Razor burn is that burning sensation that follows soon after completing a shave and is usually associated with redness and even swelling.
While razor burn affects mostly men who shave frequently with a razor blade, it can still be an issue in the case of electric shaving.
In this article we’ll see what we can do in order to reduce it to a minimum.
What causes electric razor burn?
One of the reasons men opt for an electric shaver is the comfort during and after the shave.
The majority will see a clear improvement, but razor burn can still be present to a certain degree. If you have sensitive skin that is prone to irritation you are more likely to be affected.
So why is razor burn still present with electric shavers? After all, we’re not dealing with a blade that comes in direct contact with the skin anymore.
In my opinion, it is a combination of several factors that can be grouped into four categories. Let’s see what they are and address each of them.
Tips to eliminate razor burn caused by electric shavers
1. Electric razor basics
- Use a suitable electric shaver. Even if you do everything right, you simply can’t make up for a low quality shaver if you want to eliminate or at least reduce razor burn. An electric razor that is gentle to the skin and doesn’t get hot during use would be a good starting point. The Braun Series 7 799cc (wet & dry) or 790cc (dry only) are my personal picks. Another more cost-effective, but still very capable razor is the Braun Series 5 5030s (dry only).
- Replace dull blades and worn foils. This is vital for the comfort during and after the shave. With time the blades will become dull, the foils will wear and even begin to warp. As a result, you’ll need to apply more pressure, do additional passes and basically end up with razor burn. Moreover, shaving will take longer and the shaving head can get increasingly hotter. And heat is definitely something you’ll want to avoid.
- Lubricate the foils and blades. This will minimize the heat generated during use and will also prolong the life of the blades. Here’s a complete guide on how to do it.
- Thoroughly clean your razor after every use. Hairs, dead skin, dirt and debris build ups will affect the performance and bacteria will thrive. Some electric razors come with a cleaning & charging station that automatically cleans, sanitizes, lubricates and dries your shaver. Braun’s stations are particularly good as they use an alcohol based solution, unlike other manufacturers that use detergent.
- Make sure the battery has enough juice. This is not only important to actually complete the shave, but some razors can’t maintain peak power when the battery is almost drained. This can cause pulling of the hairs and force you to do unnecessary passes to get a clean shave, leading to discomfort and irritation.
2. Prep work
For dry electric shaving:
- Keep your face and shaver as dry as possible. While washing your face and regularly exfoliating the skin are mandatory, avoid doing it right before a dry shave. Also, make sure your razor is bone dry as well for optimal performance and comfort.
- Use an electric pre-shave. If you prefer dry electric shaving (and most men do), I highly recommend using a pre-shave lotion or powder. It will absorb all the moisture and skin oils while making the hairs stand up and adding an additional layer of lubrication for the razor to glide on. The result is an improvement in the closeness and comfort of the shave.
For wet electric shaving:
- Use a quality shaving cream. First of all, if you suffer from razor burn and haven’t tried wet shaving yet, you’re probably missing out on a great opportunity. If your electric razor allows wet & dry operation, grab a good shaving cream and give it a try. It just might be your most comfortable shave yet.
- Use plenty of warm water. Wash your face with a mild cleanser and exfoliate the skin two times a week with a gentle scrub. Taking a hot shower before shaving is also recommended as the steam and hot water will open the pores, causing the hairs to stand straight.
- Allow the shaving cream to act. After applying the lather to your face, don’t start shaving right away. Instead, allow the shaving cream a few minutes to act on your beard. The outer layer of the hair is a very tough shell called the cuticle and can only be soften by the alkaline components of the shaving cream.
- Use a thin layer of lather. Using too much will have a negative impact on the results. Also, I noticed that a more watery consistency of the lather works better and won’t clog the razor.
3. Shaving technique
- Don’t press too hard. This is probably the main cause of razor burn when using an electric shaver. Many men just assume that it’s safe to apply more pressure simply because there’s no blade touching the skin. That’s a wrong assumption. If you constantly have to press harder or do additional passes then it’s time to change the blades or buy a better razor.
- Start off with the most sensitive area. For the majority of men this would be the neck. The advantages of doing so are multiple: a cool shaving head, more battery juice, more patience and thoroughness from your part.
- Keep the number of passes to a minimum. While not to the extent of a razor blade, an electric razor can still remove a thin layer of skin cells. Thus, going over the same area multiple times can lead to rashes and irritation.
- Shave against the grain. While it may sound counter-intuitive as the recommendation for traditional shaving is to always go with the grain to avoid razor burn, electric shavers simply don’t work that way. In order for the hairs to be effectively captured by the foils, the direction of the stroke should be against the grain. In case of rotary razors, the circular movement and the positioning of the shaving heads will ensure an efficient shave.
- Allow your skin to heal between shaving sessions. If razor burn is still present, you may want to wait a bit more before shaving again. Going over a rash, even with a gentle electric razor, will only make things worse. Shaving every two days should be a good compromise as the length of the hairs will still be manageable for a capable razor like the Braun Series 7.
4. Post-shave treatment
- Wash your face with cold water. Cold water has a calming effect on your skin and closes the pores. Also, it removes any remaining traces of pre-shave lotions, powders or lather in the case of wet electric shaving.
- Pat your face dry with a clean, soft towel. Don’t rub it into your skin and only use it for your face.
- Apply a soothing, hydrating aftershave balm. Many men seem to think that electric shaving doesn’t require the use of an aftershave. And that’s big mistake, especially in the context of preventing razor burn. I highly recommend using a moisturizing, alcohol-free, lightly-scented balm. Use it sparingly and gently massage it into your face. A great and inexpensive option is the Proraso Sensitive After Shave Balm or the Blaviar Sigma. I personally use the last one as a daily face moisturizer as well.
- Avoid turtle necks, tight collars or anything that rubs against your skin. Also, avoid touching or rubbing your face right after shaving.