8 Expert-Approved Ways to Prevent and Treat Razor Burn
Sunny days, warm nights, and baring a little skin just go together — unless, of course, you have razor burn. Whether you’re rocking vintage Levi’s cutoffs, stylish swimsuits, or breezy summer dresses, having toned, tanned, and smooth skin is a must. For our bikinis, underarms, and legs, hair removal can come with some risks. Depilatory treatments can leave ingrown hairs, while a mishandled shave may result in redness, irritation, and bumps for an unsightly result. So that razor burn won’t dampen your summer, three skin and beauty experts — Lily Talakoub, MD, FAAD, of McLean Dermatology & Skincare Center; David Shafer, MD, FACS, of Shafer Plastic Surgery; and Amy McLain, master esthetician at Kenneth’s Polaris — offer their best beauty hacks for preventing, treating, and soothing the signs of a shave gone wrong.
1. Use conditioner to shave. Talakoub notes that irritants found in shaving creams and foams, such as propylene glycol and alcohol, can aggravate the skin and lead to rashes. “My favorite trick is to use hair conditioner for shaving,” she reveals. “Or, if you want to use a thinner product, try an oil-based body wash.” Brit + Co Pick: Bioderma Atoderm Shower Oil ($20)
2. Soften hair with a pre-shave oil. Applying a pre-shave oil lessens resistance, getting the job done in fewer strokes. “Razor burn can be caused by too much friction,” states McLain. “When you shave, I would definitely recommend a conditioning emollient [that will] soften hair.” Brit + Co Pick: Olio E Osso Pre-Shave Oil ($35)
3. Shave with the grain. Shaving in the direction of hair growth — rather than against — helps prevent post-shave discomfort. Chronic sufferers of razor burn may even consider switching to a single-blade razor for a less invasive, easier process. “Using a single-blade razor nicks the hair at the surface of the skin [rather than] under the surface,” says Talakoub. Brit + Co Pick: Edwin Jagger DE Safety Razor ($42)
4. Treat razor bumps and burns differently. Razor bumps and razor burn are two separate issues that need to be resolved using particular methods — so don’t apply your ingrown hair solution to a razor burn, and vice versa. Shafer explains, “It is important to differentiate between razor burn (i.e., inflammation) and razor bumps (i.e., ingrown hair). Hydrocortisone can help with the inflammation. Sometimes a small injection of steroid can also help, but the key is prevention.” Brit + Co Pick: Aveeno Active Naturals 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream ($4)
5. Replace blades regularly. “I would focus on using a new razor so that you aren’t shaving with a dull blade,” McLain begins. “Whichever razor you choose, change it often! There seem to be a number of auto-ship clubs popping up for those of us who are terrible at remembering to change our razors.” Billie’s program offers auto-shipments monthly, bi-monthly, or every three months, along with an entire line of clean shaving products. Brit + Co Pick: Billie The $9 Starter Kit ($9)
6. Shave every two to three days with an emollient. “I recommend clients not shave every day,” McLain explains. “It’s too much for the skin. Every two to three days is much better. And one should never dry shave.” Sensitive skin types especially benefit from an off-day, while lubricating products expedite skin recovery. Brit + Co Pick: Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream ($24)
7. Exfoliate gently — not aggressively — before shaving. McLain notes, “I think one of the best things you can do to prep your skin for shaving is to exfoliate. This will remove dead skin cells, which will allow for a closer shave and promote healthy cell turnover.” Just be sure to do so gently as harsh exfoliation just before hair removal can actually result in razor burn. Brit + Co Pick: HydroPeptide 5x Power Peel ($68)
8. Soothe skin with ingredients like aloe post-shave. After shaving, help restore sensitive skin with the application of a comforting gel or balm, particularly if you are experiencing redness. Shafer explains, “The aloe is soothing, and the rosemary, sage, and lavender are calming. [This product] is packed with antioxidants to further help reduce inflammation and protect the skin.” Brit + Co Pick: Jack Black Post-Shave Cooling Gel ($20)
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