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Razor Burns And Bumps: How To Banish Them For Good

Aug 18, 2007
Razor burn - that rawness of face familiar to thousands of men - is something that can be avoided in most cases. This article gives one simple solution.

Firstly - just what is razor burn? Let's start by stating that it definitely is not a burn in the literal sense - only that the sensation is one of burning and itching on irritated skin. It's what irritates the skin that matters and, in the case of razor burn, how you can go about getting some relief.

The main cause of razor burn is the way that the razor is used. In the case of single-blade razors, it occurs when the razor is passed over the skin time after time, usually in search of an extra-close shave. This is a failure of technique - the number of 'passes' needed to achieve a really close shave depends more on how the razor is used rather than repeated scraping!

So what relevance does this have to a modern multi-blade razor? Well, the latest multis have now got no less than five blades set one behind the other. This means that for each stroke you really get five blade 'passes' over the skin - make three strokes and that's the equivalent of no less than fifteen with a razor with a single blade!

The result is razor burn. You see, not only is stubble removed by the razor blade but also a very fine layer of skin cells. It's called exfolation and is a recognised way of 'refreshing' the skin and making it look healthy and even younger. Problem is that multi-blade razors can easily take this process way too far, getting through layers of dead skin cells towards live ones below - and that hurts!

Another problem that users of multi-blade razors can experience - especially men with wiry beards - are so-called 'razor bumps'. This condition can be caused by the action of a multi-blade razor as it passes over the skin. The first blade 'lifts' the hair from its follicle and, before it cuts it, the second blade makes the cut. The hair then retreats below the surface of the skin, giving what should be a super-smooth shave.

The 'razor bumps' are in fact ingrowing hairs that, having been cut in the manner described above, cannot find their way out, forming 'bumps' as the seek to escape through the skin. (It could also be asked what possible use more than two blades really are - but that's another story!) These can become itchy and infected, causing even further misery.

It would seem then that to avoid the dreaded razor-burn two things must happen: firstly, to abandon multi-blade razors in favour of single-blade models and secondly to learn the technique that gives a smooth shave in just one or two 'passes'. If you have gone this far you may as well go the extra mile and learn how to use that master tool of shaving: the straight razor.

Now I know that many people think that this particular piece of grooming equipment is antiquated and irrelevant in any modern mans' bathroom. However, the straight razor is enjoying a massive comeback as more men realise that it has big advantages over modern razors. Yes, it takes some practice to use one properly - and safely! - but once this skill is mastered the advantages become clear.

Due to the fact that a straight razor only has one blade - and gives a smooth shave generally in a couple of 'passes' - the risk of razor burn is greatly reduced and, because the cut the stubble above skin level but incredibly close to it, 'bumps' rapidly become a thing of the past. Used correctly, straight razors do not pull, scrape or clog - in fact an entire shave can be had without rinsing the blade!

Certainly it takes a little more concentration at first to use a straight razor properly but, if you are plagued with either the dreaded rash or those maddening bumps, it may well be a very attractive shaving option for you.
About the Author
For more information on straight razors, take a look at The Invisible Edge for information about Vintage models or visit Dovo Razors UK to see brand new items.
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