The unsightly and uncomfortable facial rash experienced by most men after a shave.
Because most men shave incorrectly.
Have you ever taken a course on shaving best practices?
I doubt it – and therefore how do you know:
- shave stroke length?
- shave stroke direction?
- the difference in razor types?
- how often to start using a new blade?
- what water temperatures are best?
- why higher quality creams/lubricants are desirable?
In this article I go into all this and more, giving you 11 shaving tips to improve upon and thus reduce the chances of razor burn.
This article is sponsored by The Grooming Lounge. For the last year I have been testing their wide range of products and can say they are a solid buy for the man looking to eliminate razor burn.
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What is Razor Burn?
Razor burn is similar to a rash – featuring tiny, painful bumps which cause infected pimples and clog the pores on your skin. The result is itchy skin that looks red for several days.
A regular shave can remove up to two layers of skin from your face.
That’s not as bad as it sounds. The older layers need to be exfoliated to promote fresh skin growth. So shaving becomes an exfoliating process for men. But done incorrectly, shaving can cause a lot more problems than you bargained for.
With sufficient preparation and armed with knowledge of correct shaving technique, it is possible to eliminate razor burn. Follow the 11 tips listed below for smooth, clean and comfortable shaves.
1. Prepare The Surface – Wet The Beard
The hair on your face is as hard as copper wire but softens when wet. Facial hair absorbs moisture and swells up. The swollen hair follicles are quite weak and much easier to cut. Getting those hairs ready for a shave is easy as jumping into a warm shower for a few minutes.
Don’t spend too much time in the shower, or you will end up with dry skin.
The other alternative is a technique used by barbers…. the warm towel wrap. Rinse your face with warm water and then wrap a warm towel around your face for a couple of minutes. The heat causes the blood vessels in the area of contact to swell, allowing for a smoother glide of the razor blade.
If you are in the habit of using a facial exfoliator – now is the time to use it. The exfoliating grains lift the hair follicles up and away from the face, making the job of cutting them much simpler.
Never shave cold or apply shaving products to a dry face – this is one of the leading causes of razor burn and shaving rash.
2. Use A Shave Oil
A pre-shave oil like the Beard Master Shave Oil from Grooming Lounge softens your beard and allows the razor to cut easily through the hairs, without causing irritation to the hair or pulling on your skin. Oils and water do not mix very well. The shave oil locks in the moisture on your face and keeps the area moist throughout the shave.
Pre-shave oil works to lubricate the razor’s path and prevent friction which causes razor-burn. The oil is mostly removed by the razor during the shave. Any remaining oil washes out easily post-shave.
A few drops of shaving oil (3-5 ) applied to the bearded portion of your face is sufficient. Any extra oil can be safely applied to the hair on your head to avoid wastage.
Shaving oil can be a substitute for shaving cream, but it works better in conjunction with a quality cream.
3. Upgrade To A Quality Shaving Cream
Shaving creams with a high concentration of moisturizers and lubricants lock the moisture on your face, keeping the hair upright and primed for a cut.
The best shaving creams create a creamy lather similar to the consistency of your toothpaste. These products offer the best lubrication between your skin and razor – so that the blades glide smoothly across your skin.
Let the shaving cream soak into your whiskers for a minute, so that the beard is as wet and soft as possible before shaving.
The less a product foams, the better suited it is for a shave. Often the foam is just fluffy air that makes it hard to see the hair you are shaving.
Avoid cheap drug store bands that use propellants and create unnecessary foam and upgrade to a quality product like the Beard Destroyer Shave Cream by Grooming Lounge
4. Use A Shaving Brush To Apply The Cream
A badger brush is one of the best tools you can use to prevent razor burn. A synthetic brush will also work but a badger brush will ensure an even distribution of the cream all over your face.
A brush helps raise the hair for the closest cut possible. It also helps create a rich creamy lather with the shaving cream. Additionally, it helps remove dead skin cells which reduces the chance of a razor burn.
Look for a shaving brush with bristles that are soft enough to create a rich creamy lather and firm enough to raise the beard for a closer shave.
Using the brush – apply the shaving cream in a circular motion and end with an upward stroke to lift the hair up and away from the face.
5. Upgrade To A Quality Razor
Using a razor with a dull blade is one of the contributing factors to razor burn and shaving rash.
Have you tried cutting vegetables with a dull knife? Imagine what you’re doing to your face by using a dull blade.
A dull blade creates a lot of drag and resistance – tearing your beard instead of neatly cutting the hair.
Always use a good quality sharp razor blade. Change the blades regularly or ensure the razor blade is sharp.
Stuck in a rut using cartridge razors with three to six blades? Experiment and look for other options. Most men who try double-edged safety razors testify that it solved their razor burn issues.
