Have you ever wondered why you seem to get acne after shaving? Well, it’s because when you shave, your hair follicles become irritated and that creates a blockage.
The best cure for this? Prevention! Here are some things to do before, during, and after shaving to prevent acne.
So, does shaving even cause acne?
Yes, especially if you have sensitive skin. A lot of times, they’ll show up in extra-sensitive areas of your body, like the pubic region.
When you shave, you’re not just shaving the hair off — you’re also shaving off a thin outer layer of skin. This will cause irritation, ingrown hairs, and abnormal growth of hair follicles (which, as we mentioned, can cause acne).
However, there’s no sole reason as to why acne after shaving is caused. Finding ways to prevent acne after shaving is the best thing that you can do to ensure it doesn’t become an issue for you.
Pimples from shaving are not the same as razor bumps.
When you do some searching on acne after shaving, you’ll find that a lot of people use the terms interchangeably — but they’re completely different! Razor bumps are generally caused by ingrown hairs, while pimples are generally caused by bacteria that is clogging up your pores above your hair follicle, resting just underneath the surface of your skin.
Do you get ingrown hairs?
You can often get ingrown hairs from certain shaving methods. Figuring out how to get rid of razor bumps can be a huge step to eliminating acne after shaving. An ingrown hair is when a hair is growing into the skin, rather than out of it. This can lead to annoying razor bumps, and then acne. (Yes, razor bumps can lead to acne, but they are not the same thing.) If you find ways to prevent ingrown hairs, then you’re one step closer to tackling acne after shaving.
Take sanitary measures. This may sound obvious, but be sure to wash your hands before you wash your face. If your hands have any bacteria or dirt on them, that’s going to get onto your face (yes, even though you’re washing it). It’s important to wash your hands any time you’re going to be touching your face!
Apply a toner. This will medicate the acne so that you can stop it before it starts.
Lightly exfoliate. Getting rid of those dead skin cells on your face will help to clean it and even help you get a closer shave. You won’t have as much of a chance for bacteria to transfer, so you’ll have less of a chance of acne popping up after you shave. It’s best to use a gentle face or body scrub or a wet washcloth with a beard oil. You should actually be exfoliating at least once a day too, not just right before shaving!
Do a hot towel treatment to your face. Using a moist and warm towel on the face and neck will moisturize your skin and open up the pores, helping to prevent acne.
Splash warm water on your face. This will open up your pores and soften your skin, making it easier to shave and less likely for irritation. Shaving with cold water is actually known to lead to a high amount of irritation and acne after shaving.
Practice a good face-washing routine. You should be washing your face twice a day. Washing it any time you get sweaty or dirty will also help to prevent acne. If you use products containing salicylic acid, they are also known to help prevent acne.
Use a pre-shave oil. It’s hard to believe that using an oil can prevent acne after shaving — after all, wouldn’t an oil cause breakouts? Well… no. The right oil will soften your skin and some actually will fight bacteria.
A beard oil will help help the razor glide along your skin, rather than pulling on it. This will lead to less irritation, redness and ingrown hairs — leading to less acne after shaving!
Use a beard wash. Using a beard wash like this one can be a huge help to solving your problem of acne after shaving.
During Your Shave
Get a shaving cream or gel that gives you a thin layer of protection. Using an improper shaving cream/gel, or any other form of lubrication, is a huge cause of acne after shaving. It’s also never a good idea to dry shave — that’s a huge cause of irritation to your skin.
Also choose a shaving cream or gel that is gentle. “Sensitive skin” and “non-irritating” are some labels to look for.
You want to make sure that instead of just slapping the shaving cream on to your skin, you are massaging it into your skin. This ensures that your skin is moisturized, preventing acne!
Use a shaving brush rather than your hand to apply shaving cream/gel. When you use your hands, you’re matting down your hair to the surface of your skin. So, you’re basically pushing the dirt and bacteria into your skin — which is bound to cause irritation and possibly acne. A shaving brush will give you a rich lather, while also gently exfoliating your skin. They also help your hairs stand up, as opposed to being matted down. This makes them easier to cut.
Shave with a light hand. Applying to much pressure to your skin with a razor is going to cause irritation, and could lead to acne after shaving.
Don’t rush through your shave. Shaving isn’t a race, and it’s important to take your time with it. When you try to rush through your shave, you’re much more likely to get irritation, nicks, and cuts — which is going to lead to more acne after shaving.
Don’t pull the skin taut, and shave in the same direction that the hair grows. (In most cases, it grows downward.) You won’t get as close of a shave this way, but it significantly helps to reduce irritation.
