Razor burn is a skin condition characterized by an unsightly and bumpy skin in the face, legs, and other parts. It occurs after shaving and features symptoms such as bumps and redness. The term “skin burns” is derived from the burning sensation felt after shaving. Having a razor burn can make you uncomfortable and get embarrassed. The following will give you some insights into the causes and tips on getting rid of razor burn.
A Little Bit of History
Shaving dates back to ancient times in 30, 000 BC when men sued flint blades or sharp rocks. The ancient Egyptian believed that body hair is unclean and thus started shaving. In 1903, Gillette introduced the first electric razor. Along with these shaving inventions and habits came the razor burn problem.
Are Razor Bumps and Razor Burn the Same?
Some articles use the two terms but they are different. Razor burn occurs after shaving while razor bumps occur after days or few weeks. Razor bumps are also called pseudofolliculitis barbae.
How Do Razor Burns Happen?
Razor burns happen when hair follicles get inflamed and turn into a bumpy and red skin. Razor burns lead to razor bumps that last from two to three weeks even without treatment.
What Are the Causes?
The following can cause razor burn.
Using a dull and old razor
A razor that isn’t sharp can leave you with no choice but to apply more pressure to your skin. Such constant friction and pressure can cause micro-abrasions.
If your skin has oil and dirt, you can’t get a smooth shave and run the risk of irritating micro-wounds. Make sure to wash thoroughly before shaving.
Having a sensitive skin
You might have a skin that is sensitive to changes in weather and skincare products.
Shaving with products that cause skin irritation
Using them may cause some skin irritation – eye makeup, bath soap, detergent, shampoos, moisturizers, synthetic fragrance, emollients, and some essential oils. These chemicals found as ingredients in skincare products may trigger razor burn – sodium laureth sulfate (found in shampoos), compounds (found in deodorants), salicylic acid, retinol, and glycolic acid.
Having a dry skin
Shaving without a moisturized skin can strip your skin of minute moisture and thus lead to redness and dryness caused itching. Moisturizer, soap, water, or shaving cream can help.
Using a razor clogged with shaving cream, hair, and soap
A dirty razor can harbor bacteria and thus lead to infection and irritation.
Shaving the same skin many times
Shaving in the same area thrice or more.
Shaving too quickly.
How Do I Get Rid of Razor Burn?
Avoid using skin care and hair care products that cause irritation
Some skin care products contain chemicals that cause skin irritation. If you got sensitive skin, avoid those that contain the following:
A few populations are sensitive to salicylic acid and if you’re one of them you can use an alternative for acne – benzoyl peroxide.
It comes with these names sodium laureth sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, cocamidopropylamine oxide, magnesium oleth sulfate. Sulfate containing shampoos is ok but not for sensitive skin.
Preservatives such as parabens are safe it’s likely to cause allergy to people with contact dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Another is methylisothiazolinone – tagged as a high-hazard allergen by the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database.
Botanicals and essential oils
Even those that are natural or organic can irritate the skin especially those products that use mint and citrus as their main ingredients.
Using dyes such as the common paraphenylenediamine (PPD) can cause allergy.
Artificial fragrance can contain various chemicals that might cause an allergic reaction.
Some beauty products
These beauty products can trigger an allergic reaction – talcum powder, waterproof mascara, heavy liquid foundation, flavored lipstick, chalky makeup, whitening creams, and oil-based cleansers.
Alcohol-based skincare and makeup products
Products such as toners, setting sprays, and makeup remover can dry your skin and cause further irritation. Instead, opt for alternatives that contain hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid.
Note: An article explains that sulfate-free shampoos and other cleansers have no supported research.
Replace your razor once it becomes dull
Try using a replaceable head and a detachable handle. You can opt for a razor that features a vitamin E strip.
Wash and clean your skin before shaving
Use clean water or an alcohol-free toner.
Use a clean razor
Ensure to clean a razor after each use. Don’t let skin flakes, soap and hair to accumulate in the blade. Some razor product features a button that can remove residues.
Use post-shave lotions
It contains niacinamide that may decrease red skin, razor burn symptoms, chapping and moisture loss.
Avoid shaving in the wrong direction
Shave to the direction of hair growth.
Use sunscreen hours after shaving.
Exfoliate before shaving
Exfoliate with a body scrub and loofah (a fibrous interior of dry sponge gourd )
Avoid dry shaving
Use baby oil, conditioner and shaving cream before shaving.
What Are the Treatments for Razor Bumps?
- Use over the counter medications or natural ways to get rid of razor bumps.
- Natural treatments
- Aloe vera – Fresh aloe vera can moisturize skin, speed healing and soothe redness.
- Cold compress – relieves burning and itching.
- Witch hazel – Used a natural astringent, it clears dead skin cells.
- Oatmeal soak – Reduces itching.
- Coconut oil – Best for hydrating dry skin
- Hydrocortisone – a hormone topical cream for skin conditions.
- Hypoallergenic and fragrance-free lotion.
- Over the counter drugs such as NSAIDs – It includes ibuprofen, paracetamol and naproxen. NSAIDs are alternative to you have an allergy or your symptoms does not respond to it.
Is There a Permanent Solution?
The best way is to stop shaving by using laser hair removal or electrolysis, shaving less (only two to three times per week).
The Bottom Line
Razor burn can be unsightly in social interactions. The best way is to shave properly by using a sharp razor and washing before and after shaving. Skip skincare products that can irritate your skin. If you use some medications, you can consult a dermatologist for advice.
1- “Sulfates | Paula’s Choice.” Sulfates | Paula’s Choice, www.paulaschoice.com/ingredient-dictionary/cleansing-agents/sulfates.html.