How To Eliminate Razor Burn And Irritation From Electric Shavers

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How To Eliminate Razor Burn And Irritation From Electric Shavers

While some men can get away with anything when it comes to shaving, most of us aren’t that lucky.

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 and even prevent it from happening.

What causes razor burn when using an electric shaver?

Razor burn.One of the reasons men switch to electric shavers 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.

The main cause is actually excessive pressure. This, along with a more aggressive electric shaver can easily cause severe razor burn.

Pressing too hard will cause very small bits of skin tissue (surrounding the hair shaft) to poke through the perforations in the foils and the blades will actually scrape off a shallow layer of skin cells.

This is how razor burn still happens if you use an electric shaver.

Tips to prevent and eliminate razor burn caused by electric shavers

In my opinion, managing razor burn effectively requires addressing four aspects:

  1. Electric shaver basics
  2. Prep work
  3. Shaving technique
  4. Post-shave treatment

Let’s see what they are and how to deal with each of them.

1. Electric shaver basics

Use a suitable electric shaver.

Even if you get everything right, you simply can’t make up for a shaver that’s plain bad if you want to eliminate or at least reduce razor burn.

Braun Series 5 (left) and Series 9 (right).

Braun Series 5 (left) and Series 9 (right) are two excellent choices for men with sensitive skin.

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 9 is arguably one of the best electric shavers for users that constantly deal with razor burn. However, they are pretty expensive.

A more cost-effective, but still very capable razor would be the tried and tested Series 7. This was and still is to some degree the benchmark for shaving comfort.

The latest iteration of Braun’s Series 5 line gets very close to the Series 7 performance-wise, but at an even lower price.

Braun dominates the list of recommended shavers simply because they seem to be more forgiving and more comfortable out of the box compared to other brands.

Replace dull blades and worn foils.

Sharp blades and undamaged foils are vital for the comfort during and after the shave.

The shaving head of a Braun Series 7.

With time the blades will become dull, the foils will wear out and even begin to warp.

As a result, you’ll need to apply more pressure, use more strokes and basically end up with razor burn. If you’re beginning to notice any of these, it’s time to replace the blades and foils.

Moreover, your shave 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 reduce the heat generated during use and will also prolong the life of the blades.

Lubrication is important for the comfort of the shave and the lifespan of your shaver's blades.

If your electric shaver doesn’t come with an automatic cleaning station or you simply don’t use the station on a regular basis, you must lubricate the shaver yourself.

Luckily, it’s an easy and inexpensive procedure.

Here’s a complete guide on how and when 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.

Cleaning an electric shaver with water.

Some electric razors come with a cleaning & charging station that automatically cleans, sanitizes, lubricates and dries your shaver.

If that’s not an option, always clean your razor thoroughly after each use according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Most modern electric razors can be safely rinsed under tap water for effective cleaning.

Make sure the battery has enough juice.

This is not only important to complete the shave, but some razors can’t maintain peak power when the battery is almost drained.

Charging an electric shaver.

This can cause hair pulling and force you to do unnecessary passes to get a clean shave, leading to discomfort and irritation.

2. Prep work

Dry shaving only: keep your face and shaver as dry as possible.

While washing your face and regularly exfoliating the skin are mandatory for a healthy skin, avoid doing it right before a dry shave.

Also, make sure your razor is perfectly dry as well for optimal performance and comfort.

Dry shaving only: use a pre-electric shave lotion.

If you prefer to shave dry (and most men do), I highly recommend using a pre-shave lotion.

A pre-shave can reduce the risk or razor burn.

It will absorb all the moisture and skin oils while making the hairs stand up and make the skin plump and taut, minimizing the risk of small nicks.

The result is an improvement in the closeness and comfort of the shave.

Wet shaving only: 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.

Wet shaving only: 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.

Wet shaving only: use a thin layer of lather and give it time to act on the hairs.

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 softened by the alkaline components of the shaving cream.

Also, using too much shaving cream will have a negative impact on the results. In my experience, a more watery, slick layer works best and won’t clog the razor.

3. Shaving technique

Don’t press too hard.

As mentioned at the beginning, this is probably the main cause of razor burn when using an electric shaver.

Some users just assume that it’s safe to apply more pressure simply because there’s no blade directly touching the skin.

That’s a wrong assumption. If you constantly have to press harder or do additional strokes then it’s time to change the blades or buy a better razor.

Most of the time you should let the shaver do all the work for you.

Start off with the most sensitive area.

For the majority of men, that would be the neck. The advantages of doing so are multiple: a cool shaving head, more battery charge, 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 scrape off tiny bits of skin cells, especially if you press too hard. Thus, going over the same area multiple times can lead to razor burn.

Shave against the grain.

While it may sound counter-intuitive as the recommendation for traditional shaving is to always go with the grain in order 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 the case of rotary razors, the overlapping circular movements will ensure an efficient shave. It’s a good idea to try both clockwise and counterclockwise strokes depending on the direction of the grains.

