Women dealing with and treating problem acne are fighting an uphill battle riddled with astringents and scrubs that burn and irritate skin, and oil-free creams and cover-ups that look anything but natural. But for men, there’s another factor that cannot be avoided and only exacerbates the redness and irritation associated with acne: Shaving.
If you suffer from acne, you’re probably already familiar with the pain, irritation and scarring that can occur when you shave over your breakouts. Instead of suffering or adopting the “natural look,” here are six tips to help ensure shaving doesn’t irritate your acne or even make it worse.
Prep Your Skin
Before you even pick up a razor, electric or otherwise, it’s important to prepare your skin. Begin by washing your face with a product formulated for your specific skin type; “types” are generally sensitive, dry, oily, combination or normal. Work the product gently into the skin and rinse it away with lukewarm water. Continue to rinse for at least 30 seconds. This not only removes the cleanser but also softens the skin, which in turn prevents irritation, bumps and redness. Pat your forehead dry, but leave the skin on your cheeks, neck and chin moist.
Use a Sharp Razor
Nothing irritates your acne-prone skin like shaving with a dull razor. It might be expensive, but if you’re using disposable, single-use razors, it’s important to use a fresh one each time you shave. It’s feasible to get two uses out of a disposable razor, but no more. If using an electric razor, make sure the blade is sharp and lubricated each time you shave. Also, never use the closest setting, as this can lead to unnecessary irritation.
The Right Shaving Cream
Much like a sharp razor, using the right shaving cream can help prevent unnecessary skin irritation and breakouts. Avoid products labeled “moisturizing” or any formulated for sensitive skin. Often, these formulas contain ingredients and emollients that can clog your pores and make your acne worse. Skipping the cream all-together is another option to consider if you’re suffering from a major acne breakout. Rather, lather up your favorite face wash and use it as a lubricant instead of a cream or gel that can lead to unwanted acne.
Passing Over Acne-Prone Areas
If you’re suffering from a severe breakout, you might consider leaving your face alone until the flare-up minimizes. However, if this isn’t an option, use caution when sweeping the razor over your already irritated skin. Apply a thin layer of shaving cream and glide the razor over the skin one time only. Once you’re clean shaven, rinse off the cream immediately and pat your skin dry with a soft cloth.
Treating Razor Cuts
Razor cuts and nicks are often an unavoidable part of shaving. When you suffer from acne-prone skin, the nicks, cuts and damage can often lead to further breakouts, which is why it’s so important to treat the injuries quickly. Begin by applying slight pressure to the cut with a damp cloth. Once the bleeding has stopped, wipe the affected area with a cotton swab soaked with tea tree oil. The oil won’t irritate your skin like rubbing alcohol or peroxide, but like these products the natural oil will eliminate bacteria and prevent future breakouts.
You’re finally done shaving and ready to head out to school, work or wherever the day takes you. Before stepping away from the sink, it’s important to treat and protect your skin. Begin by soaking a cotton swab with tea tree oil or witch hazel. Work the product into your skin using overlapping circles. Both products help soothe the skin without over drying. Next, apply a gel aftershave or moisturizer formulated for acne-prone skin. It might not seem “manly” to use a moisturizer, but you’ll thank yourself when your skin is touchably-soft and free of unwanted acne, blackheads and whiteheads. Finish the process by applying a non-comedogenic sunscreen featuring an SPF of at least 15.
You might feel defeated by the prospect of shaving during an acne breakout. However, with the right preparation, products and aftercare, it’s possible to sport a clean look without irritating your skin. Even if you do suffer a breakout, there are a variety of acne remedies available to treat your pimples and blackheads.
Jillian Brinkman is a guest blogger and salon owner. Jillian is currently writing a series of blog posts intended to help men naturally treat problem acne.