Despite their differences, razor bumps and acne have some similarities in how they present themselves. Both acne pimples and razor bumps can become infected with bacteria. The immune system responds to these bacteria by causing swelling to occur around the blocked pore. Although this inflammation is a natural response to bacteria invading the body, it can be very noticeable, causing embarrassment and spoiling your appearance.
Some of the most easily recognizable types of acne are whiteheads and blackheads. In both cases, the white or black head of the pimple is actually sebum trapped in the pore. In the case of whiteheads, the sebum is trapped under the skin, but blackheads are open to the skin surface, so the sebum oxidizes and turns black.
The difficulty comes when acne pimples become inflamed, as they can then look very similar to the small red swellings known as razor bumps. If in doubt, try stopping shaving for a few days to see whether this stops new bumps appearing. If you keep getting just as many pimples, your problem is probably acne. If the problem goes away when you stop shaving, it is likely that you are suffering from razor bumps – and you might want to consider changing your shaving technique so that you can enjoy the smooth feeling of a clean-shaven face without worrying about razor bumps.
So how do you go about avoiding both razor bumps and potentially making acne worse?
Step 1: Prep Your Face
First things first: Wash away dirt, grime and dead skin cells. Essentially, you want to remove anything that might create friction — which is what causes razor burn, irritation and potentially even more acne — when you slide the razor across your face. Taking a hot shower before shaving also softens the hairs. This is another plus, since the softer your hairs are, the less they’ll pull when you go to shave.
It’s also worth considering an exfoliating cleanser, since they help push dead skin out of the way so the razor can glide more smoothly. On top of that, exfoliating lifts the hairs. Think about it — if your hairs are lying flat against your face when you shave, the razor is going to tug on them (which is extra painful when experiencing a breakout) rather than slicing neatly through them. Keep in mind, however, that it’s best to exfoliate lightly when dealing with acne-prone skin to avoid causing excess irritation.
Step #2: Pick the Right Products
Once you’ve showered and exfoliated, apply a Gentle Cleanser, which will act like a slippery barrier between the razor and your skin, meaning less friction and less damage to your face. And don’t be afraid to really lube up and shave the way the hair grows; When you don’t apply enough cleanser, you end up using pressure to get a closer shave, because the blade isn’t gliding across your face like it should. That pressure is one of the biggest causes of irritation and redness, which can quickly turn into breakouts when you have acne-prone skin.
Step 3: Pick the Right Razor
As far as razors go, it’s best to use a single-blade razor, which is the best razor for sensitive skin. Additionally, a dull blade can exacerbate those effects because older, duller blades require additional pressure to shave your stubble, and more pressure equals more irritation. So be sure to use a fresh blade every time you shave.
There’s a lot more information on our blog to answer any basic questions you have about acne. For the best care to help with your acne prone skin, give us a call at 801-800-6602 or begin by booking your appointment online.
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