I get it! I really do. Once again, you find yourself staring into the mirror. All the while knowing that the next few minutes are going to be bloody uncomfortable. And remain so for some time afterwards.
Shaving when you have sensitive skin is not something that many blokes look forward to. Redness and inflammation just become an accepted part of their day.
What if I told you it doesn’t have to stay that way! Many of the problems associated with sensitive skin an be easily fixed! A change of razor, and a small tweak of the process can convert your shave from a curse to blessing. When you have the right tools for the job, your mindset towards shaving can change from thoughts of dread, to joyful anticipation.
Maybe we sometimes need to take a step back from our fast paced world and look to the past. Did the razors, brushes and soaps they used decades earlier give men a better, more comfortable shave?
Maybe, Grandpa was right!
What is the best razor for sensitive skin? Together we’ll break down all the aspects of shaving with sensitive skin, and look at the best ways to make your experience far more pleasurable.
What Causes It?
Our skin was wonderfully designed to keep out things that are going to bug us. However for this natural barrier to work properly, it must contain the right amount moisture. We expose our skin to many things that can dry out or weaken it. Sometimes the irritation your skin suffers, can be just a simple case of genetics (thanks Mum & Dad).
Some of the causes of sensitive skin are:
- Skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis
- Overly dry or injured skin that can no longer protect nerve endings, leading to skin reactions
- Excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors such as sun and wind or excessive heat or cold
Genetic factors, age, gender, and race differences in skin sensitivity are less well-defined but still may play a role in causing skin reactions.
Can You Fix It?
Even before we touch on shaving, there are a couple of things you can do regularly to help heal sensitive skin, and greatly reduce irritation to your face.
From one person to the next, sensitive skin responds differently to different cleansing methods. But most dermatologists agree that highly fragranced soap contains strong detergents, and shouldn’t be used on the face.
Soap-free cleansers such as mild cleansing bars and sensitive-skin bars along with most liquid facial cleansers have less potential for facial skin irritation than soaps.
By using moisturising products, you’ll help your skin hold on to moisture so it resists drying and abrasion.
Avoid Harmful Ingredients
Another way to pamper your visage, is to avoid certain ingredients. You need to be vigilant, as some or all of these might be included in the products you use.
Ingredients to avoid are:
- Antibacterial or fragranced ingredients
- Retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids
Razors To Avoid For Sensitive Skin
All razors have their drawbacks in one way or another. But some can definitely have a far greater impact on someone with sensitive skin than others. So what is it about these razors that can have a detrimental effect on their skin?
Although they can be a pain in the bum to clean. Because of their convenience and speed, electric shavers are a very popular choice for many men. There is a huge trade off for convenience however, and that is, the quality of the shave & the effect it has on someone with sensitive skin.
Let’s check out some of the disadvantages of using an electric shaver on a sensitive face.
The truth is, no matter how good the quality of an electric shaver is, they never shave as closely as a blade. This means that you will find yourself repeatedly going back over the same facial area during your shave. This continued removal of the upper layer of skin cells, will quickly irritate an already dry (and probably itchy) face.
If you have sensitive skin and you own an electric shaver, you’d be over the moon. I can imagine you enthusiastically bounding towards your bathroom door and diving through, ready to whip out your machine for yet another shave! And yes…I’m being sarcastic!
As I touched on in the previous point, electric shavers won’t give you that baby smooth shave we know and love from blades. Simply put, you need to be prepared to pull that sucker out far more than you would a bladed razor. The mathematics is simple men. The more shaving you do, the more redness, burn and discomfort you’ll experience.
Some of the more expensive electric shavers out there can be used with water. The majority though, are used without. One of the main causes of sensitive skin is lack of moisture. I know you blokes are smart and don’t need to be Einstein to figure this one out:
Shaving – H2O = Irritated Skin
Although not as complex as the theory of relativity, it’s just as important to those of us wanting a comfortable shave.
In most cases, electric shavers do an okay job of cutting through whiskers. They can occasionally tug at the hair, instead of slicing through it. This is not only uncomfortable the moment it happens, but the source of the pulled hair can also contribute to irritation and soreness.
Multi Blade Razor
Like the electric shaver, millions of men find disposable razors to be incredibly convenient and fairly easy to use. Whack some shaving gel on the face, give it a quick pass, and your done. Sounds good right? How could this irritate sensitive skin? In my shaving showdown Safety Razor v Multi Blade, I run through a number of negatives associated with cartridge razors. Not all of these relate to sensitive skin, so I’ll highlight the ones that do.
Let’s check out some of the disadvantages of using a cartridge razor on a sensitive face.
When you drag 3 to six blades over your face at one time, it’s unavoidable that you’ll remove a high volume of skin cells. If you already suffer from sensitive skin, this will contribute to further redness and irritation.
As the advertisements tell us, “the first blade lifts the hair”. This is so the following blades can cut the whiskers below the surface. This is a great way to encourage your hair follicles to become imprisoned under your skin. Pimple-like bumps soon follow, leading to further inflammation of your face and neck.
No matter how state-of-the-art the latest cartridge razor is, the self-lubricating strip tends to disappear after a couple shaves. Plus the blades have a tendency to begin to “drag” on the face after a short period of time. This dragging and lack of lubrication will once again, influence the reaction to the shave.
Razors To Use For Sensitive Skin
Okay now. Enough of all this negativity. What is the best razor for sensitive skin? I could divide these razors into two groups. Straight razors and safety razors. The reason that I’m not, is because the attributes of both are identical if you suffer from sensitive skin.
As well as outlining the benefits of straight and safety razors, I’m going to recommend a few to help you get started.
Yep, you heard it! Less irritation; less razor burn, less shaving bumps, less ingrown hairs. When you’re navigating just one blade over your skin, it stands to reason that your face & neck are subjected to less trauma. Resulting in a more pleasant shaving experience.
The three razors I have in mind also happen to be fantastic safety razors for beginners. They are considered some of the least aggressive & easiest to use razors available. And will help minimise the effects of shaving with sensitive skin.
Merkur 34C Heavy Duty
Merkur 23C Long Handle
Edwin Jagger DE89L
If you have been shaving for while, it’s also worthwhile considering a slant bar razor. Although a little more aggressive, they cut extremely close. Resulting in a lighter touch ans fewer passes.
Shaving Tips For Sensitive Skin
A good pre-shave routine will go a long way to preparing your face for a more comfortable and irritation free shave.
Good Quality Soap or Cream
A good lubrication can vastly reduce the redness and irritation you can get when shaving. In a previous post, I take a closer look at the many benefits of lathering up with good quality shaving soaps and creams.
Ninety nine percent of the wet shaving fraternity shave with hot water. Most of those, suffer with some form of skin irritation. Shaving with cold water can relieve many of the symptoms associated with sensitive skin.
A thoughtful post shave routine is a great way to keep razor burn and skin irritation at bay. Your face will love you for it!
I don’t know about you, but I reckon that Grandpa was onto something. I have no evidence to support this claim. But I believe it would be a fair bet to assume, that skin sensitivity & shaving ailments were far less common a generation or two ago, than they are today. But then again I could be wrong.
Sometimes, I think we change just for the sake of change. Often to our own detriment.
Do you have a different way of dealing with sensitive skin when you shave? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Time to get your shave on! 😉