RAZOR BUMP REMEDIES
So I have often been accused of being a feminist since all of my blogs are mostly related to female related topics. What can I say, I’m a girl so I can talk about girly stuff first hand. Luckily I have men in my life and sometimes customers with special concerns that I get to address. This time the topic is mostly masculine although females can suffer from razor bumps too, think bikini area & under arms. However; this one will be geared mostly to the boys, so here we go…
The Dreaded Razor Bumps or Pseudofollicultis Barbae, can occur anytime you remove hair by shaving, waxing or plucking. It happens when the hair begins to grow back without breaking through the skin. When this happens, your body treats the ingrown hair as an invader and sends white blood cells in to attack. Usually there is some kind of bacteria involved too, thus leaving you with irritated pussy bumps. Let’s set aside how it looks, it is super uncomfortable, itchy & just plain annoying.
That’s enough of what it is…how do we get rid of it is more important.
Avoid it!! You know me, always one to be pro-active and not re-active. Dermatologists actually recommend that you don’t shave at all if you are prone to razor bumps or only 1x a week if you must shave. This will allow your skin time to heal in between shaves. However; with a consistent, healthy shaving routine you can help to stop them before they begin, if you have to shave. So my opinion is don’t get them and you don’t have to treat them. Here are a few tips on avoiding razor bumps & shaving irritation.
BEFORE YOU SHAVE
Know your hair & skin type. Hair comes in all different colors and textures. Curly textures tend to have more cases of Razor Bumps because the hair grows in different directions. This makes it difficult to shave “with the grain”. If you have this problem it is sometimes possible to “train” your hair, to grow in a specific direction. Simply use a medium boar bristle brush and brush your hair in the direction you want it to grow. This will only work if you stay on top of it, so keep the brush with you and brush through-out the day. Also people with more melanin in their skin tend to have thicker skin, thus making it harder for the hair to escape the skin and ending in ingrown hairs. It is best to avoid shaving or keep it limited, to avoid ingrown hairs.
Gently exfoliate. When you suffer from Razor Bumps it is imperative that you exfoliate at least every two days. This will allow you to remove the dead surface layers of skin and make it easier for your hair to break through your skin. Exfoliating will also give you a smooth even skin tone. Bentonite Clay Facial Mask, Oily/Acne Formula is a product that I make to gently exfoliate the skin while moisturizing and detoxifying.
Detoxify. With so many toxins from the food, to the water and even the air, it is also important to detoxify the skin. The first step in detoxing is to stop putting toxins on or in your body. Read the labels, what are the ingredients? Are they all beneficial to your body and not just the shelf life of the product? Do your research, if it has unnecessary, toxic ingredients…Don’t use it anymore!! The second step is to get the toxins that you already have in you, out. I have a Total Body Detox Program designed to help you detox from the inside out. You can also detoxify with Bentonite Clay and other natural ingredients. Bentonite Clay Facial Mask, Oily/Acne Formula is a product that I make to help detoxify and exfoliate the skin. The ingredients are specifically designed to combat bacteria while still being gentle on inflamed skin.
You should use the mask 2 times a week on days that you are not shaving.
Make sure you have the proper shaving device. Electric shavers, cartridge razors, double edge razors (aka safety razors), and straight razors, OH MY!! Too many options…seriously I almost got a headache reading about them all. I found a great article all about the pros & cons of each type of razor on a site called Tools of Men. Check it out there is a lot of great info. What I got from my research was the following:
- Both the Electric Razor & cartridge razors tend to increase razor bumps. You probably want to stay away from these types.
- Double Edge Razors (DE) & Straight Razors (SR) are more sanitary and do not cause razor bumps as much as the previously mentioned. They also give you a close shave with only one pass (thus avoiding irritation). While this sounds great please be aware that there is a learning curve and you may slice yourself a few times in the process.
- Beard Trimmer is your best bet while fighting razor bumps. Since it doesn’t touch your skin, it avoids irritation and bumps. I recommend this if you are having an outbreak of razor bumps it will give your skin much needed time to heal. It will not give you a close shave, just a trim, but it is neater than not shaving at all.
Photo on Left: Hair cut with straight razor/Photo on Right: Hair cut with electric shaver
Sanitize your tools. Everything from your razor to the towel that you dry your face with after your shave, need to be as germ free as possible. The razor is fairly easy to keep clean if you use a DE or SR, you can boil them as one way to sanitize. You can use a mixture of 1 part white vinegar & 1 part water and soak for 30 minutes. In both cases make sure that you dry the razor thoroughly to avoid rust. Never use a razor that has rusted.
Here is a great video that I found on cleaning your shaving brush, probably the hardest shaving tool to keep clean.
PROPER SHAVING PROCEEDURE
Thoroughly wet your skin & hair before shaving. Never dry shave. It is best to wash your face in the shower before shaving. That way your hair will have time to soak up as much water as possible and the warmth will help open up your pores. When hair is wet it is weaker & easier to shave. If you can’t take a shower then simply wash your face & apply a warm, wet wash cloth for 5-10 minutes to help moisten hair and open up pores.
The Bentonite Clay Facial Mask, Oily/Acne Formula can be used as a face wash for this step. Simply use less clay and more water, massage as you would any facial cleanser. Don’t leave on longer than 2 minutes. You should use as a mask on days you are not shaving but no more than 2-3x a week.
Use a shaving cream or balm. This is a step not to miss, it gives your skin a critical layer of protection from the razor blade. I recommend using a natural moisturizer like coconut oil, the blade will easily slide over it and it is naturally anti-bacterial. I make a mixture of Coconut Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil infused with Peppermint & Tea Tree Essential Oil. It isn’t in the store but e-mail me if you are interested in purchasing. If you would rather make it on your own the recipe is below:
4tbsp Unrefined Coconut Oil
1tbsp Apricot Kernel Oil infused with Peppermint
35 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
Use a shaving brush. Shaving brushes help to apply your shaving cream as well as helping your hairs stand up. There are lots of different bristle types unfortunately most are made of animal hair & I can’t promote that. So here is a link to an inexpensive synthetic shaving brush that is animal friendly & has good reviews.
