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People have been removing unwanted hair from their bodies for thousands of years. Nowadays, the majority of people make an effort to remove hair, using methods such as shaving, waxing, chemical depilatories and lasers. Shaving is by far the most attractive option since it’s relatively quick and easy.
There’s one major drawback to shaving, though, and that’s razor burn; little bumps that develop on the skin after you remove hair. Although it doesn’t look great and can be painful, the good news is that it’s not that hard to get rid of razor burn.
What is Razor Burn?
The simplest way to describe razor burn is small bumps that form on the skin after you shave. Razor bumps are ingrown hairs. When you shave, the cut hair can occasionally turn inward and grow back into the skin.
Although most people call the condition razor bumps or razor rash, the technical term for it is pseudofolliculitis barbae. The condition can happen to anyone but occurs more often in men, probably because they are likely to shave more often than women. People with curly hair are also more likely to develop razor burn than people with straight hair.
The signs and symptoms of razor burn are usually very visible. The main symptom is the development of small bumps on the skin. The bumps can be red or white in color and usually form in clustered in a recently shaved area. In some cases, the bumps or rash can be itchy or can cause a stinging sensation.
18 Home Remedies and Treatments to Heal Razor Burn Quickly
What helps with razor burn? You don’t need to see a doctor for razor burn treatment in most cases. Many home remedies for razor burn help to ease any discomfort and will make the unsightly bumps go away.
1. Cold Compress
Applying a cold compress to your shaving rash will help the bumps drain and will soothe the area. The Mayo Clinic recommends using saline or saltwater in the compress to improve its effectiveness. To make your own saltwater solution, combine 1 teaspoon of table salt with 2 cups of water. Soak a washcloth in the solution, wring out, then apply to the affected area.
Sometimes, bacteria can aggravate pseudofolliculitis and make any discomfort you’re experiencing much, much worse. Applying honey to the area of the rash can help minimize discomfort you’re feeling and help the burn heal. That’s because honey has antibacterial properties. It also helps moisturize skin — just think of all the lotions that contain honey as an ingredient.
To use honey to get rid of razor burn on the legs or other areas, spread it over the area in a thin layer. Let it sit on the skin for at least 5 minutes. It will be sticky, so be careful not to sit on anything or touch anything.
Rinse the honey off with warm water, then gently dry the area.
3. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, like honey, is a pantry item that’s also well-known for having antibacterial properties. It’s also mildly acidic, so it can help to exfoliate your skin, sloughing off the cells that are covering up the hairs and minimizing any bumps. One thing that helps with razor burn is to combine apple cider vinegar with honey.
First, coat the affected area with honey as directed above. After rinsing off the honey and drying the area, swab apple cider vinegar over it. Let the vinegar soak into the skin. There’s no need to rinse.
If your mom ever made you soak in an oatmeal bath when you had poison ivy or chicken pox, then you’re already well familiar with the soothing properties of the grain. One of the best ways to use oatmeal to soothe razor burn is to combine a few tablespoons of ground oatmeal with an equal number of tablespoons of yogurt.
Smooth the mixture over the rash and let it sit for about a half an hour. Rinse off with warm water. You might need to repeat the treatment a couple of times of day for a few days to get the best results.
Spas have been using cucumbers for years to help calm and soothe tired skin. Cucumbers are mostly made of water and are often considerably cooler on the inside than the outside temperature. It’s their cooling properties that make them an effective home remedy for razor bumps.
To try it, slice up a cucumber and place the slices on the area with the bumps. Let the cucumber slices sit on the rash for about 10 minutes, then remove and rinse the area. You might want to repeat treatment twice a day for about three days to get the best results.
6. Black Tea Bags
Black tea contains tannic acid or tannins, which are known to help minimize inflammation and redness. To use black tea to treat razor bumps, soak a tea bag, then rub it over the affected area.
Although you might be tempted to splurge on fancy tea, the inexpensive teas sold at grocery stores (think Lipton and Tetley) are often your best bet. Lower end teas tend to contain more tannic acids that expensive teas, and more tannic acid is your friend when treating a rash.
7. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender, the herb that helps you sleep, has a reputation for being soothing. It can also help soothe any irritation caused by shaving. There are two ways you can use lavender essential oil to treat razor burn.
The first option is to put up to 10 drops of the oil in a 1/2 cup of cold water. Use a cotton ball to apply the oil-water mixture to the skin and let it soak in. Repeat twice a day.
The second option is to combine the lavender oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil or almond oil. This method will help you soften and moisturize skin while you treat the rash. Add up to eight drops of the lavender oil to a 1/4 cup of the carrier oil, then massage into your skin.
8. Baking Soda
Baking soda has natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it an excellent home remedy for a shaving rash. Since it’s slightly gritty, the baking soda also helps exfoliate the skin, removing the top layer of dead skin cells that trap the ingrown hairs. It’s also probably one of the cheapest ways to treat razor bumps.
To use baking soda to soothe a rash, combine 1 tablespoon of it with 1 cup of room temperature water. Pour the mixture over a cotton ball, then use the cotton to apply the mixture to your skin. To gently exfoliate the area, press the cotton to the skin for a few minutes or rub the cotton on the skin in a circular motion.
