Whether you’re bare from neck to toes or you only use your razor in a few select areas, dealing with itchy, irritated bumps is never fun. If you’re a card-carrying member of the razor bumps club, here’s what you need to know.
What are razor bumps?
Most people use the term “razor bumps” to refer to the red, pimple-like bumps that sometimes pop up after shaving, but razor bumps could be anything from ingrown hairs to a form of folliculitis called pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB). A very common (and highly treatable!) skin condition, razor bumps happen when hair grows back into the follicle and becomes infected or inflamed.
Razor burn is sometimes mistaken for razor bumps, but the key difference is razor burn affects the skin around the hair follicle, and razor bumps affect the hair follicle itself. If you notice an acne-like breakout accompanied by itching, pain, redness, dark spots, small rounded bumps or blister-like marks after you shave, it’s probably razor bumps.
Why do I get razor bumps?
Anybody who shaves is at risk for razor bumps, but naturally curly hair (like the kind that grows in the pubic area or anywhere for skin of color) is more prone. If you’re looking for someone to blame for your razor burn troubles, the most likely culprit is your razor itself. A dull blade is just not going to cut it (pun intended). Dull razors can injure the hair follicle during the actual act of shaving (hello, ingrown hairs), and they’ve probably also been hanging around your warm, wet shower for too long, gathering up the bacteria and fungi that will lead to folliculitis. Whether your razor bumps are ingrown hairs or full-on folliculitis, your first step is to ditch your old razor and get in the habit of replacing it every three uses.
How to get rid of razor bumps
There are a few things you can do to get rid of razor bumps fast. The first is to gently exfoliate the area. Scrubbing can cause inflammation (and further hyperpigmentation of the skin), so it’s best to use a mild chemical exfoliant like the AHA & BHA found in Buff & Brighten. Once the dead skin cells and sebum keeping the hair trapped under the skin have been removed, it’s easier for the hair to break free. Ingredients like aloe vera, allantoin & witch hazel also help soothe angry, irritated skin. You can also apply a soothing moisturizer like Rescue Balm to immediately calm inflamed skin - it’s free from known irritants like fragrance and coconut oil that can make razor bumps worse. If you suspect folliculitis, your medical care provider may recommend an antibacterial or antifungal topical cream to address the symptoms, but it’s important to make certain changes in your shaving routine to keep it from coming back.
How to prevent razor bumps
When it comes to razor bumps, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is so true. Here’s what you can do to keep razor bumps from coming back:
1. Use Shaving Cream
Lubrication is key to a smooth shave. Shaving cream acts as a barrier between your skin and your razor to minimize irritation. Microbiome Balancing Cleanser is a soft, sulfate-free alternative to conventional shaving cream, and it's packed with clinically effective ingredients that purify bacterial buildup and inhibit the growth of fungi - bye, bye folliculitis! Plus, it’s pH-balanced and safety tested on actual vulvas, so you don’t have to worry about using it to shave your bikini line.
2. Exfoliate Regularly
If you get razor bumps, you gotta exfoliate! Swipe a Buff & Brighten pad onto skin before you shave to keep the area free from debris that can lead to irritation.
After you shower, layer on a lightweight moisturizer to soothe freshly shaved skin and minimize razor bumps and irritation.
4. Ditch These Ingredients
If you’re prone to pseudofolliculitis barbae, there are a few ingredients that could actually be keeping you stuck with razor bumps. After consulting with your doctor for treatment options, check your body products for esters, ceramides, amino acids, glycerin & fatty acids - body washes, lotions, and shaving cream with these ingredients could be the root cause of your condition. Our new Microbiome Balancing Cleanser is free from these known triggers to help you cleanse chin to toe with confidence.
5. Get Your Shave Routine On Point
We may sound like a broken record, but we can’t stress the importance of using a fresh blade enough. A sharp razor glides effortlessly over skin, which means no irritation, and is less likely to be harboring bacteria and fungi that can infect hair follicles. You’ll also want to make sure you shave in the direction of hair growth, never against the grain!