As a man, you have undoubtedly felt razor burn before. It usually happens after a close shave. The hairs were cut below the skin's surface, and as it breaks back through, it doesn't feel very good. The sensation can range from a mild, itchy burn to feeling like you've peeled your face off and dunked it in literal hellfire.
Sometimes, that sensation is the result of a bad shave. We're not judging. Who hasn't pushed the limits of an old razor before? In other cases, persistent pain after shaving could be related to something a bit more medical. Sensitive skin is a thing that affects a lot of people in the world, and it can make the best shaves feel like the worst. Do you have sensitive skin? Do you want to know how to deal with it? Keep reading. We're covering this one in-depth.
What Is Sensitive Skin?
After a rough shave, anyone will think they have sensitive skin. Razors can tear you up, and most of you were broke kids at some point. You probably skimped on replacing your blades and just toughed out the misery that comes with a dull shave.
Sensitive skin is when you feel like that without the instigation. You could use the best razor ever made and still break out, get covered in razor bumps, have cracked skin, or otherwise suffer. It's a legitimate medical issue (although doctors probably have a much fancier name for it), making grooming the worst part of life.
If you suffer from sensitive skin, you need options to deal with it healthily and effectively. We're going to discuss a lot of options and tips to help you down that road. You'll be feeling healthier and better when you learn how to deal with your sensitive skin, and you just might be able to pick up a razor without glaring at it—or shaking. We hope the razors don't make you shakey. That's a little scary.
It's Not Always the Skin
Before you go down this rabbit hole, you want to be sure that sensitive skin is your problem. Medical surveys show that almost half of guys think they have sensitive skin. Dermatologists disagree. They diagnose the condition at a much lower rate.
Instead of medically sensitive skin, you might have a different issue. Ingrown hairs, bleeding, breakouts, and other issues could be tied to a systematic problem with your shaving routine or methodology. Bad razors, insufficient lubricant, improper technique, and shaving an uneven part of the body can all contribute to the symptoms you might experience.
Before you assume it's sensitive skin, you can run a simple test. Start by getting a good razor. You want an unused blade, and it can't be a dollar store version. You're going to use shaving cream (or gel) and shave a small spot on your body that is tougher than the rest. The top of the foot is a great example. Then, you're going to see how poorly that skin reacts. If there aren't big problems, then you know that the issue isn't sensitive skin. You instead need to find the real source of the problem (which, for most guys, is the razor itself), and you'll be fine.
Signs of Sensitive Skin
When it's serious, sensitive skin can be diagnosed by a dermatologist. If you failed the foot test, then there are some key symptoms you want to add to your watch list. They could indicate that you have sensitive skin and need some extra care.
A little bit of redness or some bumps after shaving is normal. We're talking about massive appearances of bumps, erosion, or pimples after any shave. If you have a persistent problem with this, and it's obvious to the casual observer, then it might be worth talking to a doctor. You could have a real case of sensitivity. Not to worry, we have some tips for you to help deal with the issue.
Very Dry Skin
Everyone gets drier skin in the winter, especially if you live in a dry climate. The kind of dryness that indicated sensitive skin would be dry enough to flake, be red, appear as a rash, or even bleed. This dryness is more than scratchy, itchy dryness. It's a serious problem, and it will plague you even where you don't shave. Some lotion can help with that, but chronic dryness is a big flag indicating that your skin might be extra sensitive.
We're talking about real eczema, not self-diagnosed skin conditions. It can hurt, and if you have sensitive skin, it can be persistent and prolific. It's not fun to deal with, and it's a sign that you have an underlying problem. Plenty of times, it's sensitive skin, but there are other root causes. If you think you have eczema, go ahead and let a doctor take a look.
Severe Ingrown Hairs
Once again, razor bumps are common after a shave. That's not what we're talking about. If you get ingrown hairs everywhere, you shave every time; that's a bit of an indicator. If you have hairs that can never push back through the skin without you helping them, then you probably have sensitive skin; this is especially true if light or thin hairs still go ingrown. Sensitive skin is triggered by hair breaking through the surface, and your body will react to stiffen the skin, causing severe ingrown hair issues.
Tips to Deal With Sensitive Skin
If you've been through the tests and you're convinced, these tips can help what ails you. Even if you don't have sensitive skin on the plus side, these tips should help you with general skincare. This section is kind of a win-win for everyone.
Most people can get away with moisturizing once a day. A lot of guys don't even moisturize daily. When you have sensitive skin, the best weapon for mitigating issues is lotion or moisturizer. You want to hit the bottle twice a day: once when you get up and before you go to bed. Also, moisturize after you shower instead of before.
Speaking of showers, cutting back on them helps a lot with sensitive skin. It might sound counterintuitive, but tap water dries you out and is hard on your skin. If you can cut down on showers without being completely gross, it'll go a long way.
