A close shave: Tackling razor bumps and ingrown hairs

Shaving can be more than a chore for men, especially if you struggle with razor bumps, rashes and ingrown hairs. Not anymore.

Are you a shaver? Ever notice how the skin in the area where you shave looks smoother and more youthful than the areas that don’t get the razor’s attention? That’s because you are doing what most women spend time (and money) on – exfoliating your skin, which sloughs away old dead skin cells on the surface, speeding up cell renewal. That’s the plus side of shaving, but this grooming ritual can cause some issues…

Dealing with ingrowns
Most men have had the odd Ingrown hair on their faces after shaving, especially during the period when transitioning from a close-shaved look to a beard.
The ingrown hair comes about when the hair becomes trapped in the hair follicle instead of pushing out to the surface and becomes inflamed.
Using a mild exfoliator once or twice a week will clear any dead skin cells blocking the pore, which will usually help the ingrown hair to resolve itself. However, it persists and becomes painful and uncomfortable, you should get help from a skin-care specialist.

Follicular challenges
Some men are unlucky to get more serious and frequent ingrown hairs in the form of razor bumps (a condition known medically as pseudofollicultis barbae). These are most often found in men with very curly hair, and it is especially common in black men because their facial hair tends to curl back in on itself.
An incorrect shaving technique (like shaving the same area repeatedly) and using a blunt razor can also cause these painful bumps and pustules on the face and neck. Men who battle with this can feel embarrassed because it looks like acne. This condition needs to be treated by a medical or qualified skin care professional because, if they become infected, razor bumps can result in dark marks and keloidal scars, especially if you have a darker complexion.

Razor bump treatment
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiseptic treatments. In severe cases, permanent hair removal may be the best option. This will be done with lasers such as the Nd: YAG laser to give you long-term hair removal.
Cutera’s Xeo Laser Genesis tackles scarring from razor bumps, stimulating the skin’s natural renewal process through gentle micro-pulses of laser, which activate the skin’s collagen.
Skin Renewal’s doctors and qualified skin professionals will have to assess your skin to decide which treatment plan works best for you.
Caution: it is vital you use sunscreen on freshly lasered skin.

It’s all (well, largely) in the technique
You can help prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps by following these simple shaving rules:
• Use sharp blades. And the more blades per razor, the better, some dermatologists advise, because you apply less pressure on the skin. Change your razor blade about every 4 shaves.
• Cleanse your face before you shave with warm water to soften the hair and skin.
• Exfoliate once or twice a week to keep your pores free of blockages that can cause ingrown hairs and blackheads.
• Shave in the direction your hair grows, to help prevent ingrown hairs. And don’t shave too close by going over the same area twice.
• Don’t use traditional aftershave as these contain alcohol and dry out your skin. Rather use an aftershave balm to soothe and moisturize the skin.

Take the quick Beyond Beauty Survey and you could win a R2 000 Skin Renewal voucher to spend in our online store, with free delivery within South Africa. T&Cs apply.

To find out more about maintaining a healthy and clear skin underneath your beard, visit Skin Renewal on www.skinrenewal.co.za or contact 0861 SKIN SA (754 672).

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