Shaving acne-prone skin can be painful and messy, but it doesn’t have to be a complete hassle. Below we will address the proper tools, products, and techniques for shaving to avoid painful razor burns, bumps, and ingrown hairs.
Step One: Picking the Right Products
Most shaving creams are not acne safe and can contain harmful ingredients. This is especially true of canned shaving creams that contain isobutane/propane and preservatives that are irritating to the skin. We recommend that men use a gentle cleanser with a thick lather. Our favorite is Face Reality Ultra Gentle Cleanser.
For men, start by washing your face with your prescribed acne cleanser. Next, apply Face Realty Ultra Gentle Cleanser with a small amount of water so that it creates a thick lather.
For women, we recommend shaving clean dry skin with a single edge razor such as the Tinkle Razor. Shave dry skin in a downward motion. Do not shave upward, this will cause irritation and ingrown hairs.
Step Two: Using the Right Razor
One of the most common mistakes many people make when shaving is using a multi-blade razor. These razors give a close shave but at a cost to your skin. When using multi-blade razors, the first blades pull the skin taut and lift the hair out of the skin so that the subsequent blades can cut the hair below the skin line giving that close shave feel. The skin then grows over the cut hair, forcing the hair to push through that skin as it grows out. This leads to repeated irritation and red bumps.
Instead, use single blade disposable razors such as BIC Single Edge Razors, or use a safety razor. We prefer safety razors as they are heavier and thus take the pressure off your hands, letting the weight of the razor instead do the work. You will get less skin scrapping and a more efficient shave. Safety razors also produce less waste, making them a better choice for the environment. For women or those with very little or soft fuzzy hair, we recommend using a single edge razor such as a Tinkle Razor.
When using your chosen razor, shave stubble slowly with short strokes that overlap. Avoid shaving upwards, against the grain, or shaving over the same spot more than once.
An alternative to using a safety razor is to use a non-rotary electric shaver such as a foil electric shaver, a T-edger, or clippers.
Keep your blades sharp! Dull blades will only irritate and nick your skin. If using disposable razors, use a new one every time. If using a safety razor, change your razor blades regularly. For inflamed acne, use each side of the safety razor once and then replace with a new blade. Replace your clipper or T-edger blades every 3-4 months.
Step Three: Moisturize
What to Do If You Get an Ingrown Hair
Don’t tweeze or wax your ingrown hairs. Tweezing and waxing are not permanent hair removal methods. When these hairs start to regrow (in two to three weeks), they get trapped in the curved hair follicle below the skin line. Those areas quickly become “hot spots” of chronic ingrown hairs, thickened skin, and scarring, so resist the urge to get in that mirror to tweeze or pick.
If you get an ingrown hair that is visible on the surface, use a sterile needle to gently lift the hair and then snip it with clean cuticle scissors. Do not attempt to “dig out” deep ingrown hair.