If you’re a regular or even semi-regular shaver, then you’ve dealt with the frustrating redness and itchiness that is razor burn and maybe even ingrown hairs. Unfortunately, razor burn is unavoidable as it’s a natural result of running a sharp blade over skin. But just because razor burn is inevitable doesn’t mean you have to deal with the symptoms. Thankfully there are tips and products you can use to help minimize razor burn and symptoms like ingrown hairs.
We’re regular shavers ourselves at SPY, so we know more than a few things about razor burn and how to get rid of razor burn. But we wanted some professional input too, so we reached out to Dr. Peter Young, a dermatologist and medical director of Facet, a personalized health care site, and Soren Roi, a senior barber at Fellow Barber in New York City and an Educator at FB’s Apprentice Academy.
They gave us some advice on how to get rid of razor burn and, just as importantly, what you can do to stop it from being so bad in the first place. Once we’ve covered that, we’ll jump into a few key products that can help you get your razor burn under control.
What is razor burn? How does it come about? What about ingrown hairs?
Razor burn, aka an irritant contact dermatitis, is the redness, itchiness and burning that appears after shaving and can appear anywhere you’ve shaved. The cause is simply the act of shaving and the burn can also be exacerbated by shaving technique or even just having sensitive skin. “Shaving razors are very sharp and can be harsh on the skin,” Roi says. “If you are using a dull razor, shaving in the wrong direction or not doing the proper preparation and aftercare during your shaving routine, it can lead to razor burn.”
Ingrown hairs can also come about as a result of shaving. “An ingrown hair, also known as a razor bump or shaving bump, is a strand of hair that grows back into your skin instead of up and out after it’s been removed by shaving, waxing or tweezing,” Young says. These bumps usually resolve themselves but sometimes they can become inflamed and a source of skin irritation.
How to get rid of razor burn: What we can do
Since shaving cuts skin and hair, you’re going to end up with some razor burn and, to a lesser degree, ingrown hairs no matter what. But there’s a lot you can do, even without buying anything new.
Here’s what we and the experts recommend to minimize razor burn and ingrown hairs:
- Mind your prep and aftercare: Post-shower skin is optimal for shaving since skin is clean, soft, pliable, wet and moisturized, so Roi suggests shaving then. He also recommends trying a pre-shave oil to improve slickness and then applying a shaving cream or gel. Just as importantly, when you’re finished shaving, Young recommends apply a moisturizing cream or aftershave balm “to help restore the skin’s natural protective outer layer.” For more adventurous groomers, before moisturizing, Roi suggests using a light skin toner to kill any bacteria that might become a source of irritation.
- Choose the right razor: The best electric razors are less likely to cause irritation or razor burn because they don’t shave as closely as manual razors. If you do prefer a manual shave, be selective in choosing your razor; for some people, more razor blades equals more irritation while the opposite is true for others, Roi says. Sometimes switching to a different cartridge razor or safety razor can help a lot.
- Use good shaving technique: Assuming you’ve applied your shaving cream, take short, light strokes, rinse your razor often to clear gunk and only shave with the grain. Shaving against the grain is one of the most common culprits behind ingrown hairs, Roi says. SPY also recommends cleansing with warm and then doing a cold water compress to initially soothe skin before applying aftershave at the end.
- Replace your blade/razor often: No matter what kind of razor you’re using, replace it or its blades often. Though that may seem wasteful, sharper blades lead to less irritation, Young says, and the degradation of the blade or blades over multiple uses contribute to bad razor burn.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of razor burn and how to get rid of razor burn, let’s check out a few products.
1. The Art of Shaving Safety Razor
Everyone’s skin is different, so take any razor advice with a grain of salt. That being said, safety razors have been a go-to solution for razor burn and ingrown hairs because they deliver ultra-sharp shaves and make changing blades easy. After recent and extensive testing, SPY recommends The Art of Shaving Safety Razor for most guys. It feels great in your hand, with a solid yet balanced weight, and delivers a satisfyingly close shave, even if you’re only shaving with the grain.
2. Remington F5-5800 Foil Shaver
BEST ELECTRIC RAZOR
Though the Remington F5-5800 Foil Shaver isn’t the absolute best electric razor, it’s highly effective and a lot more affordable than marginally better electric shavers. Try this foil shaver to start and you can always drop $200+ on a Braun or Philips Norelco electric razor later.
3. Bulldog Original Shave Oil
BEST PRE-SHAVE OIL
The Bulldog Original Shave Oil combines multiple plant-based oils into one affordable pre- or post-shave package. A good shave oil not only moisturizes skin after shaving if you like, it makes the whole shave a lot smoother, minimizing the risk of razor burn and ingrown hairs.
4. Marlowe No. 141 Shave Cream
BEST SHAVING CREAM
If you listen to only one thing here, make sure it’s that you use a shaving cream. The Marlowe No. 141 Shave Cream features shea butter and coconut oil for moisturization as well as willow bark extract, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and helps kill bacteria. Adding this alone into your shave will go a long way to minimizing razor burn on even the most sensitive parts of your face and neck.
5. Kiehl’s Ultimate Razor Burn & Bump Relief
BEST AFTERSHAVE BALM
Love the feeling of a close shave? Don’t we all. But, all you close-shavers out there will know — the closer the shave, the more likely of a possibility that razor burn will occur. Lucky for you, Kiehl’s is here with a razor burn and bump relief treatment that will knock other brands right out of the water. It’s inspired by their beloved Razor Bump Relief product and remedies skin with the use of aloe vera, lipo hydroxy acid, willow herb extract and vitamin E.
6. Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm
The Nivea Men Sensitive Post Shave Balm has been a bestselling aftershave balm for years because it’s cheap and works great to soothe freshly shaven skin.
Vitamin E and chamomile help restore skin, and just as importantly, this aftershave has no drying alcohol and only a light fragrance, two things that can result in irritation.
7. Aesop Moroccan Neroli Post-Shave Lotion
If you’ve got a little extra money to spend, Aesop is one of the best premiere shave lines with nurturing formulas that take care of your skin. This post-shave lotion is designed to cool and calm your skin with a unisex hydration formula made with botanical oils. The lotion will balance your skin using a combination of sandalwood, neroli blossom and panthenol. It’s perfectly suited for all major skin types — normal, combination and sensitive and will leave your skin feeling soothed with a light finish that’s not too greasy.
8. TendSkin AfterShave Solution
GREAT FOR RAZOR BUMPS
This TendSkin formula is made for both men and women, for avoiding razor bumps and razor burn after shaving. Apply this formula after shaving to avoid razor bumps and ingrown hairs and even use it between shaves on existing symptoms to help reduce them. Applying a thin layer of Tend Skin helps reduce skin redness and will help your skin clear if irritation occurs.
9. Fur Ingrown Concentrate
BEST FOR BUMPS AND INGROWN HAIRS
Bumps and redness? We don’t know them anymore when we’re using Fur’s ingrown concentrate. This all-natural oil is all you need to soothe irritation and make ingrown hairs disappear after you shave. Pours will stay clean, clear and smooth after application even if your skin is as sensitive as it gets. You can use this oil anywhere you shave both in or out of the shower. Redness, be gone!