How Long Does Razor Burn Last?
Whether you are an expert or beginner in shaving, you have most likely had a rash after a shave with an immense burning sensation or a razor burn. But what exactly causes this post-shave irritation, and how long does razor burn last?
- What is Razor Burn
- Causes and Symptoms
- How to Prevent Razor Burn
- Treating Razor Burn at Home
- Best Shaving Practices
What is Razor Burn?
Razor burn is a rash-like post-shave irritation with a burning and itchy sensation.
Razor burn is a clinical diagnosis that manifests itself in several ways,1 including red, irritated patches, tenderness, or red bumps that appear at the end of one’s shaving routine or any hair removal routine. It takes on a rash-like appearance leading to significant discomfort.
Men with sensitive skin are naturally prone to having more irritation and tenderness from shaving. However, even those with normal skin types can suffer from razor burn. Once they do, it is far more likely for the skin to become prone to it as they shave over the same areas at regular intervals.
Razor bumps can accompany razor burn, but these two skin conditions are not the same, and it is vital for you to differentiate them as they both require different treatments. Razor bumps, also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, are a more severe form of shaving irritation and may look like pimples after shaving.
But the good news is it is not permanent. Razor burn and its symptoms last up to a few hours, while moderate cases can last up to 2-3 days with proper treatment. However, if you leave it be, razor burns can cause severe irritation with bumps or folliculitis,2 which can take at least 2 weeks to heal.
Causes and Symptoms
Razor burn chooses no one, whether you are an expert, beginner, aggressive, or gentle shaver. That is why everyone can relate to the annoying sensation this post-shave rash imposes.
So, what is the reason why it is so common? It is most definitely not because of genetics.
The cause of razor burn is the trauma that a razor blade imposes on the skin while shaving and the routine you might have been doing, like dry shaving, without knowing it may be harmful to your skin.3
“Razor burn is caused by trauma from your razor blade while shaving,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, an associate professor of dermatology and the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.3 “As the razor blades move over the skin, they can disrupt the outer skin layer, leading to microscopic cracks, loss of hydration, and inflammation.” This translates to the red, itchy rash that occurs after shaving.
How to Prevent Razor Burn
A thorough skin prep before shaving removes dirt and dead skin cells, allowing the razor to easily glide on the skin and minimizing blade-to-skin friction.
Since the loss of hydration is one of the main reasons why razor burn happens, it would be best to follow a shaving routine that keeps the skin moisturized. What gives you a high chance of getting razor burn is dry shaving and not opting to use skin care products with emollients like plant oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, petrolatum, and fatty acid.4
The best way to prevent razor burn is to do a highly-moisturizing and gentle wet shaving routine as follows:
- Take a warm shower or place a warm towel over your face before shaving to soften the skin and hair.
- Exfoliate the skin with a towel or a gentle scrub to remove dirt and dead skin cells that may clog or get in the way of your razor.
- Apply pre-shave oil to lock in your skin’s natural oils, preventing dehydration while shaving.
- Use an organic and mild shaving soap to create your lather and minimize blade-to-skin friction.
- Do not use a multi-blade razor. Use a straight razor or any razor with a single blade.
- Always clean the skin after shaving to remove fallen hair and extra lather.
- Apply an aftershave to help disinfect and calm down irritated skin.
Take a warm shower.
It would be best to take a shower that is not too high in temperature as it could aggravate acne problems. Although hot water removes sebum, it also triggers the body to produce more sebum after the shower.
The water should be lukewarm enough to soften your skin and hair follicles. You can test the temperature using your elbow, wherein it is too hot if it burns. Warm water helps open the pores and remove excess dirt from your face. Meanwhile, a hot shower dries your skin.
Another way to warm the skin and soften the hair is to lay a warm towel on your face. It steams the gunk out of your pores and makes the hair more malleable, making it easier to cut with a blade.
Exfoliate your skin.
Exfoliating is another key to achieving smooth and fresh-looking skin. But it is something many men disregard in their shaving routines. Only a few men are fond of exfoliating their skin or do it once or twice a week. Meanwhile, some never even bothered.
First, you do not want to shave your skin dry, flaky, and dirty. Besides clogging up your razor blade, shaving a dirty beard can increase your risk of infected ingrown hairs.
Before exfoliating your skin, use a mild facial cleanser while massaging your face and let it soak for one to two minutes.5 Rinse it and apply a gentle scrub once or twice a week to keep your skin silky soft, and smooth by buffing away and removing dead skin cells.
Apply a pre-shave oil.
Naked Armor's Tamanu and Noni pre-shave oil prevents skin dehydration by locking in its natural oils.
Pre-shave oil provides a high degree of protection from the razor, especially for those with sensitive skin.6 Applying a soothing pre-shave oil is one of the most critical steps in your shaving routine.
If you are skipping this step, it must be one of the reasons for your razor burn. Shave oil will soften facial hair leading to a comfortable shave, and it will lock in the natural oils of your skin to prevent dehydration due to prolonged water exposure.
