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How to Prevent Skin Irritation Caused by Shaving

Updated on June 19, 2013

Whether you shave your legs, your armpits, your face or even your genitals, shaving can cause irritated skin and a host of other unpleasant side effects. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to prevent skin irritation caused by shaving, and to relieve skin problems associated with the practice.

Potential Shaving Hazards

There are many problems that can result from a bad shave, including:

Mild shaving rash to serious razor burn:

For some, a post shave rash is a mild affliction that goes away within the hour. It may even be relieved with some mild aftershave and toner.

For others, the rash that appears after shaving leaves their skin red and sensitive to the touch. A rash on this type of skin may last hours, days or even weeks. Shaving daily only compounds the problem.


Worse than a simple razor burn, but also the consequence of a bad shave, folliculitis is an infection caused by bacteria that inflames hair follicles. This results in a breakout of tiny red bumps that cause irritation.

While folliculitis can occur anywhere on your body, you can help prevent it on your face and neck with proper shaving technique.

Bumps and pimples:

Shaving bumps are also known as razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis. A poor shave can cause the hair to curl back on itself and grow down into the skin. Thus the name “ingrown hairs.”

This is often the cause of pimples and is certainly irritating. Left untreated, it should resolve on its own. However, it can also become infected, especially if you continue to shave or pick at it.

Treating Irritated Skin

Mild shaving rash may go away without treatment or after applying a warm compress for a few minutes. If it persists, cease all shaving activity and wash with a witch hazel formula. Use cool water and follow with a topical hydrocortisone cream once or twice a week.

If you suspect you are experiencing folliculitis or a similar problem and it does not resolve on its own, try the following:

  • Warm washcloth soaked in an aluminum acetate solution.
  • Antifungal cream
  • Triple antibiotic ointment

If the infection is still present, consult a dermatologist. During this time:

  • Avoid shaving
  • Continue to bathe regularly with an antibacterial soap
  • Do not let sweat sit on your face or body too long.


  • Stay out of public hot tubs and pools and try not to scratch.
  • Seek relief from itching with a warm compress prepared as directed above
  • Do not use oils as they can clog skin pores and exacerbate the condition

This same advice should be followed for ingrown hairs, pimples or severe razor rash.

Don't attempt to use this razor without some practice first!
Don't attempt to use this razor without some practice first! | Source

Shaving Tips

Preventing all of the shaving afflictions above begins with proper shaving. This means having the right tools, proper skin preparation and good shaving technique. Combined, these steps can turn a painful hassle into a pleasing daily ritual.

Step 1: Hot water

Not so hot that it makes your skin sensitive, but enough to generate some steam. This can be hot water from a shower, splashing your face in the sink or a warm towel, the preferred method. Ideally, your skin is exposed to this water for several minutes to loosen it up. It also simultaneously stands hair up and makes it easier to cut.

Step 2 Optional: Face cleansing

Cleaning your face is not optional, but if you just stepped out of the shower it is a little redundant. If not, take a washcloth or face cleansing brush and gently exfoliate with a mild scrub or antibacterial soap. This remove dead skin, bacteria, etc., and makes for a smoother shave.

Step 3: Lather and Marinate

Using a good shaving brush and shaving soap, cream or gel (not foam as it makes it difficult to see where you are shaving,) work up a lather in the shaving bowl and apply it to your face in a consistent circular motion. Cover all the areas to be shaved and let the lather sit for at least a minute to soften up the whiskers.

Step 4: Shave in the direction of your hairs.

Using short strokes (one to two inches,) pass the razor over your face in the direction your whiskers grow. Hairs grow in different directions on different areas of the face. If you are not sure which way yours grow, stop shaving for a couple of days until it becomes apparent.

If you still need a closer shave, re-lather the face with plenty of warm water and repeat the process, with the grain. Going against the grain is a sure way to invite irritated skin.

Step 5: Use a clean sharp razor.

Your razor should be sharp enough to make the job easy. Do not press hard as this can cause nicks and cuts and of course, post-shave irritation. If you need to press hard to cut your whiskers, you need to replace the razor blade immediately.

The razor should also be clean and all yours. Do not borrow your girlfriend’s or partner’s razor as it may contain bacteria that is easily transferred into your skin.

Between razor strokes, rinse the blade in hot water. This is done to remove the skin cells, hairs and shaving gunk picked up by the blades.

Step 6: Toner and Aftershave

The shaving ritual takes off about 2 layers of skin every time, so a little extra pampering is in order.

Following shaving, rinse with warm and then cold water, which closes the pores. Then, apply an alcohol-free toner and moisturizer. The toner is refreshing and causes pores to contract temporarily.

Finally, apply an alcohol free moisturizer or moisturizing aftershave to your skin. This helps protect the skin from the elements and supports the moisturizing effect of the sebum (liquid secreted by sebaceous glands.

Follow these steps every time you shave to reduce the occurrence of irritated skin. When post-shave irritation does happen, be gentle and patient in treating it, and your skin should be back to normal soon.


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