For a complete guide on shaving technique, check out this post.

Allow your skin to heal between shaving sessions.

If razor burn is still present to some degree, 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.

4. Post-shave treatment

Wash your face with cold water.

Cold water has a calming and refreshing effect on your skin and closes the pores. Also, it removes any remaining traces of pre-shave lotion or lather in the case of wet electric shaving.

Pat your face dry and apply a soothing, hydrating aftershave balm.

Use a clean, soft towel and don’t rub it into your skin. Also, only use it on your face.

Many men seem to think that electric shaving doesn’t require the use of an aftershave. And that’s a big mistake, especially in the context of preventing razor burn.

A quality aftershave can help with razor burn.

I highly recommend using a moisturizing, alcohol-free, lightly-scented balm. Use it sparingly and gently massage it into the skin.

A great and inexpensive option is the Proraso Sensitive After Shave Balm or the Nivea Sensitive Balm.

For a complete guide on recommended aftershave balms make sure to check out this article.

Avoid touching your face and wearing tight collars or anything that rubs against your skin.

Also, avoid washing your face with warm water. The skin is particularly susceptible to razor burn and irritation immediately after shaving.

14 comments on “How To Eliminate Razor Burn And Irritation From Electric Shavers

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  1. Changa

    I just purchased a Braun 5090cc a week ago after years of using the Andis t edge outliner. I’ve tried 2 older versions of the Phillip’s norelco rotary shavers and suffered from outbreaks and irritation.

    So far so good. I’ve also incorporated a toner and exfoliation so I’m sure this is helpful to the smooth transition. I’m an African American man and was quite skeptical of an actual shaver working on my face but if I’m not suffering after 5 days in a row, I’m not expecting problems later. Hopefully the shaver lasts me a few years to justify the cost.

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Changa,

      thank you for sharing your experience. The Series 5 is definitely suitable for blemish prone skin, so I’d say you made an excellent choice. I also prefer foil razors and used to suffer from the same issues – nasty rashes after every shave. Your 5090cc should last for a few good years with proper care and maintenance.

      Best,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  2. Alex

    Hi Ovidiu!
    Do you think a cleaning station gives an improvement in acne prevention over manual cleaning?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Alex,

      I think an automated cleaning station can yield benefits only when a manual cleaning is not properly done. It doesn’t really matter how you clean an electric shaver as long as you clean it thoroughly. A clean and sanitized shaving head is particularly important in this context as all the dead skin cells and dirt form a thriving environment for bacteria. The real advantage of an automated cleaning station is convenience – you just toss the shaver into the base to have it sanitized and lubricated for the next shave.

      Reply
  3. Irfan Nawaz

    i purchased philips rotary blade shaver as my beard hairs are extra hard and my skin is sensitive at the same time. i did a bit of research before buying it as i heard foil based electric shavers are not good for extra hard hairs. is it right? further do you prefer shaving everyday or on alternative days with the electric shavers?

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      It is generally said about rotary shavers that they’re better suited for coarse facial hair. However, I haven’t found rotary shavers to be particularly better in this regard when compared to a capable foil shaver. An entry level electric shaver will have some trouble with thick beards regardless if it’s a rotary or a foil shaver.

      I am pretty much in the same situation as you, having been blessed with coarse hair and sensitive skin. In my case I get consistently better results with foil shavers used every other day. Shaving is very personal and this is what works best for me. My advice is to try shaving every day for a while and see how it goes. Then you can shave every other day and see if this is any better. Shaving every other day is helpful in my case as the extra day allows my skin to heal from any potential irritation caused by a previous shave.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  4. kyuuu

    I just bought Braun 9093 wet/dry to replace my 2 old series 3 shavers 360/Flex XP (flex XP has closer shave/360 had dead battery that barely lasted 20 min)

    The 9093 definitely is smoother shave and less irritation, but my shave take just as long maybe few min less or more. Shaver head get just as hot as old 2 which probably has to do with it have much more vibrations per sec , but the shave is much closer and much better around the neck and chin I hoping it will reduce the electric razor bumps and ingrown hair i get, but i only been using it for 2 days.

    Have not tried it wet or with shaving cream which really trying to void cause just adds to daily shaving time, I found with my old shavers if I turn shaver on and ran it it under cool water then shaved I had much less irritation it didn’t reduce the bump or ingrown hair though. Rotatory Razors are not option every one I tried burned the hell out face and irration much much worse then with foil shaers

    In the end the 9093 get damn near close to razor close shave but i have to work to get that. I got a 240$ shaver for 149$ gona give few weeks to see if it worth money i payed even if i got cheap it. my main purpose was to just stop using 2 electrics + manual razor for touch ups, even though some time i would just use manual razors for week then next electric, I hate both. cut and irritations my skin and pull hair even when new blades, other takes longer to shave and irritates skin less, both leave razor bumps and ingrown hair but have issue around chin/neck

    IF in then it dont turn of any better I will just return it and get cheapest series 5 I can get cause I really do like the pivoting head that makes gett under the chin and neck much easier my FLEX XP series 3 has that but no series 3 since has that

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Thanks for the comment. I personally never experienced any heating issues with the Series 9. The same goes for the Series 5 or 7. The 9093s doesn’t come with a cleaning station, so you must lubricate the foils and middle trimmers yourself. This can help with reducing the heat during use.

