For millions of men around the world, shaving is a standard part of the morning routine. But unlike television commercials where the razor effortlessly glides over a thin film of evenly applied shaving cream and leaves behind smooth skin, the real-life version is often characterized by painful tugs, pulls, nicks, and scrapes. This begs the question, is there a way to get a close shave without irritation and razor burn?

What is Razor Burn?

“Razor burn is an irritating rash that sometimes appears after shaving. In its most mild form, razor burn will be slightly itchy and create a noticeable red rash on your face and neck. In severe cases, razor burn can also produce ‘razor bumps,’” Art of Manliness explains. “Razor bumps are created by ingrown hairs. They look like pimples and they can itch like a mother.”

For many men, the feeling of razor burn is synonymous with shaving. As a result, they dread the process and don’t shave nearly as often as they should. Sound familiar? 

If you dread and/or avoid shaving because of the itching, burning, and discomfort that it causes, you need to reassess how you’re shaving. With a few simple tweaks, you could turn shaving into an enjoyable process.

6 Tips for Preventing Razor Burn

Preventing razor burn requires a very careful approach. Here are some suggestions:

1.     Whack Down the Long Stuff

Unless you’re meticulous about shaving every single day, your facial hair likely moves past the stubble face before it’s time to shave again. Trying to address this with nothing more than a razor is just asking for trouble. The best approach is to start with an electric razor to get the hair as close as possible to the skin’s surface. Then you can move on to razor shaving.

2.     Soften the Beard

It’s much easier to remove a soft beard than a bristly one. This is why it’s always recommended to shave after a shower. The hot steam softens the hair and makes shaving a more pleasurable experience.  

3.     Use a Quality Shaving Brush

Most guys apply shaving cream with very little rhyme or reason. They squirt some onto their fingertips and slap it on. But if you want the closest possible shave, take things a step further.

Using a quality shaving brush, lather the shaving cream onto your face in a circular motion. This does a couple of things. First off, it ensures the shaving cream gets under every whisker (not just on top). Secondly, it stimulates the whiskers and makes them more easily accessible to the razor.

4.     Pick the Right Razor

You need a good quality razor that works for your face. While five-blade razors are all the rage right now, they can be difficult and unforgiving. You don’t need that many blades to get a close shave. It’s a marketing ploy targeted at men who like cool gadgets.

What you really need is a sharp safety razor. The single blade provides a clean cut without the painful pinching and pulling that happens when you have a bunch of additional blades dragging behind. (It’s also a lot cheaper!)

5.     Shave With the Grain

Technique matters, too. You might be shaving in the wrong direction, which causes unnecessary irritation.

“Shave with the grain,” Real Men Real Style advises. “Start with the sides, followed by the mustache area and then the chin. The chin hairs are the toughest, so this allows them the most time to soften under the shave cream. Every man’s facial hair has its own growth direction. If you are unsure about the direction of hair growth on your face, let it grow for a few days and you’ll see the pattern.”

6.     Apply the Right After Shave Product

Your shave isn’t done just yet. In order to keep your face properly moisturized and to prevent additional irritation, you must apply the right after-shave product. Esquire has a list of some of the top options on the market. Look for ones that have natural ingredients that are easy on sensitive skin.

Get a Closer Shave Every Time

A close shave doesn’t have to come at the expense of your skin. It’s possible to get a good quality shave without the irritation of razor burn. It’s all about how you prepare, which products you select, and the techniques you use. Plan ahead and your next shave will become a much more enjoyable experience!