It comes as no surprise to sufferers of acne that physical irritation of the skin can make it even worse. Dermatologists refer to the well-known phenomenon as acne mechanica, and it can even result from actions that seem good in theory, like scrubbing your face with a washcloth or cleansing brush.
How, then, do acne sufferers shave properly and comfortably without exacerbating the problem? Although it may seem impossible, following our nine tips will allow you to shave with more confidence and assurance in the future.
For starters, don’t buy into the theory that shaving is inherently bad for acne. Shaving gently with a non-comedogenic (one that doesn’t clog pores) shaving cream or gel and a clean, sharp, non-irritating blade razor can actually help prevent outbreaks by ridding the skin’s outer layer of dead cells.
Skin exfoliation is a natural, continuous process that occurs as the skin renews itself, and shaving can speed it up. If you’re able to follow the advice to come, shaving as a form of cosmetic exfoliation can deliver the following four benefits:
- Better skin texture as a result of being smoother
- Evened-out skin tone
- Slowed signs of aging
- Prevention of clogged pores
If you don’t want to ditch shaving altogether and grow a beard, then you need to shave every day. Waiting multiple days between shaves leads to longer hair, which leads to more drag as you shave, resulting in more irritation and more acne. Acne-prone folks need to take every measure to reduce irritation when shaving.
Wash and Hydrate Face and Neck
Common sense rules. Soft, wet skin will prevent friction between the blade and your skin, resulting in less irritation of existing acne and less chance of creating more. It's advisable to prep your face with water, or better yet with water and a quality facial cleanser.
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Razor Sharp Integrity
Use a fresh, clean razor at all times. Don’t skimp and try to get through more than a few shaves with the same blade.
When it comes to the tool itself, use a twin blade. One blade razors often pull at the skin, while 3, 4 and 5 blade razors cause unneeded excess irritation. Finding the ideal razor may require a bit of extra work, but the payoff is well worth it.
Go with the Flow—Shave with the Grain
If we’re irritating you with the irritation theme, it’s only because we have your best interest at heart. Shaving with the grain—i.e., the direction your hair grows—will avoid unnecessary irritation.
Use Light, Gentle Strokes While Shaving
Make each swipe of your blade count. A confident, downward motion is needed to properly shave your cheeks, upper lip, chin and the top half of your neck. Being intentional will give you a chance to go over each part of your face just once. Don’t fret if you do miss a spot. It’s more a mindset of carefully shaving each part of the face to cut down on frivolous strokes.
Once you’re done, rinse your skin and gently wash your entire face, including your nose and forehead. Then, apply a post-shave moisturizer.
Avoid Alcohol-Based Products
Many aftershaves are alcohol-based, which is a no-no for acne sufferers due to the irritation it forces. Whether you have chronic acne or less serious flare-ups, invest in the proper products to help you look and feel your best. Skin care systems formulated for acne ranging from serious to less severe are perfect, so you don’t have to take a chance on unknown products.
Don’t fear shaving, but do put some thought into how you go about it. With the proper tools and strategy, you can shave successfully and maybe even help unclog those pores and cut back on acne.