Let the baking soda sit on the skin for up to 10 minutes, then rinse.
In some cases, applying a soothing moisturizer or lotion to those unsightly bumps can be enough to resolve the problem. Just as using real oatmeal can work as a remedy, using a cream that contains oatmeal can also soothe any irritation you’re experiencing.
Some lotions are designed to tackle the problem of razor burn and contain ingredients that help exfoliate the skin and soothe it at the same time. But if you don’t want to invest in a particular lotion, your everyday, unscented skin moisturizer should work just fine.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera gel is well-known for its ability to soothe sunburn and other types of burn. So, it is any surprise that it can help reduce irritation caused by shaving?
You can apply aloe vera straight from the plant if you happen to have one growing in your home. Simply snip off a leaf and squeeze out the gel, then rub into the affected area of skin. If you don’t have a plant handy, you can find aloe vera gel at most drugstores.
As a bonus, you can also use the gel as a shaving cream to help reduce the chance of developing shaving bumps in the future.
11. Petroleum Jelly
Petroleum jelly is a thick product made from waxes and mineral oils. It can help soothe razor burns and protect your skin by creating a protective barrier between your skin and the rest of the world. The jelly also helps soften the skin, loosening up any bumps. To use it, simply apply a thin coat over the affected area and leave it on.
12. Tea Tree Oil
People often praise tea tree oil for its antibacterial properties. Aboriginal people in Australia have been using the oil for centuries to treat cuts and other skin ailments.
To use tea tree oil to treat a rash from shaving, add up to 3 drops of it to 1 tablespoon of water or olive oil. Apply the mixture to your skin and leave it on for up to 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water and let dry. Repeat twice a day until your bumps fade.
13. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has two properties that help it soothe irritation and itchy razor bumps. It has antibacterial properties that help clear up any infection in the bumps. The oil also helps to moisturize the skin and soften the ingrown hairs. The lauric acid found in coconut oil is what makes it so beneficial.
To use the oil to treat your rash, apply a thin layer to the area. Let it soak into the skin and don’t rinse it away. Repeat a few times a day until the rash fades.
Aspirin’s main ingredient is a type of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is often found in skincare products and is known for its ability to exfoliate the skin and clean the skin.
To use aspirin as a razor burn treatment, don’t swallow a pill. Instead, you want to apply the medicine directly to the skin to help soothe irritation and slough away the bumps. To do that, crush up two or three aspirin tablets. Mix the crushed tablets with a bit of water, to make a thick paste.
Apply the paste to the rash and let it dry. Once it’s thoroughly dry, rinse it off with warm water.
15. Black Tea
Instead of using black tea bags to treat your shaving burn, you can use straight black tea as a remedy. Let a black tea bag steep in a cup of boiling water for about 5 minutes. The longer you let the tea steep, the stronger it will be and the more effective. Since you’re not drinking the tea, you don’t have to worry about letting it get bitter.
Let the tea cool to room temperature. Once cooled, dip a cotton ball in the tea, then swab it on the bumps. Let it soak in. There’s no need to rinse.
16. Olive Oil
Like coconut oil, olive oil will help soothe razor rash by moisturizing the skin. Since it has less saturated fat than coconut oil and is thinner, the skin often absorbs olive oil more quickly than coconut oil, making it an excellent option when you’re on the go.
To use olive oil to treat your rash, simply rub a thin layer of it into your skin, like you were applying lotion. Let your skin absorb it, the blot away any excess with a tissue.
17. Witch Hazel
Witch hazel is often sold in liquid form in the drugstore. It helps to treat rashes and bumps caused by shaving by reducing swelling and inflammation. Like black tea, it contains tannins that help minimize any inflammation.
Witch hazel also has antibacterial properties to ease any infection that might result from shaving. There are different formulations of witch hazel available. If you’re concerned about redness or sensitivity, look for a variety with rose water or one labeled for sensitive skin.
To use the witch hazel to treat bumps, soak a cotton ball with the solution. Gently rub into the rash and let it soak in. Repeat up to three times a day.
18. Lemon Juice
Like vinegar, lemon juice is mildly acidic, meaning it can help gently exfoliate the skin and loosen up any shaving bumps. It also contains vitamin C, which acts as an exfoliant and can improve cell turnover.
To use lemon juice to treat your rash, soak a cotton ball with fresh-squeezed juice, then apply to skin. Let sit on the skin for up to 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. If you’re worried that the acidity of the lemon juice will sting, you can dilute it with a bit of water before applying.
Causes of Razor Burns and How to Prevent Them
Now that you know how to treat razor burn, it’s important to learn how to prevent razor burn. Often, the best way to prevent razor burns and bumps to stop shaving. Of course, that’s not an option for many people, as other methods of hair removal tend to cost more or be more time-consuming.
Poor shaving technique is often to blame for razor bumps. If you need to keep shaving, these tips will help you have a more comfortable shave and help you learn how to cure razor burn by preventing it.
