by Stephanie Blanchard

We all know razor bumps are the worst. They are itchy, painful, and unsightly. But we have some good news: Razor bumps can be treated and usually avoided. Hallelujah! Here we will give you the skinny on what causes annoying razor bumps and how to treat and prevent them for good. Get ready ladies and gentlemen, because it is time for SKINCARE.

What Are Razor Bumps?

Razor bumps are not the same as razor burn. Razor burn is immediate and happens when you dry shave (like when you are in a hurry at a hotel and realize you forgot to shave your bikini area)—ouch. Razor bumps, on the other hand, happen AFTER hair removal.

Razor bumps are medically known as pseudofolliculitis barbae (we say this so you know we are VERY smart). In basic words, they are ingrown hairs caused by hair removal. Razor bumps often look like pimples or rashes and can appear soon after hair removal or even days later. In some serious cases (or if you can’t resist picking at them...) scarring may occur.

What Causes Razor Bumps?

Shaving, waxing, and plucking are the main culprits. Usually, hair is pretty good at growing straight out of your hair follicles. But after being forcefully removed from their homes, some hairs come back with a vengeance. Instead of growing out, these hairs curl underneath the skin and become trapped. Then your immune system kicks in, assumes the trapped hair is a foreign invader, and wages war against it. This causes inflammation, and bacteria gets trapped in the inflamed skin.

Razor bumps can happen to ANYONE who shaves, tweezes, or waxes ANYWHERE on their body. Men most commonly see razor bumps after shaving facial hair, while women commonly get them in the armpits, pubic area, thighs...calves...eyebrows…upper lip. Okay, basically anywhere.

You may find that you get razor bumps in areas where your hair is wavy and thickest, such as your pubic hair. They are also common in areas where the skin folds, like your armpits and pubic hair again (double whammy). Hard-to-shave places are also hot spots for razor bumps (strike #3 for pubic hair!!). People with coarse and/or curly hair are more prone to ingrown hairs everywhere.

Note: Depilatory hair removal creams (the kind you slather on and your hair kind of melts away) don't typically cause razor bumps because they contain chemicals that destroy the hair.

How to Prevent Razor Bumps

It is always best to prevent them in the first place! Changing your tools and technique can help keep razor bumps where they should be—in distant memory. Here are some tips:
  • Exfoliate: Let us say that again. Exfoliate!! No matter your method of hair removal, exfoliate beforehand. Repeat exfoliation in between shaves/waxes. This gets rid of the dead skin that covers hair follicles and can cause ingrown hairs. There are two kinds of exfoliants: physical and chemical. Either one works, but be sure to choose a gentle exfoliant for sensitive areas like your face and bikini line and always patch test new products! You can make homemade physical exfoliant from things in your kitchen like sugar and olive oil (you could even eat the leftovers, but we suggest you don’t).
  • Soften Skin: Use a warm compress on your skin or bathe in warm water to soften the hair before shaving.
  • Soothe Skin: Apply diluted tea tree oil or an antiseptic cream right after removing hair to soothe your skin and ward off bacteria. You can do this a couple of times in the next few hours or days if you’d like to show that bacteria who’s boss. You can also try soothing your skin by singing lullabies, but you might just fall asleep before the next, very important step.
  • Moisturize: Dry skin encourages the formation of ingrown hairs, so slather on that moisturizer like there’s no tomorrow! Moisturize until you have possibly transformed into a wet baby seal.
  • Try Lume: Our customers have told us that their hair seems to be finer after using Lume, and they've experienced a reduction in razor bumps since using it. This could be because Lume has mild exfoliating and anti-inflammatory properties that help break down the dead skin around the hair follicles. So, using Lume may improve your razor bumps too

    Shaving Tips for Avoiding Razor Bumps:

    • Use the right razor (or at least a new one): We have all been there in the shower with that six-week-old razor staring us in the face, while the new razors are five slippery, naked steps away in the cupboard. Resist the shave! Old, dull blades are a breeding ground for bacteria and are more likely to nick your skin, leading to micro-cuts and razor bumps. We suggest you always use a newer, sharp, single-blade razor. These bad boys are not as easy to come by, but they give you the closest, cleanest shave. Multi-blade razors don’t provide as close of a shave and are more likely to snag your skin. Ouch!
    • Apply shaving cream: Lube it up! Always lather your skin with shaving gel or cream before shaving to lessen the chances of nicks, cuts, and infection.
    • Be gentle: Avoid pressing the razor into your skin. Glide the sharp razor over your skin. Imagine your sweet grandmother’s hand over yours, gently gliding the razor. If your razor isn't gliding over your skin, it's probably time for a new blade.
    • Shave with the grain: Shaving in the direction of hair growth lessens the irritation. Less irritation = less crying over razor bumps.
    • Consider an electric razor: Electric razors trim the hair and don't get close enough to damage the skin—preventing razor bumps. And you can feel cool using one. We don’t know why. It just seems cool, okay?

      How to Treat Razor Bumps

      If you have razor bumps, sadly there is no magical product that will make them go away instantly. But! Thankfully, there are some home remedies you can try to help your skin heal much faster:
      • Salicylic acid: Skin products containing salicylic acid chemically exfoliate the skin and can help free ingrown hairs. Salicylic acid may also make the bumps look better. Lume can do this, too!
      • Glycolic acid: Similar to salicylic acid, glycolic acid is also a chemical exfoliant and can unclog your pores, allowing hairs to come to the surface. It may also help the skin's appearance. 
      • Witch hazel: This inexpensive astringent can help soothe your irritated, bumpy skin. Plus, since it’s October, it can be part of your Halloween costume.
      • Over-the-counter ointments: Applying 1% hydrocortisone cream, antibacterial ointment, or benzoyl peroxide cream may help heal mild to moderate razor bumps faster. 
      • Aloe vera: This natural remedy is not just good for sunburns. It calms and moisturizes irritated skin.
      • Retinoids: Consider visiting a dermatologist if you have recurring razor bumps. A doctor can prescribe a retinoid cream that treats the skin condition. This is reserved for the most serious cases. 
      • Laser hair removal: If you're tired of razor bumps and want a permanent solution, laser hair removal is effective (if it's in your budget).

      If you suffer from razor bumps, or ever have, we hope you can walk away today with some new methods to kick razor bumps right in the rear-end and send them to skincare jail forever. The key things to remember are: Exfoliate before and in-between hair removal, wet your skin with warm water before shaving, and moisturize your skin daily.

      If you have tried Lume on areas you shave and have experienced a smoother, less noticeable hair shadow or a decrease in razor bumps, please reach out to us at support@lumedeodorant.com! We would love to know your story.

      Did you Lume today?

       

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      Stephanie Blanchard
      Stephanie Blanchard