Look specifically for a pre-shave oil with specific properties that are beneficial for your skin. It should have nourishing ingredients like Argan oil, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, and tea tree oil. Argan is high in vitamin E and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, helping calm irritated skin. Do this step after you get out of the shower.7
If you have a couple of essential oils at home, you can quickly whip up your shaving oil mix. You can find most of the ingredients in this DIY Pre-Shave Oil recipe in your pantry.
Create a lather with shaving soap
Another common mistake men make when shaving is using their body soaps and regular soaps to create lather. The problem is these soaps do not have enough glycerin and emollients to benefit the skin while shaving.
The best way to create a lather is to use shaving soap. Unlike an average bar of soap, shaving soaps create a thicker and richer lather because it naturally has high-fat content and low alkalinity, making them work best as a lubricant.
The fat in a shaving soap is usually from plant sources, such as glycerin8 or coconut oil. They provide moisturizing benefits that nourish your skin and act as a hair conditioner.
You can learn more about lathering shave soap and ingredients to avoid in this blog.
Use a straight razor.
Naked Armor's Lancelot Straight Razor has a single-edge blade that is more gentle on the skin than a multi-bladed razor.
If you are already wet shaving and taking all the pre-shave prep necessary, then your razor may be why you always get razor burn.
Cheap razors, especially with multiple dull razor blades, can make your sensitive face sore and create extra strokes that make micro-abrasions in your skin, which is what causes razor burn.9 Over time, external factors like dust, dirt, dead skin, and excess oil can infect these tiny abrasions, causing your skin to develop razor burn and bumps.
A straight razor has a single blade that glides ideally across your skin. Thus, it is the best method for getting a smooth and close shave. Its blade helps avoid irritation and razor burn as you can shave a lot of hair in one pass, removing the need for a second or third pass.
On the other hand, multi-bladed razors, like cartridge razors and disposable razors, shave with three to five blades. This mechanism is equivalent to three to five passes with a single-blade razor. Their lubricating strips can only do much to help lessen the friction they impose on your skin.
With that, remember that it is best to shave with a single-blade razor, like straight razors, shavette, and safety razors, than those with multiple blades if you wish to lessen the stress on your skin and the risk of getting razor burn.
Clean the skin after shaving
Micro-abrasions on the skin are inevitable. The type of blade you use simply tones down its severity. One thing you want to avoid is to have irritation-causing elements entering these microscopic cuts.
Do not forget to clean your blade every pass, and wash your face after shaving. The lather residue and hair debris can clog the cuts on your skin, further irritating it and causing a minor razor burn to turn into an infected rash with razor bumps.
The most refreshing and best way to clean your face after a shave is to splash it with cold water. The temperature helps constrict the blood vessels on the face and close the cuts. It will mildly numb the affected area, preventing that dreaded burning sensation.10
Apply an aftershave.
“After-shave products have been used historically to prevent infections that arise from any possible minor nicks/cuts on the face after shaving.” says Miami-based dermatologist and founder of Miami Skin Institute Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy.11
Aftershaves improve your skin’s condition and appearance and reduce the risk of skin problems such as razor burn.
Natural aftershave does wonders for your skin. In our article about aftershaves, you can learn more about its soothing effects and how to apply them properly to your face.
When you finish your shaving routine with aftershave, you can enjoy soothing, cooling properties that calm the skin down and reduce soreness and irritation. Add this to your shaving routine, and we guarantee that it can make a difference on your skin.
Wet shaving creates a protective barrier between your skin and razor, providing less blade-to-skin friction. Plus, the moisturizing benefits of the emollients will hydrate your skin and condition your hair throughout the shaving process, making it easier for the blade to cut through the hair and glide over the skin. The aftershave, meanwhile, acts as a first-aid preventive measure to combat the appearance of a post-shave rash.
Treating Razor Burn at Home
Essential oils have natural moisturizing and antibacterial properties and antioxidants that help heal razor burn.
If you are already experiencing razor burn as you read this, it is too late for you to prevent it. Since it is already there, as we said, please do not leave it alone. The best way to treat razor burn is by using natural home remedies like aloe vera, natural oils, and gentle moisturizers to prevent it from escalating into a full-blown infection.
Aloe vera is undoubtedly one of the prominent and popular natural remedies that provide benefits to the skin.12 No doubt that it is a must ingredient for many skin products for both men and women. Its gel has cooling properties and is anti-inflammatory. Hence, it is one of the most natural remedies for razor burn.
Applying aloe vera helps strengthen the skin's natural barrier and helps retain moisture. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals that boost the healing process of razor burn. If there is no aloe vera plant near you, you can find pre-shave oil and aftershaves that have it as an ingredient instead.
Often, we misunderstand natural oils. Despite what their name might imply, they will not leave your face oily, making you uncomfortable. And no, they will not make your skin break out. They are composed of antioxidants, polyphenols, and fatty acids to help prevent razor burn and give skin a dewy glow.
