Your guide to smoother days. 

By Erin Lukas
Updated Apr 07, 2020 @ 3:00 pm
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Even if you're super careful when you're shaving, it's still possible to end up with razor bumps. Of course, as Murphy's Law dictates, this shaving mishap always happens when you're getting ready to go away for a long weekend or spend the afternoon at the nearest beach.

But, painful, red razor bumps aren't just caused by a case of bad luck (it's a little deeper than that). With the help of Dr. Melanie Palm, a Solana Beach CA-based board certified dermatologist and director of Art of Skin MD, we've created a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of stubborn razor bumps from shaving — fast.

What Causes Razor Bumps?

It turns out, razor bumps are directly related to the texture and growth pattern of the hair on the area of the body you're shaving. "Razor bumps are caused by an inflammatory reaction when terminal (thick, dark, mature) hairs that have previously been shaved try to re-emerge from the skin but become trapped," explains Dr. Palm. "The hair curves back under the skin or continues under the skin’s surface and causes red or dark brown raised bumps centered around each hair follicle unit."

Curly hair, hair that grows against the grain, or areas with high skin friction are more prone to razor bumps.

How to Quickly Get Rid of Stubborn Razor Bumps

On the upside, there is a possible quick fix for razor bumps. Dr. Palm recommends applying an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. A salicylic acid cream from your drugstore's acne aisle works, too. Dr. Palm says the redness and swelling typically subsides in two to three days.

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Can You Prevent Razor Bumps?

Aside from permanent hair removal, there's no real way to prevent razor bumps. That being said, if you're prone getting razor bumps, there's a few steps you can take in your skincare routine that will help you get a smoother finish when you're shaving.

In the shower, use a loofah with a cleanser, because the puff can help the trapped hair re-emerge faster. "Use of a gentle exfoliating ingredient such as salicylic acid may reduce the likelihood that skin will trap a re-emerging hair from its follicle," suggests Dr. Palm. When you're shaving, use a fresh razor that has multiple blades, shaving cream, and always work in the direction of hair growth.

Also, despite popular belief, immediately applying your usual lotion and deodorant post-shave won't increase your chances of getting razor bumps. However, these products can make things worse. "A topical such as a deodorant or lotion can be potentially irritating to sensitive skin or occlusive to a hair follicle, so it could worsen the case of razor bumps," says Dr. Palm.