How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps

Everyone wants smooth skin after shaving, but the last thing anyone wants to deal with is razor bumps. Learn how to prevent razor bumps when you shave.
by Rose Walano
Same sex couple on beach
New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Ah, yes, razor bumps. An inevitable side effect of shaving—or are they? It may seem like every time you shave—especially your bikini line—those oh-so-uncomfortable little red razor bumps pop up and refuse to go away. And to deal with them on your wedding day or right before a beach honeymoon? No, thank you.

So what causes razor bumps, and how do you get rid of them? Read on to get all of your razor burn questions answered by the pros, including a dermatologist and a celebrity makeup artist (the latter of which works with a slew of male stars, too, so she knows the hazards or razor burn all too well!). Here’s our comprehensive guide on how to prevent razor bumps and razor burn treatment, from shaving techniques to product recommendations.

In this Article:

What Causes Razor Bumps?

Wondering how to avoid razor bumps? Start with knowing what causes them. When you shave any part of your body, you remove the top layer of your skin, which can create what NYC-based dermatologist, Melissa Kanchanapoomi Levin, calls "micro-injuries." The hair may also curl and turn inward after shaving, and as the new skin begins to form over the micro-injury, it can trap the hair, causing that irritated bump to form. Then, you’re left with irritation, burning, redness and dryness—a.k.a. the razor bumps (officially pseudofolliculitis barbae in the medical world). Not the look you were going for. 

A few things that can make razor burn even worse? Shaving dry skin, using a dull or dirty blade and not moisturizing as soon as you're done shaving. And this sad truth: "Unfortunately, many of us were taught to shave against the grain, but that's actually what causes razor burn!" makeup artist Jessi Butterfield, who works with Kurt Russell and Francesca Eastwood, tells The Knot. But don’t worry—she has more than one solution for you.

How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps Fast

So now that you know what causes razor burn, you're probably already wondering something else: How do I reduce the razor bumps? And quickly? After all, you don’t want razor burn to have you hiding behind a sarong in [insert dream tropical locale here]. Alas, there’s no magic solution for how to get rid of razor bumps overnight, but there’s a lot you can do to help (and fast).
Here's what our pros suggest when it comes to how to get rid of razor bumps on the fly:

  • Go cold. Splash cold water on razor bumps as soon as you see them to shrink pores and soothe the skin.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. You should always moisturize as soon as you’re done shaving, but especially as soon as you see razor bumps. Those micro-injuries require a hydrating balm to heal.
  • Apply an over-the-counter cortisone cream. "It'll reduce the irritation, and you don't need a prescription," says Kanchanapoomi Levin. Start with your moisturizer, then add the cortisone right on top.
  • Apply an aftershave product. They’re quite literally made to minimize razor burn. Don't have one? Butterfield condones stealing from your S.O. (Hers uses Baxter of California Aftershave Balm, and she's obsessed.) The makeup artist also recommends Leonor Greyl Huile de Magnolia ("super luxurious and smells amazing") and Boiron Calendula Gel ("instantly cooling and absorbs really fast").
  • Aloe up. Looking for something natural? If you're already at the drugstore, head to the sun-care aisle and pick up a bottle of aloe vera, which can heal a whole host of issues, including razor burn. "It's good for more than just recovering from falling asleep by the pool!" Butterfield notes.

How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps on Your Bikini Line

Everyone wants to know how to get rid of razor bumps on bikini area skin. It is a truth universally acknowledged that when it comes to razor bumps, bikini razor bumps are the most uncomfortable—and the most common. And as it turns out, there's a specific reason for that.
"The hair in the bikini area is coarse and thick," notes Kanchanapoomi Levin. "Therefore, people are more likely to shave with multiple passes, which exacerbates razor burn." 
Because the skin in that area is especially sensitive, it also requires the most care. "For the bikini area, I still recommend following a shave with cold water and an aftershave,” Butterfield tells The Knot. "That said, you want to stay as natural as possible, because let's be real: This is one area in which you don't want to risk it!"
So, if you want to know how to get rid of razor bumps down there, keep it simple. Instead of the full lineup listed in the section above, stick to just the Boiron's Calendula Gel and the aloe vera—two natural products that can help you avoid razor burn without leaving you with a UTI.


How to Prevent Razor Bumps in the Future

You now know what causes razor bumps and how to get rid of them—hopefully, as quickly as they came. Still, according to both Kanchanapoomi Levin and Butterfield, the real trick is learning how to prevent razor bumps before they start. Treating your skin before you start shaving, our experts advise, will help you minimize the chance of getting razor burn in the first place.
So next time you get ready to lather up, keep this in mind to prevent razor bumps:

  • Wet the skin and hair with warm water. Then add a gentle soap. This will both soften and clean the skin before you get down to business.
  • Use a sharp blade. And make sure it's clean to prevent razor bumps! As soon as it becomes difficult to shave or your hair is getting caught, that means it's time to change your blade.
  • Don't forget the shaving gel. When you use a sharp blade in combination with shaving gel, you can catch all the hair with just one pass, lessening the likelihood of both razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
  • Shave in the direction that the hair is growing. As Butterfield notes, “Shaving with the grain may take an extra pass or two, but your hair follicles won’t get inflamed that way.”
  • Moisturize the skin after shaving. This ensures that the skin barrier is moist and healthy after the micro-trauma that shaving can cause.
  • Play it extra safe with your bikini line. It is an extremely sensitive place, after all! Instead of typical shaving gel, stick to over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid, both of which help your skin slough off dead skin cells. This can help prevent clogged and irritated pores. Make sure you use products meant for your bikini line, as they will be appropriate for prepping sensitive skin against razor burn.

Most of us have some shaving to do before any special event, but learning how to not get razor bumps is key—no one wants ingrown hairs and razor burn on their special day. Follow these tips to prep your skin the right way and prevent razor bumps so that your skin is silky smooth. And, if those pesky little bumps sneak up on you despite your best efforts, our experts’ advice can help you soothe and treat your skin. Your skill will be looking its best again in no time.


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