Men of all races and ethnicities suffer from razor bumps as a result of shaving, but men of color (MOC) seem to struggle with this condition particularly. MOC have curly/coiled hair and mainstream shaving techniques do not address those special concerns. Multi-blade razors, harsh cleansers, and alcohol-based preparations contribute to the vicious cycle of razor bumps and ingrown hairs. Melanated skin has a tendency to produce extra collagen to repair the damage which can lead to skin discoloration and scarring. The following tips and suggestions (born from personal experience as a man of color) are sure to bring relief to this recurring problem, and leave your skin smooth and refreshed.
If starting with razor bumps, or irritated, inflamed skin:
- Get tweezers to remove current ingrown hair.
- Allow skin to heal by not shaving for a month. (Yes, your beard & face will get itchy in the course of a month. To counter this, moisturize frequently with a non-comedogenic moisturizer or facial oil, & brush into the beard.)
Keys to Eliminating Ingrown Hairs/Razor Bumps
- Reduce irritation. Start each shave with freshly washed skin and a clean razor. You want to shave with as few strokes as possible. Use a superior lubricant to give you a smooth shave with no dragging or pulling of the skin. Shave oils (such as Nature Loves You ™ 4-in-1 Shave Oil) are ideal for reducing irritation, for they reduce the coefficient of friction much better than shaving creams, gels, and powders.
- Shave Close, Not Below the Skin. On sensitive areas of the face where razor bumps are more prevalent (jawline/neckline), take care not to shave below the skin. Shave with the grain (never against). Men of Color have curly hair, so the idea is to shave in such a way that your newly cut whiskers do not curl underneath the skin, forming a razor bump. Clippers, safety razors, or modified razors (such as Bevel or Bump Fighter) cut above the skin, thus greatly minimizing the potential for ingrown hairs.
- Scrub off the Old Tired Skin. Exfoliating the skin is an excellent way to rid the face of the dead skin cells that clog pores and cause ingrown hairs. Hair grows out of pores; if those pores are clogged with old skin cells, the hair’s upward growth is blocked, causing it to curl back under the skin. Many men do not get facials, so the next best method is to gently wash your face with a warm, soapy wash cloth. Be sure to include your jawline/neckline as well to get rid of all the dirt, sweat, and grime that accumulates on the face. Apply a non-comedogenic moisturizer (Nature Loves You ® 4-in-1 Shave Oil works as an excellent emollient) to keep skin refreshed and free from dry, flaky skin that clogs pores.