For most men, shaving is a chore. If you don’t do it right, there’s a chance for this mundane activity to do damage. Here’s how to have the healthiest, most perfect shave.
Nicks and Cuts
Cuts and nicks can sting. And leave scabs. Shaving cuts are caused by shaving perpendicular to the blade’s cutting axis or by shaving over bumps on the skin (which the blade incises). They can bleed for up to 15 minutes.
What to do:
Cold water reduces blood flow to the skin. So shaving with cold water or just after a cold shower helps prevent bleeding.
To prevent scabs from forming over cuts, put a small amount of petroleum jelly over them after most of the bleeding stops.
Ever had a red rash on your skin that lasted two to four days after shaving? That’s razor burn, a shaving side-effect that affects us because of our thick hair. “The primary cause is shaving too close to the skin,” says Dr Tanvi Pal, consultant dermatologist, B L Kapur Memorial Hospital, New Delhi. “It can be painful and lead to scarring if it is severe.”
What to do:
Always use a sharp blade for shaving. Also, do not shave over the same area more than twice as this can irritate the skin.
Moisturise the skin before you shave. Wet your face and use a shaving brush to work up a lather.
Shaving against the direction of hair growth may lead to smoother shaves but leads to a higher chance of razor burn.
You may get razor bumps, where the skin on the face and the neck gets red welts or infected pustules. “Once a hair begins to grow back, it can curl into the skin, leading to itchy red bumps that look like pimples,” says Dr Pal.
What to do
Let your beard grow. Once the hairs get to a certain length, they will not grow back into the skin. “In severe cases, avoid shaving for three to four weeks until all lesions subside,” says Dr Pal. Products with oil and other chemicals can clog pores and prevent release of the hair from the follicle. So use products that are alcohol, oil and fragrance free.
The barber shave
This has its own problems. “You have no idea how clean the instruments are, if they are sterilised and if the creams, foams and gels are within their expiry dates,” says Dr Pal. The least that can happen, she says, is that you’ll develop pus-filled lesions on your face. The worst? “If there are cuts, there is a chance of Hepatitis B or HIV infection.”
What to do:
Take your own blade and cream with you.