      Depending on where you bought your 9093s, the retail package can include a small bottle of lubricant. If yours does not, you can use a spray lubricant or any light oil like sewing machine oil.

      If you prefer to shave dry you can also try a pre-shave talcum or lotion/gel. This can also help with reducing the irritation and overall improving your shave.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
      1. Kyuuu

        Got mine of Amazon during the prime sale I was kind sad it didnt come with bottle of lubricate considering the price of the shaver. I have to say thought I find the “precision” cutter use less compared to my 360/FleX XP trimmer what those actual cut the 9093 dont, or maybe the something i missing something

        I kind prefer wet shave but by wet I mean my face is wet with maybe dove soap on my face, not with shaving cream.

        Due to fact I had break out with my older shavers, of razor bumps and in grown hair i had to pull out I really have avoiding shaving around those areas which usual take week or more to go away or more. the heat i feel could probably be do to fact i did tend to over same spots alot and use decent amount pressure with old shavers so probably have to train my self to stop doing that.

        Reply
        1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

          I personally find pretty much all the long hair trimmers to be average at best, even the ones on high-end shavers, so I stopped having high expectations. If they work decently for trimming my sideburns then I’m happy. With the Series 9 I always remove the shaving head as it gets in the way and I can’t really see what I’m doing. I have the same problem with Panasonic shavers and use the same workaround.

          You can definitely try a wet shave and see how it goes, whether it means just wetting your face or using some product. I never managed to get a decent shave in the shower or just by having my face wet. The shaver tends to hop and drag over the skin. So shaving cream/soap is a must for me.

          Pressing hard doesn’t help at all, so it’s a good idea to try not to do it anymore. A single drop of light oil on the cutters before your shave should help with reducing the heat as well.

          Sincerely,
          Ovidiu

          Reply
  5. Rishi Nayyar

    Hello,

    I just purchased a Braun 7898cc electric shaver last month and have been experiencing burns and redness in the neck area, right from the first shave. The pain is severe and lasts for 2-3 days until my next shave. The shave is also not clean around that area. I shave using a foam and clean the shaver with the cleaning station provided with the kit, after every shave.

    Please advise if I’m missing something here.

    Thanks
    Rishi

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Rishi,

      There are a few things you need to consider: a suitable razor, proper technique and adequate complementary products (shaving cream, aftershave balm etc.). The Series 7 7898cc is actually a very good option for sensitive skin, so I’d say that you’re covered in this regard. A Braun Series 9 is gentler to the skin and more forgiving, but also significantly more expensive compared to the Series 7. It’s hard to tell if it will make a difference in your case since it’s very difficult for me to assess the cause of your discomfort and post-shave irritation. The shaver may or may not be the culprit.

      Shaving technique is also detrimental; make sure to only use the slightest amount of pressure and let the shaver do the work. Your strokes should be gentle, short and controlled. Shaving every two days is probably the right thing to do since your skin needs some time to heal.

      It’s also a good thing that you decided to use shaving cream. Try different brands as well. The ones from Proraso, Speick or Taylor of Old Bond Street are reasonably priced and perform great. Just make sure to pick the ones that are suitable for sensitive skin. Stay away from foam and gels that come in pressurized cans. You can also check out this article for more details on wet shaving. Always follow up your shave with a hydrating balm.

      Finally, if nothing seems to help you should see a dermatologist. In fact, I think it’s a good idea to do it anyway. I am not by any means qualified to give medical advice, so getting a professional opinion on this is highly recommended.

      Hope this helps.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply
  6. Devan J.

    After 6 years of using vintage straight razors, honing, & stropping my curiosity got the best of me about the electric razor world. I picked up a Braun Series 3 wet/dry and have had to accept that much like wet shaving, using electrics comes with its own learning curve that shouldn’t be dismissed. The BS3 is a decent razor but I didn’t realize how much a good cleaner/lube spray would help. I think I shortened the life of the original cassette prematurely but now I think the 2nd one will last much longer now that I have a good spray. I want to make sure I get all the basics about maintenance down before I move up to the next level electric. They can’t really match a well honed straight razor in terms of closeness and comfort but I’m finding that when handled properly an electric can certainly offer quality results. Thanks for all your articles because it seems like no one is really talking that much about something as basic as lubing the foil/blades for example. Not sure why I had to go deep diving online to find out something so basic…

    Reply
    1. Ovidiu Nicolae Post author

      Hi Devan,

      Thank you for your comment, I really appreciate it. You are absolutely right, lubrication (and cleaning) will have a great impact on the performance and longevity of an electric shaver.

      Sincerely,
      Ovidiu

      Reply

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