Don’t Dry Shave!
You’re running late for work, but you still want to remove a bit of stubble that’s appeared overnight. Or, you’re a woman who’s got a date, and you want to do a quick once over of your legs before your date arrives.
It’s tempting to whip out a razor and dry shave, but dry shaving is one of the main causes of razor bumps. When you dry shave, the razor doesn’t glide over the skin, slicing away unwanted hair. Instead, it pulls and tugs, occasionally taking pieces of skin with it. The hair follicles ends up twisted and pulled in the wrong direction, so new hair grows down, back into the skin. Often times, if you dry shave you will be able to feel the negative effects of it right away. You will feel the icky burn of razor burn creeping up. It can even appear in the form of small red bumps that of course, is not appealing.
Even if you’re in a hurry, take the time to wet the skin before you shave. Use both water and soap to hydrate the skin fully. A thick shaving gel or cream will provide added moisture as well as added protection against your razor’s blade.
Don’t Shave Too Often
You don’t need to shave every day. The more you shave, the more likely you’ll be to develop in-grown hairs and the more irritated your skin will become.
Unless you see to sprout a full beard overnight, you can most likely get away with shaving every other day or even shaving just twice a week.
Prep the Skin Before Shaving
Preparing your skin before you take a razor to it will help lower the risk of developing razor bumps. Don’t ever shave your skin before cleaning it first. You want to wash away any bacteria that can lead to an infection after shaving.
Exfoliating before you shave also helps since it gets rid of dead skin cells and gives you a blank canvas. When you exfoliate before your shave, you help loosen hairs out of the follicles, so that they are less likely to turn inwards after. When you exfoliate, it can be helpful to use a dry brush. You can use a dry brush when you are in the shower or before you hop into the shower. Doing so will allow your skin to prepped for a good shaving experience.
The silkier your skin, the easier the razor will glide over its surface. Tugging of any kind is a no-no when shaving, as it warps the follicles. To make your skin a smooth, easy-gliding surfacing, coat it with a shaving cream or gel, then shave.
Get a Sharp Razor and Change the Blades Regularly
The sharper your blade, the better your shave. Dull blades not only increase your risk for cuts and nicks, but they also increase your risk for rashes. It’s difficult to get a smooth shave when the blade is dull and rusty.
It’s a good idea to change your razor blades at least once a week, or more often if you must shave daily. To protect your blades, don’t keep your razor in the shower. The humidity dulls the edge more quickly and can cause it to rust.
If swapping out the blades is too time consuming for you, then you may want to consider getting some disposable razor blades. The disposable blades are great because you can get rid of them once they get old and dull. You do not have to worry about keeping up with the blades and maintaining them as you can get a new one.
Shave in the Right Direction
Shave in the direction the hair grows to avoid tugging on it and twisting the follicles. You won’t get the closest shave when you shave with the grain, but you’ll end up with the most comfortable shave.
Be Careful of Razor Nicks
Maybe the only thing more annoying than razor burn is nicks and cuts when you shave. It often seems like they’ll never stop bleeding and, wow, do they hurt. Plus, nicks and cuts put you at an increased risk for infection.
Changing your blade often, using shaving cream, and shaving in the direction hair grows won’t just help you lower your risk for shaving rash. Doing all that also cuts down on the risk of cuts and nicks.
In addition to this, be sure that you are taking time when you are shaving. If you rush during a shaving session, you run the risk of hurting yourself and getting razor nicks. Whenever you shave, be sure that you have plenty of time to properly apply the cream and shave.
You don’t need to go over the same area two or three times. In fact, you don’t want to go over the same area multiple times, as you’ll end up tugging on the skin. One stroke should do it. If it doesn’t, it’s time to switch to a sharper blade. Using a razor with multiple blades can also help you get a better shave without repeated strokes.
Don’t Press Too Hard
Remember, your razor should glide over the skin, not dig into the skin. Pressing too hard won’t get you a closer shave. But it will irritate the skin. When you press to hard on the skin while shaving, you run the risk of injuring your skin. If you are having a difficult time getting your razor to simply glide over your skin, then that could be a clear indication that it is time to get a new razor. Dull and old razors will not work unless you press hard on them. In that case, it is best to get a new razor.
Be Careful of Acne and Ingrown Hairs when Shaving
Acne and existing razor bumps can make shaving tricky. You don’t want to drag a razor over the bumps, as you risk further irritating them or even making bleed. If you can, steer clear of pimples and bumps when you shave. You do not necessarily want to go over any bumps, acne, or pimples because if you do, you run the risk of injuring your skin and inflaming it further. To reduce the possibility of infection, clean the skin thoroughly before and after shaving.
Use a Hot Compress to Heal Ingrown Hairs
Sometimes, a hot compress is all you need to dissolve an ingrown hair. The warmth of the compress will soften the skin, eventually causing it to loosen and release the hair. The compress also helps soothe any irritation.
Razor burn can put a damper on your day and can make you feel extra self-conscious. If you can’t stop shaving, learning how to soothe razor burn and even prevent it can make your hair removal routine a lot more enjoyable.