As mentioned earlier, jojoba oil, sunflower oil, argan oil, and tea tree oil are only a few of the many natural oils that have a healing and soothing effect on your skin. You also want them on the ingredient list of your shaving essentials that you apply to your face.
But do not use natural oils as it is because that is when they are most harmful to your skin. These oils are concentrated and potent on their own. Dilute the oils first in water before use.
Moisturizing is an essential step in maintaining your skin's healthy cells and protecting your skin from potential irritation caused by shaving.13 Moisturizing, using lotions, oils, and balms, gives extra benefits to your skin as it can make you look and feel younger.
You will have softer, more elastic skin, which will keep your skin hydrated. Moisturizing should be a part of your routine, and it is especially crucial to keep areas with razor burn clean and moisturized.
When dealing with skin irritations, you can always use natural remedies at home as a first aid treatment. If you already have products on hand or are planning to buy over-the-counter treatments, like hydrocortisone cream, check the ingredients first, and do not go for those containing alcohol, paraben, or other harsh chemicals that can take a toll on your skin.
If symptoms persist, consult a dermatologist.
Best Shaving Practices
Always apply an aftershave product, like Naked Armor's Aftershave Balm with Hemp, to soothe and treat irritated skin after shaving.
Having well-prepped skin and a single-bladed razor is the key to having the best shave of your life. Also, do not forget to take a break from shaving if you still suffer from skin irritation. Shaving on top of flared sensitive skin, razor burn, and razor bumps can worsen your situation.
Have a stock of natural shaving products like pre-shave oils, shaving soaps, and aftershave essentials that will help prevent and treat any harmful side effects your skin may suffer. And never overlook the importance and benefits of shaving with a single-edge blade if you are an avid shaver wanting smooth and handsome consistent results.
You can use the Naked Armor Lancelot Straight Razor with carbon-coated ACRO Japanese stainless steel blade and handle. It is between a full and a half hollow with a blade hardness of 61-62 HRC, making it the best razor to achieve a close shave with less friction.
Meanwhile, you can use our Organic Hemp Aftershave Balm with more than ten natural ingredients like:
- Hemp Extract & Hemp Oil
- Sunflower Seed Oil
- Castor Seed Oil
- Cocoa Seed Butter
- Tocopherol (Vitamin A)
- Rosemary Leaf Oil
- Cypress Oil
- Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Sandalwood Oil
- Rosemary Leaf Extract
- Calendula Oil
These are specially chosen because of their cleansing, disinfecting, and moisturizing benefits. Thanks to the hemp component, this aftershave balm will moisturize the skin without clogging your pores and regulate your skin's oil production if you have oily skin.
Here at Naked Armor, we value your experience in shaving your facial hair and your choice of routine. Our goal is to provide the best and high-quality straight razors and shaving essentials you can purchase to solve and prevent skin problems.
Give your skin a chance to get the smoothest and closest shave with Naked Armor’s straight razors and pamper it with our aftershaves composed of nourishing ingredients after shaving. We’d love to hear from you about your experience.
More Essential Reads:
Top 10 Essential Oils For Razor Burn
Benefits Of Straight Razor Shaving: Pros, Cons, Costs
How To Get The Best Barber Shave At Home
- How To Prevent Razor Burn. Gillette. https://gillette.com/en-us/shaving-tips/how-to-shave/razor-burn
- Folliculitis. WebMd. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/what-is-folliculitis
- A. Libers. What Is Razor Burn? Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention. Everyday Health. https://www.everydayhealth.com/razor-burn/guide/. November 23, 2020
- Emollients: How can we use them? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182953
- Rebecca. Why Exfoliating Is Important and the Best Ways to Do It Bellatory. https://bellatory.com/skin/The-best-way-to-exfoilate-your-skin. April 5, 2022
- Difference Between Pre-shave Oil, Aftershave & Shaving Cream. https://rockymountainbarber.com/blogs/the-barbers-chair/difference-between-pre-shave-oil-aftershave-shaving-cream. July 5, 2019
- Ten benefits of vitamin E oil. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318168
- Where does glycerin in soap come from. Mama Tungurahua. https://mamatungurahua.com/en/where-does-glycerin-in-soap-come-from/
- N. Burns. Shaving With Five Blades When Maybe Two Will Do. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/19/fashion/thursdaystyles/shaving-with-five-blades-when-maybe-two-will-do.html. January 19, 2006
- What to Know About Cold Water Therapy. Health Line. https://www.healthline.com/health/cold-water-therapy
- J. Epstein. Why You Should Use After-Shave In Your Skin Care Routine. Ask Men. https://www.askmen.com/fashion/trends/54_fashion_men.html
- K. Brady. 8 Ways Aloe Vera Gel Can Benefit Your Skin, According to Dermatologists. Prevention. https://www.prevention.com/beauty/skin-care/a25995450/aloe-vera-benefits-for-skin/. July 30, 2020
- 5 Reasons You MUST Moisturize Your Skin. Burke Williams https://www.burkewilliams.com/blog/2014/10/23/5-reasons-must-moisturize-skin-2
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