A traditional wet shave is a great way to keep the stubble at bay and ensure you are always looking your best. However, if you rush the process or use improper shaving accessories, you may get less than desirable results, including angry outbreaks of razor burn.
However, razor burn is not just an inevitable part of shaving that you have to put up with. In fact, it is easy to prevent just by making a few simple changes to your shaving routine. Read our top tips for preventing razor burn from our shaving experts and enjoy baby-smooth, irritation-free skin time after time.
Razor burn is quite a common affliction, but fortunately it is also easy to remedy and should not lead to anything worse than mild discomfort. Razor burn is skin irritation caused by improper shaving and can affect any part of the body that you shave. It is mainly a result of the blade catching the skin as you shave and pulling and dragging your hairs rather than cutting them neatly. Symptoms can vary depending on how sensitive your skin is and include redness, itchiness, swelling, burning sensations and even small red bumps.
Razor burn might be painful and unsightly, but it usually resolves itself with time. However, it is better to be proactive than reactive and try to prevent it in the first place. Here are some top shaving tips to ensure your freshly shaven face is never ruined by an angry red outbreak.
The first crucial step to avoiding razor burn is to properly prepare your face. The best time to start your shave is just after taking a shower as the combination of steam and warm water softens your facial hair and opens up your pores. Having soft, damp skin and hair makes your stubble less resilient, allowing the blade to cut it more easily without dragging and tugging the skin.
If you do not have time for a shower, washing your face with warm water will suffice. Regardless of which method you choose, we always recommend applying pre-shave lotion to hydrate your face before shaving. Just like warm water, this Hydrating Pre-Shave Lotion softens the skin and hair to reduce drag, but it also provides a protective barrier between your skin and the blade. Formulated from a unique blend of natural ingredients and plant extracts, it moisturises your face without leaving a tacky residue, so it never clogs your razor.
Dry shaving is the leading cause of razor burn. Not only should you dampen your face before reaching for the razor, you also need to keep your skin suitably lubricated and hydrated throughout the shaving process by using high-quality shaving creams or shaving soaps mixed with warm water. A rich, creamy lather from either a shaving soap or cream assists with razor glide, reducing irritation and improving the results of every pass. You are much more likely to suffer an outbreak of razor burn if you try shaving directly on the skin without the softening cushion from the lather. If you would like more information about the differences between shaving creams and shaving soaps, read our related blog post here.
You may never have considered it before, but a high-quality shaving brush offers several skincare benefits and is great for reducing razor burn and irritation. For example, when you apply the lather using a shaving brush, the bristles exfoliate your skin, unclogging your pores and getting rid of more dead skin. This creates a much smoother surface for the razor, resulting in a more comfortable shave. Furthermore, the bristles also pull the hairs away from the face, standing them up so the blade can cut through seamlessly.
Badger hair is the traditional fill for shaving brushes. Best Badger is firm and stiff, perfect for deeply exfoliating coarse and curly facial hair. The highest-quality traditional fill is Silver Tip, which feels incredibly delicate on the skin, creating a beautifully luxurious massaging sensation. However, many people have started using synthetic fills instead. Made entirely from artificial fibres, these brushes match the performance of supreme-quality traditional brushes with zero animal products. For more information about shaving brush grades and fills, read our related blog here.
The other main culprit of razor burn and irritation is dull or dirty blades. To avoid razor burn, you need to replace your blades before they dull, not once you start noticing subpar results. DE blades will need replacing after every 4 or 5 shaves, whereas Gillette® cartridge blades will last up to a dozen shaves before they need swapping out. We recommend storing your used DE blades in a blade bank, such as this Feather Blade Safe Disposal Case/Tin, as it allows you to safely store up to 100 old blades and then recycle the tin and blades once full.
However, taking proper care of your blades between shaves means you will not have to replace them so frequently. After every pass, rinse your blade under warm water to remove the build-up of lather, hair and dead skin. As you shave, you will also be removing a layer of bacteria from the skin so it is extra important to rinse your blade thoroughly to ensure your razor is hygienic. The best place to store your razor between shaves is upright in a razor stand. This Edwin Jagger Crescent Chrome Razor Stand has a classy and elegant design that cradles the razor, allowing it to dry properly after use.
If you are particularly susceptible to razor burn and irritation, we recommend using a double edge safety razor as the single blade applies less pressure to the skin than a multi-blade cartridge system. However, both the Gillette® Mach3® and Gillette® Fusion® blade systems feature lubricating strips that flatten the surface of the skin to enhance razor glide and maximise shaving comfort, making them suitable for almost all skin types. Whichever model you choose, you should be aiming to shave with as few passes as possible to avoid going over the same area multiple times and potentially damaging your skin.
Your perfect irritation-free shave is almost complete, but the work is not over once you put your razor in its stand. Your skin will be highly sensitive after shaving so it is important to mitigate any outbreaks of irritation by applying an effective aftershave lotion. We recommend Edwin Jagger Aloe Vera Aftershave Lotion if you regularly suffer with post-shave irritation, as this formulation is specifically designed to soothe and nourish the most sensitive of skin. Aloe vera has plenty of natural anti-inflammatory and healing properties, making it perfect for restoring dry, damaged and irritated skin. Sandalwood or Limes & Pomegranate versions are also available for those who want a more pronounced fragrance.
Lastly, remember that catching your skin and cutting yourself slightly is an inevitable part of shaving. But just like with razor burn, you do not want your smooth shave spoilt by a blemish so it is best to remedy any nicks and cuts as early as possible. The best solution for arresting any bleeding and healing any cuts is to use an Alum Block or Styptic Pencil. These medicinal tools also reduce razor burn and inflammation, leaving you with flawless-looking skin.