Shaving and acne go hand in hand. If you are not shaving to cause the least amount of irritation then you are likely causing more acne because of it. The good news is there are a a few simple measures you can take to prevent acne from shaving.
Shaving to get the closest shave possible while causing the least amount of irritation is one of the best things you can do for acne prone skin. Trying to get the closest shave with a one blade or five blade razor are some of the worst things you can do for acne prone skin. To accomplish the closest shave while causing the least amount of irritation you need to get a proper razor, get rid of shaving creams or gels, and shave with the grain. Luckily the razor blade cartridges we recommend are widely available in stores. However, the handles that are compatible with the cartridges are not so easy to find.
Picking the right razor for acne.
After trying a number of razors we have found that shaving with two blade razors provide the least amount of irritation while giving a relatively close shave. The types of cartridges that we recommend are the Gillette Trac II and Gillette Sensor Excel. While both of these two blade cartridges are widely available in stores the handles are not. The original Gillette Trac II handles have been discontinued, they are no longer available even online (except eBay). However, there are handles available online that are compatible with the Trac II cartridges. They usually come with their own brand of cartridges, but we recommend to not use them and go with the Gillette Trac II brand name cartridges instead. The good thing about the Gillette Sensor Excel is that you may be able to find a handle available in stores. Check places like CVS, Walgreens, or stores that are specific to your area. We were able to find a Gilette Sensor Excel handle at a Brookshire Brothers, but this type of grocery store is only in located Texas and Louisiana, and we are not sure if they carry the handles in every store.
The easiest place to find the Gillette Sensor Excel is online at Amazon, but you will likely end up paying more online for the packaged handle and a three pack of two blade razors than in the store. If you are going to buy online you might as well go with the Gillette Trac II, it seems to work better than the Gillette Sensor Excel. The kind of compatible handle we recommend is called Bump Fighter. Bump Fighter is better than other compatible handles because the handle has a rubber grip, it is also cheaper than other compatible handles. You can get a Bump Fighter handle handle on Amazon or at some Walmart locations. Remember do not use the one-blade razors that come with it, get the Gillette Trac II razor blade cartridges instead. We highly recommend the Bump Fighter handle, but there are a variety of other handles that are compatible with the Gillette Trac II cartridges available on Amazon as well. The next best thing to the Trac II or Sensor Excel cartridges are Gillette Good News disposable razors that can be found in pretty much any grocery store or supermarket. We may seem biased to Gillette razors, but that is simply because they make the best two-bladed razors we have tried.
Use a cleanser when shaving with acne.
Now that you have the right type of razor blade it is time to replace shaving creams and gels with a gentle cleanser. A gentle cleanser will cause little to no irritation and won’t clog your pores. Some of the ingredients that are high up on the list of ingredients in shaving creams and gels can clog pores. Even the kind of gels that are fragrance free (non-irritating) contain ingredients that can potentially clog pores. With acne prone skin its best to use products that are both non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and non-irritating. It is also nice to use a cleanser for shaving because you can use the lather from the cleanser to wash your face and shave all at once. Not having to take the extra step to apply a cream or gel then rinse it off means less touching your face. With acne prone skin it is best to touch your face as little as possible to avoid irritation. The types of gentle cleansers we recommend for shaving are ones that lather up really well. Examples of non-comedogenic and non-irritating cleansers that we recommend are the Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser and Acne.org Cleanser. The Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar or Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar are other cleansers we recommend that will lather up well, not clog pores, and cause a minimal amount of irritation.
Shaving routine for acne.
Now that you have the right razor blade and cleanser to cause the least amount of irritation it is time to get to the shaving routine. Before you start shaving give the hairs on your face a gentle rub to figure out which way your hair grows so you can shave with the grain. While you glide your finger across your skin if the hair feels smooth that is going with the grain, and if the hair feels rough that is going against the grain.
When shaving to cause the least amount of irritation use confident but gentle strokes, going with the grain, and do not shave over areas more than once. As you are shaving use long strokes that curve with the grain the entire time. Using one long straight stroke will mean by the time you get to the end of your beard you have gone against the grain. Be especially gentle when going over pimples and cysts.
- For this step you may need to be at a kitchen sink. You also may need to do this step shirtless to keep your clothes from getting wet. Get warm water going in the sink. Put the bottom half of your face underneath the running water. Without touching your skin take about ten seconds to get the warm water allover the beard area. If you take a warm shower in the morning you do not need to follow this step. Do not use hot steaming water in the sink or shower before shaving. Hot water will cause irritation.
- Put two full pumps of either recommended cleanser with a splash of water in the palm of your hand.
- Rub your hands together to get a generous amount of lather going and generate some warmth.
- For really sensitive skin add 5-6 drops of organic jojoba oil so the razor will glide more easily.
- Apply the lather and optional oil to your beard. Barely touch your skin as you let the lather glide gently across the surface.
- Start with shaving the cheeks.
- Move onto shaving the neck area still going with the grain, while using curved strokes to ensure that you are going with the grain the entire time.
- Take particular care to when shaving the Adam’s apple. This can be a tough spot to shave.
- Save the mustache and chin area for last so that the water and cleanser have more time to loosen up the skin while softening up the hairs. Curve with the direction the hairs on your mustache grow using a few strokes. Do the same for the chin area. Curve with the direction the hairs on your chin grow.
- Without touching your face, let cool water from the faucet at your kitchen or bathroom sink run over your beard. Rinse off any remnants by splashing your face or using a gentle touch if needed.
- Very gently pat dry with a clean towel or let your face air dry.
After shaving continue your normal acne routine, but do not re-cleanse the lower portion of your face. Only cleanse the top portion after shaving. You can apply the lather to your entire face for the shave so you do not have cleanse one half your face then the other later. Just keep the cleanser out of your eyes.
If you are following an acne routine you will likely be applying a moisturizer next, so an after shave is not necessary because the moisturizer will take away the burn. We do not recommend using any type of aftershave. However, if you want to use an aftershave try using pure witch hazel. It will be less harsh than a regular after shave and contains no fragrances that can cause irritation. Witch hazel with 14% alcohol is pure.
Remember, get a two blade razor (Trac II or Sensor Excell), use a cleanser (Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser or Acne.org Cleanser), and go with the grain. Let us know about your thoughts on shaving and acne. We are interested in learning ways to get a better shave while causing the least amount of irritation for acne prone skin.