Problems and solutions associated with shaving

A lot of these skin conditions mentioned below are similar and are difficult to diagnose at home. If you suspect you have one or your condition persists or worsens, it is recommended to stop shaving and consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist promptly for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Shaving can sometimes lead to and aggravate certain skin conditions or issues, particularly if proper shaving techniques or precautions are not followed. Here are some common problems associated with shaving.

Razor Burn:

Razor burn is a common skin irritation that occurs after shaving, particularly with a razor or blade. It is characterized by redness, inflammation, and a stinging or burning sensation in the shaved area. Razor burn can affect both men and women, and it typically occurs in areas where the skin is shaved, such as the face, legs, underarms, or bikini line. I get it on my neck...

Razor burn caused by shaving

The primary cause of razor burn is the friction and irritation caused by shaving. When a razor blade comes into contact with the skin, it can scrape or irritate the top layer of skin, leading to inflammation. Additionally, shaving can strip away the natural oils that protect the skin, leaving it dry and more vulnerable to irritation. Other factors that can contribute to razor burn include using a dull blade, applying too much pressure while shaving, shaving too quickly, using harsh or irritating shaving products, or having sensitive skin.

The symptoms of razor burn may include:

  • Redness: The affected area may appear red or inflamed.
  • Itching: The skin may feel itchy or irritated.
  • Burning or stinging: Razor burn can cause a burning or stinging sensation.
  • Bumps or small pimples: In some cases, razor burn can lead to the formation of small red bumps or pimples.

To alleviate razor burn and promote healing, you can try the following remedies:

Rinse with cold water:

After shaving, rinse the area with cold water to soothe the skin and reduce inflammation.

Apply a cold compress:

Gently apply a cold, damp cloth or ice pack to the affected area to reduce redness and inflammation.

Moisturize the skin:

Use a gentle, alcohol-free moisturizer or aftershave balm to hydrate and soothe the skin.

Avoid further irritation:

Refrain from shaving the irritated area until it has healed completely, and avoid using harsh or irritating products on the skin.

Use over-the-counter remedies:

Over-the-counter creams or lotions containing ingredients like aloe vera, hydrocortisone, or witch hazel can help reduce inflammation and provide relief.

Avoid shaving everyday:

Take a break, let your skin heal, consider taking a few days off and let your skin settle down. Its common to shave the night before, giving your skin time to heal while you sleep.

Preventing razor burn is also important. You can take the following steps to minimize the risk:

Prepare the skin:

Before shaving, wash the skin with warm water to soften the hair and open up the pores. You can also consider using a pre-shave oil or gel to further lubricate the skin prior to applying the shaving cream(hair conditioner works in a pinch). Use a shaving soap that has natural ingredients...avoid the canned shaving cream as these often have irritating chemicals, don't have adequate lubrication for shaving and can dry out the skin.

Use a sharp blade:

Make sure your razor blade is sharp and in good condition to minimize friction and irritation. One of the benefits of a safety razor is the blades are extremely inexpensive compared to plastic disposable cartridge razors. You can always swap out an old blade before it becomes dull.

Shave in the direction of hair growth:

Shaving in the direction of hair growth can help reduce the likelihood of irritation and ingrown hairs.

Don't shave too closely:

Avoid pressing the razor too hard against the skin or repeatedly going over the same area with out re-applying shaving cream, as this can increase the risk of irritation.

Rinse the blade frequently:

Rinse the blade between strokes to remove hair and shaving cream buildup, which can contribute to irritation.

Moisturize after shaving:

After shaving, apply a moisturizer to help restore the skin's natural moisture barrier and prevent dryness.

Razor burn is your face saying "You did something wrong during shaving". For me my hair on my neck grows in different directions, the skin is also more sensitive, I found shaving in a different direction to what I normally did corrected my issue. If razor burn persists or becomes severe, or if you notice signs of infection such as pus or increasing pain, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Razor bumps (Pseudofolliculitis barbae)

Pseudofolliculitis barbae, commonly known as "razor bumps" or "ingrown hairs," is a skin condition that primarily affects individuals with curly or coarse hair, common amongst African descent and to a lesser extent Asian descent. It occurs when shaved or cut hairs curl back into the skin, causing inflammation, redness, and bumps.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae photo caused by shaving

The condition typically occurs in areas where hair is frequently shaved or cut, such as the beard area in men or the bikini line in women. When hair regrows after shaving, it may become trapped beneath the surface of the skin, leading to irritation and the formation of small, painful bumps. In some cases, these bumps can become infected, resulting in pustules or cysts.

