Experiencing razor burn at least once (but more realistically, a bunch of times) is pretty much a given during a lifetime of shaving. The itchiness and redness and sometimes the added joy of getting razor bumps and ingrown hairs… Remind me why so many of us shave again? And no area of your body is immune to the burn, whether we're talking your armpits, legs, bikini area, etc.
If you've experienced all of the above multiple times in your life, it can be so frustrating, annoying, and, well, painful. You might question if it's a good tradeoff. Is a hairless life worth it? Not to mention the act of shaving takes time if you're trying to be really careful. I can't really decide that for you, but I am here to bring you some good news.
You actually don't have to suffer each time you pick up the razor. There are some steps you can take before, during, and after shaving to ensure you don't get razor burn, ingrown hairs, razor bumps, etc.—just totally smooth skin. I consulted shaving experts for their best tips for avoiding the burn. Take a look below.
This is the number one simplest trick to avoiding razor burn and most shaving problems, really. "The first step to any good shave is making sure your skin is free of dead skin, debris, and clogged pores," says Laura Schubert, co-founder of Fur, a grooming-product brand. "We recommend using a product like Fur's Silk Scrub immediately before shaving. That way, when you shave, your razor isn't pushing this debris and dead skin further into your pores, which causes ingrowns and bumps."
Always Use a Lubricant
I don't know about you, but I'm guilty of not using shaving cream when I've run out, but it's not advised. "When shaving, definitely use a lubricant versus shaving only with water," says CC Sofronas, co-founder of Pacific Shaving Co. "Using a shaving lubricant will provide a layer of protection for your skin from the blades, minimizing friction, which can cause razor burn. Choose a shaving cream that is fragrance-free, such as our Natural Shaving Cream, because synthetic fragrance can cause irritation."
For extra credit, Sofronas also recommends applying shaving oil before to soften the skin and hair—and for a more comfortable experience.
Replace Your Blades and Razors
It can be so easy to forget to swap out your razors and blades, but it's important for getting a smooth, non-irritating shave. "People often forget to replace them enough, even though using an old razor with dull blades causes the blade to pull at the skin, resulting in razor burn and even nicks," says Lillian Tung, co-founder of Fur.
Sofronas adds that you should also rinse your blades in between shaving passes and after you've finished. "Bacteria can form on the blade if it’s not clean, which in turn can cause razor burn," she says.
Don't Shave the Same Spot Over and Over
"Another common mistake is shaving the same area of skin multiple times in order to get a close shave—the more times you shave the same area, the more irritated it will get," Schubert says.
Shave With the Grain
Pay attention to how hair grows in different parts of your body. "It grows in one direction on the legs, two different directions on the bikini line, and three different directions on the armpits," Sofronas says. "It can be sparse on the lower leg and thick in the bikini. This means you should pay attention to what you're shaving and in what direction."
Be Gentle With Pressure
Don't apply too much pressure, Sofronas says, because it can irritate the skin. Not to mention if you are a bit too forceful with your razor on your skin, you're more likely to get nicks or cuts.
Shave at the End of Your Shower
Yes, you can leave this chore until the very end of your showering or bathing routine. That's because your skin and hair are hydrated and soft at that point, Sofronas says.
"This will also soothe the skin," Sofronas says. "I recommend using the same Natural Shave Oil as a post-shave oil, as it absorbs easily, won't clog pores, and smells great!"
Take Your Time
It pays off to be patient. Not rushing can help prevent nicks and cuts and can give you smoother and comfortable results.
How to Treat Razor Burn
If you are dealing with razor burn, there are some ways to treat it. Sofronas says a cold compress applied to the area for a few minutes can help soothe the skin. "Then apply a balm like our Caffeinated Aftershave lotion," she recommends. "Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor and, when applied topically, constricts the blood vessels and can help reduce inflammation and puffiness."
Other Shaving Products We Recommend
Need more recs for shaving accessories and products to give you the smoothest skin? Take a look at some of other favorites:
Fur's shave cream contains olive oil and aloe to give you a smooth shave with no irritation.
Apply this oil after you shave to hydrate the skin—you can also use it as a moisturizer on other dry spots.
Use this scrub all over, from your legs to underarms to bikini lines.
This oil will soften hair, clear pores, and prevent ingrown hairs. It's formulated specifically for pubic hair, but you can also apply it all over your body.
If you have sensitive skin, this moisturizing shave cream will help. It's fragrance-free and will help reduce redness, too.
If you prefer an oil over a shaving cream, this formula nourishes and conditions skin so you get a smoother shave and fewer (if any) nicks and cuts.
Apply this plant-based cream after shaving to treat irritation and prevent any ingrown hairs.
This one is labeled as an Amazon's Choice and is formulated specifically for the bikini area. The pads contain salicylic and glycolic acids to exfoliate and smooth skin.
Next up, 27 of the best hair, skincare, and makeup brands only beauty editors know about.
This article was originally published at an earlier date and has been updated.
Sarah is lifestyle writer and editor with over 10 years of experience covering health and wellness, interior design, food, beauty, and tech. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she attended New York University and lived in New York for 12 years before returning to L.A. in 2019.
In addition to her work on THE/THIRTY and Who What Wear, she held editor roles at Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, House Beautiful, Elle Decor, and The Bump (sister site of The Knot).
She has a passion for health and wellness, but she especially loves writing about mental health. Her self-care routine consists of five things: a good workout, “me” time on the regular, an intriguing book/podcast/playlist to unwind after a long day, naps, and decorating her home.