Trying to shave every day when you have sensitive skin can easily feel like a living nightmare. Keeping up with this shaving schedule often leads to excessive dryness, razor bumps and ingrown hairs that sometimes can be really painful.
About one in three men saying their skin gets red after shaving, and close to 70% of women report having some degree of sensitive skin. Luckily, adapting some tips to your routine can allow you to shave every single day without irritating your sensitive skin. Keep reading to learn the best advice and ways to manage irritation, prevent ingrown hairs and care for your sensitive skin - even if you shave every day.
How to Shave Sensitive Skin to Prevent Irritation
Adapting your shave routine to your sensitive skin can help you prevent all the uncomfortable effects of shaving every day. Follow these tips to avoid irritability, ingrown hairs and support healthy skin.
1. Take a Shower
Start by taking a shower using lukewarm water. This can help soften the skin and the pores, which will make shaving much more manageable. But, remember, avoid hot/steamy showers and long showers that can instead cause irritation and wrinkle your skin, making shaving that much more challenging.
If you don’t have time to plan a shower before shaving, try to place a soaked towel with warm water over the area you’ll be shaving for a couple of minutes to achieve a similar result.
Make sure you clean all dirt and debris from the area you’ll be shaving. Clean skin will prevent anything harmful from being spread around while shaving or penetrating the pores, causing inflammation and infection.
One additional tip: use a face wash to cleanse, not your regular bar soap. For sensitive skin, you need a gentle cleanser that won’t dry out your skin before shaving.
2. Gently Exfoliate
You can try to prepare the skin by using a gentle facial scrub or face cloth to get rid of any dead skin cells on your skin’s top layer.
Using a gentle exfoliator also lifts facial hair away from the skin and prepares them for the best possible shave, making it a less irritating process. You’ll notice that your razor glides across your skin more smoothly, thus producing less friction that causes irritation.
3. Get Shaving
Before you start shaving, you also have to prepare the skin. For sensitive skin, it’s best to opt for a shaving gel or cream versus a shaving foam. Typically, shaving foams contain alcohol and harsh chemicals to create that fluffy and foaming texture. These chemicals and ingredients are common culprits of sensitive skin, and you should try to avoid them.
Instead, choosing a shaving gel or cream that’s sulfate-free, artificial fragrance-free and formulated specifically for sensitive skin can help prevent irritation.
After you apply your lotion-based shaving cream, let it sit on the area you’ll shave for a few minutes. This will help further its moisturizing properties and prevent post-shave irritation.
Okay, now it’s time to shave. For people with sensitive skin, using a safety razor is the best option. These offer the closest and smoothest shave with less chance for skin irritation.
To get a smooth shave, make sure you use good technique, shaving with light, gentle strokes. You shouldn’t need to push the razor too much - again, it should glide on the surface.
Start shaving with the grain (in the direction of hair growth). While shaving against the grain gives you the closest shave, starting in this direction can often lead to irritation. If after you’ve shaved with the grain, you still need to go against the grain, proceed with gentle strokes to complete.
As you’re shaving, remember to rinse your blades frequently. Rinsing the blade throughout your shave prevents product buildup to offer you a better glide.
Finish by gently rinsing off any remaining product with cold water. Remember to pat, not rub, to dry your skin.
4. Let Your Aftershave Work
If you have sensitive skin, aftershave can’t be an afterthought. Alcohol-free, lotion-based aftershaves can help soothe the skin after an intense exfoliation, prevent ingrown hairs and promote moisture. After applying your aftershave, wait a few minutes to let it soak. This will allow its ingredients to soften the skin and hairs to give you a smoother shave.
Look for aftershave lotions that contain aloe vera extracts and other soothing ingredients that won’t disrupt the skin’s natural balance and will calm (if any) post-shaving irritation.
5. Moisturize and Treat
One of the biggest causes of sensitive skin is dry skin. Because shaving is such an aggressive routine, it’s easy for skin to become dehydrated without the proper care. After using an aftershave, sealing everything with a moisturizer for sensitive skin, like our Moisturizing Serum, will help keep skin hydrated and less irritated.
How to Tell If You Have Sensitive Skin
First, you really have to determine whether or not you have sensitive skin. Sometimes your reaction to shaving isn’t related to having sensitive skin. But instead, it’s caused by not using the right shaving tools or following the wrong routine.
People with this skin type tend to have a more irregular skin surface, meaning it’s more likely to be nicked and cut by razor blades.
Often, symptoms such as itching and burning are the most common complaints. Followed by redness, dryness, scaling, and visible bumps on the skin. Other telltale signs of having sensitive skin include:
- Dry skin
- Inflamed patches
- Burning or stinging
- Frequent breakouts
- Sensitivity to the sun
- Reactions to beauty products
More Tips for Shaving Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is very common, and shaving shouldn’t be off-limits for those with hypersensitive skin. Besides following the tips discussed above, here are more tips for shaving sensitive skin to keep in mind:
- Use the right razor for your hair type. Shaving can cause friction against the skin, and that’s the main source of irritation. For shaving sensitive skin, opt for two- or three-blade razors for straight hair types and a single-blade razor if you have curly or coarse hair.
- Check your blades before shaving. Even if you have the perfect razor for your hair type, dull blades can lead to nicks, cuts and irritation. Whenever you feel any tugging or discomfort, change your blades. Some razors have an indicator strip that changes color when you need to get a new blade.
- Don’t keep your razor in the shower. Be diligent about keeping your razor in a clean and dry area. Keeping your razor in the shower can cause rust.
- Stay clear of alcohol-based formulas. Alcohol-based formulas like shaving foams can be extremely drying. Alcohol strips the skin from its natural oils and wipes away all bacteria on the surface, disrupting the skin’s microbiome. Always choose lotion-based formulas with hydrating ingredients to prevent dryness.
- Save sensitive areas for last. Shaving sensitive areas like the upper lip or around the mouth at the end of your routine can help you prevent irritation. Allowing your shaving lotion to soak in will soften your hair even further, making it easier to shave. Also, it’s best to use a single-blade razor in these areas, as you’ll have better grip and control.
If everything else fails, you can stick to trimming until you can get your sensitive skin under control. Using an electric clipper won’t cut right through the skin's surface, and hopefully, cause minor irritation.
Also, it might just be that you can’t shave every day. People with sensitive skin often do best when waiting between 2 or 3 days in-between shaves. This gives their skin a chance to calm down and recoup.
Sensitive skin is manageable, and following the proper skincare routine while using the right ingredients can make a huge difference. There’s no need to give up on having clean, clear skin, even after shaving.
Follow the steps above, invest a bit of time in your shaving routine and find the best products for your skin type to enjoy the benefits of shaving without any of the consequences of irritating sensitive skin.