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How to Shave with Acne

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How to shave with acne is different on skin that isn’t broken out because it’s in a more vulnerable and delicate state. Because there are different kinds of pimples and skin types, what irritates or helps one person may not for the other. In any situation, we want to introduce the least amount of bacteria and be as gentle on skin as we can.

1. Clean skin

Mid adult man applying shaving cream
Fotosearch/ Getty Images

We want to curb the amount of bacteria and dirt from one area of skin to another. So cleansing pre-shave with warm water will prep the skin.

We know normally squeezing a pimple isn’t recommended. But if you have a whitehead that’s almost oozing, it’s better to pop it correctly before cleansing to get rid of the contents. The razor won’t be the doing the breaking and introducing bacteria to itself and then other areas of skin.

2. Warm it up

Softening skin and hair will make hair pliable so there's less tugging and pulling when shaving. This equals to less irritation and trauma to skin. In the shower let the steam and warm water do the work by shaving after you've been in a couple minutes. If your routine is at the sink, place a warm towel on facial hair for a few minutes pre-shave.

3. Lather up...

With a shaving brush, that is. Using circular motions with your shaving cream or gel it helps lift hairs up so that they're cut blunt instead of at an angle, creating less chance of ingrown hair and razor bumps.

You'll also get a closer shave without using a multiple blade razor or doing more than one pass. With these greater results, you may be able to go an extra day in-between.

This step may not be suitable for severe cases of acne or if it encourages any irritation.

4. Shave around pimples

If at all possible, avoid passing the razor over pimples. This can break whiteheads causing the bacteria to spread and easily invade freshly shaved skin. Even if the pimple doesn't have a head, any kind is almost always red and inflamed and the razor can irritate the area, causing bleeding and scarring.

5. Razor right

Watch out for multiple blades. They give a close shave- but more friction - and it’s often too much especially on a severe case of acne because skin is constantly undergoing cycles of healing.

Instead, use a light hand with single quality blade that has a pivoting head or move on to an electric razor. You may not get the smoothest shave in the world, like a manual multiple blade could provide. But a shave that doesn’t last as long makes up for less trauma.

6. A clean razor equals clearer skin

Unwanted bacteria is not a friend to acne. A razor can harbor dead skin cells, clinging product and bacteria that a quick rinse under the water doesn’t remove very well. Interestingly, these culprits also dull the blade before its time. So not only will you save money being able to use a blade longer removing them, you’ll have less chance of skin irritation and encouraging the pimple problem.

Here's how: While shaving regular rinse the manual blade. Afterwards, thoroughly rinse on all sides, shake off water, clean with an alcohol wipe and store outside the shower because water and moisture also lessen a razor’s life. For a quicker way that ‘sharpens’ blades by cleaning giving it a longer life, try the Razor Pit.

Favor an electric razor? Follow the directions from the manufacturer for cleaning.

7. Shave the right way

Most acne product contain powerful exfoliators, (like salicylic acid, glycolic, white willow bark, retinols and enzymes) to keep the dead skin cells away and promote new cell turnover—proven to help fight pimples for most. If these are what you use, this may keep skin in an over-exfoliated state, making it sensitive.

For the least amount of tugging on hair, which comes from the hair follicle and where pimples form, shave with the grain of hair. Of course shaving against the grain or direction of hair growth provides a closer shave, but pulls more on skin and can annoy an already compromised condition creating more irritation.

8. Shave less often

Shaving exfoliates skin and zaps moisture, so it may be throwing off your skincare routine. Anyone fighting the war with acne knows that there’s a delicate balance of exfoliating and moisturizing needed. The dead cells have to be taken away, but too much exfoliation can cause irritation and encourage more oil production. Skin shouldn’t be too oily or too dry as the imbalance also can throw skin into a breakout or make it itchy and flaky.

Is there any way to cut back? Maybe sporting alot of facial hair (see: men's gallery of styles) isn’t your thing or you have to shave for your job. Could it be possible to wear a stubble beard or skip a day? Try giving your face a rest on the weekends.

9. What's in your shaving kit?

Any ingredients you put on your skin may be a friend or foe. While there are different skin types, severity of acne and triggers, it's important to look at the labels of the products with which you're using to shave. What will be of more help than harm will depend personally, but we have some general guidelines.

10. Breakouts only after shaving

Do a few pimples only sprout after shaving now and then? Little adjustments in your routine can lessen or eliminate them.
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