Razor burn, or shaving rash, is skin irritation in the form of reddening and/or swelling that presents after shaving. Its main causes are improper preparation and poor shaving technique. Exerting too much pressure with the razor, aggressive or rushed shaving, and making too many passes are all contributing factors. As is applying insufficient shaving cream, failing to re-apply between passes, and using dull blades, all of which reduce razor glide.
You can avoid, or at least minimise the risk of, razor burn by following the simple steps below. Some are more susceptible to razor burn than others. If you have particularly sensitive skin then consider using products specifically formulated to your skin type. If this is you, have a look at our Sensitive Skin range.
For more information about how to traditionally shave with a double-edge razor, see our aptly-titled Guide to Traditional Shaving.
How to avoid razor burn
Before shaving, ensure the skin is well-prepared and sufficiently lubricated with a decent cream or soap, mixed with plenty of water. Use a pre-shave oil or cream, and make sure the shaving cream is nicely whipped up into a rich, thick lather.
Use a shaving brush to apply the lather. This softens and lifts the hairs away from the face, coating each strand from root to tip, and exfoliates the skin. Razor glide is also significantly improved.
Use only light pressure while shaving. The weight of the razor and sharpness of the blade is enough. Avoid pressing the blade to the skin.
Shave with the grain (in the direction of the hair), using short, deliberate strokes. You may find you want to shave against the grain for a closer cut, but save that for the second or third pass.
Don’t try to scrape all the hair off in a single pass, but avoid making more than three passes.
Re-apply the lather between each pass to ensure the face is constantly adequately protected and lubricated.
Make sure the blade is sharp, clean and free from obstructions, with no clumps of hair stuck in the razor head.
Take you your time; a successful and close shave can’t be rushed.
Finally, make sure you moisturise after shaving. Use an alum block if you have one, to close the pores and stem the bleeding of any nicks or cuts.
If razor burn does occur, reduce the swelling by covering the area with a cool, damp facecloth.