For some men, the idea of shaving fills them with dread – nobody like the redness and irritation of red shaving rash, razor burns, bumps and ingrown hairs. Unfortunately some men are more prone to the unpleasant side effects of shaving than others. A bad shave can be harsh on the skin, and leave you with itching and irritation for weeks to come. Luckily there are some changes that every guy can make to their shaving routine that will leave them with smooth, supple skin after every shave. If you’re suffering from problems after each shave then it’s probably because you haven’t got the ritual down pat. Our knowledge of what to do and what not to do has increased a lot over time, as has the quality of shaving products.

It’s likely that the way your dad taught you to shave a few decades ago probably isn’t the best way to do it anymore. It’s a good idea to update your wisdom on shaving matters, so you can hand the knowledge on to the next generation and help future men to avoid uncomfortable shaves. A bit of research and adjustment can help even those with the most sensitive skin to achieve a flawlessly smooth, irritation-free shave. Read on below for tips on how to get the best shave.

What is razor burn and why does it happen to me?

The first thing to do before you get your shaving routine perfected is to understand why you’re experiencing lumps, bumps and rashes in the first place. A lot of men don’t really understand what’s going on or what’s causing their uncomfortable skin problems. The truth is that bumps and razor burn are caused by inflammation of the skin which can cause your hair to grow into the skin – causing ingrown or an angry red rash. This usually happens because you have not taken the proper precautions or preparatory steps before shaving.

Rash and ingrown hairs usually occur as a result of your facial hair being cut poorly and growing in at an angle which can cause your hair not to penetrate the outer layer of your skin. Ingrown hairs may also occur as a result of your hair growing out and the curling back into the skin. Razor burn often occurs as a result of the razor aggravating the top layer of your skin which can leave your skin feeling like it is burning and inflamed. Razor rash is usually the result of skipping razor cream or using a poor quality razor.

razor burn

How to I avoid razor burn and rashes?

The best way to avoid razor burn is by taking some preventative steps to avoid it. It’s always better to avoid the problem rather than trying to cure it afterwards! The most important thing to do to avoid a bad shave is to first ensure that you have the proper equipment. A good shave starts with a double-edge safety razor – these will give you a much closer shave ten the typical disposable multi-blade razors that most men use. Double-edged razors might have fallen out of fashion since the introduction of disposable razors but they’re having a resurgence as of late.

Before shaving you should ensure that your razor is sharp, a dull blade will drag the skin and cause irritation. A sharp blade is essential for a clean cut – a good double bladed razor will not tug or pull at your skin. When you feel that your blade is starting to dull, you should replace it. Regularly replacing razor blades is important for hygiene and a good quality shave. Most people will find that just switching to a safety blade will make a big difference to their shave. Another tip is that you should shave in the direction of your hair growth as this will help to avoid any ingrown hair or shaving bumps.

Shaving against the grain will irritate your hair and skin and leave you more prone to ingrown hairs. A lot of men shave against the gran because it gives a closer shave, but it tends to make hair curl back in.

How do you clear up razor burns and bumps

If you’ve come out with the dreaded bumps or razor burn after shaving, then there are a few things you can do to help clear it up faster. An easy way to help relieve razor burn is to simply have a hot shower, or hold a steamy, hot towel over your face for a few minutes.

shower for razor burns

This will help to soften up your skin and hair which should help your pores to open up, helping to smooth out bumps. It’s a good idea to follow these same steps before you shave, as this helps to prepare the skin for a cleaner shave. Following a hot steam up with an exfoliant will also help to clear out any clogged pores and remove any excess dead skin. Clean, well prepared skin is key for avoiding ingrown hair and painful irritation.

