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?
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:
- Electric shaver basics
- Prep work
- Shaving technique
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.