Shaving with Sensitive Skin Introduction
Shaving bumps, irritation and razor burn in men with sensitive skin can be caused by hair being trapped under the skin. As the hair grows, it is trapped by the skin and grows inwards creating razor bumps, ingrown hairs and shaving irritation. It is common with curly hair. When the hair regrows and breaks the surface, it curls and then grows into the skin. Another reason for getting irritation or razor bumps could be caused by the wrong technique for example shaving against the grain first. I hope my solutions below will help in reducing your ingrown hairs, razor bumps and razor burn when shaving and make for a smooth shave when you have sensitive skin.
Your razor bumps or post shave irritation might also be caused by a virus or bacteria, which is more serious. See a dermatologist to make sure you don’t have something more serious or if you have allergies to any of your shaving creams or post shave products.
The most obvious solution would be to stop shaving and grow a beard, however this won’t work for most. Some unhappily use an electric shaver which don’t give you a good shave...
Why Use a Safety Razor With Sensitive Skin
If you don't want a beard or need to shave our #1 recommendation is to switch to a one blade razor also known as a single edge razor, double edge safety razor, DE razor or single edge shaver...they all use one sharp blade. We offer a wide variety of options for skin type but if you don't decide to choose one of ours, then go with some one else. This is the wonderful world of wet shaving. We recommend the double edge safety razor for a number of reasons:
Single Sharp Blade
A single sharp, clean blade, as opposed to a plastic multiple blade cartridges, will minimize the risk of cutting your facial hair below the skin. This is one of the primary reasons for ingrown hair and shave irritation.
Lower Cost of Ownership
One single edge clean, sharp blade will minimize any irritation on the skin. One blade (single edge) or double edge razor blades are a few cents vs a cartridge razor. You will be more inclined to replace a $.10 blade versus an expensive $3+ plastic shaving cartridge.
Easier to Clean
Traditional wet shave products are easier to clean than cartridge razors. Plastic cartridge blades are notorious for trapping dirt, hair, skin and bacteria.
The below tips will help regardless of how you wet shave. We will attempt to provide some solutions and options for you to explore to make your shave an enjoyable irritation free shave. I will provide solutions and make suggestions in 5 sections, shaving preparation, shaving, post shave, hardware and ingredients to consider.
Steps for Shaving With Sensitive Skin
A few tips you might consider for shaving preparation with sensitive skin include:
Moisturize your skin about 10 to 15 minutes prior to shaving, this will help soften and lubricate the skin prior to a shave
Use a pre-shave oil (or hair conditioner) prior to applying your shave cream This will give a lot more shaving cream slickness and lubrication for the single edge blade (or cartridge razor) to glide on your skin.
Use a Shaving Brush
Consider a soft scrub prior to shaving, this will help in removing dry, dead skin. A shaving brush with soft bristles will help exfoliate the skin and raise the hairs off the skin to allow the razor to work more effectively.
Use Warm Water(Not HOT!)
Make sure your skin is warm and wet – shave right after or in the shower. This will soften your hair, open your pores, remove dead skin and help to lubricate your skin.
Make sure to pick a shaving cream that is slick. You can use a shaving soap or a shaving cream, avoid the canned shaving cream they could dry out your skin. Avoid fragrencies, especially Citrus, Spiced or peppermint as they can irritate the skin.
The art of shaving, men’s shaving techniques are very much a learned experience, regardless of whether you use plastic disposable razors, plastic multiple blade razors or a double edge safety razor (single edge shaver). Some common tips for men with sensitive skin include, mastering your shaving technique:
Slow down your shave, don’t shave quickly. This will reduce nicks and irritation.
Avoid going over your skin more than one time with no cream on the face. Apply the lather and take 1 short stroke. When the cream is gone, don’t shave in that area again. Rinse and apply more lather before another pass of your razor, if needed.
Use a soft Shaving Brush
Use a shaving brush, the brush will help exfoliate, remove dead skin potentially freeing any ingrown hairs. A shaving brush will also raise your hairs in preparation for the blade. We use a synthetic shaving knot however you can also get natural badger hair shaving knots or horse hair shaving brushes. We offer our shaving brush with or with out a knot.
Don't Pull the Skin
Avoid pulling the skin tight when shaving. This works great if you don’t have sensitive skin but it can cause irritation by causing you to shave too close.
Shave With The Grain
Shave in the direction the hair grows, shaving against the grain can irritate the skin. Shave with the direction your hair grows as a first pass. I talk in more detail about learning the grain direction of your hair here. Shaving against the grain will cause more irritation, if you require a second pass to get a closer shave, shave across the grain for a second pass. With sensitive skin you don’t want to shave too close.
