If a baby-bum-smooth shave is a wild party, the razor bumps are the cleanup after it. Almost everyone gets them, at least some of the time, and getting rid of them takes time and patience. If you are prone to developing razor bumps, you know what I'm talking about; if you don't get them, consider yourself lucky.
The internet is full of advice how to deal with razor bumps. Some razor bump treatments are legit, but others are bound to make the problem worse. So what is the best solution for razor bumps? It's an combinative approach. Read on to find out.
What Causes Razor Bumps?
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is the fancy Latin name for razor bumps. As you may know from personal experience, razor bumps usually occur in areas with sensitive skin (e.g. face, neck, genitals) where curly hair grows.
When you shave your face, you cut off the excess hair on the surface of your skin. As the hair grows after a close shave, it may curl into the skin causing irritation. If the hair continues to grow under the outer layers of the skin, it may cause inflammation, especially if your skin is sensitive. The result is a razor bump, which is far from improving your good looks.
Even though everyone can suffer from razor bumps, the condition is common among men with sensitive skin and coarse curly hair. Regardless of your hair and skin type, you still may get razor bumps and inflamed follicles if you don't maintain a proper skin care regimen (more about it below).
The Best Solution for Razor Bumps
Razor bumps are easy to get and hard to get rid of. If you have them in abundance, do not despair: help is on the way. Here's the best solution for razor bumps many guys with extreme cases swear by.
What To Do
Step 1: Wash your face with warm water or apply warm compress.
The heat opens up your pores and softens your skin and hair. The softer it is, the easier it is for the ingrown hair to pop up.
Step 2: Exfoliate.
Take a gentle scrub, like the Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Face Scrub, and massage it with your fingers on your wet skin. If your face feels sensitive or irritated, don't apply too much pressure. Continue to massage in circular motions.
The face scrub removes the dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin, which makes it easier for ingrown hairs to reach the surface. A good face scrub will also contain cleansing ingredients, which will remove excess oil and dirt from your pores. This will prevent more irritation and inflammation of your skin.
In some cases exfoliating twice a week is all you need to get rid of mild razor bumps. If this is not the case with you, go to step 3.
Step 3: Put on a razor bump cream.
This one sounds almost obvious but many guys don't even know it exists. One of the best creams I've used is Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment. It contains Glycolic, Salicylic and Phytic Acids, which help remove dead skin cells and untrap ingrown hairs.
Even though Anthony Logistics Ingrown Hair Treatment is a good option, any razor bump cream with Glycolic and Salicylic Acids will give you similar results.
My experience from using the Anthony Logistics product is that it takes about a week for all razor bumps to be completely gone. Results, of course, will vary depending on how severe your case is and what your shaving and cleansing ritual is.
If you want to go natural, you can use some home remedies to treat razor bumps. Some popular treatments include aloe vera, honey, tea tree oil, baking soda, and apple cider vinegar. Give them a try and see what works.
When it comes to razor bumps, what not to do is equally important to what to do. Here are the three things you must avoid to get rid of your razor bumps.
What Not To Do
1. Don't shave over the razor bumps.
I know that's a tough one, especially if the razor bumps are all over your face. Even though it feels great, by its very nature shaving irritates your skin and irritation is what you don't want when it comes to healing razor bumps. If you absolutely must shave, try to go as gently as possible or use a hair trimmer to keep the irritation to a minimum.
2. Don't scratch or squeeze your razor bumps.
No, you are not going to squeeze out the ingrown hair this way, nor are you going to make it look smaller. The only thing you will achieve is to make them bigger and more irritated. Some ingrown hairs may cause an itch, but resist the urge. If the itch becomes unbearable, apply some razor bump cream or aftershave balm with eucalyptus or menthol. It will soothe the irritation and numb your skin.
3. Don't use alcohol-based aftershave.
I love aftershave splashes. They smell so good and the tingling feeling when you apply them on my freshly-shaved skin is a treat. Yet, aftershave splashes are usually loaded with alcohol, which dries out your skin and causes more irritation and itchiness, especially if you have razor bumps.
Avoid using aftershave splashes, at least in the area where you have razor bumps. A soothing aftershave balm would work much better.