Never pull your skin taught. It is tempting to pull your skin when shaving to get a closer shave, this will only cause the hair to grow back into the skin causing painful bumps. So just don’t do it.
Shave in the right direction. Shaving against the grain will give you a very close shave, however it will also cause more irritation & unwanted razor bumps. You should start with the sides of your face, then your moustache and lastly your chin.
Don’t over shave the same spot. Going over the same spot too many times will cause unwanted irritation. If you have to go over the same spot then it is a very good idea to reapply more shaving cream on that area.
Rinse your blade after 1 or 2 strokes. It is a good idea to rinse the blade after every stroke, this is time consuming but will provide the best & least irritated skin.
Don’t press hard when you shave. Make sure that you shave gently to avoid cutting your skin. It helps to take shorter strokes and let the blade do the work.
Gently pat skin dry. It may be tempting but you don’t want to rub your freshly shaven face with your clean towel. It is best to simply pat the skin dry.
Apply after shave toner. My son loves the Vodka Toner for this step. It will give your skin an extra anti-bacterial boost, moisture & will help to tighten your pores. I don’t have this one in the store either but you can e-mail me if you want to try it or you can make your own, the recipe is below:
1oz Aloe Vera Juice
1oz Witch Hazel
.5oz Lavender infused Vodka (90proof)
.5oz Calendula infused Vodka (90proof)
Moisturize. This step is so important and often forgotten. You really can use many different natural oils for this step. Jojoba, Hemp Seed, Apricot Kernel, Sweet Almond & Coconut Oil are all great for after shaving. I like Coconut Oil especially because it has the added anti-bacterial properties. You can use the same Coconut Oil Recipe from the earlier section, Proper Shaving Procedure: Use a shaving cream or balm. Again if you prefer I can make for you, simply shoot me an e-mail. The mixture may be a bit more “oily” than you are used to. Don’t freak out…it will soak in, it just takes a bit more time than the moisturizers with water & alcohol. This will soak into your third layer of skin and nourish it, so just let it.
So what if you still get an ingrown hair?
Ok so you did everything right. You sanitized your tools, followed the proper pre-shave routine, shaved with the grain & you still manage to get an ingrown hair. Unfortunately, every time you shave you take that risk. Keeping your skin clean & exfoliated will allow your hairs to grow through more easily but sometimes even without shaving, ingrown hairs can occur. So then the question becomes, Do I pop it or leave it???
“…pop it or leave it?”
So before I give you my opinion on this, I think it necessary to give you some background. So we have already gone over how bacteria & fungus plays a role in razor bumps & irritation. It is important to know that there are thousands of different bacteria that we not only come into contact with daily but also that live on our skin and inside of us. It’s kind of creepy when you think about it but I have come to the understanding that this symbiotic relationship is part of being a human. I found this article Humans Carry More Bacterial Cells than Human Ones it goes into depth on the subject.
The important thing to remember is that these bacteria are ok as long as they stay in the right place. So anytime you pick, scratch or pop open your skin, you run the risk of allowing these bacteria into a place they don’t belong. Then your body goes into action fighting the invader with white blood cells, bump grows….blah, blah you know the rest. Sometimes the bacteria are “nicer” than others, meaning the aftermath is limited to a small puss filled bump with redness. I know it doesn’t look great but it is better than bacteria like staph infection. The point to all of this is that you be aware of the risk you take if you do decide to manually remove an ingrown hair or pop any bump.
So here we are with an infected ingrown hair, not only is it super painful but unsightly as well…what to do? If the infection is minor then it may simply clear up on its own. In this case you can use Tea Tree Oil or other antiseptics such as benzoyl peroxide, witch hazel, lemon or apple cider vinegar. Simply apply to the area as needed until the irritation goes away. Using a warm, wet compress will also help to open the pores to allow the hair to come to the top but will also promote drainage.
What about the cases where you feel like you just have to get in there to relieve the pressure on the skin and ultimately get the hair out? Well kiddos this is the part where I have to refer you to my Medical Disclaimer before I go any further…ok did you read it? Good…please proceed.
I must say that I am a little bit more unconventional than most (in case you hadn’t figured that out already), so when it looks to me like I need to intervene, I do. That being said there are steps to take to safely remove the hair or help the infection drain.
- Make sure that all tools have been sanitized & wash your hands thoroughly.
- Wet a clean wash cloth with warm water and apply a compress on the affected area. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes. This will help the puss & hopefully the hair closer to the surface.
- Now comes the part where you want to be super careful, removing the rogue piece(s) of hair. Make sure you use something with a sharp tip like pointed tweezers (again make sure your tools are sanitized). Be careful not to break the hair off at the skin or you will just have to go through the same thing in a few days when the hair grows back. The longer the hair, the easier this will be.
- Next wash your face with an anti-bacterial face wash to kill any germs that may be on the surface. Remember you have an open wound on now & you must treat it as such.
- The next step is to help the inflammation that is inevitable after the process. You can use aloe vera, witch hazel, tea tree oil or rosewater (or a combination of them all). It is best to keep the ingredients cold as that will add extra relief to the irritation.
- Make sure to keep the area clean and dry so it can heal. I recommend using Tea Tree Oil 2x daily until it heals.
Well that is all I have for you on this topic so far, I’ll update as I learn more. Oh yeah…here is that Medical Disclaimer one more time.
Please leave your comments if you have any more tips or ideas. I would love to hear what has worked for you.