If you shave your face, you’ve no doubt experienced shaving bumps—and guess what? The blemishes that pop up post-shave are actually acne breakouts, which are caused by inflammation in the hair follicles. Specifically, they happen when hair gets trapped in the follicle. Are they 100% preventable? No—but if you go take the right precautions, you can avoid future outbreaks as much as possible. Here’s how.
RULE # 1: DON’T SKIP THE WARM-UP
If you prep your face (or any area you’re shaving, for that matter) with warm water pre-shave, your skin will become more pliable due to hydration. Because heat and steam will also soften the hair, making the entire process easier, shaving in the shower is a good idea.
RULE #2: LATHER UP
The right shaving cream will provide ample lubrication, ensuring that the razor glides over the skin without catching. This will reduce the potential for irritation and prevent nicks. We’ve found that thinner, filmier shaving creams are best for this purpose.
RULE #3: USE THE RIGHT RAZOR
If you can, use an electric razor. The shave won’t be as close, but you probably won’t break out from using it. If you prefer blade shaving, use a new single-blade razor each time you shave. Double-and triple-edged blades lift the hair out of the follicle for a shave that’s actually below the epidermis. As part of the skin’s natural healing process, the epidermis grows over the opening of the follicle. Then, as the hair grows back, it has to fight to get out of the closed follicle—often causing an inflammatory response.
RULE #4: GO WITH THE GRAIN
The closer your shave, the more likely you are to get bumps after shaving. So try to get into the habit of shaving with the grain – this usually means shaving down rather than up. This will cut down on irritation and may help with nicks and cuts, too.
RULE #5: USE A TONER
We know what you’re thinking: what’s a toner? The truth is, these post-cleansing products—which are designed to get rid of any cleanser and dead skin cells that may linger after you wash your face—are great for use as after-shaves. When you’re done shaving, try using a mild, alcohol-free toner that’s formulated with witch hazel. You could also reach for an antibacterial gel or product formulated with benzoyl peroxide—which can start killing acne-causing bacteria before it gets into your open follicles.
RULE #6: KNOW WHEN TO SPEAK TO A DERMATOLOGIST
If you follow these precautions and your shaving bumps persist, it’s important that you contact a dermatologist, who can help you determine your best course of action.