Person shaving with a razor

Shaving With Acne: Tips for Your Skin Care Regimen

It’s a hairy situation: Acne breakouts can disrupt your everyday routines, including shaving.

If you have active inflammation, pimples, papules, pustules, and/or comedones, shaving can seem anything but routine. Scraping your face with a razor can be irritating to the skin, which is known to make acne worse and cause related conditions such as folliculitis, pseudo-folliculitis barbae, and even permanent acne scars.1-3

If you are wondering, “Should I shave or not during an acne outbreak?” The answer is “You have options.”

Option 1: Skip shaving when you experience an outbreak of acne, and continue on with your acne treatment and skin care routine.  

Option 2: Go ahead and shave, but follow these tips from the American Academy of Dermatology Association. They have broken down shaving into three steps: preparation, during shaving and post-shaving. These tips should help overcome the challenges of hair removal during an acne outbreak.4

Step 1: Preparation

  • Soften the hair and moisten your skin by taking a shower first, gently removing excess oil and dead skin cells, and warming your skin before you shave
  • Apply shaving cream or gel that is designed for sensitive skin or acne

Step 2: During shaving

  • Use a sharp clean blade and make sure you change your blade often so it is not dull or dirty
  • Reduce irritation to your skin and lessen bumps and razor burns by shaving in the same direction the hair grows
  • Lightly shave your skin, especially over inflamed areas, and never shave off acne bumps or pimples, as additional cuts can often make acne worse
  • Rinse your blade with water and wipe off hair and residue after each swipe

Step 3: Post-shaving

  • Prevent bacteria overgrowth by keeping your razor clean and storing it in a dry and protected place

It’s important to remember to consult your dermatologist about any changes to your acne regimen. Discuss your concerns about shaving during outbreaks, and ensure that you follow a shaving regimen that will help your acne, not make it worse.


1. Ogunbiyi A. Pseudofolliculitis barbae; current treatment options. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019;12:241-247. doi:10.2147/CCID.S149250

2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Acne-like breakouts could be folliculitis. Accessed July 12, 2022.

3. Howland J. Mayo Clinic News Network. Mayo Clinic Minute: Shaving too close can cause skin problems. Published November 29, 2021. Accessed July 12, 2022.

4. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair removal: How to shave. Accessed July 12, 2022.