Although there are many ways to remove unwanted body hair, including plucking, waxing, chemical depilatories, laser removal and electrolysis, shaving remains the most common, by far. Unfortunately, razor burn can be a nasty side effect of this popular hair removal method.
Read on to learn how to prevent, spot and treat the typically temporary skin condition.
What is razor burn?
If you have ever experienced a red, bumpy rash after shaving, it was probably razor burn. The irritating, sometimes painful, skin condition can impact any area of the body that comes in contact with a razor, including the legs, underarms, bikini area and face.
In addition to small red bumps on the skin, razor burn may be characterized by itching, tenderness and a stinging or burning sensation. Those with sensitive skin may be more susceptible to the condition.
Although similar in appearance, razor burn should not be confused with razor bumps, which occur when hair regrowth curls into the skin instead of penetrating the follicle.
What causes razor burn?
Wondering what brought on that telltale rash? Common cause of razor burn include:
- Shaving without using shaving cream, soap and water or another lubricant (a.k.a. dry shaving)
- Shaving with an old razor
- Shaving with a razor blade that is dull or clogged with shaving cream, soap or hair
- Shaving in the opposite direction of hair growth
- Shaving in a hurry
- Repeatedly shaving the same area
- Using skin-irritating shaving products
How to prevent razor burn
Obviously, it’s better to combat razor burn than to treat it. The best way to do so is to practice a proper shaving technique:
- Clean your skin prior to shaving
- Always use a sharp razor (replace blades regularly)
- Consider using a single-blade razor if you have sensitive skin*
- Wet your skin (and allow water to sit for two minutes) before shaving
- Use shaving cream, soap and water or another lubricant
- Only shave in the direction of hair growth
- Lightly pat your skin dry after shaving
- Apply a moisturizer to your skin after shaving
You can also help prevent razor burn by using an electric razor or choosing a different hair removal method, such as sugaring at home, shaving less often or stopping altogether.
* Please note: Although multiple-blade razors typically provide a closer shave, they are more likely than single-blade razors to cause razor burn in individuals with sensitive skin.
How to get rid of razor burn
Treating razor burn typically involves gently addressing the symptoms and waiting for the condition to subside. It is best to refrain from shaving the affected area until it has fully healed.
To relieve itching and burning, apply a cool washcloth, aloe vera or avocado oil to the skin. To eliminate dryness, rinse the affected area and pat it dry. Then lather on an emollient, such as aftershave, lotion, moisturizer or coconut oil.