Helpful Tips & Tricks

Razor Burn – Common Causes, Prevention, And Tips

Man gritting teeth

Razor burn is a common type of skin irritation that can be uncomfortable, painful, and unsightly. If you often find yourself dealing with razor burn, there are some tips and tricks you can follow that can prevent issues in the future. Read on to learn about the different treatment options available and how to avoid this common skin problem that many men face.

What is it?

Symptoms of razor burn include small red bumps, swelling, itchiness, and redness. It can occur on any part of the body that’s subject to shaving such as under the arms, legs, and the face.

Common signs of razor burn include:

  • Red bumps
  • Burning
  • Tenderness
  • Inflammation
  • Itchiness
  • Redness
  • Rash

Razor Burn or Ingrown Hairs?

Razor burn and ingrown hairs are often get confused for one another, but they are actually two different skin issues. An ingrown hair will occur when a hair has been shaved and grows back into itself at an angle, causing it to turn into the skin. Typically, people with curly or coarse hair are more susceptible to ingrown hairs although it can affect anyone.

Razor burn, on the other hand, is a type of skin irritation that’s caused by shaving improperly.


Razor burn can be embarrassing and uncomfortable, but over time it will resolve itself. However, there are many treatment options available that can help to ease the symptoms associated with it, ranging from home remedies to over-the-counter products.

Avoid Contact

man in shaving

If you have a patch of razor burn on your face, make sure that you leave the skin alone and give it time to heal. This can help to reduce the risk of inflammation, infection, and irritation.


You can use a cool cold compress on the affected area to reduce inflammation and itching. For this treatment, place a clean washcloth under cold water, wring out any excess water and apply it to the skin for 15 minutes. You can repeat this treatment as often as needed.


Natural astringent use is one of the most popular home remedies to use to treat razor burn. A natural astringent will help to reduce redness and inflammation.

Options include:

  • Witch hazel
  • Tea tree oil
  • Black tea bag
  • Apple cider vinegar

These astringents can be directly applied to the face or they can be added to a cold compress.


There are many different types of natural oils that can also be used to hydrate and soften the skin. These oils can help to reduce the burning sensation, any tenderness, and itching.

Popular oil options include:

You can also try using other types of emollients such as moisturizers, aftershaves, and unscented lotions. Avoid using any product that contains alcohol since this can further irritate the skin.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera is often used to treat scrapes, cuts, and burns, which is what makes it a great choice for razor burn. Often used for its soothing properties, it can provide instant relief. Additionally, new research has shown that the aloe vera plant contains certain enzymes that can help minimize inflammation when applied directly to the skin.


Oatmeal is commonly used to treat a wide range of skin issues, especially inflammatory conditions. Research has shown that oatmeal possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can be very effective in treating skin irritation. Adding regular oatmeal or a product that is oatmeal-based to a tub or a warm compress can provide instant relief.

Baking Soda

Honey, lemon and baking soda

This type of natural salt is commonly used for baking purposes. However, baking soda is a popular home remedy that can be used to treat a wide variety of ailments such as razor bumps and razor burn. To use baking soda, take one tablespoon and mix it with one cup of warm water then apply the paste directly to the skin. Once it dries, you can rinse it off and repeat it two to three times daily until the desired results are achieved.

OTC Products

There are several types of over-the-counter products that you can use to treat razor burn. Alcohol-free aftershave lotion can be a great choice, as can diaper rash creams or baby oil, all of which are soothing and gentle on the skin.

Products that contain hydrocortisone can help to reduce itching, swelling, and redness. Products that contain salicylic acid can also help to treat razor burn.


A razor burn rash involves tiny red bumps. While the skin condition will usually resolve on its own, infection is possible. If the bumps appear to be infected, swollen, or filled with pus, or they’re painful or tender to the touch, then you may need antibiotics to treat a mild infection.

If the bumps appear to be infected, then you will need to consult a doctor. Antibiotic treatment may be required.

How to Prevent Razor Burn

By following the proper techniques and using the right shaving tools, the risk of razor burn should be significantly reduced.

  • Additionally, razor burn can be prevented by taking your time when you’re shaving.
  • Shaving in the same direction as hair growth can also significantly reduce the risk.
  • Try shaving after you shower when hair follicles are at their softest.
  • Avoid dry shaving which involves only a razor and warm water.
  • When shaving, always use a lubricant such as an oil, gel, or cream.
  • Take care of your razor. Learn how to clean a razor blade in order to prevent skin irritation.
  • When using products to shave with, make sure you use a shaving brush to apply the cream or gel to the area. Doing so can ensure even distribution when applied by hand.
  • When shaving, avoid leaning too heavily on the blade. Instead use short, light strokes. Make sure that you’re only using as many strokes as are necessary. Over-shaving a small area can be a major contributor to razor burn.

