have fewer chances of getting a razor burn. The shaving product additionally works as a lubricant and lets the blade slide more smoothly on the skin.
Shave With the Grain
You should always shave in the direction of the hair growth. Even though you might be tempted to shave against this direction in order to achieve a smoother skin effect, remember that if you shave every day, the effect of smoothness will last 24 hours and the razor burn – probably three days. The skin that is not perfectly smooth after the shaving is still more attractive than the one with dozens of red, inflamed spots.
Don’t press the razor against the skin too much. Let it slide over the face rather than push it. The weight of the razor itself puts enough pressure on the skin to cut the maximum length of the hair. Excessive pressure will not improve the results of shaving and may only cause unnecessary skin irritation.
This rule applies both to the accessories and the skin itself. Rinse the skin before shaving in order to soften the hair. While you’re shaving, rinse the razor after every stroke so that the blade is clean and you can use its maximum potential. After you shave, rinse the face with warm water to remove all the remains of the shaving product and to finish the process off, rinse the skin with cold water in order to stimulate blood circulation of your freshly shaved, extra smooth skin.
If you shave because you want to have a smooth skin, then your next step should be to moisturise it. When you shave, you remove the outermost layer of the epidermis and the skin cells need a stimulation to get regenerated. That is why it is crucial that you apply a moisturiser after every single shaving. If you don’t have oily skin and you shave in the evening, you can apply jojoba oil or almond oil on the recently shaved area. They both stimulate skin rejuvenation processes.
Clean the Shaving Accessories
Just like it’s important to rinse the razor thoroughly, it’s also important that you dry it well after use. When you leave the blades wet, they get blunt more easily and they are not effective after a short time of use. Dry the razor with a clean towel after every single shaving.
The same rule applies to the shaving brush if you use one (and if you don’t, you should, as it helps apply the shaving product more evenly, without omitting any hair). A wet shaving brush is a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus, especially if it’s kept in a dark and warm place, like the bathroom. If you don’t want to transfer this bacteria on your face with every shaving, make sure your brush gets properly dried.
If you have tried all the home remedies to get rid of a razor burn as well as have followed the advice related to avoiding this annoying skin condition, yet you still can’t achieve a smooth skin without an ugly rash, then consider growing a beard. You will still have a lot of work as you’ll need to trim it regularly and put a conditioner in so that it doesn’t look like a haystack, but you will definitely be able to forget about the razor burn.
Women who have sensitive skin and get razor burn very often might choose the option of a waxing procedure or – if waxing seems too painful – a series of laser treatments.