Razor Bumps: Causes, Treatments and Prevention Tips For Bearded Men

Razor Bumps: Causes, Treatments and Prevention Tips For Bearded Men

When you’re growing your beard out, the last thing you want to see is little red bumps poking through your facial hair. In addition to throwing off your look, razor bumps can be itchy, uncomfortable and even painful.

So, why do men develop razor bumps on their face and how can you get rid of them quickly if it happens to you?

Royal Shave breaks down everything you need to know about razor bumps and shares preventative tips to combat their development in the future.

What are razor bumps?

Ryal Shave explains razor bumps

The scientific name for razor bumps is Pseudofolliculitis Barbae. This ingrown hair condition occurs when hair gets trapped under the skin, causing added pressure and forming razor bumps on the skin’s surface. 

In some cases, the hair never breaks through the skin’s surface, instead curling into itself and continuing to grow downward. Dermatologists refer to this instance as Transfollicular penetration.

On the other hand, facial hair can also break through the epidermis layer before curling. Razor bumps at this stage often occur when you shave the hair shaft at an angle.

The freshly cut tips are more likely to turn in on themselves and continue growing back into the epidermis layer, which is deemed Extrafollicular penetration.

Why do bearded men develop razor bumps?

Razor bumps are often a result of both genetic and physical care factors. While certain men and hair types have a predisposition to razor bumps, poor shaving habits also make the problem worse.

Incorrect lathering during shaving can lead to your razor tugging and pulling and leaving bumps behind. In addition, cutting the hair too close to the root leaves your sensitive skin exposed and prone to irritation.

Who is more likely to get razor bumps?

Royal Shave explains razor bumps

Unfortunately, the curling aspects associated with the development of razor bumps makes men with naturally curly hair predisposed to the condition.

With black men being the most likely to grow curly beards or stubble, dermatologists claim they are at the highest risk of developing razor bumps and ingrown hair issues. Some dermatologist reports claim black men make up as much as 80 percent of cases.

In addition to curly hair types, men with dry beards are also easy targets because snags are more frequent during shaving. Similar to curling ribbon at Christmastime, running scissors or a razor along a rough surface causes the hair to spiral and turn on itself.

What can I do if I develop razor bumps?

If you are visiting this article because razor bumps are already an issue residing on your beard, there are steps you can take to reduce their appearance and irritating symptoms.

First, avoid shaving while your razor bumps are healing. Cutting the hair shaft while it is irritated can cause pain and lead to infection.

Instead, relieve the pressure from your razor bumps by using a sterile needle to pop the bump and release the trapped hair. Gently wash your face afterwards to clear out any leftover irritants clogging the area.

To speed up the healing process in more serious cases, a trip to your doctor or dermatologist may be helpful. They can provide creams and antibiotics to provide more targeted healing and restore your beard’s appearance.

Preventative razor bumps tips

While you can’t change your genetic predisposition to razor bumps, there are grooming habits you can address to better your chances of keeping inflammation at bay.

1. Always wash your face and lather before shaving.

hr_423-009-00_main_900xBefore shaving your beard, it is important to get rid of the leftover dirt, oils and irritants.

Washing your face clears out your pores and provides you with a smooth canvas to shave on.

You can also use a wash cloth to gently exfoliate your face if needed.

In addition to washing your face, it is important to properly lather it with shaving cream.

The added moisture barrier avoids awkward tugging or pulling and the development of uncomfortable razor bumps.

Using a shaving cream designed for sensitive skin helps ensure your shaving cream isn’t the hidden culprit causing irritation. Typically, sensitive-skin products are free of harmful allergens or parabens that cause inflammatory reactions.

Shaving oils are also useful for men who develop razor bumps. The added oil locks in moisture, protecting your face before coming into contact with clippers or a razor.

2. Use clippers or a single-blade razor to control length.

When you have the choice between using clippers or a razor, clippers are more effective at reducing razor bumps because you can set the length and maintain an even cut.

However, if a razor is your only option, it is best to use a single-blade razor. While it may seem like you get a smoother finish with a multi-blade razor, in reality each blade is responsible for a separate layer of your hair.

The first blade collects and pulls the hair up, while the second blade chops through the hair shaft. On straight, soft beards this offers a sharp clean-shaven look.

However, on curly beards, the separated slicing style creates curling and often leaves razor burn and bumps behind. Therefore, a single-blade razor offers more control and focuses the shaving process for men prone to these issues naturally.

