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Razor burn on your bikini line usually heals on its own. But you can help prevent it by shaving with a new razor blade in the direction of your body hair and keeping the area moisturized.
Whether you’re on the slick-as-a-Sphinx team or you’re passionate about that bush, your jersey line is up to you. But if you shave, you’ve probably encountered the dreaded bumps, redness, itchingand the burning of Shaver.
Basically, razor burn occurs when your skin rebels against the irritation of shaving. It’s technically considered a form of irritant contact dermatitis (essentially a fancy way of saying a rash).
Although it usually goes away on its own, you might want to know what to do when you catch it and how to prevent it from happening again next time.
For all your burning bikini line questions, we spoke to a trio of experts about the root of razor burn and how to prevent it with a foolproof shaving routine.
It’s true what they say that prevention is the best cure. Luckily, there *are* ways to shave out there without causing razor burn. Here’s what the experts recommend:
1. Choose your razor wisely
As anyone who has used a disposable razor for a long time can tell you, razors are not created equal. Dermatologist Erum N. Ilyas recommends cartridge razors, in particular, because they usually give you a little buffer between your delicate skin and the blade with extra padding. (The Gillette Venus Deluxe is a good example.)
She also recommends safety razors, which can give you an ultra-close crop with fewer passes. And while more expensive doesn’t always equal better, this dollar store razor should be tossed as soon as it gets a little loud.
If you accidentally cut yourself, Allyson Brennan, clinical pharmacist and skin care specialist, advises making sure to use antibacterial soap to clean the affected area and prevent bacteria from causing more problems.
2. Clean your razor
Brennan adds that using a clean razor is key. To make sure yours is good to go, periodically sanitize it with rubbing alcohol and warm water. Since bacteria buildup can lead to ingrown hairs and razor burn, this step is important.
Pro Tip: Store your blades in a clean, dry place instead of the humid, bacteria-laden environment of your shower. And if your razor looks a little rusty, throw it away.
3. Wait until your skin is hydrated
Don’t take the razor out until you’ve finished your shower. According to dermatologist Debra Jaliman, it’s “when the hair is hydrated and less prone to irritation.”
By the time you’ve conditioned your strands, your skin should be moist and warm enough for you to run the blade more smoothly.
4. Maybe skip the scented products
Even if you really like your lime-scented frothy shaving cream, that signature scent could be the root of your razor burn problems.
“Fragrances are one of the main causes of skin irritation,” says Brennan. So check any soaps, cleansers, or creams you may be using around the area to make sure they’re at least free of synthetic odors.
If you really want an olfactory experience, try adding a few drops of natural essential oils like lavender or rose to your shower.
5. But always use shaving cream
Don’t skip this shaving cream, though! It’s not just for ads full of airbrushed smooth legs – it’s to protect your skin.
“Be sure to use a shaving foam to moisturize the skin and hydrate the skin and hair,” says Jaliman. This provides a lubricant that allows you to glide smoothly through the hair and not scratch the skin.
And whatever you do, do NOT shave on dry skin or just use soap. Jaliman notes that dry or soap shaving does not allow the razor to glide over your skin.
So, which shaving cream to use? Jaliman recommends Aveeno Positively Smooth Shave Gel for ingredients like anti-inflammatory aloe, moisturizing glycerin, and skin-bleaching soy.
She also recommends EOS Sensitive Skin Cream with similar moisturizing and soothing ingredients like oatmeal, shea butter and glycerin.
6. Follow the grain
This is one point where you definitely don’t want to go against the grain, says Jaliman. Shaving in a downward motion, or in the natural direction of your hair growth, is the easiest way to achieve razor burn-free skin.
You should also avoid traversing the same area multiple times. When you start making donuts with your razor, you are more likely to cut your skin. This can lead to ingrown hairs or other irritations.
If your hair is longer, Jaliman also recommends using a shaving brush with your shaving cream “to help loosen hair from the skin’s surface.”
7. Replace the blade often
From razor blades to personalities, dullness is rarely a good thing. You might be tempted to push that tattered old cartridge for another week, but it won’t do your bikini line any favors.
Brennan recommends replacing your razors or cartridges regularly – “after 4-5 uses” to “minimize harboring of bacteria and pulling on hair follicles due to dullness”.