A safety razor will be more economic over the long run and it forces you to pay attention to your technique.
The single blade provides a clean cut of the hair, eliminating the need for unnecessary multiple blades.
The blades are cheaper – around $0.35 a piece. Shave for shave, they are considerably cheaper than using a cartridge razor.
6. Improve Your Shaving Technique
Learn to shave the right way to avoid razor burn. Most of us learnt how to shave by just putting a razor on our face. No one taught us technique. Well, it makes a big difference.
But first – we need to unlearn the bad habits.
Focus on less pressure and smaller strokes. Less resistance, less irritation, less scraping and fewer nicks.
- Shave in the direction of the beard growth – Shave with the grain. Start with the sides, followed by the mustache area and then the chin. The chin hairs are the toughest, so this allows them the most time to soften under the shave cream. Every man’s facial hair has its own growth direction. If you are unsure about the direction of hair growth on your face, let it grow for a few days and you’ll see the pattern.
- Apply minimal pressure & use short strokes – Safety razors are typically heavier than disposable and cartridge razors. The key is not to press at all, but let gravity do the work with a light hold on the razor. Let the razor do the work – do not press too hard. Use shorter strokes to avoid pressing the razor too hard.
- Rinse the blade under hot water before you begin to shave and after every few strokes. This removes the accumulated shaving cream, and cut hair that could interfere with a clean shave. Hot water helps lubricate your skin, but it doesn’t kill the bacteria on the razor.
7. Shave Twice
Not multiple passes back and forth. Once, clean, rinse, re-apply cream and shave again for problem spots.
You won’t need to apply oil again, you should still have a layer and adding water makes the oil stick more.
Constant passes will agitate your skin. After the first pass, you may be tempted to reshave certain areas. That’s not a good idea… too much shaving over the same area is a contributing factor to razor burn. Instead, repeat the above process, reapplying some more lather from your brush to the areas you wish to shave again.
This is one of the extra advantages of using a brush. For most guys, re-shaving certain areas with the grain should do the job.
Professional barbers usually shave with the grain, followed by a shave following the sideways growth of hair.
8. Rinse Your Face With Cold Water Post-Shave
After your shave, rinse with cool water to soothe your skin and prevent ingrown hairs.
Rinsing with cold water causes the blood vessels on the skin to contract, reducing swelling and bleeding from the small skin tears.
Pat dry with a clean towel, don’t rub your face as it would be quite sensitive at this point.
9. After-Shave Balm
Wrap up your shave with an aftershave moisturizer. I have tested and use the Best For Last Aftershave balm from the Grooming Lounge.
Shaving can remove up to two layers of skin.It is so important to use a good quality moisturizer to soothe your skin after shaving. The best aftershave moisturizers not only replace lost moisture and soothe, but also have ingredients that will cool and refresh the skin.
An after shave moisturizer that acts as an after shave balm and moisturizer in one is the best way to calm the skin and replenish lost moisture.
Use an after-shave made specifically for men. These formulas are usually fragrance-free and designed so that they are absorbed quickly, are not greasy and are dry with a matte finish so that your face doesn’t look shiny.
Avoid all alcohol-based aftershaves. They tend to aggravate the skin even more.
10. Use An Anti Razor Burn Lotion
30 minutes after a shave, apply an anti-razor burn lotion. These products are specifically designed for people with razor burn. To eliminate razor burn – you may want to consider going that extra step.
The Grooming Lounge’s The Shavior contains glycolic acid which acts as an exfoliant, allantoin and chamomile which soothe the skin and anti-inflammatory bisabolol.
11. Clean Your Razor With Alcohol
A lot of razor burn is caused by bacteria that grows unchecked on your razor. Tread with caution when reusing blades… aother reason I prefer safety razors – it’s less expensive to change the blades.
if you’re using a cartridge racer for a week or two weeks, you’re trying to save money you could be causing yourself a rash and some razor burn in exchange.
The hot water used to rinse blades is not going to kill the bacteria. For that to happen, you would need to boil the razor and blade. The hot water rinse only helps to get rid of shaving cream buildup, hairs and oils on the blade.
To clean the blade, use some rubbing alcohol before and after. Rinse the blade thoroughly before you put it away.
After rinsing, shake the razor, but do not wipe the blade with a towel or tissue – that will just make it dull faster.
Bonus 12. Consider Shaving Less
Reduce the frequency of your shaves to counter the issue.
Too much shaving can irritate your skin which breaks out in protest. Skip a day on the weekend or during the week. My shaving routine is limited to three or four times a week.
If you are already suffering from razor burn, consider not shaving for a few days to let your skin heal itself. Avoid making the existing rash worse by shaving over it.
The rash should subside in a few days as your skin naturally. When you’re ready to shave again – follow the steps outlines above to avoid razor burn.