Does Shaving Cause Acne? 4 Ways You Can Get Razor Bumps And Acne

Does Shaving Cause Acne? 4 Ways You Can Get Razor Bumps And Acne

Almost every woman wants to have smooth, soft, hair-free skin and the feeling that comes with it.

Admit it.

Running your fingertips against your freshly-shaven skin is bliss. But, unfortunately, some good things don’t last and that includes your stubborn hair.

And aside from hair regrowth, there are ingrown hairs, bumps, and itchiness you have to deal with a few days after you shave.

Worst, shaving can also give you zits, particularly if it’s improperly done.

How Does Shaving Cause Acne?

A lot of ways, actually.

Bacteria On Your Shaving Blades

You don’t necessarily have to replace your blades every time you shave, but if you feel like they’re tugging your skin, you should grab a fresh set.

Not only can old blades damage your skin, they can also harbor bacteria, particularly if you keep them in your bathroom (which most of us are guilty of).

Bacteria grow best in a warm and moist environment and if you aren’t cleaning your razor thoroughly, you could be exposing your freshly shaven skin to these bad microorganisms.

Shaving is also a form of exfoliation and as you glide your blade to the surface of your skin, it tends to push the bacteria into your open pores.

The bacteria can mix with your natural oil to clog your pores and break your skin out.

How do you avoid introducing bacteria into your pores?

  • When you’re done shaving, rinse the blade really well under the water.
  • Use an old toothbrush dipped in antibacterial soap to wash the blades and rinse them again.
  • For an added layer of cleanliness, wipe the blade with alcohol.
  • Try storing your blades in a dry area to prevent moisture and mold from growing on them. If your blade comes with a cover, use it as much as possible to keep dirt and bacteria off of the blade.

Sensitivity to Shaving Gels

Shaving gels help you get that clean shave without causing tears on your skin. They serve as barriers to protect your skin from the razor.

Unfortunately, depending on the ingredients, some shaving gels can cause acne. Here are few ingredients your shaving gel shouldn’t contain:

  • Fragrance
  • Glycols
  • Palmitic Acid

Ways to prevent sensitivity to shaving gels

If your skin experiences breakouts and irritation after shaving because of your shaving gel, here are a few ways to resolve the issue.

  • Go unscented when it comes to choosing shaving gels. Fragrance is a common culprit when it comes to allergies and irritation.
  • Choose shaving gels with natural ingredients, such as coconut or olive oil. Aloe vera is a good ingredient to have in your shaving cream, too.
  • You can try making your own shaving cream to make sure there are no irritants in the product. Most homemade gels can easily be made using shea butter, jojoba, and similar oils.

Ingrown hairs

Ingrown hairs don’t only cause blemishes. They can be really itchy and uncomfortable, too.

Ingrown hairs are those hairs that curl inwards towards your skin. At times, they can become lodged in the skin and can be mistaken as acne.

Although they aren’t really zits, they can still potentially cause acne when they get infected.

Tips to prevent ingrown hairs

  • To prevent ingrown hairs, make sure that you exfoliating before every shave. This will help open up your pores to give you a cleaner and closer shave.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth. When you go against the grain, the hair is more likely to grow out in a different direction.
  • Use a sharp razor. If the razor blade you use is dull, then the cut may not be precise and your hair may grow uneven.

Irritation and Inflammation

Folliculitis is a condition where hair follicles become inflamed, and it’s usually triggered by allergies, bacteria, or fungus.

It’s important to remember that your skin is very vulnerable when shaving and irritated skin tends to break out more.

How to prevent and treat inflammation

  • Cleanse your skin prior to shaving. This will ensure that you don’t have any dirt or bacteria on the surface of your skin that can get trapped in your pores.
  • Another tip is to use a toner to calm your pores after shaving. Witch hazel is a great choice and if your skin is too sensitive for alcohol.
  • Try not to push too hard when shaving.

How Else Can You Avoid Breakouts After Shaving?

The way you prepare your skin before you shave and how you soothe it after are as critical as how you actually shave. Establishing a good pre-shaving and post-shaving routines can limit the chances of acne popping on your hair-free skin.

Pre-shaving Tips

  • Use lukewarm water when cleansing your skin. This helps open up your pores better.
  • Exfoliate mechanically before you shave to remove dead skin cells and dirt. A loofah or a warm towel can do the trick.
  • Make sure to lather up your shaving gel generously. You can leave it on for a few seconds or minutes before shaving to get the best effects.
  • Always check your razor blades before use. Make sure it isn’t rusty and there aren’t any hair or dirt caught in between the blades.

Post-shaving Tips

  • Rinse with warm water to soothe your skin and follow up with cold water to close the pores.
  • Apply witch hazel toner for its antiseptic and healing properties.
  • Use an unscented moisturizer or lotion after. Just make sure to pick one that doesn’t contain any alcohol or fragrance as these two ingredients can cause acne.

Choosing The Right Razor Blade

It’s not enough that you get a new razor blade before shaving. The type of shaving blade is also critical if you want to avoid acne or acne-like bumps on your skin.

Safety razors are good to use if you have sensitive skin or thick hair. They typically have double edged blades.

Since only one blade comes in contact with your skin at a time, there’s a lesser chance of irritation and ingrown hair.

Another good option is to use electric foil shavers as they are gentle.

If your skin has no issues, you can use an electric razor. They are very convenient to use even while you’re on the go.

They can also pull your hairs out effectively which prevents them from tucking under your skin. However, as most electric razors don’t require shaving gels, they can be tough on your skin.


Does shaving cause acne? Yes, it definitely can, especially if you’re not careful. 

When shaving, make sure you’re using products that agree with your skin and keep in mind to treat your skin with care while shaving. These things apply not only to men’s beard but all types of body hair.

It can also help if you prep your skin before you shave and that you follow up with a good post shaving routine to avoid irritation, ingrown hairs, and acne. If you take the time to really meet your skin’s needs, you’ll enjoy a bump-free, clearer and smoother skin in between shaving.

To see our complete list of the most common causes of acne, you can click here.

Dr Kathleen May Eusebio-Alpapara

A board-certified dermatologist who practices both medical and cosmetic dermatology

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