How to get rid of razor bumps and why you get them in the first place

How to get rid of razor bumps

When I first started shaving many years ago it was a painful experience.  My neck was full of these raised red bumps that were irritating and even more bothersome was the sight of this red patch on my neck.

I tried eve rything to eliminate the bumps including: 3 blade razors, 5 blade razors, electric razors, and a combination of different creams, gels.  Nothing seemed to work and I just learned to deal with it and tried reducing the amount of time I was shaving.  

It took many years until I finally figured out the secret and now rarely does my skin get irritated.  If it does then I probably didn’t follow my own advice.

I’ll tell you how to get rid of razor bumps once and for all and it’s really easy.  If your skin is anything like mine this will work and based on feedback we have received from many of our customers it does work.

There isn’t really any magic, it’s a routine, a change of habits, and a different way to approach shaving.  Give it a try and let me know if your skin improves afterwards.

Before talking about the solution for razor bumps let’s start with the problem.  

What are Razor Bumps?

The medical term is Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB).  Since we are not doctors and do not claim to be let’s stick with the layman explanation.  This condition is simply irritation most commonly caused by shaving.  Barbers itch, Shave Bumps, and Razor bumps essentially the same thing.

If your skin is irritated after shaving then you are dealing with razor bumps.


The top 6 reasons for Razor Bumps

  1. Not prepping your skin
  2. Not enough lubrication between the razor and skin.  This is NOT the same as prep
  3. Shaving techniques such as pressing too hard or shaving against the grain
  4. Razors that pull up hair and cut below the surface of the skin
  5. Curly thick hair
  6. Sensitive Skin
All of these factors contribute to razor bumps.  Getting rid of razor bumps means eliminating as many factors as possible.  There are some things that you can’t change such as how curly your hair is.  Other things like the way you prep your skin is completely in your control. 


How to prep your skin for shaving

Hydration, Hydration, Hydration.  Have you ever been in the bathtub too long or gone swimming and get those wrinkly fingers?  What about having really dry skin that cracks because it’s too dry?

Those two are extremes and the point is that your skin reacts differently when hydrated vs dry.  Hydrated skin is more protected than dry skin.  This is why it’s important to hydrate your skin prior to shaving.  Not to the point of wrinkly pool skin, but enough additional moisture to prepare it for a razor blade to glide across.


The hydration will also soften the hairs and allow for an easier shave.  

In order to hydrate your skin before shaving you'll need to do one of the following

  1. Shower first with warm water
  2. Wash/rinse the area to be shaved at your sink
  3. Use a hot towel similar to what barbershops do.  Soak a towel in hot water, ring it out and lay it over the area to be shaved.

Shaving Soap, Creams, Gels, Oils and how to lubricate and protect

There are unlimited shaving products on the market.  The most common is the shaving cream and gels from your local grocery store.  For the hardcore shaving enthusiasts youll get into the Shaving soaps and pre-shave oils.  


The purpose for all of the products is to protect your skin, moisturize your hair prior to shaving, and provide adequate lubrication for the razor to glide across.

One more consideration is how these products react with your skin after shaving.  Some of the products contain chemicals that tend to dry out your skin for example.  Look for products that provide all the protection and leave your skin clean and moisturized.

Protected skin, softer hair, and a surface the razor can slip across provides a less irritating shave and in turn reduces the change of getting razor bumps.


Shaving Techniques to reduce razor bump

Don't shave over the same area more than once.  Multiple passes on the same area increases the chance for irritation. If you really want that silky smooth shave then you’ll probably go over the same area more than once.  If you must go over the same area be sure to reapply your shaving products before doing so.  

Less is always more when it comes to the pressure you apply to the razor when shaving.  If you press too hard the razor will scrape your skin and irritate it.  Let the weight of the razor do the job and just guide it.   

Hair doesn’t grow straight out.  It grows in one direction or the other and different parts of your face will have hair that travels in different directions.  Shaving hair with the grain provides a different result than shaving against the grain.  

With the grain is a safer shave than against the grain.  Against the grain provides a closer and smoother shave, which also increases the chance of razor bumps.

Map your beard grain and learn how to shave with the grain.

One more tip is shaving frequency and length.  If you shave daily your skin has a better chance of getting irritated, while shaving weekly means you might need to make multiple passes to shave your hair.  Find a balance between too frequently and too long of hair to further reduce irritation.

What Razors reduce razor bumps?

Razors are meant to remove hair, so it’s not surprising seeing commercials touting how smooth and close their razors shave.  It’s more than just a clever ad too because some razors are meant to provide a really close shave.  Many multi blade razors pick up the hair slightly higher than the surface with one blade and cut with another.  

This creates a very smooth shave because it’s actually cutting the hair below the surface.  The downside is when the cut hair is growing back especially curly hair will grow under the skin and guess what?  Yep, irritate skin, razor bumps, and unsightly skin.

Safety razors are built with a single blade and as long as you shave with the grain and don’t use pressure this type of razor will further reduce the appearance of razor bumps.

One additional benefit of safety razors is the cost of razor blades.  Individual blades are in the ballpark of 10 - 50 centThe newer the razor blade is the easier it is to knick yourself, but it also reduces the possibility of getting razor burn.  Try using a new razor blade and don't use blades for more than 3-5 shaves.

Does Curly hair cause razor bumps

Most people have curly hair somewhere on their face, neck, or head.  Some people have it in all three places.  The more curly hair you have the more you’ll need to follow the 6 steps to reducing razor bumps.  

Almost everyone has neck hair that grows a bit more curly even if the other hair is straight.  This is one of the reasons why many people have irritation on their neck.  One is that it’s a sensitive area and two is the hair grows less than straight.

Why does curly hair have anything to do with razor bumps?  When curly hair is cut and starts growing again it has two problems. The first is that it doesn’t grow straight out of the place it was just cut, which causes irritation.  The other is when it grows out of the skin it curls back into the skin again causing irritation.  

There isn’t anything you are going to do in order to straighten your naturally curly hair, so just make sure you follow the other recommendations to eliminate razor bumps.

How to prevent razor bumps with sensitive skin

Different parts of your skin are more sensitive than others.  As mentioned earlier the neckline is one of the most sensitive and also most prone to irritation.  

Moisturizing your skin, shaving with the grain, and using good products are all good ideas to make sure your sensitive skin is protected from shaving.

Sometimes this routine is just not enough and you’ll need to look more at the ingredients of the products you are using.  

A general rule of thumb is if you have a hard time pronouncing an ingredient it’s probably something you want to avoid.  If your skin is extra sensitive an additional step is to find products that are fragrance free.  Fragrances can cause irritation on their own and something worth removing to see if your skin improves.

Post shave care

Once you are done shaving, you'll want to apply a product to sooth the skin, close pores, and help prevent razor bumps from appearing.  

Aftershave comes in a few different varieties.  An alcohol based product and a lotion based product.  Choose based on the sensitivity of your skin.

How to get rid of razor bumps 

If you are fed up with razor bumps and want to have them disappear after your next shave then try to incorporate as many of the recommendations above as a start. 

Once you find the right combination of routine, product, and razor you’ll be happy to have clean irritation free skin without the razor bumps.

Let us know about your experience and if there are any additional tips and tricks that will help others in this situation. 

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