There are two causes of razor bumps: transfollicular penetration and extrafollicular penetration. If you have curly hair under the skin’s surface, it can grow straight into the sidewall of the follicle—that’s transfollicular penetration. Or, the hair grows out of the hair follicle and then curls and pokes back in—that’s called extrafollicular penetration. Either way, this causes an inflammatory reaction, or a razor bump.
Here are some tips to help treat and prevent those pesky bumps:
- Use a sharp razor—change blade every 2-3 shaves.
- Use a single blade razor. Too many blades cuts the hair too short.
- Shave daily. Don’t give the hair a chance to grow too much.
- Shave with the grain, don’t stretch the skin, and use light pressure.
- Use a shaving gel or cream—you want a slick surface to prevent trauma.
- Make sure the area is warm and hydrated. Don’t shave right when you get in the shower. Give yourself a few minutes. Dry hair that is cut has a sharp, pointed tip that is more likely to repenetrate the skin causing razor bumps.
- For men who shave on a regular basis, use a soft-bristle toothbrush or Clarisonic at bedtime to gently massage (in a small circular motion) the face and neck. That helps to take out hairs that are starting to grow in, so they don’t continue growing throughout the night. But, be gentle.
- If using an electric razor, use low setting.
- Use an exfoliating product, like a lotion or cleanser with salicylic acid or glycolic acid.
- Consider laser hair removal.
- If you are still having trouble, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Some people need a prescription product.