If you prefer your facial hair in the ‘non-existent’ category – and the idea of a full beard gives you hives – you’re probably well familiar with the nightmare of life that’s shaving rash. Anyone who shaves any body part has dealt with it at some stage. It’s itchy, stings like a mofo, and often is accompanied with a super welcome (not) red, patchy look complete with ingrown hairs. Cool.
If you’re shaving daily, it’s kind of a situation you can’t entirely avoid. But there’s a solid chance you’re doing a few things, well, WRONG and giving your skin a free ride to rashy-town. We had a chat to dermatologist Dr. Natasha Cook about the whole shitty scenario.
WATCH WHAT YOU USE ON YOUR FACE
Not every product labelled “shaving cream” is going to do a good job. And don’t even think about using the scummy shower soap on your face. Basically, if your shaving product is too “soapy”, you run the risk of it interfering with your skin barrier.
“A well functioning, intact epidermal barrier layer is imperative to having high functioning skin,” explains Dr. Cook. “Compromising this creates increased inflammation in the skin, leading to sensitivity and rashes – including shaving rash.”
Instead of just grabbing any shaving foam, try a non-foaming shaving cream instead. Even a good cleanser can be used instead of shaving foam.
MAKE SURE YOU MOISTURISE
Not following a fresh shave with a healthy slap of some moisturiser is a big doozy of a mistake. Think about it – you just scraped a razor over bare skin. It’s probably going to want a bit of TLC, ok?
“Moisturise immediately after shaving to soothe and replenish the skin,” suggests Dr. Cook. “Using one with niacinamide or Vitamin B3 will help with skin barrier rebuilding, as well as preventing inflammation. Glycerine is a great moisture binder, too – so look for that as well.”
FORGET ALCOHOL-BASED TONERS
The old-school way of thinking was to slap some alcohol-based toner onto freshly shaved skin, feel the burn, and walk out the door. Why? Why did ye olde men like doing this? I think even my dad still does this.
Part of this ancient, pre-historic thinking was that it helped with ingrown hairs. It… does not. If that’s something you deal with (those weird, pimple-looking spots that develop a day or two after shaving), try an exfoliating serum instead. Seriously – it’ll change your life.
“Using a serum with AHA’s like lactic acid helps to stop inflammation and prevent ingrown hairs,” says Dr. Cook. “Ones that also have BHA’s like salicylic acid in them have an even stronger anti-inflammatory effect and sink into the follicle, preventing blackheads, whiteheads and ingrown hairs.”
Quick note on ingrowns – if you’re getting loads, it might be a sign you have a different skin issue.
If there are a lot and they are causing a rash called “pseudo-folliculitius barbae”, and you may need some oral anti inflammatory antibiotics like doxycycline, which a doctor can prescribe,” says Dr. Cook.
CHECK YOUR RAZOR
If you’re waiting weeks between razor changes, you’re doing it wrong.
“Change your razor blade at least weekly. A blunt razor can cause more damage to the skin because you have to “over” shave to get it to work,” explains Dr. Cook. “That is, you need to go over the area more therefore increasing risk of trauma to the skin.”
And don’t even start me with a rusty razor – that’s not just gonna give you a shaving rash, it’s also putting you at risk of skin infections. Gross.