How Long Does Razor Burn Last (And Can You Avoid it)?

It may surprise you to learn that razor burn isn't a modern phenomenon. It's not just the current social media generation who are wondering: how long does razor burn last?

Mankind has been shaving body hair for at least 30,000 years. It's obvious when you think about it, because many cave paintings depict men without beards.

Which raises the wonderful image of our distant ancestors sitting around the fire with burning skin, moaning about their painful razor burn, probably caused by flint tools.

So let's take a look at how long razor burn can last, what it is, and also give you some top tips on how to prevent razor burn.

What Exactly Is Razor Burn?

There's no huge mystery around what causes razor burn. At its most basic, razor burn is scraping of the skin by the sharp blades of your razor.

Specifically, skin irritation is caused because the razor can tug and rip up the hair follicles. How badly the razor irritates the skin will depend on a number of factors, such as how sharp it is, how clean it is, and the condition of the hair and skin you are shaving.

This abrasion of the hair follicles can twist them and damage them. This is alongside generally irritating the skin, causing the accompanying rash.

There are several things which cause an increase in shaving rash, including pushing too hard, using a blunt razor, and not lubricating the skin properly.

Is Razor Burn The Same As Razor Bumps?​​​​

Although razor burn and razor bumps are obviously both caused by shaving, razor bumps are slightly different.

Razor bumps are especially a problem for people with curly hair, because of the way that their hair doesn't grow straight out of the hair follicles.

Razor bumps are formed when hair that has been shaved grows back under the skin, rather than out of the follicle. So it's linked to razor burn, and causes part of the problem with repetitive shaving, but it's not the same as razor burn, which is about skin irritation.

Things Which Impact On How Long Razor Burn lasts​​​​

Thankfully, for most people, razor burn diminishes significantly within a few hours, and usually disappears completely within a day.

However, in some people it can be persistent, lasting for several days. But however long it lasts, that painful rash can look and feel awful.

How long razor burn lasts will mostly depend on how you shave. If you are shaving against the direction the hair grows, using a blunt razor, and not lubricating properties, then you will be tearing at the skin far more dramatically, lengthening the time it lasts.

On top of that, how dry the skin needs, and in what condition the skin is, will also help to minimize, or increase, razor burn.

It's impossible to completely stop razor burn, but how long it lasts is about a combination of factors. If you get it right, by using some simple tips and common sense, then you can keep the healing time to a bare minimum.

But generally, things which will lengthen the time that razor burn lasts include:

  • ​Using a blunt razor
  • ​Not lubricating the skin and hair enough
  • ​Shaving against the direction the hair grows (“against the grain”)
  • Being cold, so you have raised hair follicles
  • The heaviness with which the razor is applied to the skin
  • Shaving too quickly

How To Treat Razor Burn​​​​

If you are suffering from painful razor burn, you are quite limited in what you can do to minimize the look and feel of it.

The first way to treat razor burn is to simply give it time, and make sure it's not irritated further. So you could just make sure you don't wear clothes that rub against the skin, and generally leave it alone. This of course means not shaving again until the razor burn has vanished.

The second way is to apply something cool to the skin. Razor burn is literally that, a burn, and by taking the heat out of it, you can increase the speed at which the pain and visible signs of razor burn diminish.

The third way is to hydrate the skin. Something like Aloe Vera applied to the skin will help to re-hydrate the dry and damaged skin. You can also buy dedicated shaving moisturizers, things like aftershave gels. However, you should make sure that these are not heavily perfumed, or contain too many additives, which can further irritate sensitive skin.

Top Tips For Preventing Razor Burn

When it comes the question around how long does razor burn last, the answer is you can minimize razor burn, sometimes completely, by following a few simple tips on how you shave.

These tips apply no matter where on the body you are shaving. It doesn't matter if you are a guy, shaving their facial hair, or a lady shaving their bikini area, these shaving tips to prevent razor burn are universal.

1. Shave less often

It's an obvious tip, but the less you shave, then the more time your skin has to repair itself between times. Reducing the frequency of your shaving, allowing the skin to heal, can really help to eliminate razor burn.

2. Use a clean and sharp razor

With a busy daily life, it's often easy to forget state your razor is in. After a couple of shaves, it gets dirty and clogged up, which means an uneven shave across the skin. In addition, after a few shaves, your razor will become more blunt, requiring you to press harder, and repeat the strokes, which tears at the skin.

3. Hydrate the skin before you shave

Your skin will take in most moisture a couple of minutes after it has been dampened with warm water. So a great way to prepare for your shave is to apply warm water, and then a couple of minutes later to apply a pre-shave balm or moisturizer.

4. Wash your skin before you shave

Your skin is a breeding ground for bacteria, and also contains lots of dead skin cells and other dirt. When you shave your skin, this can increase the risk of infection, and create an uneven surface, which in combination with a dirty razor, can dramatically increase razor burn. Washing your skin and gently exfoliating can really help this, but make sure you exfoliate gently, and do it a few hours before you shave, so that the skin is not irritated.

5. Make sure your skin is lubricated

One of the biggest causes of shaving rash is not using enough lubrication. A good quality shaving cream or gel will really help. Some people use a dermatological cream like E45 to lubricate their skin as well. If you know your hair is stubborn, you may need to re-lubricate, as the initial stroke across the hair will remove a lot of lubricant you have applied.

6. How you shave is important

When it comes to minimizing how long razor burn lasts, this last tip is actually probably the most important one. How you shave is important. Make sure that your strokes are slow and gentle, the heavier your strokes, the more likely you are to damage the skin and cause razor burn. Try to shave in the direction your hair grows out, and try to minimize multiple strokes over the same area. Also, choosing a time when you not in a hurry, can really help you to have a gentle shaving style.

  • Updated December 13, 2018
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