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Learn How To Prevent Razor Bumps for Good With These Tips

Smooth, soft post-shave skin is one of the most satisfying feelings in the world. But if you don’t shave carefully, razor bumps might ruin that fresh-shave feeling. 

Luckily, it’s possible to ease the discomfort of razor bumps and prevent them from appearing. Here’s how to prevent razor bumps and get a better shave.

October 17, 2022
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Table of Contents

Why razor bumps appear

Razor bumps (also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae) occur when hair is trapped inside a hair follicle. Instead of growing out the skin's surface, the hair curls around the pore, resulting in an inflamed and irritating bump.

Razor bumps develop anywhere you shave. It’s also possible to develop razor bumps after waxing or plucking hairs, but this is less common because the hairs are removed, not cut. No matter where you get them, the symptoms of razor bumps are nearly always the same: itching, redness, pain, and noticeable bumps on the skin.

Several factors contribute to razor bumps, some of which aren’t in your control. Having sensitive skin or coarse or curly hair increases your chance of developing razor bumps (this is why 45–85% of African American men, who tend to have thicker and curlier facial hair, struggle with razor bumps).

But perhaps the most significant contributing factor to razor bumps is the way you shave. Dry shaving or using an old, dull razor can irritate your skin and increase your risk of razor bumps. That’s why using the right shaving tools and techniques is essential.

Razor bumps versus razor burn

If you’re familiar with razor bumps, you’ve probably also dealt with their cousin, razor burn. Razor burn is irritation after dry shaving, using a poor-quality razor, or shaving too aggressively. The skin gets red, itchy, and tight, and it can develop into a rash in extreme cases. But unlike razor bumps, razor burn doesn’t affect growing hair or hair follicles.

How to prevent razor bumps

Razor bumps are extremely common — but they don’t have to be. These simple steps will help prevent razor bumps and give you softer post-shave skin. 

1. Exfoliate your skin

Razor bumps are a type of ingrown hair, so the best way to prevent them is to unclog your pores. Pre-shave exfoliating with a high-quality product helps remove dead skin cells and dirt from your pores, ensuring there’s space for your hair to grow.

2. Moisten your skin with water and soap

Many people dry shave (shave without water or soap) when in a hurry. But if you don’t take time to wet your skin, there will be discomfort later. Moisture softens your body hair, which makes it easier to cut and less likely to result in razor bumps.

3. Use a thick shaving gel or cream

There are two reasons to use shaving gel or cream. First, they create a protective layer between the razor and your skin, minimizing friction and decreasing your risk of razor bumps or burns. Second, they seal in moisture. Always generously apply shaving cream or gel before shaving. 

4. Use a new or sharp razor

Using an old or dull razor significantly increases the risk of developing razor bumps. This is because a dull razor is more likely to pull at your hair rather than cut it, resulting in inflammation and skin irritation. Avoid this issue by using a sharp, high-quality razor every time you shave.

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5. Shave carefully

Once you have the right tools, it’s time to learn how to shave without getting razor bumps. Glide the razor over your skin in the natural direction of hair growth. This shaving technique reduces your risk of razor bumps because it cuts the hair without pulling on the follicle and irritating skin. 

Avoid running your razor along the same area multiple times, increasing the chances you’ll cut or irritate your skin, and rinse the razor with cold water after every pass. Cold water stiffens hair, making it easier to get a close shave.

6. Use an electric razor

If ingrown hairs and razor bumps are a constant problem, consider switching to an electric razor. These tools don’t cut hair directly on the skin, so you’ll get a close shave with almost no chance of skin irritation. 

7. Moisturize after shaving

Although water hydrates skin during the shave, prolonged exposure to water leaves skin more dehydrated in the long run. This is why it’s so important to moisturize your legs, face, bikini area, or anywhere else you shave ASAP. A good lotion will nourish skin, prevent irritation, and keep everything hydrated until it’s time to shave again.

8.Don’t shave every day

Shaving daily increases your risk of irritation simply because you’re regularly exposing your skin to the razor. Ideally, take at least 1–2 days to let your skin recover before shaving again.

How to treat razor bumps

If you follow all the steps above but still wind up with razor bumps, here are some treatment methods.

  • Take a break from shaving. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), most people stop seeing razor bumps after a three-month shaving break.
  • Wash the skin. Using a gentle cleanser to wash troubled areas helps remove dead skin cells that might keep hairs from breaking through the skin’s surface.
  • Apply warm water or a warm cloth to irritated skin. The heat will open the pores and cause the hair to swell, making it easier for it to come through the skin.
  • Treat them with hydrocortisone or antibiotic cream. We recommend seeing a dermatologist before trying this method, but it will relieve any discomfort you experience. 

However you treat your razor bumps, try not to pick at them. This will further irritate your skin and increase the risk of infection and scarring.

Our favorite razors

Proper shaving is essential to prevent razor bumps, but so is a high-quality razor. Here are a few of our favorites.

No matter the razor you use, the secret to a smooth shave is to take your time. Be gentle with your skin, don’t rush the process, and you’ll likely see fewer razor bumps and burns.

If you’re unsure which razor or shaving products are best for you, watch video reviews on Flip before purchasing. We’re always discussing the pros and cons of the best beauty products, so you can feel confident you’ve made a worthwhile purchase.

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