Photo above shows the direction my hair grows
After Shave or post shave:
The strategy of a post shave routine is to reduce irritation, this is an important step. A few tips that might help include:
Rinse your face with Cold Water
Rinse well after each pass of your razor. Rinse after the shave with warm water and then finish up with a cold water splash to close the pores. Rinse thoroughly as you want to remove all the debris including bits of hair and dead skin.
Pat Dry Your Face
Pat dry your skin with a soft towel, do not rub.
Use a lotion or aftershave balm, this will soften the skin. If it burns, then you need to reevaluate your prior steps. You want a soothing after shave feel.
Avoid Shaving Every day
Avoid shaving every day, give your face a chance to heal. We offer a number of different base plates for sensitive skin depending on your preference but choose a mild safety razor and a mild blade if you have sensitive skin.
Don't Pluck Your Hair
Don’t pluck hairs, this can cause infections! If you are using a plastic cartridge razor and it is not sharp, it will tug on your hair. Use a fresh blade...
Check out this video by KenSurfs youtube channel, take a look at his technique and routine, he uses a lot of these best practices in this video:
What is the Best Safety Razor for Sensitive Skin
Choose a Mild Safety Razor
Choosing your men’s shaving and grooming kit is important, pick a safety razor with small blade exposure. We offer 4 different types of precision machined base plates to customize your shave. We talk about the design of our different 316L stainless steel base plates here. Based on what my customers have said, the mild, the + or maybe the ++ plate would be your best choice depending on your routine and preference. The Original has the most blade exposure…not for sensitive skin. If you need to shave every day choose the mild, if you shave every 2-3 days, the + might be a better choice. The ++ with a Nacet blade, if you shave once a week…
Use a Sharp Blade
Change your blade often. The price of single edge blades is very inexpensive, we are talking pennies. Usually I can do 3-4 shaves with a blade, unless my wife borrows it! My best shave is usually from a second time use blade…
Clean and store your gear correctly
Keep your hardware dry, if you shave in the shower keep your shaver out of the shower, if you can. A damp razor can grow bacteria and other molds. The same for your shaving brush, keep it dry and clean.
Choose a Polished Finish
Choose a razor with a high polish if you have sensitive skin. All our razors come with a polished surface which minimizes cracks and crevices where bacterial can collect. The polished surface also allows it to be easily cleaned. Another benefit of a smooth surface is it will have a slicker surface to minimize drag on your face. More about safety razor finishes and metal surfaces here. If your looking for a safety razor on a budget, choose a chrome plated safety razor, it won't last but its a better option than a plastic cartridge shaver.
Pick the Best Double Edge blade
Blade choice will swing the experience regardless of what double edge safety razor you use. We have found Gillette Blue, Gillette Nacet feel milder…the Kai or the Feather blade are sharp and prone to irritation. You can buy sampler pack of blades online. It’s a fun part of the wet shaving journey…I talk more about blade choice here.
Weight of Razor
Consider a light weight titanium razor, the low weight will naturally make you use less pressure when shaving.
Ingredients to Consider if You Have Sensitive Skin
Your dermatologist can help more but here are some ingredients you might avoid in your men's shaving soaps, shaving creams, aftershave and after shave balm if you have sensitive skin as they could be irritants.
Ingredients to avoid:
Triethanolamine (TEA) ...
Parfum (fragrance) ...
Polyethylene Glycol or PEG. ...
Palmitic Acid. ...
Again check with your dermatologists but some men’s shaving irritation treatments and possible men's shaving rash cures and treatments to consider.
Possible Ingredients to Use:
Tea tree oil
We would love to hear from you if you find other solutions...comment on the blog below if you have any other suggestions or questions. Feel free to reach out to us anytime here, we love to talk all things shaving. We think we have a solution for you...
Misc. At CarbonShavingCo notes: Wet shaving is a bit of an artistic form. It is personal to your skin type, which dictates the type of soap and shaving brush you will be using. Opting between a straight razor or safety razor (disposable razors won't be the best of experiences at all). Use of some hot water to open up your pores and soften the facial hair is a good thing. When it comes to the skin condition, such as sensitive skin, razor bumps and at times hair growth in multiple directions extra care and consideration must be taken to avoid razor burn caused by dry shaving, lack of lubrication, wrong direction, etc.. At CarbonShavingCo, our construction of our razors aim to be bacteria-free as much as possible to help avoid allergic reactions by being polished with easy to clean surface, the design maximizes flow of debri, the pinch design reduces gaps for collection of debri and germs, we aim to help people with sensitive skin and prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. and irritation caused by shaving. We believe that wet shaving is the best approach with a good shaving soap as opposed to using men's disposable razors. Keeping your gear clean is so important if you are sensitive. Join the community of wet shavers today to learn more so you can enjoy your personal spa experience.