Brennan notes that razor burn is also called pseudofolliculitis barbae (aka razor bumps). It happens when “the hair follicle is damaged during the shaving process”. This leads to that not-so-fun inflammation, pain, and redness on bumpy skin.
Ilyas also explains that razor burn is pretty much a catch-all term for a few potential after-shave triggers. These may include:
- The razor that scratches your skin. Shaving too close can cut both the hair and the surface of your skin, she explains. Basically, you accidentally shave off the keratin and surface of the epidermis, leaving raw skin similar to a superficial burn.
- Dry skin becomes flaky under the razor blade. “Dry skin can often have a flaky or flaky surface. Shaving on dry skin can erode the surface of the skin and leave razor burn behind,” she explains.
- A tendency to ingrown hairs. Although ingrown hairs are not exactly the same as razor burn, these problems often go hand in hand. “With a close shave that leaves the hair tip cut below the surface of the skin, as the hair grows, it can pass below the surface of the skin, creating bumps.” Repeated shaving can then scrape off these raised spots, making matters worse. When you add bacteria to the mix, you have the perfect recipe for angry, inflamed follicles.
- Sweat. Ah, the sweat: Good for your physical condition and for releasing your pheromones, but bad for an already present razor burn. “Sweating can irritate and damage sensitive skin, causing
to worsening razor burn,” says Brennan.
That’s why if you already have razor burn, it’s a good idea to stop shaving until you heal. While shaving isn’t necessarily bad, it also might not be the best option for people prone to ingrown hairs or who have sensitive skin.
Do you already feel the burn? Don’t touch that razor – we get it. Here’s what to do:
1. Jump into an oatmeal bath
If your burn is making you squirm, you might want to run an oatmeal bath. Add about 1 to 1 1/2 cups to your bath, sit back and relax. “Colloidal oatmeal is very soothing to the skin,” says Jaliman.
Keep your bath to around 15 minutes to soothe your skin without drying it out.
2. Apply moisturizer
A fragrance-free moisturizer can help soothe your tender bikini line without clogging pores, says Jaliman.
Most simple formulas will do, like Cetaphil.
3. Take hydrocortisone cream
“If your skin is irritated, you can use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to get rid of the irritation,” advises Jaliman. This anti-inflammatory will specifically help relieve itching.
A solid and cheap option is Cortizone 10 Maximum strength.
4. Use Aloe FTW
It may be time to finally put your aloe plant to good use. “You can also use aloe vera gel,” says Jaliman, “which you can get directly from the plant or you can buy a product.” If you choose to buy gel, Jaliman advises buying something fragrance-free so it doesn’t irritate your skin.
Look for a 100% pure aloe option like this Organic aloe vera gel with seven minerals.
5. Treat yourself to the tea tree
Brennan also recommends tea tree oil for razor burn, due to its “antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.” Just notice that she doesn’t talk about just put some tea tree essential oil on your pubis. You will want to mix it with a carrier oil and be sure to do a patch test first.
Even easier, use a tea tree oil blend designed specifically for your nether regions. A fan favorite is Fur oil.
6. Use a cold compress
A good, cool, old-fashioned compress can help reduce swelling and soothe your sensitive burn. If you can bear it, taking a bath on the cooler side may also provide some relief.
Shaving makes your skin (and maybe your temper) a little fiery? Admittedly, shaving the pubis can be a tricky business, which is why some advise against it.
While it *is* possible to get it right with proper care, Jaliman also recommends the following hair removal substitutes:
- Laser hair removal. It usually takes “6 to 8 treatments spaced a month apart,” she says, and it’s a pretty solid option for banishing hair for good.
- Waxing. You’re less likely to get ingrown hairs or other issues from waxing than from shaving, especially if you go to a professional.
- Depilatories. Chemical depilatories like OG Nairare still a pretty solid option to get the hair out there with no problem.
Sugar is another increasingly popular (and Greatist-approved!) option.
Razor burn is a fairly common problem, but there are ways to prevent and treat it.
Most of the time, it goes away on its own. But in the meantime, you can soothe the problem with colloidal oatmeal, aloe vera, or other moisturizing, fragrance-free ingredients.
In the future, things like replacing your razor often, keeping it clean, and shaving in the direction of the grain can help prevent problems.