Whether you consider them to be simply nuisances that pop up every now and then, or recurring issues that you just can’t seem to shake, razor bumps are a nag.

The combination of pain and unsightliness makes for an unpleasant shaving experience, and less than desirable results. Like most problems, though, there are solutions. By diagnosing the problem and coming up with both corrective and preventative measures, you can leave razor bumps in your past.

Diagnosing—What Are Razor Bumps Anyway?

Ingrown hairs, essentially. Known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, razor bumps occur when highly curved hairs grow back into the skin, resulting in inflammation and a foreign reaction (See claim: first paragraph.) The issue exacerbates over time as scars on the neck can then be sharpened like a spear by continued shaving before curving back into the skin. Those with curly hair and African-American men are particularly susceptible to razor bumps.

Before we delve into the remedies for razor bumps, it’s also important to understand the difference between razor bumps and acne. Razor bumps irritate hair follicles, causing redness and swelling. Acne happens when pores get clogged with oil and dead skin cells, which then can also grow inflamed. Understanding the difference between the two is key to taking proper action.

Corrective Measure #1—Let It Grow

It’s not often that the proper action to solve a problem is inaction but in this case, it is 100% effective. Not shaving and letting the beard grow for at least three to four weeks should allow all lesions to heal (See claim: second paragraph.) This time period will vary depending on the severity of the issue but if not shaving is an option, give it a try.

Corrective Measure #2—A Thoughtful Shaving Regimen

Some forethought and a combination of several of the following can spell an end to razor bumps.

  1. Shave with the grain: Go with the flow. Shave in the direction your hair grows and avoid shaving too close to the skin and over the same area (See claim: bulleted list after paragraph seven). Not doing these things can and will make the issue worse.
  2. Hydrate and exfoliate: This may seem like stating the obvious but hydrating and softening the skin and hair before shaving is essential (See claim: section entitled Are there any home remedies for an ingrown hair?) The chance of hairs re-entering the skin is reduced by a duller, rounded touch to the hair.
  3. Consider an electric razor: If the problem is particularly persistent, utilizing an electric razor is advisable. They don’t cut as closely as blades do, particularly on the high setting (See claim: third paragraph.) Restating number one, avoid the temptation of shaving against the grain and press lightly against the skin.
  4. Don’t skimp on blades: Consistently switching out older blades for newer, cleaner, sharper ones is also important. It makes the process of shaving easier and avoids creating easily avoidable problems.

Corrective Measure #3—Consult a Dermatologist

A combination of the above and input from a medical doctor specializing in dermatology may be the best course, particularly for more serious cases. They can prescribe creams to alleviate irritation, decrease skin plugging, reduce the buildup of dead skin cells and cut down on inflammation of inflamed ingrown hairs (See claim: Second paragraph under bulleted list in section titled: What is the treatment for an ingrown hair?)

The Preventative Measure—Develop a Routine

Maintaining a skin care routine that includes daily use of face wash and moisturizer goes a long way. For example, scrubbing your beard and face with a men’s facial scrub can remove dead skin cells and oil that cause beard acne. This goes hand-in-hand with the fact that scrubbing your face can also prevent ingrown hairs from forming in the first place.

Final Thoughts

Shaving should be an enjoyable experience, but it’s not possible to achieve without tackling problems like razor bumps. By being conscious of the issue, practicing a smart shaving regimen and committing to a skin care routine, men can steer clear of those pesky razor bumps.