Shaving can feel like the Russian roulette of the beauty world. Sometimes you’re left so silky and smooth that you can barely keep your hands off yourself. Other times you’re stuck with redness and bumps that are so irritating that you swear off the razor for good. Although you may not realize it, your shaving technique has a lot to do with your results. Grab a sharp razor, wet your skin and lather up for a non-irritating, bump-free shave.
Sharpen That Blade
When it comes to redness and bumps after shaving, dull razor blades are a major culprit. Dull razor blades not only cause redness, blotchiness and irritation, they also give you an uneven shave. Dull blades also make it more likely that you’ll cut yourself, as you need to apply more pressure to shave. You may want to consider downgrading the number of blades, as well. While the newest five-blade models sound appealing, Bret Reichley, a head New York City barber, notes that these blades can cut hair below the surface of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, this can increase the risk of razor burn or ingrown hairs. Choose a sharp razor with three blades, instead.
Warm Those Pores
The steam and water from a warm shower opens up your pores and softens your skin and hair. This makes for a closer, smoother shave and can reduce the likelihood of redness and bumps after shaving. Paula Begoun, skin-care expert, says that it is essential for the area you’re shaving to be wet for at least two to three minutes before you start to shave. This makes hair soft and easier to cut. On the other hand, your body should not be completely saturated with water, like it is after you sit in the bath for 20 minutes. Soaked skin swells up around hair follicles, preventing a close shave.
Redness and bumps are more likely to develop if you shave over dry skin. Keep your skin slick and reduce friction by lathering up with a shaving gel or cream. Choose a shaving cream that doesn’t contain irritants such as alcohol, menthol or peppermint. If you find yourself in a pickle, holding an empty bottle of shaving cream, use hair conditioner or body wash as a substitute -- but never use bar soap, as it can be harsh and drying.
Go With the Grain
It may go against all you think you know, but shave in a downward motion in the direction of hair growth rather than in an upward motion against hair growth. Shaving with the grain cuts the hair at a softer angle, which makes ingrown hairs less likely. Shave using slow and short strokes, and avoid going over the same area more than once. This can irritate the skin and cause redness or burning.