Post-Shave Itching? Here’s Exactly How to Tackle it
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The silky smooth feeling of a fresh shave is unmatched — until everything starts itching, that is.
If post-shave scratching happens to you regularly, you’re not alone. It’s a pretty common skin condition and a lot of us will experience sensitivity, redness and irritation after shaving at some point.
That’s why we’ve spoken to aesthetician Amber Shal on what causes the itch and how to stop it.
Read on to find for the lowdown on how to get that post-shave smooth without the stress!
What causes itchiness after shaving?
First up, what actually causes that irritating post-shave itchiness?
Shaving can lead to skin issues like razor burns, bumps and folliculitis, all of which can be pretty itchy. But while none of these conditions is any fun to deal with, generally they can thankfully be prevented.
A razor burn is a skin irritation that happens immediately after shaving. It’s red, angry and can happen anywhere in your body. Meanwhile, razor bumps or ingrown hairs occur when the shaved hair curls inward, creating bumps on your skin. Folliculitis is a bit worse since your hair follicles become inflamed due to infection.
“Ingrown hairs can look like raised, itchy bumps on the skin. On white skin the bumps may look red. Redness may be harder to see on black or brown skin, but they may look a different colour to the surrounding skin,” says the NHS.
“Sometimes you can see a hair trapped under the skin. You may be more likely to get ingrown hairs if you have coarse or curly hair.”
But what causes these conditions in the first place? Understanding the reasons could help you avoid shaving problems.
Usually, irritation after shaving is caused by using the wrong products. “In my experience, itchiness after shaving is usually attributed to dull razors or to not using the correct creams when shaving,” says aesthetician Amber Shal, founder of Floral Spa and Aesthetic Bar.
In other words, your shaving cream — or lack thereof — can aggravate your skin (dry shaving causes razor burns since there’s nothing to help the razor glide over your skin more smoothly).
As for shaving products, try to steer clear of anything that lathers. Shal states, “The foam and/or bubbles can create an air pocket causing the razor to quickly dull, resulting in microscopic cuts that can cause irritation and itchiness.”
Your skin can also itch after shaving if you’re using harsh products. Shaving creams with ingredients like alcohol and artificial scents can cause dryness and irritation.
Meanwhile, your razor itself could also be the culprit. Always make sure to use a sharp razor and throw away any blunt ones to avoid pulling at and irritating skin.
Using the wrong shaving technique can also cause your skin to itch. If you’re shaving too harshly or quickly or going against the direction of hair growth, you’re bound to face some irritation.
How can I avoid it?
Prepping your skin before shaving can help prevent itchiness later on. Cleveland Clinic says, “To avoid razor burn, make sure your skin is moist and soft before shaving. You may want to shave immediately after showering when your skin is clear of dead skin cells and excess oil that can clog up your razor blade. ”
First, take a shower to soften your skin and hair. The steam and warm water will make it easier for a blade to glide smoothly, thus avoiding razor burns.
Next, exfoliate the area you intend to shave. Doing so can help clear your follicles, effectively avoiding infection and ingrown hairs. This provides a smooth surface for the razor to glide over.
Then, “use a lubricant such as soap, shaving cream or shaving gel to create a barrier between your skin and the razor blade. This will also help the blade glide over your skin easier,” advises Cleveland Clinic.
Avoid using harsh scrubs and loofahs. Scrubbing and shaving at the same time is a recipe for itchy and irritated skin. Instead, opt for gentle chemical exfoliants. Body wash with salicylic acid is popular right now, and it’s an excellent gentle exfoliant to start with.
Always keep a fresh razor on hand, and replace it regularly, ideally after five to seven uses. You should also dry and store your razor appropriately to avoid rust and bacterial growth.
Remember to shave carefully and toward the direction of hair growth. Aim for a close shave, and don’t rush through the process. And instead of shaving with broad strokes, use short, light ones. Longer strokes can pull on your skin and lead to nicks.
Shal also stresses the importance of caring for skin after shaving. She states, “It’s also important to use oils or creams after each shower to add moisture to your skin.” This layer of hydration can calm your skin, giving you a smooth and itch-free shave.
You can also take extra steps to avoid getting the dreaded post-shave itch. After shaving, avoid wearing tight clothing that can rub against your skin. Friction can irritate your already sensitive skin and cause itching and redness. Instead, opt for free-flowing clothes with soft and smooth material.
How can I treat it if I’m already itchy?
There are plenty of ways to get you out of your predicament if you’re already itching like crazy and looking for relief.
Shal advises post-shave itch sufferers to “…apply Vaseline over the affected area to create a barrier to repair the skin.”
You can also use other moisturizers to help you out. Apply a lotion or oil to help relieve dry, itchy skin. Look for products that contain soothing ingredients like aloe vera or colloidal oatmeal.
You can also place a damp, cool cloth over the area for immediate relief. Just observe your skin for the next few hours and the day after. If things worsen or you see signs of infection, don’t hesitate to call your doctor.
If your itching goes beyond irritating and becomes an ongoing problem though, Shal says, “If that doesn’t work, you should call your doctor. They would likely prescribe a cortisone topical.”
Shaving body hair is an aesthetic choice that many of us make. But as you strive for that smooth look and feel to your skin, don’t forget to take care of it, too.
Itchiness and irritation after shaving are common, but can often be avoided. If you need extra help though, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor or consider alternative hair removal methods like waxing.
Meet the expert
Aesthetician Amber Shal is the founder of day spa Floral Spa and Aesthetic Bar, specialising in everything from facials to massages and injectables.