How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps (And Prevent Them From Ever Coming Back)
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 bumps pop up and refuse to go away. Well, we're here to share exactly how to get rid of razor bumps for good. Because let's face it, no one wants to deal with razor burn on their wedding day (or right before their honeymoon, for that matter!).
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, so she knows the hazards of razor burn all too well, especially when it comes to sensitive areas like your face or bikini line). Here's our comprehensive guide on how to prevent razor bumps (and the best razor burn treatment, if it's too late for that). From shaving techniques to product recommendations, we've got everything you need to know for your prewedding beauty regime.
In this article:
What Are Razor Bumps (And What Causes Them)?
Wondering how to avoid razor bumps in the first place? 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 angry bump to form. Then, you're left with irritation, burning, redness and dryness—AKA razor bumps (or pseudofolliculitis barbae in the medical world). Not quite the look you were going for, right?
Another frequently asked question about post-shave skin irritation: How long do razor bumps last? These irritated ingrown hairs can take several days to clear up on their own, but with the right treatment, it's possible to speed up the healing process. You should avoid shaving in the affected area again until all signs of razor bumps are gone. Otherwise, you might exacerbate the problem and cause bumps to stick around even longer (ugh!).
A few other 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!" says makeup artist Jessi Butterfield, who works with Kurt Russell and Francesca Eastwood. But don't worry—she has more than one solution for you. Find out how to stop razor bumps in their tracks and make them go away for good below.
How to Get Rid of Razor Bumps Fast
So now that you know what causes razor bumps, you're probably already wondering something else: What helps razor burn? And how do you get rid of it quickly? While irritated skin is nothing to be ashamed of, it's not the most comfortable thing to bring with you on your honeymoon—beach or no beach. 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 getting rid of ingrown hair bumps from shaving:
Go cold. Splash cold water on razor bumps as soon as you see them to shrink pores and soothe the skin. A cool, wet compress will also provide razor burn relief.
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. Luckily, there are lots of great lotions on the market that are suitable for all skin types. First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream is a cult favorite that absorbs quickly and instantly hydrates dry and distressed skin. Colloidal oatmeal relieves itching (phew!), shea butter moisturizes and ceramides strengthen the skin's natural protective barrier.
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. For the safest results, use a low-strength hydrocortisone cream externally and only for a short period of time.
Apply an aftershave product. They're quite literally made to put on razor burn to heal and help soothe, so it's worth adding one to your skincare routine. Don't have an aftershave? Butterfield condones stealing from your S.O. if they shave their facial hair. (Hers uses Baxter of California After Shave Balm, and she's obsessed.) We're also big fans of Frederick Benjamin Bump Clear post-shave and razor bump treatment. This aftershave product does exactly what it says in the name: clears razor bumps. With continued use, it also prevents razor burn from returning in the future.
Aloe up. Looking for something natural to help your razor burn? 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. "It's good for more than just recovering from falling asleep by the pool," Butterfield notes. EmuaidMAX is another homeopathic remedy that targets pain and inflammation (which pretty much sums up razor bumps). The anti-inflammatory also includes tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic.
How to Treat Razor Burn 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. Butterfield has advice on how to shave without getting razor bumps down there: "For the bikini area, I still recommend following a shave with cold water and an aftershave," she says. "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. One of our favorite quick fixes is Fur Ingrown Concentrate. Use the finger mitt in the shower to gently exfoliate irritated areas (including trapped hairs). Then, once you're out of the shower, apply a few drops of the soothing (and all-natural!) oil concentrate. On days where you don't have time to exfoliate in the shower, we also love First Aid Beauty Ingrown Hair Pads and Topicals High Roller ingrown hair tonic. Simply glide the pads or roller over clean, dry skin.
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 burn before it starts. 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. While cold water is the way to go post-shave, the opposite is true before you apply your razor. Using warm water with a gentle soap 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! Many dermatology experts recommend using a fresh blade every time you shave your bikini area, but as a general rule, as soon as it becomes difficult to shave or your hair is getting caught, it's time to change your blade.
Choose the right shaving tool. There are a lot of different grooming tools out there to choose from, and we mean a lot. Using a high-quality razor is imperative to achieving a clean, razor burn-free shave. Online retailers like OUI the People make sleek, effective grooming tools easily accessible. Their single-blade razors help prevent irritation and promote an even shave. Prefer to use an electric razor? Meridian's rechargeable trimmers are specifically designed for men who want to shave down there.
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. OUI the People's Sugarcoat shave gel forms a thin coating on the skin's surface to help your razor glide effortlessly without getting clogged up, as it would with traditional shaving cream.
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." Although it's more likely to happen when you're shaving against the growth of hair, be mindful that shaving the same area repeatedly may cause irritated or inflamed skin.
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. When applying any kind of cream, gel or oil down there, take note of the ingredients and remember that natural is better. Shaving gel can be substituted for over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid if necessary. Both of these will help your skin slough off dead skin cells and prevent clogged and irritated pores. Ultimately, you should only use products that are recommended for your bikini line, as they will be appropriate for prepping sensitive skin against razor burn.
Many of us like to shave before a special event, and learning how to not get razor bumps is key—no one wants painful ingrown hairs and itchy razor burn on their special day. Now that you know the basics, follow these tips to prep your skin the right way and prevent razor bumps for silky smooth results. And, if those pesky little bumps sneak up on you despite your best efforts, refer back to these expert tips to help you soothe razor burn ASAP.