Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have taken the first step to treat razor bumps- also called as razor burn, ingrown hair or psuedofolliculitis barbae. This troublesome skin problem is typically faced by African American men, post shaving. However, according to a recent survey conducted by the International Dermatological Institute, nearly 79% men who shave suffer from some kind of skin infections including razor bumps. These shaving problems not only look ugly; they actually lead to premature aging of the skin. Even women who shave their arms, legs or bikini areas are known to suffer from ingrown hair which can cause severe pain and burning. In this guide, we will study 12 natural remedies to help you get rid of razor bumps painlessly and quickly.
First: let us cover some basics.
Problems associated with shaving
On an average, men and women start shaving at the age of 13. Men only need to shave their faces and underarms, though many are known to shave their chest, arms, legs and pubic areas. Women typically shave their legs, arms, underarms and the bikini region. The simple act of shaving actually causes a great deal of stress on our skin. During shaving, you actually physically exfoliate the skin which tends to impact its health. The most common and visible sign of shaving includes ingrown hair, razor burn, scratches, nicks and cuts. Shaving in a hurry during the morning rush hour is often the main culprit behind improper and over-exfoliation of the skin which tends to compromise its delicate lipid barrier. The epidermis of the skin relies on this lipid barrier for protection from the harsh environment. Furthermore, the use of improper after-shave products containing alcohol tends to harm this lipid barrier even more. The result: the weakened barrier is not able to protect the skin as a result of which it appears dehydrated and irritated. Overtime, the shaved skin’s dermis obtains a greenish darkish color that leads to a prematurely aged look.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae is a skin condition associated with shaving and consists of ingrown hair and razor bumps. It is typically seen in black men or men and women having curly hair. In women, the bikini area where the hair is naturally curly is more prone to Pseudofolliculitis barbae or razor bumps.
During shaving, the razor cuts the hair from the skin’s surface. If the hair in the shaved area is curly, it grows with a kink in the form or a tightly wound corkscrew which makes it turn inwards. A part of hair remains inside the skin forming ingrown hair. Razor bumps also occur when the hair turns at an improper angle. When such a curled hair is shaved, the end of it forces the hair back into its follicle which grows inside the skin rather than coming out. The body naturally considers such inward turned hair as a foreign object and tries to eliminate it by triggering an inflammatory response. As a result, ingrown hair and razor bumps cause redness, itching, swelling, pus and folliculitis. Left untreated, razor bumps can get infected and may even need antibiotics for treatment.
Symptoms of razor bumps
The symptoms could last for several hours or even a few weeks. As already stated, untreated razor bumps could cause serious breakouts and blisters.
Preventing razor bumps
Perhaps the best treatment for razor bumps is prevention. To prevent razor bumps use the following natural remedies:
- Avoid shaving too closely or too quickly.
- Provide adequate lubrication before shaving.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth (also called shaving in grain of the growth as opposed to shaving against the grain).
- Avoid shaving completely if the skin is already irritated or sensitized
- Avoid applying too much pressure on the skin as this will facilitate removal of skin resulting in friction, redness and irritation.
- Avoid shaving with a blunt razor. If possible, use a safety type razor, depilatory paste or small edge clipper to shave. The shave may not be close and satisfactory but will be good enough until your ingrown razor bump issue is under control.
- Avoid tweezing if you have kinky, curly hair. Tweezing breaks the hair’s shaft below the skin’s mantle causing curly hair to re-enter the skin.
You can also prevent razor burn, ingrown hair and razor bumps by using pre-shaving products that include following ingredients:
- Camphor-This is antiseptic in nature and firms the skin up for a better shave.
- Clove flower oil– This helps soften the hair and prepares the skin for the razor.
- Glycerin-This allows the razor to slide smoothly on the skin.
- Sodium Hyaluronate– This moisturizes and lubricates the skin to enable the blade to glide smoothly across the skin.
- Wheat germ extract-This protects the skin’s lipid barrier to prevent redness and irritation.
- Yeast extracts– This combats irritation and reinforces the lipid barriers to prevent post-shaving skin irritation.
- Baby oil- This helps soften the skin prior to shaving to help you get rid of ingrown hair.
12 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Razor Bumps
1. Exfoliate before you shave
The best natural way to exfoliate the skin for treating razor bumps is using AHA and BHA based products (alpha and beta hydroxyl acids). These moisturize and lighten the hair and also soften sebum in the hair follicles to prevent ingrown hair. You could go for an exfoliation peel at a spa or salon or simply use these products in the comforts of your home. AHA mainly includes lactic acids while BHA includes salicylic acid. Use a gentle salicylic acid based face washes and cleansers to cleanse the face and reduce ingrown hair.
2. Avoid wearing underwear to get rid of ingrown hair in bikini area
Ladies: do not shave or wax before a bikini wax or Brazilian wax treatment- let the hair grow properly. Avoid wearing underwear for a couple of days and especially at night before the treatment. Do avoid wearing sweaty clothing-change sweaty clothes immediately as the sweat softens the skin and tends to facilitate penetration of curly hair increasing hair in-growth in the region. Avoid scrubbing, picking or poking the skin as this can make matters worse and increase bacteria that lead to folliculitis.