Pseudofolliculitis barbae is more common in individuals with tightly coiled or curly hair because the natural curliness of the hair makes it more likely to grow back into the skin. Additionally, shaving techniques and certain hair care practices can contribute to the development of razor bumps. Improper shaving, using dull blades, shaving too closely, using multiblade cartridges or repeatedly shaving over the same area can all increase the risk.

Treatment options for pseudofolliculitis barbae and ingrown hairs include:

Exfoliate regularly:

Gently exfoliate the skin before shaving to remove dead skin cells, this can help prevent ingrown hairs. Using a soft shaving brush will help in this effort, a shaving brush will also help to lift the hair from the surface allowing for a clean cut..

Use a sharp blade:

A sharp blade is more likely to cut the hair cleanly vs pull or tear the hair. Safety razor blades are inexpensive, unlike plastic disposable multiple blade cartridges which can cost a small fortune. A double edge razor blade is more likely to be replaced.

Shave with the grain:

Shaving in the direction of hair growth can help reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs. Its common with a safety razor to do multiple passes across and against the grain, you should try to avoid this.

Use an alcohol-free aftershave:

Alcohol-based products can dry out the skin and contribute to ingrown hairs. Opt for soothing and moisturizing aftershaves or aftershave balms instead.

Allowing the hair to grow:

By letting the hair grow without shaving for a while, the trapped hairs have a chance to grow out naturally and reduce inflammation.

Changing shaving techniques:

Using a single-blade razor or an electric razor, shaving in the direction of hair growth, and avoiding a very close shave can help prevent ingrown hairs. You should not stretch the skin and shave as this will deliver a closer shave then recommended.

Avoid multi blade cartridges:

These are not recommended, the concern is the first blade will pull on the hair and the subsequent blades will cut the hair increasing the risk of an ingrown hair and irritation.

Topical treatments:

Over-the-counter or prescription creams, gels, or lotions containing ingredients like salicylic acid, glycolic acid, or retinoids can help exfoliate the skin, reduce inflammation, and prevent new ingrown hairs.

Steroid creams:

In more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe a topical steroid cream to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Laser hair removal:

This option removes the hair follicles, reducing the occurrence of ingrown hairs in the treated area. Multiple sessions may be needed for optimal results.

It's important to note that if the condition becomes severe or if there are signs of infection, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. Here is another online source with photos from the National Library of Medicine to review.




Some types of Folliculitis are also known as “barber’s itch” or “hot-tub rash”, Folliculitis is a common skin condition characterized by the inflammation of hair follicles, the small openings in the skin from which hair grows. It can affect any part of the body where hair is present, including the scalp, face, neck, chest, back, arms, legs, and buttocks. Folliculitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacterial, fungal, or viral infections, as well as non-infectious causes.

Folliculitis from shaving

The most common type of folliculitis is caused by bacteria, particularly Staphylococcus aureus. This type is known as bacterial folliculitis. It often occurs when bacteria enter the hair follicles through small cuts or breaks in the skin, leading to infection and subsequent inflammation. Other forms of folliculitis include fungal folliculitis, which is caused by a fungal infection, and viral folliculitis, which is caused by a viral infection.

Non-infectious folliculitis can also occur due to various factors, including:

Irritation from shaving or friction:

Shaving too closely, using dull blades, even wearing tight clothing that rubs against the skin can cause folliculitis.

Chemical irritants:

Exposure to certain chemicals, such as harsh detergents, oils, or cosmetics, can irritate the hair follicles and lead to folliculitis.

Ingrown hairs:

When hairs curl back into the skin and become trapped, it can cause inflammation and folliculitis.

The symptoms of folliculitis may include:

  • Small red bumps or pustules around the hair follicles.
  • Itching, tenderness, or pain in the affected area.
  • Redness, swelling, or inflammation of the skin surrounding the hair follicles.
  • Crusty or pus-filled lesions.

Treatment for folliculitis depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. Mild cases of folliculitis often resolve on their own without treatment.

However, if the symptoms persist, treatment options may include:

Warm compresses:

Applying warm compresses to the affected area can help soothe the inflammation and promote healing.

Topical antimicrobial treatments:

Over-the-counter or prescription creams, ointments, or lotions containing antibacterial or antifungal agents can help treat the infection.

Oral medications:

In more severe or widespread cases, oral antibiotics or antifungal medications may be prescribed to eliminate the infection.

Avoidance of irritants:

If folliculitis is caused by shaving or exposure to certain chemicals, it is important to avoid these triggers to prevent further irritation.

