Shaving can be one of the quickest, easiest, and cheapest ways to get rid of unwanted hair. But this method also comes with some minor risks. Most common? Women who shave their legs, underarms, and bikini line, or men who shave their face, may find themselves left with razor burn, bumps, and irritated skin.

Skin Irritations Caused By Shaving

Razor burn can occur when you press down too hard with the razor, thus causing sensitive skin to become rough, red, and swollen. If you're trying to shave with a razor that's gone dull, you might push harder to cut the hairs and in the process, end up below the surface of the hair and cut your own skin.

Shaving can also leave ingrown hairs, which occurs when the sharp end of the hair goes back into the skin, causing a red, itchy bump that often looks like a pimple. People with thick or curly hair are more prone to ingrown hairs. 

How to Sidestep Skin Irritations Caused By Shaving

"Razor bumps and rashes can often be avoided with proper skin preparation," says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty at Home (Holt Paperbacks). "This means lots of moisture, clean razors, and clean skin."

Here, her top tips for a smooth shave:

1. Avoid shaving first thing in the morning, when fluids that accumulate during the night can cause your skin to be puffy and make it harder to get a good, close shave.

2. Wash the area you intend to shave with warm water first to help prepare the skin and make it easier to shave, since the heat can make the skin less resistant to the razor's motion.

3. Layer on a generous coating of shaving cream, lotion, or soap to help the razor glide along the skin's surface smoothly. This can also provide an important barrier of protection between the razor and your skin.

4. Select a good sharp, clean, razor blade so you won't have to push as hard against your skin.

5. Shave against hair growth with as little pressure as possible.

6. Wait at least an hour after shaving before applying deodorant, which can irritate your skin.

7. Skip the shave after swimming in salt or chlorinated water, since the salt and chlorine can make your skin more sensitive.

How to Soothe Skin Irritations Caused by Shaving

If despite your best efforts, you do experience razor burn, most experts recommend leaving the area alone and letting it heal by itself. If it's quite bothersome, there are some gentle, natural treatments you can try for relief.

Cox recommends applying chamomile tea bags on the affected spot. "First, cleanse the area with soap and water. Then place cool, damp tea bags over the irritated skin. Chamomile contains anti-inflammatory properties, so it is very calming to your skin," she says.

Aloe vera can help soothe the discomfort, while the antiseptic action of apple cider vinegar can help reduce razor bumps. Just be sure to dilute the vinegar first by mixing one tablespoon of vinegar with one cup of water.

Eating a diet high in vitamin C may help support your skin's health. Try tomatoes, broccoli, and strawberries—all rich in vitamin C.

Janice Cox reviewed this article.



Cox, Janice. "Natural Beauty at Home: More Than 250 Easy-to-Use Recipes for Body, Bath, and Hair." Holt Paperbacks, ©2002.

Cox, Janice. "Natural Beauty at Home with Janice Cox." N.d. Web. 7 June 2013.