Whether you suffer from razor bumps or full-on acne, running a razor over already irritated skin is painful and can make even the thought of shaving outright miserable. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to reduce the pain and irritation of shaving with acne and razor bumps. By making minor adjustments to your shaving routine, you can get a close shave without further damaging sensitive skin.

Prepare Your Face

The best thing you can do to prepare your face is to take a hot shower just before you shave. The hot water and steam from the shower will open your pores and warm your hair follicles. Make sure to thoroughly wash your face with a gentle cleanser in order to remove dirt, bacteria, dead skin cells, and other debris that might cause additional friction when shaving. However, you should avoid scrubbing too hard. This is more about cleansing and softening your skin, not exfoliating. You may also want to avoid using a washcloth as the texture could irritate your skin.

If you don’t have time to take a shower before you shave, gently applying a warm washcloth can have the same effect on your hair and skin as a shower.

Apply a Pre-Shave Oil

Using a pre-shave oil before you apply shaving cream will help to soften your hair and allow the razor to glide more smoothly. With this extra lubrication, you won’t have to apply as much pressure as you shave, which is essential for shaving irritated skin and preventing razor burn. Using a few drops at a time, gently massage the oil against the grain of your hair.

If you suffer from acne, you may be afraid that applying additional oils to your face will worsen your acne. However, proper moisturization is key to a healthy complexion. Just look for oils with natural ingredients, and confirm that the pre-shave oil you choose is noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores.

Use the Right Shaving Cream

You should choose a shaving cream that is free of alcohol and other drying agents. As with your pre-shave oil, it’s best to look for a product that contains more natural oils than synthetic ingredients as these will be less harsh on your skin. Because shaving brushes can harbor bacteria, you should always apply shaving cream with clean fingers, and apply plenty of it to ensure your face is well lubricated.

Choose Your Razor Wisely

As the art of shaving has evolved, so have razor technologies. Although trends in modern razor technology tend to encourage the use of multi-blade razors, for people with acne, the fewer blades your razor has, the easier shaving will be on your skin. The problem with multi-blade razors is that they are designed to lift and cut, which is more likely to irritate your skin, break pimples, and spread bacteria. Instead, you should use a razor with no more than two blades. Because single-blade razors aren’t widely available and take a bit of patience to learn to use effectively, a twin-blade razor is your best bet. Also, be sure to replace your razor head often as a dull razor can cause more nicks and irritation.

Shave Gently

Always use a light touch when shaving. By using adequate amounts of pre-shave oil and shaving cream, you shouldn’t need to apply as much pressure to get a close shave. If possible, avoid pulling the razor over pimples.

You should always shave in the direction your hair grows. Some people think it’s worth it to shave against the grain in order to get the closest shave possible. However, this increases the chance that you’ll cut yourself, break pimples, and disrupt your hair follicles, which can cause razor bumps, ingrown hairs, and may lead to more breakouts.

Clean Up and Hydrate

If you’re planning to reuse your razor head, be sure to rinse it thoroughly with rubbing alcohol. This may seem excessive, but it can make a huge difference in your complexion to ensure that you have a clean, bacteria-free razor each time you shave.

Use warm water to rinse any remaining pre-shave oil and shaving cream off of your face. If left alone, the residue from these products could clog pores. At this point, you don’t need to use a detergent on your face as this could dry out sensitive skin. Just use plenty of water and follow up with a moisturizer to soothe and hydrate your skin. Though some moisturizers contain benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid as a toner, these can irritate sensitive skin. Instead, look for a mild version of these or choose a moisturizer made primarily of natural ingredients.

Aside from taking care as you shave, it may be a good idea to consult a dermatologist in order to seek treatment for your acne. Although shaving with acne can be difficult and painful, if you follow these strategies, you stand a good chance of keeping clean-shaven and reducing the damage razors can do to your complexion.

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