Exfoliating is important for everyone. It clears away dead skin cells and irritants. It clears the pores. It's good in a lot of ways.
With all of that said, those who have sensitive skin need to be a little more careful with exfoliation. You want to do it regularly, but you need to be gentle with the process. Use a softer agitator for the job (even some standard loofahs might be too rough). Also, don't exfoliate more than once a week. It needs to be done regularly, but too much exfoliation can be a bad thing and trigger those sensitive-skin conditions that you don't like.
If this list was in the order of importance, sunscreen would be number two (after moisturizing). The sun is hard on sensitive skin, so you want protection. If you're going to spend any time outside, use sunscreen and work to take care of your skin after you've been in the sun all day. You can get an SPF moisturizer that gives you some blanket defense every day.
You don't need to completely hide from the sun. A little bit of browning can be good for you, but you want to always have some SPF to limit the harm of sun rays on your sensitive skin.
You also need to be careful. Some sunscreens are harsh, and they'll trigger problems. Get something that is gentle, and if you're shopping around, test the sunscreen on a small part of your skin before you lather up and down your body with it.
Tips for Shaving With Sensitive Skin
We've established that you do have sensitive skin. You know how to take care of it in general. That will already help a ton when you shave, but some extra tips will take the edge off of those shaving side-effects. Once again, there are lessons here that can help people with normal skin too.
Invest in Razors
No, we don't mean that you need to buy razor stock. What we're saying is that cheap razors are cheap for a reason. They tend to use softer steel, and it doesn't hold an edge as long. Cheap razors can go dull in the middle of their first shave, which adds a lot of irritation to the process.
If you get a razor that can cut through your hair without the slightest effort, you'll have fewer problems. Such a razor will also help your technique. You won't press as hard to shave, and you can take smaller and fewer strokes; this is the technique that will reduce shaving problems, and you need a good razor for it to work.
Shave Less Often
It's a pretty obvious tip. If shaving bothers your skin, don't do it. Unfortunately, lifestyles don't always make this an easy tip to follow. You might need to shave regularly for work. You might hate the way you feel with unkempt body hair. Your body hair might trigger sensitive skin (which is the worst).
The key to shaving less is to explore alternatives to shaving. With sensitive skin, waxing and depilatories might not be a safe bet, but you can explore those options without ruining your life. Waxing a small spot or similarly using a small dollop of hair removal cream can tell you if they're viable options.
On the topic of alternative hair removal, don't forget about lasers. Laser hair treatments can be expensive and involved, but they might be worth it for you. We would recommend skipping the home-kit versions and working with a professional. You want to make sure you're a good candidate and that the treatment won't be torture before you commit. Still, for some of you, it will prove to be the best option.
You can also replace shaving with trimming. The routine is similar, but a good trimmer will wreak less havoc on your skin and feel better; this is especially true if you're shaving below the waist, and we can proudly recommend The Lawn Mower 4.0 for that job. It's gentler than you expect, and it won't subject you to many of the terrors of a razor.
Take Aftershave Seriously
The purpose of aftershave is to reduce dryness and inflammation. It helps, even if it doesn't feel amazing when you first apply it. Like every other product we've mentioned, you need to shop around for an aftershave that works with your sensitive skin and doesn't trigger reactions.
You'll need a different aftershave for male grooming that you use on your face with that in mind. Even for guys with normal sensitivity, facial aftershave is not acceptable anywhere near the boys. For that job, you want Crop Reviver™ toner. It's gentle. It smells great. It's infused with aloe vera to soothe the irritation. It can transform your grooming experience.
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Don't Skip the Doctor
While all of these tips can help you deal with sensitive skin, it is a real medical condition, and you should always involve a doctor in decisions that impact your health. A visit with a dermatologist can diagnose the root cause of your skin sensitivity. Sometimes, there's a treatment that will leave you less sensitive.
Even when that isn't the case, the dermatologist can give you the very best advice. And they can write prescriptions. If your sensitive skin makes you miserable, you might want to trade that over-the-counter stuff for prescription-grade treatments. You need to see a doctor for that first.
Sensitive skin is a big topic; if you want to know even more about it, Google at your own risk. If you think you're off to a good start, but you want more options to take care of your skin, check out www.manscaped.com. You might assume that a line of male grooming products is dedicated to cutting body hair. You're half-right. We have a line of products that are all about promoting healthy skin, and they're designed to provide gentle relief in areas of your body that are sensitive no matter your medical history. Where generic products don't do the job, we have you covered.
We've also papered the sight with lots of useful advice. If you enjoyed learning about sensitive skin, you could get just as deep into several other topics. We discuss everything from lifestyle to the true history of men's grooming. You'll find knowledge you didn't know you needed. Have fun browsing!