3. Apply Rubbing Alcohol or rub a Deodorant Stick on the shaved region
Both these home remedies keep the skin dry and prevent chaffing and irritation after shaving. They will also prevent the hair from turning inwards. Rubbing alcohol actually closes the skin’s pores to prevent and treat razor bumps on the legs and pubic area.
4. Warm and Cold Compress
Warm and cool compresses can help you treat pain and irritation caused by razor bumps. After shaving, immediately use a cool ice pack to chill the irritated skin. Cover the ice in a thin cloth and apply all over the razor bumps. You can also use heat packs by heating a soft cloth on a hot skillet and applying it on the ingrown hair. Once the skin irritation has ceased, follow up with a soothing skin cream containing gentle and natural ingredients like Vitamin E, Aloe Vera, Calamine etc.
5. Distilled Vinegar
Distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar is one of the best natural remedies to soothe razor bumps and inflammation. Dip a clean cotton cloth or Q-tip in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and apply it on the face or legs-wherever your skin has the tendency to develop ingrown hair. Apply the vinegar all over the affected region. It will sting a bit, but will prevent potential shaving issues like folliculitis. You can also use white vinegar to apply on the skin after shaving. This will not just balance the ph of the skin; it will also create a protective barrier to prevent bacterial skin infections.
6. Exfoliate and Scrub gently during bath
The best natural remedy for preventing and treating ingrown hair is to exfoliate gently daily during bath time. Use a gentle scrub containing microbeads, or other natural ingredients like olive oil and sugar. You can make a homemade exfoliating scrub containing brown sugar and olive or coconut oil. Apply the mixture on the affected areas in circular massaging motion. This will gently remove the ingrown hair which can be waxed or shaved later. You can even use an exfoliating scrub or face wash containing walnut shells to remove the ingrown hair.
7. Baking soda and Oatmeal
Two powerful and natural remedies to treat razor bumps include baking soda and oatmeal. Apply a paste of baking soda and water all over the legs, arms, pubic area or face after shaving. Baking soda acts as a buffer to reduce the sharp stinging sensation caused by abrasive shaving action. You can also powder a little oatmeal in a blender and make a paste with some water. Apply the paste on the shaved areas. Scrub gently to exfoliate and soothe the skin. Let the paste remain on the skin for 30 minutes to prevent redness and inflammation and protect the already sensitized skin.
8. Cornstarch Remedy for ingrown hair and razor bumps
This is a wonderful remedy to treat bumps on face fast. Apply a paste of cornstarch powder in a little water as a mask, post-shaving. Let it remain on the skin for at least 30 minutes. Wash off with ice cold water. Use this remedy several times a day, especially on the day you shave. This natural razor bump treatment will help you get rid of razor bumps over night.
9. Cucumber Aloe Vera and Lemon juice
One the easiest remedies to get rid of razor bumps quickly is a mixture of cucumber juice, aloe vera gel and lemon juice. Mix all three ingredients in equal quantities and apply it all over the face, legs and pubic area. Let the mask air dry naturally. Rinse with cool water. Repeat this treatment several times a week to get rid of irritation and also prevent infections.
10. Tea bags
Used tea bags make a great warm compress which you can apply on the razor bumps. Heat some water in a glass mug and soak the tea bags in it. You can use two to three tea bags depending on the area to be treated. You can also use black tea or green tea bags as both are rich in tannic acid and antioxidants that help heal the skin and fight inflammation. Once the water has turned color, remove the tea bags and chill them in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Apply the cold tea bags all over the irritated, inflamed skin. Let them remain on the skin for at least 20 minutes. Use this remedy for razor bumps twice a week or on the days you shave to prevent pain and burning.
11. Tea Tree Oil for razor bumps
Perhaps the most popular treatment for this skin issue is tea tree oil. Not only is it popular, it is also extremely effective. Tea tree oil is antibacterial and antifungal. It can reduce the risk of infections caused on inflamed skin after shaving. These days, you also get after-shave lotions and gels containing this powerful and potent antiseptic essential oil. Apply tea tree oil on the shaved area-you might experience some burning and stinging for a few seconds. Let the oil remain on the skin for at least 10 minutes before washing off with warm water. You can also mix olive oil and tea tree oil for razor bumps treatment. Use this remedy at least 3-4 times a week to prevent ingrown hair and razor burns.
12. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel toner contains astringent properties that make it an effective remedy for healing all kinds of skin irritations including razor bumps. It contains natural salicylate compounds that prevent blisters and pimples. When used post-shaving, witch hazel helps cleanse and tone the skin and also remove impurities that end up clogging the skin pores. Men must use witch hazel on the face after shaving as it not just prevents ingrown hair; it also fades blemishes and spots left behind by the abrasive shaving action of a razor. Women may use witch hazel on their arms, legs, underarms and also the bikini areas to soothe their skin following waxing or shaving. This will reduce razor bumps and soothe the burning, itching and pain.
Shaving is an essential step in personal grooming but it can lead to several skin issues described above. There are many other effective, natural ways to treat razor bumps fast including application of paste of Aspirin tablets, or even Common Salt mixed with water. These remedies reduce the risk of infections caused by shaving. Whatever you do, never ever scratch, pick or use hot needles or pins to remove the ingrown hair and razor bumps; these methods are dangerous and could lead to serious burns or injuries.