Shaving-related irritation is one of the most popular cosmetic complaints among men. While it can affect any part of the face, the neck area is particularly sensitive to shaving nicks and redness.
If you are looking to keep your shave smooth and irritation-free, stick around as we share a few useful tips below.
A Smooth Shave Not So Close to Your Skin
Shaving close to the skin without causing trauma is challenging. Also, shaving can compromise your skin barrier. Specifically, our skin has a layer of lipids that works to retain moisture and regulate the entry of any chemicals. When we shave, this lipid layer is compromised, especially if alcohol-containing aftershaves are used. When the lipid layer is damaged, the skin becomes extremely vulnerable to external stimuli. Moisture is easily lost to the surroundings and foreign chemicals can enter the skin easily. The skin can be more irritable at this stage.
Shaving may also be a physical stimulus for the receptors in our skin. While the sensory receptors in the skin are meant to perceive pain, they also react to more innocent environmental stimulus like a razor. Upon shaving, the skin releases mediators that cause a flare response, which leads to redness or a burning sensation.
Ingrown Hairs Impede a Smooth Shave
When shaved, the hair is left with a sharp tip. Ingrown hairs happen when the tip grows out of the follicle, curves downwards and re-enters the skin. Alternatively, it can grow inwards and penetrate the deeper skin layers.
Your body recognizes the hair’s reentry as a foreign object and triggers an inflammatory reaction that causes redness and itchiness. The follicles can resemble a pimple filled with pus.
To avoid this, do not stretch the skin while you shave as it causes newly cut hair to retract underneath the skin, making it more difficult to achieve a smooth shave.
Razor Burns After a Not So Smooth Shave
Razor burns occur when there is skin inflammation. Symptoms include burning, itching, stinging and redness. In mild cases, the discomfort can last for a few hours and resemble a rash or scratch. If the condition worsens, you may notice bumps that resemble pimples.
Dermatologist Tips for a Smooth Shave
- Dry beard hair is stiffer and more resistant to applied forces. This means that stiffer hair requires greater force when shaving. To soften the beard hairs, first wash your face with cool water (which decreases chances of skin inflammation) and a gentle antibacterial cleanser like Miel Honey™ Cleanser. The Honey Cleanser is formulated with medical grade honey – a natural antibiotic, and the Arnica Montana flower extract with anti-inflammatory benefits. These properties help to calm the skin and reduce the risk of infection after a shave. The motion of washing your face also releases embedded hairs, which become exposed and easier to shorten with a smooth shave.
- Shave with the grain, i.e. in the direction of hair growth, to reduce razor burn. Friction or abrasiveness on the skin during shaving is aggravated when there is an opposing force against the direction of hair growth, so it is recommended to avoid that.
- Use a sharp and clean razor blade with every shave. Dull blades require more pressure, which creates more abrasion with each shave and increases likelihood of damaging of the epidermal skin. Furthermore, unclean blades can introduce bacteria or microbes and trigger inflammation of the skin. It may also be beneficial to rinse the blade with residual anti-bacterial cleanser from the face wash in (1), to help keep the blade clean.
- If ingrown hairs are a significant issue causing irritation to the shaving area, consider switching to electrical razors. Electrical razors have a hair-permeable barrier between the skin and blade. The barrier prevents direct contact of the shaving blades to the skin, thereby reducing the closeness and potential irritation from the shave, albeit one would experience a less clean shave from this. Maintain beard hair at length of 0.5 to 1 mm to prevent hair from penetrating the skin.
- Use a moisturizer after your shave to decrease irritation and rehydrate the skin. An emulsion-based, lightweight moisturizer like Radiance Fluide™ Hydrating Emulsion is recommended. The emulsion is an oil-in-water mixture which creates a lightweight texture when moisturising the shaved areas. Furthermore, the Radiance Fluide is power-packed with skin-hydrating bioactives and botanical extracts that have anti-inflammatory properties. The botanicals accelerate wound healing on the skin, making the Radiance Fluide a perfect cosmeceutical after-shave cream.
If you experience persistent shaving-related irritation, such as redness, bumps and pimple-like growths, or even loss of beard hair, it is best to visit an accredited dermatologist. A proper consultation with dermatologists, who are in fact skin and hair specialists, can identify any underlying condition and provide advice on suitable treatment and care options for a smooth shave.
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Meet with Dr Teo Wan Lin, an accredited dermatologist at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, for a thorough consultation to determine the most suitable treatment for your skin.