What Causes Razor Bumps?
When you shave any part of your body, you remove the top layer of your skin, causing “micro-injuries.” They cause the irritation, burning, redness and dryness—a.k.a. the razor bumps (officially pseudofolliculitis barbae in the medical world). A few things that can make razor burn even worse are shaving dry skin, using a dull blade and not moisturizing as soon as you’re done shaving. And this sad truth: Unfortunately, many of us were taught to shave against the grain, but that’s actually what causes razor burn.
How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps—Fast
So now that you know what causes razor burn, you’re probably already wondering something else: How do I reduce the razor bumps? And quickly?
Here’s what our pros suggest when it comes to how to get rid of razor bumps on the fly:
- Go cold. Splash cold water on razor bumps as soon as you see them to shrink pores and soothe the skin.
- Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. You should always moisturize as soon as you’re done shaving, but especially as soon as you see razor bumps. Those micro-injuries require a hydrating balm to heal.
- Apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream. “It’ll reduce the irritation, and you don’t need a prescription,” says Kanchanapoomi Levin. Start with your moisturizer, then add the cortisone right on top.
- Apply an aftershave product. They’re quite literally made to minimize razor burn. Don’t have one? Butterfield condones stealing from your S.O. (Hers uses Baxter of California Aftershave Balm, and she’s obsessed.) The makeup artist also recommends Leonor Greyl Huile de Magnolia (“super luxurious and smells amazing”) and Boiron Calendula Gel (“instantly cooling and absorbs really fast”).
- Aloe up. Looking for something natural? If you’re already at the drugstore, head to the sun-care aisle and pick up a bottle of aloe vera, which can heal a whole host of issues, including razor burn. “It’s good for more than just recovering from falling asleep by the pool!” Butterfield notes.
How to Prevent Razor Bumps in the Future
You now know what causes razor bumps and how to get rid of them—hopefully, as quickly as they came. Still, according to both Kanchanapoomi Levin and Butterfield, the real trick is treating your skin before you start shaving, which will help you minimize the chance of getting razor burn in the first place.
So next time you get ready to lather up, keep this in mind to prevent razor bumps:
- Wet the skin and hair with warm water. Then add a gentle soap. This will both soften and clean the skin before you get down to business.
- Use a sharp blade. And make sure it’s clean! As soon as it becomes difficult to shave or your hair is getting caught, that means it’s time to change your blade.
- Don’t forget the shaving gel. When you use a sharp blade in combination with shaving gel, you can catch all the hair with just one pass, lessening the likelihood of both razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
- Shave in the direction that the hair is growing! As Butterfield notes, “Shaving with the grain may take an extra pass or two, but your hair follicles won’t get inflamed that way.”
- Moisturize the skin after shaving. This ensures that the skin barrier is moist and healthy after the micro-trauma that shaving can cause.
- Play it extra safe with your bikini line. It is an extremely sensitive place, after all! Instead of typical shaving gel, stick to over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, both of which are appropriate for prepping sensitive skin against razor burn.