When we think about skin care, we tend to think of cleansers and moisturisers first, to get the basics right. Then we might think about other skin care products such as toners, serums and exfoliating products. We might then think about makeup and what type of foundations and concealers might be best for us.
Then possibly we might even think about our skin care from the inside - that is, what we eat and drink (and what we don’t eat and drink), whether or not we smoke or suffer stress, get enough sleep or expose ourselves to harsh chemicals.
But skin care also means what we do to our skin as well as what we put on it or feed it with. Hair removal is a constant battle for some of us and removing hair with a razor is quick, cheap and simple, but can also be harsh on the skin.
Developing a shaving rash is annoying, uncomfortable and for many of us, embarrassing. But other than using other, often trickier, more expensive methods of hair removal such as waxing, threading or laser hair removal - most of which involve a trip to the salon - or leaving our hair to go wild, what can we go about a shaving rash?
We did some digging to find out…
What does a shaving rash look like?
A shaving rash can develop anywhere on the body, but most of the time, it develops on the face (or on the scalp if you shave your head) where the skin is most sensitive. It can also develop on the legs, arms, underarms, chest or bikini area.
Most of the time, a shaving rash causes redness and inflammation on the skin where you shave, and develops soon after using your razor.
It can also cause tenderness in the area, the skin might feel hot to the touch, or like its burning from the inside, it might feel itchy and a series of small red bumps might develop. When this develops on the face, this is a condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae. When it develops elsewhere, it’s known as pseudofolliculitis.
These red bumps can become very inflamed and are usually caused by the cut hairs regrowing back into the skin, causing an ingrown hair, inflamed skin and a blocked follicle. These are most common in areas where the hair is curly such as on the face, on the scalp and around the bikini area. They’re also more common in those with Afro hair which tends to be curlier and more coarse.
What causes a shaving rash?
A shaving rash is caused by shaving, obviously, but it also very much depends on how you shave. For example, shaving with your razor directly onto dry skin can cause a shaving rash, as can using an old, dirty or a blunt razor or shaving in the wrong direction...
How to prevent shaving rash?
Yes, there’s a wrong and a right direction when it comes to shaving! To best avoid developing a razor rash, or razor burn as it’s also often known, is to shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it.
Other tips include making sure your razor isn’t old or clogged wth old hairs, soap or shaving cream and using short, light strokes, making sure you don’t go over the same area too often. It’s best to shave after showering when the hair is softer and the hair follicles are more open, and to use a high quality, lubricating shaving soap or foam.
Always rinse your blade between each stroke too, and then thoroughly clean and dry your blades after use to prolong their life and prevent them from going rusty.
After shaving, rinse away any residual shaving foam or soap using cold water that will help to close the hair follicles preventing them from getting clogged with dirt. Then apply a gentle moisturiser such as our Sidekick Day Cream or Midnight Feast Night Cream.
Regularly exfoliating the skin using a mechanical exfoliator such as a facial brush or a gentle fruit acid exfoliator such as salicylic acid will help to prevent the red bumps caused by ingrown hairs by encouraging the hairs to regrow in the right direction.
How to get rid of a shaving rash?
If you’re still suffering from razor rash despite trying all of the tips above, there are still things you can try. These include holding a cool, clean washcloth on the area for 20 minutes at a time or applying a colloidal oatmeal face mask to the area.
If you have red, angry skin and razor bumps that have turned yellow or green in colour, they may have become infected and you may need antibiotics to treat them. Speak to your pharmacist or GP to see how they can help you.
How long does shaving rash last?
A shaving rash will continue to plague you for as long as you shave, or at least for as long as you shave using a blunt or dirty razor, shave against the direction of hair growth or shave directly onto dry skin.
It might help to shave less often than you currently do or to use an electric razor every other time you shave to take a little of the pressure off your skin.
If you do have a razor rash, it might take one to two weeks of no shaving to fully settle down. It will take longer, around four to six weeks, for your skin to return to normal (whilst refraining from shaving) if you’ve developed pseudofolliculitis barbae.
Always look after your skin by using kind skin care products too, that will give you the best chance of skin that behaves in the way you want it too. Find out more about our botanical rich, alkalising silica salt skin care products and how they could help you!