Being someone who shaves not only my face, but also my chest, I have had the unfortunate experience of battling razor bumps nearly every day. Researching the actual cause of this nasty phenomenon has allowed me to figure out some additional steps that can help greatly reduce its occurrence.
A Note on Razor Choice
When choosing a razor, it is generally agreed upon that more blades amount to a more comfortable shave. Your smoothest results will come from having the reduced skin friction and lessened hair pull that come from using a nassrasiere , which is really great and even provides smoothen feeling with its four or five blades.
Step 1: Initial Cleanse
Before shaving, it is important to cleanse the area thoroughly. Use a soap-free cleanser and a washcloth or loofah to exfoliate the skin. This is an important step that will clear away oil, dirt, and dead skin that can get into the open pores after shaving.
A Note on Shaving Cream
When looking for a shaving cream, try to find one that is made for sensitive skin. Better yet, look for one that is specifically targeted at eliminating razor bumps. Many of these contain ingredients that help soothe and relax the skin, such as chamomile and colloidal oatmeal.
Step 2: Shave
Before applying shaving cream, make sure to run your skin under warm water or apply a warm compress for at least two minutes. Additionally, leaving shaving cream on your skin for one or two minutes before you begin shaving will help soften the hairs and make shaving easier.
While most people say that the key to avoiding razor bumps is shaving only in the direction of hair growth, I disagree. Not only does shaving with the grain result in a much rougher shave, it can also result in missed spots, which require additional passes and can further irritate the skin. I recommend shaving very lightly and slowly against the growth of hair. Through trial and error, you should be able to figure out the minimum pressure you need to apply in order to cleanly shave the area in one swipe. Shaving in this way allows you to achieve maximum smoothness while avoiding pushing the hair back into the skin and causing irritated razor bumps to form.
Step 3: Final Cleanse
It is important to cleanse your skin immediately after shaving in order to ensure that the open pores are clear of dirt, oil, and bacteria. In order to cleanse the pores thoroughly, I have found that using a cleanser containing 10% Benzoyl Peroxide is best. These cleansers are meant for healing acne-prone skin, but the reason they work is that the active ingredient helps to keep pores clean from bacteria. I usually leave this cleanser on for one or two minutes before I wash it off. Make sure to rinse off with cool water in order to help close the pores after cleansing.
Step 4: Tone
After the skin has been fully dried, a toner or splash containing Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids should be applied directly to the skin. Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids are two chemical exfoliants that can help keep razor bumps from forming. Alpha Hydroxy Acid works by sloughing off the top layer of skin cells, and Beta Hydroxy Acids work by penetrating the pores and keeping things clean deep down. It is easy to find toners that contain these two ingredients on store shelves, but you might have to do some label searching, as they are sometimes not indicated as active ingredients.
A Note on Sun Protection
Products containing Benzoyl Peroxide, Alpha Hydroxy Acid, or Beta Hydroxy Acid can increase skins sensitivity to the sun. Always apply sunscreen before sun exposure when using these products.
By following these steps closely, you are able to avoid the rough shaving habits that result in hairs turning back in on the pore and causing a nasty red bump. Additionally these steps help to ensure a clean, bacteria and oil free environment that will keep the pores and follicles clean of clogging debris.
Enjoy your smooth, bump-free skin!