If you've ever had razor burn —that itchy, tender burning sensation you get right after your shave― you know how painful it can be. Shaving is a go-to for hair removal, but no one wants discomfort and irritation on your legs, face, underarms, or bikini area. Luckily, razor burns can be easily prevented and soothed.
Signs of razor burn after shaving include irritation or inflamed skin, a burning or hot sensation, and if your skin is sensitive to the touch.
What’s the initial response treatment for razor burn?
Since razor burn is similar to when you burn your skin in the sun, you can initially use aloe vera to cool and calm the skin. You can also try an astringent like witch hazel to reduce redness, as several factors can cause razor burn. Shaving without a lubricant, shaving in the wrong direction, using an old or clogged razor, using dull blades, or shaving too quickly will give your skin uncomfortable razor burn.
Razor bumps vs. razor burn
Razor bumps are not the same thing as razor burn. Razor burn is a type of skin irritation that the friction of the razor causes. It tends to cause areas of redness and irritation immediately after shaving. Razor burn, on the other hand, can occur if you don’t properly lubricate your skin with shaving gel or cream before shaving. It may also occur if you use a dull razor or have skin that is sensitive to friction.
Is razor burn common?
Shaving is a fast way to remove unwanted hair. It’s also notorious for leaving behind red patches of inflamed skin and bumps. This razor burn may occur anywhere you shave, from your legs to your underarms, and yes, it is common. Most people who shave have experienced the condition at least once, whereas some people get it every time they shave.
If you’re tormented by razor burn, there are steps you can take to soothe your skin and to reduce your risk of getting it again. Here are some 5 remedies for razor burn relief.
Hot bath + Epsom salts
A salt-based exfoliator is great for warding off ingrown hairs before they start for those with oily or acne-prone skin. For ingrown hair on the body, like the legs or bikini area, soak in the tub with two cups of Epsom salt. Taking a warm bath may open up the pores and relieve swelling and skin irritation.
Try apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is said to comprise anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that work to soothe itchy, irritated skin. Black tea bags are also great for razor burns as they contain tannic acid, which helps to alleviate irritated skin. After shaving, there can be micro-cuts and irritation to the skin from which can be benefited by acetic acid, which is found in apple cider vinegar. In addition, it also contains citric acid, which is an alpha hydroxy acid. This may increase cell turnover and help unclog ingrown hairs.
Soothe skin with coconut oil & honey
Coconut oil is a great skin softener, and also honey is known for its antibacterial properties. By combining both with an exfoliating substance, such as sugar, you can successfully scrape off excess dead skin cells without irritating your skin. Because coconut oil is solid in cooler climates, it melts into the skin as you apply it, which may feel soothing.
Cool off with cucumber and milk
Not only do cucumbers have a cooling effect, but they also contain vitamin C, which aids in skin restoration. Milk works to soothe the skin, thanks to its fat and protein content. This combination of cucumber and milk may be able to provide moisture and a cooling effect to alleviate irritated skin from razor burn.
A strawberry mixture
Strawberries may have anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat razor bumps, and the fats in the sour cream will help to coat and soothe the skin. Strawberries contain seeds that may be able to act as a physical exfoliant to combat razor burns. If you want to try it out, mash a few strawberries with a small amount of sour cream, and mix properly. Apply the paste to the affected area, and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash the paste off with cold water, and pat dry.
How to prevent future razor burn
If you don’t take steps to prevent razor burn, you’ll find yourself stuck in a vicious cycle. As you continue to shave over razor-burned skin, the problem will only get worse. There are several steps you can take to help prevent the condition, including:
- Lather up before shaving with shaving cream.
- Shave in a warm shower or bath to soften hair.
- Exfoliate before shaving.
- Shave in the same direction hair grows.
- Don’t shave every day.
- Don’t use old razors.
- Keep your razor clean.
- Keep your skin moisturized between shaves.
Some shaving creams and shaving after-care products contain chemicals that may irritate sensitive skin. Before using a new product, do a patch test to check for sensitivity.
The bottom line
With proper care, most cases of razor burn usually clear up in a few days. If possible, take a few days off from shaving to give your skin time to heal. If razor burn continues to be a problem for you, even after you’ve taken prevention steps and tried home remedies, contact your doctor. The last thing you want is persistent discomfort from irritated and inflamed skin.