Best Tips to Prevent Razor Bumps

A consumer poll carried out by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) revealed that 78 percent of men who shave suffer from razor bumps, which are really ingrown hairs or pseudofolliculitis barbae. These skin irritations primarily affect men with curly or kinky hair and cause irritation and scarring.

There are two types of ingrown hair: transfollicular and extrafollicular. They basically occur when the hair either continues to grow within the hair follicle (transfollicular), or when it grows out of the follicle but doesn't penetrate the skin and, instead, grows below the skin's surface (extrafollicular).

Razor bumps or ingrown hairs don't have to plague you for the rest of your life. Prevention is key and comes down to proper hair removal techniques. Here's how to reduce razor bumps:

• Avoid the close shave. The AAD cites shaving too closely as a main cause of razor bumps. Consider settling for the 5 o'clock shadow look, which may mean shaving less often or not using the close setting on your electric shaver.

• Try shaving powder. The National Medical Association recommends that black men use shaving powders instead of razors to relieve razor bumps. These products easily remove hair, prevent razor burn, and leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.

• Use a depilatory cream. Facial depilatories by brands such as Nair or Surgi Cream help to prevent razor bumps, and slow hair growth so your skin stays hair-free longer. Always perform a skin patch test first to check for irritation or a rash; if this occurs, do not use the depilatory.

• Shave areas once only. Repeating strokes in a particular area when you're shaving will increase your risk of razor bumps. Even if you didn't shave the area as close as you wanted to, leave it till the next time you shave.

• Go with the flow. Shave the way that your hair grows. For instance, shave downwards on your cheeks, jawbones and chin and above your lip. But, use upward strokes on your neck.

• Prep the skin and hair. If you can't get to your barber on the regular, steal one of his tips for at-home use. Moisten your skin and hair with a warm, wet towel for a few minutes before applying a shaving cream for sensitive skin; this makes for a smoother, more even shave and helps to prevent razor bumps. Also, keep skin relaxed when shaving, don't pull it taut.

• Switch blades regularly. A dull razor increases both the risk of nicks, and ingrown hairs as you'll have to shave the same area more than once to get an even shave. Also, use a single blade because using razor with a double or triple blade is essentially the same thing as shaving over an area more than once.

• Exfoliate your skin. This skin care technique helps to keep skin soft so hair can more easily penetrate rather than growing beneath the surface. It also unplugs follicles and fosters healthier hair growth. You can use a loofah or your washcloth with warm water and a soap such as oatmeal. Or try an exfoliating product from a men's skin care line.

If you suffer from severe razor bumps or ingrown hair and nothing seems to help, electrolysis or laser hair removal may be your next best options - besides letting your beard grow in and clipping it. You'll need several sessions of either procedure before the hair stops growing back permanently. Costs vary quite a bit so call around to get the best deal.

The American Electrology Association (AEA) reports that men are a fast-growing group of clients for electrolysis. To find a certified electrologist near you, visit the AEA's website at For laser hair removal, the AAD recommends choosing a certified dermatologist to perform the procedure.


American Academy of Dermatology

British Association of Dermatologists

American Electrology Association