Gentlemen’s Spotlight: Preventing Razor Bumps

Facial irritation, bumps, redness, dark pigment, scars, and keloids (scars to the 10th degree!) can be a dreaded post-shave result for men suffering with razor bumps or “Pseudofolliculitis Barbae.” Pseudofolliculitis Barbae is a common ailment among African American men. The causative factor is a textural difference, as the coarseness of the facial hair promotes it curling back into the skin instead of growing straight out. The tucked in hair then causes bumps, a protruding surface for a razor to nick, and inflammation around the nicked bumps. The whole process can make shaving a nuisance for men who prefer a smooth, hairless face. However, with the right techniques, there are ways to diminish the occurrence and appearance of the dreaded P. Barbae.


Throw away those multi-bladed razors which nick your skin multiple times as they mow across your face. Stick with a single or only double blade razor, preferably one with a protective guard. The old-school straight razors are also making a comeback for those with razor bumps ( Yet, the best alternative is an electric razor which will protect skin from direct blade assault.

Keep an ingrown hair removal kit on hand, like Tanly Blackhead & Splinter Removal, which has useful metal tools to unhinge ingrown hairs. Although, a needle sterilized with alcohol is an alternative to loosen embedded hairs.

Aluminum Sulfate pencils like the Shaving Factory Disposable Styptic Pencils, are also an important item to have for nicks that won’t stop bleeding.

For those preferring a wet razor shave, invest in a boar bristle or badger brush, which will enhance moisture prep, exfoliate dead skin, and loosen hair follicles.

Skin Maintenance Prep

Smooth skin and softened hairs, will lend to a more gentle shaving experience with less razor snagging and bumps. Skin exfoliation to unclog pores and peel dead skin should be a maintenance preparation in between shaves. Glycolic or salicylic acid products are great exfoliatives for this and should be used on non-shaving days or done at least eight hours after shaving to prevent application burning. Check out Exuviance Glycolic Expert Moisturizer which includes a soothing aloe and calendula. First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, which combine lactic and glycolic acid is another good option for a gentle, yet effective approach. Both can be found at

For those with coarse hair or stubborn P. Barbae, you may consider using a depilatory like Magic Shave ( a day before using shaving devices. This chemical hair remover may loosen or remove a great deal of hair, leaving less to battle during the actual shave.

Pre-Shave Prep

Immediately pre-shave, it is important to soften your stubble to aid the razor in a smooth glide over skin. While showering, moisturize scalp and beard with your regular conditioner. If on dry land, application of a pre-shave oil or balm does wonders to soften hair, condition skin, and helps with a clean but less forceful shave. A pre-shave oil, like Anthony Logistics Pre-Shave oil or Dermalogica Close Shave, which are both made for sensitive skin and can be found on or Apply such to beard area and let soak in for at least a minute before proceeding with the actual shave. For those using an electric razor, Jack Black Shave Enhancer ( will help reduce friction, smooth skin, and has a quick dry time.

Shaving Technique

Make use of the badger brush to lather up a gentle, yet, humectant shaving cream like Aveeno Sensitive Skin Shave Gel, affordably priced for tender skin. Other great options are Cremo Cream Super Lubricating Shave Cream ( is a highly rated product or Proraso Red or White Shave Cream ( as tried and true supplies. With brush apply shave cream in circular motion in beard area to loosen follicles. Shave beard using light pressure with the grain (not against, which causes more irritation), one glide per area, cleaning the razor after every stroke. If possible, keep hair 1-4 millimeters in length, to prevent close contact and nicks on the skin. However, if scrapes do occur, use the aluminum sticks to stop bleeding.

Post Shave Care

Shaving can be a traumatic process to the skin, so pamper your face post shave with a sensitive care moisturizer. Coconut oil, Cerave, or Cetaphil lotion presents a great overnight skin emollient for mild irritation. For moderate to severe irritation, strategic P. Barbae products should be utilized. Men’s Science Androceuticals, Post Shave Repair ( contains tea tree and aloe for calming effects. UltraLuxe for Gentlemen, Ingrown Hair and Razor Bump Treatment After Shave has a secret ingredient called SymCapxil-8 which is speculated to reduce hair re-growth, density and concentration. It also contains oat extract and almond oil for soothing. Tend Skin ( and Bump & Blemish Fighter ( are two other products rising in popularity to treat P. Barbae. Overall, many of the products above can be found at or

Although utilizing these changes will help quell the pesky bumps and irritation of P. Barbae, severe cases may still need the assistance of a dermatology provider. Prescriptions like retinoids, topical antibiotics, steroids, Vaniqa, or even laser hair removal, may be used to calm this hair problem. However, using the recommendations in this guide is a great first step towards a less bumpy, stubbly, you.

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