In some cases, recurrent or chronic folliculitis may require further evaluation by a dermatologist to identify any underlying factors contributing to the condition and determine the appropriate treatment approach.

It's worth noting that while folliculitis is typically a benign condition, it can progress to more severe infections or complications. If symptoms worsen, if there is spreading redness, increasing pain, or signs of systemic illness, it is important to seek medical attention promptly.

To prevent folliculitis while shaving:

  • Maintain good hygiene by using clean shaving tools and cleaning them regularly.
  • Avoid sharing razors or other personal grooming items(towels) unless sterilized.
  • Use antibacterial or antifungal soaps when showering
  • Rinse the blade after each stroke to remove debris.
  • Cut back the number of times you shave.

When you go to a reputable barber you will often see a blue or green solution that they store combs, scissors and razors in. Often this is a solution called “Barbicide” which help to sterilize barber tools and helps prevents the transmission of “barber’s itch”. This solution is available to the public and it is a good practice to soak your razor in this solution periodically to keep clean. The Mayo Clinic talks more about this condition here.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is a type of skin inflammation that occurs when the skin comes into contact with a substance that triggers an allergic or irritant reaction. It is a common condition characterized by redness, itching, and skin irritation in the area of contact. It can be caused by numerous materials including cosmetics, plants, fragrances and even certain metals in jewelry.

Dermatitis can be caused from shaving

There are two main types of contact dermatitis:

Allergic Contact Dermatitis:

This occurs when the skin develops an allergic reaction to a specific substance or allergen. Common allergens include certain metals (such as nickel), fragrances, cosmetics, latex, certain plants (like poison ivy), and specific chemicals. Allergic contact dermatitis typically does not occur immediately upon contact with the allergen. It usually takes a period of repeated exposure to sensitize the immune system, and subsequent exposures trigger an allergic reaction.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis:

This type of contact dermatitis is caused by direct irritation or damage to the skin from exposure to irritants such as certain chemicals, soaps, detergents, solvents, acids, or prolonged contact with water. Unlike allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis does not involve an immune system response and can occur after a single exposure to the irritant.

The symptoms of contact dermatitis may include redness, rash, itching, swelling, and sometimes blisters or oozing. The affected area may feel dry, scaly, or raw.

Treatment for contact dermatitis focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further exposure to the irritant or allergen. It may include:

Avoidance of the trigger:

Identifying and avoiding the specific substance or irritant that causes the reaction is crucial. This may involve reading product labels, using alternative products, or taking precautions to minimize exposure.

Topical corticosteroids:

Over-the-counter or prescription-strength corticosteroid creams or ointments can help reduce inflammation and relieve itching. These should be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional.


Applying moisturizers or emollients helps soothe and hydrate the skin, providing relief from dryness and irritation.

Cool compresses:

Applying cool, wet compresses to the affected area can help alleviate itching and inflammation.

Oral antihistamines:

In cases of severe itching, oral antihistamines may be recommended to reduce itching and promote better sleep.

If you experience contact dermatitis from shaving products, identify the specific ingredient(s) causing the reaction and avoid using products containing them. Choose hypoallergenic or fragrance-free shaving products that are suitable for sensitive skin. Consider performing patch tests on a small area of skin before using new products. The American Academy of Dermatology Association has more info here.

Skin Infections

To prevent skin infections while shaving, ensure that your shaving tools, such as razors or electric shaver heads, are clean and sanitized. Replace blades regularly or follow the manufacturer's recommendations for blade maintenance. Cleanse the skin before shaving to remove bacteria, and apply an antiseptic aftershave or an antibiotic ointment to any nicks or cuts.

Cuts and Nicks

To minimize cuts and nicks, use a sharp razor blade and avoid rushing through the shaving process. Shave in a well-lit area where you can see what you're doing. Take your time and use gentle strokes, keeping the skin taut to help the blade glide smoothly is another approach but be careful with this technique as it can cause other issues as discussed above. If you do cut yourself, apply pressure with a clean tissue or styptic pencil to stop bleeding from minor cuts.

Learn where your trouble areas are, I have a small bump on my chin line that I used to nick all the time, since I use a safety razor, I was able to refine my technique to use very little pressure and a steeper blade angle in that area. I talk more about using a safety razor for the first time here.

Shaving with Sensitive Skin

I wrote a whole blog on shaving with a safety razor and sensitive skin here, you can apply a lot of the techniques I discuss in the blog, regardless of what shaver you prefer.

Solutions for sensitive skin include:

Prepping your skin prior to a shave is critical:

Shave after a shower, if you are using a safety razor, choose a mild blade. At Carbon Shaving Co we offer a mild base plate, specifically designed for those with sensitive skin. Consider using a preshave oil prior to applying your shaving cream.

