It's officially summer, and that (we hope!) means lots and lots of time lounging by the pool. But even when you're feeling like a hundred bucks rockin' your cute new swimsuit, there's always one thing threatening to stop us from completely enjoying those perfect, carefree days: itchy, painful, ugly razor burns.
Whether you struggle with painful red bumps on your underarms, legs, or bikini line, there is a solution — you just have to use the proper tools, proper technique, and proper care, says Lana Pinchasov, RPA-C, physician assistant at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
Here are the steps you need to take to prevent (and treat!) annoying razor burns once and for all.
1. Get Rid of Your Old Razors
Sorry, but it's time to part ways with that razor that's been sitting in your bathroom for months.
"Always start with a sharp and clean razor. Using rusty razors can cause bacteria to get into the skin," Pinchasov says. "Razors needs to be changed frequently and washed thoroughly after each use."
2. Replace Your Razor Often
This is going to make you cringe, but if you're wondering how often you should really change your razor, you're in for a surprise.
Pinchasov says it's best to replace your blades every five shaves if your hair is coarse. If you're lucky enough to have very fine hair, you can get away with a few more shaves before making the switch because your razor will have less resistance while shaving.
Also, don't forget to take care of your razor so it's at its best during those shaves. Store it somewhere it can dry quickly — aka away from the shower humidity.
3. Keep Your Skin Hydrated
One ridiculously important step we tend to skip is caring for our skin during and after shaving.
"Proper care is so crucial. Always start with a hydrating shaving cream or gel and always follow each shaving session with a cool rinse, pat dry, and a moisturizing lotion to keep skin hydrated," Pinchasov says.
4. Master the Correct Shaving Technique
Preventing razor burn could be as easy as changing your shaving habits.
"While shaving against the hair grain may give you a closer shave, it can be very irritating to the skin and often is the cause of razor burn. Try shaving along the hair grain for the least amount of irritation," Pinchasov says.
For those hard-to-shave spots that are still prickly even after shaving the entire area along the grain, Pinchasov recommends only shaving those specific areas against the grain for a closer shave. Just be sure you're using a shaving cream or oil to soften the hairs. And don't press down hard on your skin with the razor.
5. Give Your Skin Time to Recover
If you really want to avoid those pesky red bumps, give your skin some time to heal before your next shave. Pinchasov recommends avoiding any irritated skin and trying not to shave the same area more than once every two or three days.
Already Have Razor Burn? We've Got Your Back
If you already have razor burn you're dying to get rid of, here's what Pinchasov recommends to help your skin calm down:
Extreme irritation: If your skin is really inflamed, consider using a hydrocortisone cream.
Still not working? A benzoyl peroxide wash and topical clindamycin can also help treat and prevent the infected bumps that can sometimes come after shaving.