Solving Shaving Problems
Shaving is an art that men us are just supposed to know how to do. But it’s not always so easy, we all have different shaped faces along with all kinds of strange skin-types. So if you are just getting your feet wet and starting on the shave treadmill, or are a seasoned razor operator, here are our tips to help/prevent/avoid daily mishaps and occurences such as In Grown Hairs, Shaving Bumps, Shaving rash, Razor Rash, Nicks and Cuts, Razor Burn and other such unpleasant but sometimes unavoidable incidents. You can of course avoid these shaving issues by growing a full-on beard, but for those that want to be smooth and clean, read on.
In Grown Hairs
If a hair becomes trapped beneath the surface of the skin it will continue to grow becoming an ingrown hair causing redness a lump and or pimple. The medical term is ‘pseudofolliculitis barbae’ and people with curly or afro hair are most susceptible. The next time you shave you are vulnerable to nicking the tops of the lumps worsening the inflammation and perhaps allowing an inflection to occur.
Treating an Ingrowing Hair
There are few products which can deal with the hair once it’s started to in grow, the best way to deal with it is, soak a towel in hot water and put it on the skin for a few minutes to soften the skin and open the pores. Then very carefully, using sterilised tweezers pull the end of the hair out of the bump. Don’t pull the whole hair out of the skin, just loose the end, resist the temptation to pluck it, if you do the the follicle could heal over and the new hair when it grows will have the same ingrowing problem. Keep the area around any ingrowing hairs clean so as to minimise infection.
Preventing Ingrown Hairs
There can be many causes of ingrowing hairs, but by perfecting your shaving technique and by choosing the right tools you greatly reduce the amount of ingrown hairs you suffer from.
° Don’t pull on the skin. If you pull the skin while shaving it can make the hairs pop out of the follicle. Afterwards the cut tip retracts into the follicle and then turns into the wall of the follicle becoming an ingrown hair.
° Avoid an ultra close shave, shave the hairs just above the skin when they have already emerged from the hair follicle, the hair can not turn back under the skin if the hair is already out. You don’t need to go for the designer stubble look just don’t shave against the grain especially in areas where you are often affected. An alternative is to try using an electric razor as they don’t cut the hair as short.
° Know when to shave. if you suffer from ingrown hairs remember every shave adds up so know when to shave and what type of shave you need. Hair is inconsistent and grows in phases so each day you won’t have the same length of beard growth to shave, some days you may need to skip shaving or simply have a lighter shave.
° Choose a good quality glycerine based shaving cream and avoid those that come in a pressurised can as they can contain ingredients which will swell the skin, when it returns to normal the hair is trapped under the skin, also the propellant used in pressurised cans can be quite drying. A good glycerine based shaving cream will soften your stubble so your razor will slice through easier.
° Don’t press too hard while shaving, if you apply pressure on the razor and ‘any additional pressure above the razors weight is too much,’ you will start scraping at the skin cutting the hair too short and causing ingrown hairs.
° Try shaving with a cut throat razor, or if this seems a little daunting try a double edge razor, both are far superior to shaving with a cartridge razor as cartridge razors provide excessive blade exposure per pass, scratching at the skin and as the first blade scrapes away the lubricating shaving cream the next hits the skin unprotected. They also clog easily as their blades are places so close together, once clogged they push the hair away as they shave. Finally cartridge razors use a system where one blades lifts the hair and the next one cuts, ‘tug hack’ and of course if you tug at a hair it will retreat after being cut potentially under the skin and if you hack at a hair it won’t be cut smoothly and can cause irritation.
A shaving bump occurs when a hair turns back on itself pushing into the skin causing irritation and pushing into the pores of the skin creating a lumpy reaction. People with curly or afro hair are particulary prone and it can affect the neck, cheeks and even the scalp of people who shave their heads.
Treating Shaving Bumps
When a shaving bump appears the best treatment is to remove the hair with tweezers, try placing a hot towel over the skin to soften and open the pores then carefully pluck the offending hair.
Preventing Shaving Bumps
° Use a tooth brush or lice cimb to brush your stubble between shaves, this helps straighten any errant hairs and lift then out of any pores before they start to cause irritation. Be careful not to over do it however as a toothbrush can be quite rough and the neck can be quite a sensitive area.
° Avoid cartridge razors as they tend to push and hack at the hairs as they cut leaving the tips in a sharp wedge shape which are more likely to cause irritation. A double edge razor, or a cut throat razor cuts the hairs tip more in a blunt stump shape which will be less sharp.
° Use a badger hair shaving brush to apply shaving lather to your face, this will lift the hair and provide the razor a better angle to cut it.