Rinse off your razor after each stroke, to get the shaving cream and hair off of it. This helps reduce irritation.
Choose a high quality razor. If you’re using a low-quality razor, you’re much more likely to cause irritation. Irritation is probably going to give you some acne after shaving, which is obviously what you’re trying to avoid.
Change your razor blades frequently (or razor if you use disposables). It’s important to change your razor blades when they get dull. Using a dull razor blade is a huge factor of skin irritation which, in turn, leads to acne after shaving. The best way to be sure that you’re changing your razor blades often enough? Purchase a razor subscription. You’ll be able to get razors delivered to your door at a regular rate that are affordable and a high-quality!
Shave in the right direction. It’s extremely important to shave in the direction that your hair grows. Sure, shaving against the grain (in the opposite direction of hair growth) will probably give you a closer shave, but it’s also going to irritate your skin.
Use a trimmer instead of a razor. If none of these tips are helping you get rid of your acne after shaving, it might be time to try a different method of shaving. A foolproof way to get rid of acne after shaving is obviously to stop shaving. That’s what’s great about beard trimmers. If you need or prefer to shave, trimmers will cut your hair down to just above the surface. This should stop your pimples AND razor bumps from even having time to develop.
After Your Shave
Moisturize your face. Try not to use aftershave or anything else with alcohol in it, as this could irritate your skin. Some good options to try are aloe or baby oil.
Talk to your doctor about retinoid creams or antibiotics if the acne just keeps coming back. The retinoid creams help to remove dead skin cells and unclog your pores, helping prevent future acne outbreaks. The antibiotic can be used for more serious skin infections that have been caused by acne.
Use an aftershave balm. A huge benefit of an aftershave balm is that it gets rid of any bacteria that’s on your skin after you’re done shaving.
Now, an aftershave balm is not the same thing as an aftershave lotion or splash. Those typically contain ingredients that aren’t too great for your skin. Some aftershave splashes even contain alcohol, so your skin is going to sting terribly if you have any nicks or cuts, and your skin is going to dry out.
An aftershave balm is generally a mixture of natural ingredients. They will work well with the natural oils of your skin. Popular ingredients typically found in aftershave balms are: witch hazel and essential oils. The witch hazel will reduce irritation and close up your pores. Essential oils will do more than just give the balm a nice scent — they’ll fight off bacteria that is trying to get into your skin, which will cause pimples.
Check out some remedies for treating razor bumps. Often times razor bumps and acne after shaving go hand in hand, and can sometimes even be the same thing. Check out our article on how to get rid of razor bumps here.
Always keep your razor clean. When you shave, you’re also exfoliating dead skin cells — which will generally stay trapped in the blades if you don’t clean them off. While you can just rinse off the blades after every use, that generally won’t fully clean it. It’s best to also wipe it with an alcohol wipe after you’ve rinsed and dried the blades off.
Regularly use face masks. These will help tighten your pores, reduce oils, and in turn, prevent acne!
Another pro tip: don’t store your razor in the shower. It will last much longer if you don’t — the moisture and steam from the shower is much more likely to cause the blades to rust quickly.
Always remember that treating your acne will take time! It won’t vanish overnight. It could take weeks or even months to notice an improvement, and it could even get worse before getting better. Be patient as you try to work through it!
Other ways to prevent acne
It’s possible that your acne isn’t even being caused by shaving. It’s important to keep some other daily routine tips in mind when trying to combat acne.
Take a look at your stress level. Stress is a huge cause of acne. Being overstressed causes a hormone imbalance, which is likely to lead to acne. Try to analyze what exactly is causing your stress, and find ways to reduce it.
Think about your current diet. Your diet is a huge factor of how your skin looks. Oily foods (pizza, fried food, etc.), are big contributors to acne. You’re also more likely to get acne if you eat a lot of food that are high in sugar.
It’s important to try and keep a healthy diet and drink a lot of water (8 cups a day is the goal)!
Stop touching or picking at your face!!!!! This is an extremely important one. People with acne tend to touch or pick at their face way more often, but this is only going to make it worse. We know it’s tempting, but try to kick that habit. Besides, picking your face can lead to some pretty serious consequences.
You don’t necessarily have to do every single one of these steps every time you shave, but it’s good to choose the ones that are best for you. Get in a routine of doing those, you’ll probably notice a difference after time!
If you try these tips and you aren’t noticing a difference in your acne, it’s probably time to see your dermatologist. They’ll be able to assess your unique situation and will give you the perfect treatment for you!