The other day, after I coerced my boyfriend to neaten the raggedy bits of his beard with an actual razor, he complained of having razor burn and little red bumps. When I asked him if he’d done anything to prevent or treat it, he said no, naturally.
While it’s more common for men to suffer from razor burn due to their poor, sensitive faces being shaved, women experience it, too, especially in their bikini region or underarms, which, take it from me, is the worst. That irritated rash that is sometimes accompanied by bumps is what makes me grow out my leg hair all winter long, onlookers be damned.
Razor burn is caused by shaving improperly (yep, there’s an optimal way to shave) and results in anything from a bit of sensitivity to a mild rash to painful bumps.
Since prevention is always better than the cure, here are seven ways to shave like a boss and discourage razor burn.
How to prevent razor burn.
Start with a clean razor (and skin).
Obviously, don’t shave with a rusty razor. And certainly start with clean skin. Above that, though, you shouldn’t keep your razor in the shower; the humidity breeds rust and questionable bacteria. You should try to replace your razor as often as possible, ensuring that it glides across your skin evenly. Also, keeping your razor clean helps to make it last longer. Just rinse it with hot water after every shave.
Shave *with* the grain.
My entire life, I thought I was supposed to shave in the opposite direction of hair growth. I don’t know who started this rumor, but it just makes the most sense, doesn’t it? Well, in order to prevent razor burn, you’re going to have to suppress your instincts and shave with the grain. Even though it will help you achieve the closest shave, shaving against the grain causes irritation.
Use a shaving gel.
While it’s easy to reach for the nearest bar of soap or just shave with plain water like you don’t have a care in the world, it’s not advisable. Using a moisturizing shaving gel/foam (or even shaving oil) is the way to go. Not only does it feel better, it really does help prevent razor burn. The best kind of shaving gel is the men’s kind that starts out as a simple gel and foams and foams the more you rub it in. Man, I love that stuff. I’m currently using Nivea For Men Sensitive Shaving Foam. Yes, it’s for men, but it works the best and it protects my sensitive little limbs.
Avoid shaving too efficiently.
The temptation to shave and shave and shave over an area is sometimes overwhelming. As with shaving against the grain, it just seems more efficient. Shaving over a specific area more than twice is a no-no. Try to keep the strokes to a minimum, which should be easy enough to accomplish if your razor is sharp. You should also avoid pressing the razor too hard into your skin. Be efficient, but not too efficient, you know?
Use hot and cold water.
Shower with warm water before shaving to soften your leg hair. Then, once you’re done, rinse the shaved area with cold water to prevent razor burn. The cold water ensures that your skin is nice and tight and prevents any ingrown hairs from forming. It also rules out any bumps that are caused by heat.
Now, if you’re like me and you tend to ignore good advice until you reach a breaking point and finally snap and change your ways, you may need to know how to treat razor burn.
How to treat razor burn:
Don’t irritate the area.
It’s pretty obvious that you shouldn’t apply any irritating products on your freshly shaved skin. Have you ever put perfume or deodorant on right after shaving? Ouch. To avoid the need for such products after shaving, you can shave at night. Wearing tight clothing or underwear will also irritate your skin.
Hydrate and placate.
The most recommended way of dealing with razor burn is to apply aloe vera (a key ingredient in many creams) to the area. Alternatively, you can use coconut oil on the affected area to hydrate and ease inflammation. There are tons of aftershave creams on the market, but a normal glycerin-based moisturizer should do the trick. If the burn is really bad, an ice pack or hydrocortisone cream helps. Personally, I try to avoid hydrocortisone creams in my everyday life (even on my eczema), because too much of it can thin your skin.
Now for the real-talk. How often do you replace your razor? Do you have any home remedies for razor burn?
This article originally appeared on xoJane