For a list of some great after shave balms for sensitive skin, see: Top 10 of The Best Aftershave Balms for Sensitive Skin.
The Emergency Method of Getting Rid of Razor Bumps
If following the steps above doesn't help you with your razor bumps, there is another method you can try. It involves, tweezers, a needle and a steady hand. If you get the picture, the other way to get rid of razor bumps is to pull out the ingrown hair yourself.
I've seen several guys do it and there are numerous tutorials on YouTube how to remove ingrown hairs. I wanted to share this method with you because it is out there, however, by no means do I recommend it. The risks of infection and scarring are much higher using a needle and tweezers, that I would steer clear of it, especially if your razor bumps are small.
If you have a serious problem with ingrown hair and razor bumps, I would suggest you see a dermatologist. In extreme cases, a professional will be the best person to help.
If you are still determined to try removing ingrown hairs yourself, here's a video that shows you how to do it.
How To Prevent Razor Bumps
Just like with most things in life, it is easier to prevent razor bumps than to fight them. Even if you have a coarse curly hair and sensitive skin, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of severe razor bumps. Following these simple tasks will ensure your face stays smooth and irritation free.
Cleanse Twice Daily
There is not substitute for clean skin. Wash your face twice daily - in the morning and before bed. A good facial cleanser will get rid of excess oils and dirt. Many cleansers contain Glycolic and Salicylic Acids, which provide mild exfoliation of the dead skin cells and ultimately prevent ingrown hairs.
A good option is Anthony Glycolic Facial Cleanser (Amazon).
Expholiate Twice a Week
Exfoliating two to three times a week goes a long way in preventing razor bumps. Make sure you get a scrub with Glycolic and Salicylic Acids to help remove the dead skin cells from your face and help with ingrown hairs.
It's best to exfoliate before you shave. Some scrubs may be too abrasive for your freshly-shaven skin, so it's best to avoid scrubbing after you've shaved.
Use a Single Blade Instead of a Cartridge Blade with Multiple Razors
I don't know when the time will come when Gillette will release Mach 25. Disposable cartridges are great - for the bottom lines of Gillette and Schick, that is. As for your face - not so much. The more blades a razor has, the more blade exposure your skin gets. The result? Irritated skin and razor bumps for those of us with sensitive skin.
I personally use a double edge safety razor. When I shave, only one blade touches my face (instead of five as in Schick Hydro 5). As a result, I get a lot less irritation without compromising the smooth shave.
In my experience the whole idea of more blades = smoother shave is a myth. I've used both - cartridge razors and safety razors and the smoothness of my shaves has been more or less the same. Not so for the irritation or my wallet. Safety razor cause less irritation and the blades are much cheaper.
If you are considering the switch to a double-edge safety razor, a good one to start is Merkur 34C (Amazon).
If you still haven't changed your mind, consider this: cartridge blades are a lot harder to clean as compared to razor blades. Because the cartridge blades are packed so tightly together, it is difficult to rinse off any hair and scum from your shave. Using pre-shave oil makes things even more difficult.
Soak your Mach 3 in a glass of water with soap and leave it overnight. In the morning you'll find all kinds of shaving debris floating in the water. Do the same exercise with a safety razor and you likely won't find any residue, especially if you rinse your blade properly.
Pick the Right Razor Blade
The more passes you have to make to get a smooth shave, the more blade time your skin gets and the more irritated it gets. Using a sharp-enough blade for your beard is crucial. A sharp blade will give you a smooth shave with less passes and touch-ups.
Check out What Are The Best Razor Blades for a Safety Razor to learn how to pick the best blade for your beard.
Skip the Against the Grain Pass Over the Sensitive Parts
Doing a final pass against the grain is key for getting a super smooth shave. This final pass, however, contributes the most to your skin irritation and razor bumps. If you have a skin prone to razor bumps, it might be a good idea to skip the against-the-grain-pass. My neckline is prone to razor bumps and, therefore, I almost never go against the grain in this area. I don't get as smooth a shave on my neck but I'd rather be a little rough than irritated.
Use a Razor Bump Cream Regularly
If you are prone to razor bumps, you may need to use a razor bump cream as part of your daily routine. Invest in a good quality one that works for you.
What do you think is the best solution for razor bumps? Share your thoughts in the comments below.