3. Go with the grain and use gentle strokes.

During the shaving process, your techniques also matter. Shaving with the grain, or in the direction your hair grows, and using gentle strokes is especially important for men who commonly develop razor bumps.

Tugging hairs in the opposite direction with a heavy hand creates frizz and causes them to continue growing irregularly. Instead, choose a heavier razor and allow its weight to do most of the work.

4. Re-add moisture after stripping back hair.

Royal Shave explains razor bumps

After the shaving cream and hairs transfer from your face to your sink, it’s important to reconsider moisture.

Despite using shaving creams or oils prior to shaving, once your clippers or razor makes contact with your face, necessary moisture is stripped away.

To keep razor burn’s rash and razor bumps from developing, finish the process by applying a gentle after-shave to your beard area.

The Daimon Barber Cooling Post Shave Balm uses menthol for a cooling post-shave effect. In conjunction, its ingredients include a blast of vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients to revive your beard’s appearance and skin strength.

5. Shave regularly to avoid curling time.

Finally, it is important to keep up with a regular shaving routine. While you should reduce shaving when razor bumps are actively present, keeping a regular routine beforehand can actually halt them from showing up in the first place.

After all, when you stick to a shaving routine, there is less time in between each shave for hairs to curl and grow inward. The ideal time between shaves should be no more than three days.

Now that you understand why razor bumps develop, who they affect the most and how to combat them when they arise, putting your best face forward will be a bit easier. Following the tips above can help restore your beard appearance and your confidence.

Royal Shave shares Father's Day gifts

From Bathroom to Barbershop: Four Professional Barber Tips to Try at Home

From Bathroom to Barbershop: Four Professional Barber Tips to Try at Home

Hot Towels

Arguably one of the best parts of visiting a barber is the hot towel service. Nothing is more luxurious or satisfying for the start of your prep routine like a nice hot towel. Recreating a hot towel service at home is simple- all you need is a towel and a bowl of hot water or towel warmer.

rs blog

Photo via Instagram/ @akinbarber

Start by grabbing a small towel. To get a relaxing experience place 2-3 drops of an essential oil like lavender, eucalyptus, or sandalwood on the towel at this step. Thoroughly wet the towel with water and ring out the excess with your hands. Next, fold the towel in half and roll it up like a sushi roll. Place the damp towel in a towel warmer or warm water A microwave can be used to warm the towel, too. We recommend about 30 sec. Always use caution and test the hot towel on the inner part of your forearm before placing the towel on your face or neck.

Once the towel reaches your desired level of warmth, apply the towel to your face and hold it there until it starts to cool. If you’ve applied essential oils, take some deep breaths and relax, oils like lavender are relaxing while sandalwood is a memory booster. Once the towel cools down, set it aside to use again at the end of your shave.

For more information on hot towels, head over to How to DIY a Barbershop Hot Towel Treatment at Home.

Dry Your Hair Like a Pro


One of the biggest hair health mistakes most people make is the way they dry their hair. Most shampoo commercials would have you believe that the best way to dry your hair is to vigorously rub your head with a towel. Vigorously rubbing hair while wet can roughen the cuticle of hair, causing frizz. This can lead to permanent damage, like split ends or breakage  

To dry your hair like a professional, start by taking handful sized sections of hair with your towel and gently squeezing the water out. Repeat small section by section until you’ve dried your entire head. At this point your hair is about 50-75% dry, which is the perfect time to add styling product.

Maintaining Your Neck Line


Nothing makes a haircut look more unkempt than a messy neckline. After a visit to the barber, your neckline will be clean with no hairs along your neck. However, maintaining a clean neckline between visits to the barber chair is a an extra step you can take keep looking sharp.

The most important thing to remember when you are maintaining your own neckline is to make sure you don’t cut into the hair line. The hair line is the line that separates your hair from your neck. Avoid the hair line and only cut the hairs that appear below the hairline on your neck.

Prior to shaving you will need a few supplies- a hot towel, shaving cream, and a sharp razor. Start by applying a hot towel to your neck. After the towel cools, remove it and apply a shave cream like D.R. Harris Shaving Cream. Now you are all set to shave your hairline. Just remember to shave with the grain.

Shave Like a Master Barber


Getting a professional shave is a wonderful and luxurious experience. Master barbers spend years perfecting their craft, and their life is dedicated to the art of men’s grooming. Even if your barbering skills are not at a professional level you can incorporate professional techniques into your own shave routine.