Another thing to be aware of is your choice of shaving lubricant. Wet shaving is always a better way to shave as it always the razor to glide over the skin without the same amount of drag and pull. Some men avoid shaving creams because the menthol or citrus based fragrance can inflame sensitive skin. Citrus and menthol fragrances are usually used because the cooling or invigorating effect are great for opening up hair follicles and encouraging blood flow in the skin. The tingly sensation is good for getting a better shave. If citrus and menthol isn’t your thing then there are plenty of other natural products or products designed for sensitive skin that won’t cause inflammation. Oil formulations for instance are great for moisturizing the skin and providing a protective buffer that allow the razor to glide over the skin without hurting your skin.

Using some aftershave products as well is also a good idea. Whilst shaving should be a hot process, you should also make sure to cool down after shaving. Products that contain antiseptics or anti-inflammatory ingredients are always a good idea post-shave. Shaving can be quite harsh on the skin so it’s necessary to use soothing ingredients. If you have skin concerns or notice that you experience ingrown hair a lot then try using salicylic acid, which penetrated below the skin and can help prevent clogging of the pores.

Topical spot or pimple treatments are also great for combatting bumpiness and ingrown hairs. If you’re noticing white bumps after shaving then try using solutions designed to help with reducing inflammation of the hair follicle. If you’ve got a few problem areas or ingrown then try managing them with some tweezers. It’s not recommended that you manage facial hair removal with hair removal creams as this is likely to both burn and leave you with rash and irritation.

Steps to follow when shaving

So what should you do to get the best possible shave?

First, you should ensure that you take a hot, steamy shower. As mentioned before, hot water and steam are good for softening up your skin and opening up your pores. Once you’ve done that you should lather up your face. To do this, massage a small amount of shaving cream onto you face and neck. Use a circular motion and allow the cream to sit for a couple of minutes. If you have one on hand then using a shave brush to help lift your facial hair and get a more even spread of shaving cream.

shaving cream onto you face

Some men skip the lather stage and dry shave, but that’s the quickest way to get razor bumps and irritation. A wet shave is very important for getting a smooth shave and keeping skin feeling hydrated and soft.  If you notice any tugging, pulling or tearing then it’s time to replace your razor and get a new one. The average razor is good for five to seven shaves before it’s time to replace it.

When shaving you should use apply your shaving gel to the areas of your face where the hair is thickest first and moving down to thinner areas. For most men, it’s best to start with the sides of the beard, and then the neck chin and moustache.

When shaving you should follow the direction of your hair growth, it’s easier to do this in front of a mirror instead of blind in the shower. Another thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t apply too much pressure to your skin when shaving. There’s no need for rough handling as this can cause skin irritation. When shaving you should remember to wash the razor every two strokes or so to clear away stubble and prevent your shaving cream from blocking the blade. Allowing stubble and cream to build up will cause nicks and cuts. Remember not to tap your razor as this can cause damage to the blade. After shaving ensure you use a moisturiser to keep your skin feeling hydrated and smooth. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should try to avoid doing more than one pass over the skin. Running the razor back and forth over your skin will likely cause irritation. Instead of passing the razor across your skin multiple times, you should instead shave twice, as in reapply your shaving skin and follow the shaving steps twice. Shaving twice will ensure you do a thorough job and get all the areas of your face and neck. It’s easy to miss spots when you only go over the area once.

A good after shave balm and soothing anti-razor burn lotion is a great way of preventing any unwanted lumps or bumps on the skin. Afterwards you should ensure you clean and sterilise your razor with some alcohol, this will help to prevent infection and inflammation.

If you’re finding your skin is constantly irritated, bumpy or coming up in a rash then you should perhaps consider shaving less often. Shaving every day or so can be incredibly harsh on skin. If your skin is sensitive or dry then you’ll likely find yourself prone to some irritation, no matter what shaving steps you take. Your skin needs time to rest, recover and heal after shaving. The process opens up all of your pores and can create tiny wounds in the skin, it can be great for cleansing off dead skin cells and revitalising dull skin, but too much of anything can cause more harm than good. If your skin is protesting then it’s a sign that you need to lay off shaving for a few days. Try shaving only once or twice a week, perhaps shaving in the beginning of the week and then again in the middle. You might even want to consider letting your beard grow out for a little while!