Choose gentle products, use products for sensitive skin:

Look for shaving products specifically formulated for sensitive skin to minimize irritation. Opt for shaving creams, gels, shaving soaps and aftershaves that are free from harsh chemicals, fragrances, and alcohol, especially if you have sensitive skin. Avoid harsh products or ingredients with irritants.

Test different techniques:

Experiment with different shaving techniques to find the one that works best for your skin. For example, you might find that shaving with the grain or across the grain your hair grows reduces irritation compared to shaving against the grain. After you shave, evaluate what areas are sensitive, consider shaving in a different direction in those sensitive areas.

I talk more about safety razor shaving techniques here.

Shaving with Dry Skin

When shaving with dry skin make sure to moisturize, the biggest risk is having inadequate lubrication on the skin surface for the blade to glide over, some solutions include:

Hydrate the hair:

Wet your facial hair with warm water or take a shower before shaving to soften the hair and make it easier to cut. I shave in the shower for this reason.

Use a shaving brush:

Using a shave brush to apply your shaving soap will help to exoliate the dry dead skin. Use a circular motion to raise the hairs, clean and moisturize your skin and hair. We use a synthetic hair in our brushes which provide ample stiffness to help massage and clean your skin.

Use a preshave oil:

A preshave oil is a good solution to help moisturize dry skin and provide lubrication for the blade to glide over the skin prior to the shave. In a pinch, hair conditioner will work well. Apply this prior to adding shaving cream.

Use a quality shaving cream or shaving soap:

Apply a generous amount of shaving cream or shaving gel to create a protective barrier and provide lubrication for the razor. Leave the cream or gel on for a minute or two before shaving to further soften the hair. Consider doing 2 passes and reapply the shaving cream between each pass. Often times going over the same area over and over again with no cream is a cause for shaving problems and irritation.

Perform patch tests:

If you're trying a new product, perform a patch test on a small area of skin to check for any allergic reactions or irritation before using it on your entire face.

Other Skin Irritation Solutions

The most common causes of irritation with shaving and their solutions:

Poor shaving technique, solutions include

Use a high-quality Stainless Steel Safety Razor or a machined Titanium safety razor. A vintage razor will also work. A big benefit of a safety razor is the ability to modify your technique and refine your shave experience including changing the blade angle, numerous double edge blade options to optimize your shave experience and changing the amount of pressure you use. With a cartridge razor you don't have this level of control.

Use a sharp razor blade:

Dull blades can cause more friction and irritation. Replace blades regularly or as soon as they become dull. If you feel any tugging...the blade should be replaced.

Shave with the grain

Shaving against the grain can increase the risk of irritation. Instead, go with the direction in which your hair grows.

Use light pressure

Applying excessive pressure can irritate the skin. Let the razor glide gently over the skin without pressing too hard. Let the sharp blade do the work...

Avoid over-shaving

Going over the same area repeatedly or making too many passes can lead to irritation. Shave only as much as necessary to achieve a close shave.

Keep your shaving gear clean

Rinse your gear with fresh, clean water. Dry your brush after rinsing and store your gear in a clean dry place.

Lack of skin preparation - Solutions include:

Wash the face

Cleanse your face with a mild cleanser before shaving to remove dirt and oils that can interfere with the shaving process.

Hydrate the hair

Wet the hair with warm water or take a shower before shaving to soften the hair and open up the pores.

By implementing these solutions, you can minimize irritation and promote a more comfortable shaving experience. It's important to remember that everyone's skin is different, so it may require some trial and error to find the techniques and products that work best for you.

If you continue to experience persistent irritation, it's advisable to consult a dermatologist for further evaluation and guidance.




Misc. At CarbonShavingCo notes: Wet shaving is a bit of an art 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). The use of some hot water to open up your pores and soften the facial hair is a good thing. When it comes to skin conditions, such as sensitive skin, razor bumps, and at times hair growth in multiple directions extra care and consideration must be taken and avoid razor burn caused by dry shaving, lack of lubrication, wrong direction, ingrown hairs, etc. At CarbonShavingCo, the construction and design of our razors aims to allow you to shave with a tool that can be bacteria-free as much as possible to help avoid allergic reactions by being polished with easy to clean surface, the design maximizes the flow of debris, the pinch design reduces gaps for the collection of debris and germs, we aim to help people with sensitive skin and prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs. We believe that wet shaving is the best approach with a good shaving soap as opposed to using men's disposable razors. This also applies to safety razors for women. 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.

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