The art of shaving takes precision, so make sure you have enough time set aside to be precise. Start with prepping the hair and skin with a pre-shave oil like Truefitt and Hill Ultimate Comfort Pre-Shave Oil. Pre-shave oil softens the hair and allows a smooth surface for your shave cream.

When it is time to apply a shave cream use a brush. Shaving brushes lift the hairs away from your face which allows for a closer shave and prevents ingrown hairs. When you have finished your shave, take the hot towel you had used prior and apply the now cold towel to your face. This will close your pores and soothe your skin, reducing redness, post shave irritation, and acne. Finish up your shave with a splash of aftershave for disinfection and a light moisturizer to keep your skin smooth and you’re ready for your day.


How to Exfoliate Your Face For the Cleanest and Closest Shave

How to Exfoliate Your Face For the Cleanest and Closest Shave

When you head to the bathroom to shave your face, oftentimes the only thought on your mind is removing extra hair. However, there is an important step that you should consider before lathering up your shaving cream. It’s called exfoliation. When you exfoliate, you penetrate pores deeply to remove any outstanding dirt or grease, providing the cleanest shave and healthiest skin.

While this may still be an unfamiliar step to add to your routine, learning how to exfoliate does not have to be hard. Here at Royal Shave, we researched and detailed the best products and techniques to exfoliate your face.

Why should I exfoliate my face?

Exfoliation is important for both men and women who are seeking skin with a healthy glow. Whether it is makeup or a beard on top, you want your face to act as the perfect base.

Most exfoliants come in the form of a scrub with beads or pumice to gently scratch away the top layer of skin. In doing so, you remove buildup of dead skin skills that clog pores and causes skin imperfections. In addition, this process also helps unearth ingrown hairs trapped under the skin.

Therefore, when you exfoliate you leave your skin smoother, softer and more conducive to additional treatments you put on your face.

Why is this important before shaving?

Royal Shave explains how to exfoliate

Photo via Instagram / @royalshave

Exfoliating is especially important before shaving because dead skin cells, oil and other debris can easily clog razors, making them less effective during the process. This can lead to the development of acne and razor burn and cause beard patchiness.

In addition to giving you an uneven shave, this is also bad news for your razor because it will decrease its longevity, dulling blades quicker.

Which exfoliation products work best?

When it comes to choosing products, you should first consider which facial scrub to add to your collection. Depending on your skin type, choose a product that will gently exfoliate without damaging your skin. Next, investing in a brush to apply your shaving cream is useful because it acts as an additional exfoliant.

Choosing an Exfoliator

If you have normal or oily skin, try an exfoliator that utilizes glycolic acid, which works to dissolve the top layer of the skin. This will leave your skin feeling fresher and looking brighter because it encourages cell repair to decrease scarring, discoloration and other complexion imperfections. Billy Jealous Assassin Deep Exfoliating Scrub is the strongest of the brand’s three scrubs. It deeply penetrates and cleans skin impurities, making further treatments more effective.

On the other hand, if you have sensitive or dry skin, glycolic acid may be too strong. Instead, try a gentler option like a product with hydroxy acids. Triumph & Disaster Rock & Roll Suicide Face Scrub is an all natural exfoliator with a woody fragrance. Its blend of volcanic ash and green clay works well to remove sebum from the skin, which causes blackheads.

Choosing a brush

Next, it is important to consider how you will be applying your shaving cream. While your hands are one option, adding a brush to your routine will help evenly distribute the product and provide additional exfoliation. This is because a brush can move product into your skin better than your fingers and dislodge any leftover impurities.

The Royal Shave PB Silvertip Badger Shaving Brush is a great option for lathering and spreading shaving cream with ease. Made from dense badger fur, the brush’s bristles glide across the skin, gently removing anything your exfoliating scrub may have missed.

How do I exfoliate my face?

Royal Shave explains how to exfoliate

Photo via Instagram / @shavingmostho

Now that you have all the information and products ready, it is finally time to exfoliate your face and get to shaving. Following these steps will lead you to the smoothest shave and healthiest skin possible.

  1. Start by opening your pores. This can be achieved through taking a hot shower, washing your face with hot water or using a steamed towel.
  2. Next, wash your face normally with the facial cleanser in your routine.
  3. Use your fingers to apply your exfoliator, rubbing it into your skin in circular motions. Dirt and dead skin should begin to lift away.
  4. Wash the paste away with lukewarm water.

If you are only looking to exfoliate your face, you can stop after this step. To finish this process, you should rinse your face off with cold water to close your pores and apply a light moisturizer to repair any sensitivity caused by scrubbing.