° Also see the advice on dealing with ingrown hairs, the causes of both maladies are similar so many solutions will apply to ingrown hairs and shave bumps.
Shaving Rash / Razor Rash
Although it comes under a number of different names, A shaving rash is a red, often tender area which can cover a large area of predominately the neck. It can happen soon after you have shaved, and develops as a skin irritation which can also look like a red rash (razor burn) which has an unpleasant burning sensation. It can also in some more severe cases become swollen and itchy as well.
Razor burn is commonly associated with men who shave their faces frequently (although not always). Women can also have razor burn after shaving their legs and armpits. There are several causes of shaving rash, such as using a dull blade, using a hard soap, shaving dry, unconditioned skin and just having sensitive skin.
A shaving or razor rash can be very unpleasant and cause discomfort to the shaver. But luckily there are ways to treat it and get rid of it using home and brought remedies. Once it occurs there are few if any instant cures the best being an aspirin based toner, look for taslicylic acid on the ingredients list.
The best course is to skip shaving till the beard grows out and the rash subsides as razor rash is far easier to prevent than cure. The rash is caused when after shaving hair retreats below the skins surface then as it grows out it causes irritation, this can often be compounded by a sniff collar if you wear one.
The problem is similar to ingrown hairs and the cure is as with ingrown hairs a matter of the correct shaving technique and the right tools. Most of the ingrown hairs advice ingrown hairs advice will also reduce and cure shaving rash.
Nicks and Cuts
Shaving in a hurry or using a rough blade is the most common cause of nicks. But even if you’re as careful as a surgeon from time to time cuts happen, the reason is the bumps and pimples that populate the skin many of which are invisible to the eye, when the razor passes over the blemish it shaves off the top leaving a bloody mess.
To minimise nicks and cuts make sure the skin is clean before shaving, wash your face with a good cleanser or face wash to remove any dead skin cells or tiny bits of dirt which may get in the way of your razor and give it an uneven glide.
Don’t apply pressure when shaving and try to hold your razor at the correct angle at all times during the shave. Make sure you have a good quality lather when shaving so the blade does not skip and stutter.
Use a freash razor, most razor blades will last 4 to 5 shaves before there performance starts to dip, a razor which is less than sharp will dip into your skin and cause nicks and cuts.
Avoid shaving any scabs, pimples or blemishes you may have and always try to keep the surface you are shaving as flat as possible, tilt your head back while shaving your neck, gently lift the cheeks while shaving the face and stretching the top lip while shaving the moustache.
If you cut yourself while shaving apply a styptic pencil, this will reduce the flow of blood and disinfect the skin.
Razor burn is usually felt directly after shaving as the skin feels hot and tender, it may also turn flushed and red, it can be due to sensitive skin, in which case be wary of the products you’re using, if something stings don’t use it, avoid products containing camphor, alcohol or fragrance (difficult to avoid in shaving creams).
However the most common cause of razor rash is you’ve been scraping the skin during shaving, if you’re using a double edge razor which is adjustable trying turning it down, or try using a milder razor blade.
Check the angle you are holding the razor at during shaving, particularly if you use a double edge razor, if the angle is too wide it will give you an aggressive shave and may result in you scraping away at the top layer of your skin.
Lack of lubrication can also be a cause, take a little longer lathering up your shaving cream to make sure you’ve got the best possible lather and make sure not to add too much lather, weak ineffective shaving lather will not reduce friction and can cause razor burn.
Spots from Shaving
Many people find that after shaving they suffer from acne and break outs of spots and pimples. To deal with this problem you need to either grow a beard and stop shaving, or find out the cause and deal with it.
There could be a number of causes of spots from shaving, from using unhygenic or dirty blades in your razor or using the wrong shaving gel or aftershave. As you shave you open your pores so thats when the problem enters the skin. Try to identify the problem by trying the following:-
Razor irritation – If you shave with an electric shaver, try a manual one for a while. If you use a double safety razor, try using a single blade razor and make sure its clean.
Change shaving cream or gel – If you use shaving gel then try a shaving foam instead. Every shaving product can contain ingredients which may cause an allergic reaction resulting in acne and spots. Try to find the right foam, cream, or gel for your specific skin type. Your favorite shaving gel can be bad for you, so try a shaving cream, or shaving soap and hair shaving brush.
Use a soothing after shave balm – Buy a soothing after shave balm that contains a healing agent such as witchhazel, and without any alcohol or perfume.
Shave with the grain – When you shave, follow the grain in the same direction your hair grows. It will work wonders on reducing irritation and spots.