What is razor burn? How long does it last?
Razor burn, also called shaving rash, is a skin condition caused by excessive irritation. It usually appears after shaving and looks like small red bumps on the skin, accompanied by a burning sensation.
Shaving rash shouldn't be confused with a similar condition called razor bumps, caused by ingrown hairs, which you should treat differently. Instead, they look like flesh-coloured bumps, where the hair grows down into the skin, and sometimes turn into pimples.
Fortunately, razor burn is usually a short-term condition that goes away within one to three days if managed well.
How can you make a razor burn go away faster?
The best thing to do to help razor burn heal is not to shave the affected skin while it is still painful. That will allow it to heal in time for your next shave and prevent the rash from coming back.
Protect the affected skin and keep it moisturised to promote fast healing. You could also apply products with ingredients that soothe and help the healing process such as:
- Bisabolol (a moisturiser found in sensitive shaving creams)
- Panthenol (ditto)
- Allantoin (common skin-care ingredient)
- Aloe Vere
- Chamomile (rich in allantoin)
- Comfrey (also rich in allantoin)
Another method used for centuries on symptoms of mild shaving rash is the use of an alum block. Alum is good to have in your bathroom for other reasons: it reduces redness, it's also an antiseptic, and it stops bleeding from small nicks and cuts.
Prevention is the best cure
With razor burn, prevention is the best cure, and it's easy to prevent the irritation that causes it. The most common causes of shaving irritation are:
- Using blunt razor blades
- Using too many strokes
- Pressing too hard
- Shaving against the direction of hair growth
- Sensitive skin
- Using too aggressive a razor
Prepare your skin before shaving
A good shaving routine is essential to prevent irritation from your razor. We suggest you wet shave after getting out of the shower when your skin is hydrated and your stubble is easiest to shave.
You should use a shaving product that will lubricate the surface of your skin and help your razor glide. Don't ever dry shave. A high-fat shaving cream or soap is ideal, or even a shaving oil if you like to keep things minimalist.
Replace your razor blade
It's important to replace your razor blade often so it doesn't pull at the hairs and create friction as you shave. Also, rinse your razor blade every two to three strokes to remove any hair or shaving product. This build-up adds to the friction and reduces your razor's ability to shave well.
Use fewer strokes, and don't press down
You should aim to pass over the same piece of skin with your razor just once. If your razor blade is sharp enough and you move slowly, this shouldn't be an issue.
One of the big problems with multiple-blade razors is that they create more friction and pressure than most other razors. Having more blades means more times your skin is scraped with each shaving stroke, a problem that single-blade razors don't have as they can shave just as well with a single pass. Multiple-blade cartridge razors are usually plastic and often require you to press down with each stroke, a problem that a properly weighted razor doesn't have.
Shave in the direction your hair grows
Many people don't know that each hair on their body grows in a particular direction, and it's down to the way the follicles point in their skin. You may find that the hair on your face for example grows down on your cheeks but up on your neck. Sometimes it can even grow in a spiral pattern just like the hair on the top of your head.
Always shave with the direction of growth and learn what it is. We find that if you let the hair grow out for a day or two, you can feel the grain by running your fingers along your skin, feeling which direction it grows in. If you let the hair grow out even more, you will be able to see the direction of growth in the mirror.
Use products designed for your skin
If you have sensitive skin, it could be worth investing in a less aggressive razor designed for you, as well as shaving products designed for your skin.