However, if you are combining this process with your shaving routine, continue on with the following steps to maximize exfoliation.

  1. Use your badger brush to lather shaving cream in a bowl.
  2. Apply the shaving cream with your brush in circular motions, pressing firmly against the skin to remove any additional irritants.
  3. Continue on with your shaving routine.

After completing all the steps, your face will be brighter, smoother and you will notice a big improvement in your shaving results.

Royal Shave explains how to exfoliate

Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

Should You Shave Before or After You Shower?

When’s the last time you took a step back and looked at when you shave? It’s easy to fall into a routine of shaving at a specific time every day, especially when you have a packed schedule. But just because your shaving ritual fits neatly between a quick shower and morning coffee doesn’t mean it’s the best time for you to shave.

While shaving post-shower has been touted to deliver the most efficient, enjoyable shave, Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV). Check the shaving forums and you’ll see just as many men exalting a post-shower shave as loathing it, with the latter claiming it sensitizes their skin.

If you find yourself stuck in a shaving rut and experience redness and irritation post shave, reevaluate your timing and take an honest look at what works and what doesn’t. A few changes can turn a monotonous shave into an enlightening one.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of shaving after you shower and shaving before you shower.

Shaving after you shower

The ideal (i.e. most painless) shave involves removing everything that gets in the way of a clean, slick razor glide. Thus, many men shave after they shower, when their skin is soft and pores are open.

When your hair follicles are dry, they have the cutting density of copper wire, so you should never go at them before first reducing the cutting strength by wetting your beard. Steam from the shower softens hair, making it easier to cut with fewer passes. And an easier cut means less tugging and pulling your skin. Meanwhile, the steam opens pores, allowing you to get in closer to the follicle. Think about it: the tighter the pore, the harder it is to rip hair out of it.

Then there is the bacteria factor: shaving after you shower ensures you’ve let hot water wash away traces of pollutants, dirt, and grime so they can’t be caught in your razor and spread around your face.  This bacteria can easily seep into microtears in your face, causing irritation and razor burn.

Shaving before you shower

While shaving after your shower has a hefty list of benefits, some men say doing so actually causes more irritation and makes their skin sensitive. Indeed, depending on how you like your shower, there is some truth in the matter. If you prefer hot showers, the water may over plump your skin, predisposing you to weepers and nicks. Super hot water actually dries out your skin by removing skin’s natural oils, leaving you with a dry feeling when you shave afterwards.

While the solution is to switch to warm water and perhaps apply pre-shave oil to remedy the dryness, it may not remedy the situation for everyone.

Also, not all of us have time to devote to a luxurious shaving ritual after we shower. Shaving before you shower saves time and the effort of extra clean up at the end.

should you shave before or after your shower?

So which is better?

Although the hair-softening, pore-opening steam of a warm shower is fabulous prep for your shave, your skin has its own needs. Try both methods to see which one gives you less irritation and fewer nicks. You may have been successfully shaving after your shower until now, but as your skin changes (due to age or varying climates) you may find that shaving before your shower works better.

Or pick the routine that suits your daily demands.

If you’re simply short on time and can’t afford to progress slowly through the shaving ritual, save time by shaving before you shower – but with one caveat: complete a hot towel treatment before you shave.

A good alternative: A hot towel treatment

A classic barbershop tool, a hot towel treatment is the mid ground between shaving before you shower and shaving after you shower. If you’re planning to shave before you shower, this treatment will warm and soften skin and hair. While a hot towel isn’t as effective at softening hair as a shower, it does make whiskers swell up. A hot towel won’t remove environmental pollutants and grime.

How to do a hot towel treatment:

  1. Wash your face.
  2. Soak a washcloth in warm water and hold it up to your face for at least 3 minutes, the amount of time it takes to significantly reduce cutting resistance.
  3. If you don’t have a towel on hand, you can also wash your face with warm water for a few minutes before applying shaving cream.
  4. Shave your face.


-For extra softening, use moisturizing conditioner on your beard in the shower. Look for one with softening properties, like Dreadnought Concentrated Conditioner.

-Test out your pre-shave shower method: use conditioner before you shave for a week, and then no conditioner for a week. Repeat.

-Beginners can benefit for a post-shower shave in the evening, when they can take their time to perfect their method. 

-Option: exfoliate in the shower to achieve a closer shave. Exfoliation removes dead skin and debris that would otherwise get in the way of a clean shave. However, if you are a novice do not exfoliate until your skin acclimates to daily shaving. If you do exfoliate, do so on the days you’re not shaving.

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