Black men tend to get razor bumps far more easily and more often than men of other ethnicities. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 80% of black men will get razor bumps at some point during their lives. Why is that? And, how do you avoid razor bumps while still getting the best shave?
Black men tend to have body hair that is curly and wiry. Curly, wiry hair tends to turn back around and re-enter the skin, causing an inflammatory immune reaction that results in razor bumps, keloid scarring, discoloration, and even infection. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to combat these nasty irritations while maintaining a smooth, clean-shaven look.
When curly hair is cut short enough that it sits underneath the skin’s surface, it tends to curl back on itself as it’s growing out and re-enters the skin, creating razor bumps. In fact, it’s estimated that curly hair is up to 50 times more likely to get ingrown than other types of hair. Because of this, the curly, wiry facial hair of black men is highly likely to create razor bumps if the proper steps to avoid them are not taken.
Dark skin and keloid scarring
Keloid scarring occurs when scar tissue grows excessively, creating a visible overgrowth of scar tissue beyond the area of the original wound. These overgrowths may become itchy, tender, or irritated. However, typically keloid scarring is not harmful to your health and it can be prevented with the right shaving technique.
The main risk factors for keloid scarring include being of African, Asian, or Latino descent and being younger than 30 years old. Dark skin tends to develop keloid scars and become discolored after minor skin abrasions or cuts. So, the best way to avoid keloid scarring is to avoid cuts, razor bumps, and razor burn during your shave.
If you want to avoid razor bumps while keeping that smooth look, you need to employ the right strategies and tactics every time you shave. Here are a few ways to get the best shave without razor bumps, razor burn, or other skin irritations:
Cleanse the skin thoroughly
Before shaving, use warm water to hydrate the hairs on your face and a quality pre-shave cleanser to wash away any bacteria and debris on the skin.
Use a hot towel
After washing your face, run a towel under hot/warm water and press it to your face for 10 to 20 seconds. This will open your pores and make the hair on your face easier to cut.
Use a shaving brush
A quality boar bristle shaving brush is one of the best tools in the fight against skin irritations like razor bumps and razor burn. Use the shaving brush in a circular motion to lather on your shaving soap.
Use a single blade razor NOT a multi-blade cartridge
Multi-blade razors tend to pull the hair out of the skin and cut it beneath the skin’s surface increasing the odds of hair curling back into the skin. These multi-blades also don’t allow the level of control that comes with a safety razor. With a little practice, a safety razor will provide a better shave with less irritation, not to mention you’ll save a significant chunk of change on blades.
Use the right shaving technique
When shaving, shave in the direction of the hair’s growth or with the grain. Do not stretch or pull the skin while shaving under any circumstances. Shave each area only once and be sure to install a new blade every 4 to 5 shaves to avoid needing to shave areas multiple times with a dull blade.
Use a quality, moisturizing aftershave
After shaving, apply a moisturizing aftershave, witch hazel, and/or tea tree oil to replenish the shaved skin and to assist the facial hairs in growing straight out rather than curling back into the skin.
Don’t go more than 3 days without shaving
If you want to keep that smooth look, make sure you’re not going more than 3 days without shaving. This minimizes the amount of time the hair has to curl around and re-enter the skin causing razor bumps and keloid scars.
We all have days when we’re in a hurry and need to get stuff done and the quick, 1-minute shave seems like the only way to go. Don’t do it! If you want to minimize your chances of developing ugly, uncomfortable razor bumps and other irritations, get on a consistent shave schedule and always take care when shaving. If you’re really in a hurry, better to skip the shave than to risk razor bumps and permanent keloid scars.
For the full list of strategies and tactics on how to avoid razor bumps, see “How to Get the Best Shave without Razor Bumps”.