If you’re normally prone to razor burn, try rinsing your blade more often. The pros recommend rinsing the blade after each stroke.

Cleaning your shaving tools after use can significantly reduce the chances of bacterial growth

Rinse your skin with cold water after you shave and apply a soothing lotion, moisturizer, or gel. Avoid using any products that contain alcohol, fragrances, or colors.

Common Causes

There are many common causes of razor burn, whether you have a type of coarse hair texture that makes you more prone to it or you’re using the wrong tools or techniques.

Even if you have the best electric razor on the market, shaving can still put significant stress on the skin. However, when you use a dull razor, you’ll end up giving your skin harsher treatment. This is because a razor that dull doesn’t shave quite as effectively as it should. What the razor would typically achieve with just a single stroke now requires three to four strokes. This can add excessive stress to the skin.

You may have noticed issues if you’ve ever shaved with a cheaper dull razor. Most men complain that their face feels dry and sore. This is because you’re taking additional strokes which have caused micro-abrasions to the skin.

A fast and simple solution will be to upgrade or change the type of blade you normally use. When you shave, make sure you pay close attention to how effective the razor is. If you’ve noticed that you have to repeatedly go over the same area in order to get stubborn hairs then your razor is in desperate need of an upgrade.

Dirty Razor

Hygiene should be the main priority, regardless of what part of your body you’re shaving. Shaving with a dirty razor is very unhygienic. Each time you drag the razor across your face your transferring bacteria to the skin from the blade. If you end up cutting yourself and the bacteria is able to get inside the cut, this will cause further irritation and can lead to infection.

In order to promote skin health, make sure that you keep your razor as clean as possible. This means running it under hot water to remove dead skin cells my hair, and shaving products. Next, you’ll use a clean towel and dip it in rubbing alcohol to sterilize the blades. Allow the razor to dry upright and then store it in a cool dry place.

Hair Texture

Do you have coarse or curly hair? If so, the texture of your hair can be a part of the reason why you experience razor burn so often. For some, their hair doesn’t grow completely outward as straight hair does. Instead, curly hair will loop back, growing inside the skin and may never fully break the surface. This will cause ingrown hairs to form, which is why you may have bumps on the skin after shaving. For this skin issue, you can use over-the-counter products that contain glycolic acid. Coarser hair can also lead to razor burn if you have to go over the same area several times.

What about preventing shaving issues in the future? There are several different types of products on the market that can help prevent razor burn from occurring even for people with this type of hair texture. A good heat treatment is an excellent start. Before shaving, make sure you apply a hot washcloth to the skin for one to three minutes. Additionally, make sure that you use a thick shaving cream and a sharp razor.

Dry Skin

Shaving daily can be a huge issue for someone with naturally dry skin. In fact, this type of shaving frequency will often cause patchiness, and dryness that’s uncomfortable. Use a moisturizer for your face and apply it often.

Shaving Against the Grain

Most men are guilty of shaving against the grain in order to get a closer and smoother shave. However, the same men will also complain that their entire face feels like it’s on fire immediately afterward. Shaving against the grain means that you’re pulling a razor in a direction opposite of how the hair grows. This creates stress and unnecessary friction with every swipe as the blade is roughly pulled through the hair leaving the user with a red patch of sensitive and irritated skin. In order to avoid razor burn caused by this type of improper shaving technique, make sure that you gently shave in the direction your hair grows and take your time.

Don’t Rush It

The simplest way to reduce razor burn is to not rush through the shaving process. Additionally, upgrading your razor can do wonders in terms of reducing the frequency in which you experience razor burn and ingrown hairs. Using a good electric shaver can help to cut back on a variety of skin issues, not just skin irritation. These razors can also help provide a closer shave without the drawback of razor bumps.

Final Thoughts

Razor burn is a common complaint both men and women have. When you shave daily, you’re putting yourself at an increased risk, since the skin can easily become irritated when you shave too often. However, there are many ways you can eliminate the chances of razor burn in the future, if you’re willing to make some small, yet effective, changes with your shaving routine. With proper care, razor burn usually clears up on its own in a few days. While the skin is inflamed and irritated with a case of razor burn try to avoid shaving for a period of two to three days to give the skin time to calm down and heal. By following the tips I’ve included here in my guide you should be able to avoid issues with razor burn in the future and treat it and minimize irritation quickly and effectively, should razor burn appear.