Skin Care

Bumps and In-Grown Hairs: Causes and Avoidance

This has probably happened to you. Wake up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror, only find what appears to be a mountain range of bumps on your neck. No, this is not the second coming of puberty, its razor bumps and, according to dermatologists, 60% of all African-American men have had them.

Razor bumps are the result of close but sporadic shaving. Close shaves, in and of themselves, are a good thing – a really good thing, but only if you maintain them by shaving every day. If you shave with a disposable razor or an old, worn cartridge razor, you cut the hair, but leave an uneven or jagged edge on the tip. What does that have to do with razor bumps?

Causes of Razor Bumps and In-Grown Hairs
Well, imagine your hair is like a rose bush. You trim it down to the soil and when it grows, the tip is sharp. If it grows straight, that’s one thing. No problem, you nip it off with the next shave. But if it curls downward, it actually penetrates the soil, creating a bundled mess. That’s what’s happening on your face and neck. Hundreds of tiny sharp-pointed hairs are grown up, then down and burrowing back into your skin.

African-American men are particularly susceptible to facial hair growing back on itself because their facial hair tends to be curlier than others. You can prevent them with vigilant daily shaving and some patience, but if you don’t stay on top of things, trouble is bound to come knocking.

And these bumps are no laughing matter. According to Stew Taub, associate director of Research and Development for Gillette, men’s facial hair has the strength of copper wire and on any given man, there are 10,000 to 15,000 individual hairs breaking the surface of the skin in myriad directions. That’s, possibly, thousands of tiny puncture wounds, each one ripe for irritation and infection.

Treating Razor Bumps and In-Grown Hair
It used to be thought that the only way to deal with razor bumps was to not shave as often, but now that you know what’s actually happening, it doesn’t make much sense to do that. Your best bet is to treat the
bumps you have the same way you would treat a cut – make sure they are clean and take care of the skin around them. Then, you’ve got to change the way you shave. You can always check out our guide
for daily shaving, but here are some helpful hints to make the most of your morning routine:

1. Frequency – Do it every day (even if you think your facial hair grows too slowly to warrant it). Don’t give your hair any time to grow back in on itself.

2. Preparation- Use a pre-shave oil to soften the hair and spend two-three minutes with your face under a hot shower to soften and clean the skin.

3. Repetition- Massage the shaving cream into your skin. The message will also help soften the hairs. Then shave in one direction – with the grain. Once you are done, re-apply shaving cream and shave the other direction. Clean your razor frequently and don’t push too hard. Let the blades do their job and don’t go over the same patch of skin more than once without more shaving cream- it’s all about lubrication.

4. Use the right razor- Disposables are good in a pinch, but a man needs the right tools for the job. Look for a refillable shaver, such as the Gillette Fusion ProGlide, where the blade cartridges that can be replaced. These are better engineered and designed to meet the unique challenges
shaving presents. The blades specially built for a man’s face and often they have a lubricating strip that helps smooth the process.

5. Follow up – Use an alcohol-free moisturizer, like the Gillette Fusion ProSeries Instant Hydration UV Moisturizer, after you are done. This helps the skin heal and will also help keep it moist. The last thing you want is dry skin when you shave – it’s prone to cracking and peeling.

6. Be clean- Clean your razor with alcohol to prevent bacterial growth and use a clean towel when you wipe your face. Most of what hurts when it comes to razor bumps is the infection. Be tidy, your face will thank you.

Perhaps the best defense against razor bumps is a good offense. Shaving, particularly if you are prone to bumps and in-grown hairs, is a two-edged sword. You have to do it, but it can hurt. So try a little prevention and take a couple extra steps to minimize the risk of ending up with a mountain range on your neck.

NOTE: Bump Control is available for retail sale. See Loretta for your purchase.