Although we can’t guarantee you’ll never get burned again after reading this, there are plenty of dermatologist-backed tips to incorporate into your shaving routine that can help make razor burn less likely.
Reexamine your shaving technique.
Some important things not to do: shave on dry skin, use a dull razor, or shave against the grain. Instead, follow this dermatologist-approved method: First, apply a shaving cream or gel onto wet skin. (If you’re out of both, a moisturizing body wash will work in a pinch.) “Quality shaving creams and gels are packed with skin-protecting lubricants that help the razor glide easily and avoid micro-injuries to the outer layer of the skin,” says Dr. Westbay. These creams and gels have important hydrating ingredients that swell and soften the hair, “allowing the razor to cut through with more ease, resulting in less tug and pull.” Allure editors love the moisturizing ingredients in Billie Whipped Shave Cream and Flamingo Foaming Shaving Gel, and the lotion-like quality of Dove’s Sensitive Skin Body Wash.
Then, use a clean, sharp blade to shave in gentle strokes that follow the direction of hair growth — the opposite of what we’re used to seeing in most commercials that feature shots of someone shaving their shins. “It really is true that shaving with the grain, rather than against it, is imperative,” says Dr. Westbay. Keep a light pressure on the razor, letting it do the work for you, “rather than the pressure of your hand,” and avoid shaving in the same spot multiple times. “Repeat strokes decrease lubrication,” she says, “which can lead to irritation.”
It’s also important to use the appropriate razors for the job. If you’re removing the peach fuzz from your face, you should use a dedicated face shaver: These razors are one-bladed and designed to avoid causing irritation to the delicate skin on your face. For the rest of your bod, you have a few options. Cartridge razors with multiple blades are fast and efficient, but can get clogged easily. Safety razors are less likely to cause razor burn, but they come with a learning curve. Electric razors might help you avoid razor burn altogether, but you won’t get as close of a shave. It’s worth experimenting a bit to find the right razor for your hair and skin.
Apply a skin barrier-supporting moisturizer.
Immediately after toweling off, apply a hefty amount of body cream onto the area that you just shaved. “Moisturizing the affected area is key,” says Dr. Westbay, “and creams are a preferred consistency over lotions.” Lotions tend to contain more water, making them overall less lubricating, “and many contain alcohols, which evaporate and can dry out or irritate skin further.” She recommends sticking with fragrance-free creams with limited ingredients to avoid irritating an already irritant rash. “Good choices to consider are Cetaphil, CeraVe, and Vanicream,” she says.
Heidi Waldorf, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York, recommends using an unscented moisturizer that contains humectant, occlusive, and emollient ingredients. In non-dermatologist speak, that means using a moisturizer that will absorb into the skin, rather than sit on top (like body oils or oil-based moisturizers do — these types of products are better suited to lock in moisture after using your favorite moisturizer).
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