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How to get rid of shaving rash

The ESK blog

How to get rid of shaving rash

14 June 2022

Love a clean shaven look but not keen on shaving rash? Let’s talk about Pseudofolliculitis barabe. This type of shaving rash comes with ingrown hairs, bumps on the skin and can be painful. It starts with a genetic propensity towards ingrown hairs combined with a suboptimal - often over enthusiastic shaving technique leading to ingrown hairs. Your body thinks of ingrown hairs as foreign bodies and tries to attack them using the immune system. This rash can be really prone to bleeding when you shave. As the rash resolves you can get post inflammatory hyperpigmentation, to make matters worse.

How to Prevent Shaving Rash

Learn to reject the close shave. Ideally the hairs of your face should be left just above the skin (or >1mm) when they have already emerged from the hair follicle. An electric razor or an ordinary single-blade razor is better for this. Double-blade or triple-blade razors can give too close a shave.

With that in mind, don’t stretch the skin when you’re shaving for a closer shave. Ingrown hairs are more common after pulling your skin while you are shaving, to get a close shave. It’s because when you stop pulling, the cut hair retracts back into the follicle but seems to turn inward into the wall of the follicle where it can get stuck. Shave in the natural direction or “with the grain” of the hairs. If the hairs naturally grow upwards, pull the razor upwards and if the hairs naturally grow downwards, pull the razor downwards, etc

Prepare your skin before shaving, by applying shaving gel, oil or foam to wet skin.

How to manage shaving rash

Get ready to embrace a bit (or a lot) of stubble for up to a few weeks while it gets sorted. An electric razor can be set to cut the hairs giving you a nice, handsome stubble like look.

If you have pustules, redness and inflammation around the hair follicles (the tips of the ingrowing hairs) that could be a bacterial or fungal infection. Not sure? Your pharmacist or doctor should be able to help identify this issue.

Do not try to get the tips of the ingrowing hairs out of the skin by scratching, picking or squeezing ingrown hairs. This can make the problem worse. Instead try washing with a soap free cleanser and warm water using a circular motion for several minutes to dislodge the hair tips.

Skincare for people with shaving rash:

1.) Hydroxy Cleanser

With the benefit of Salicylic acid and Glycolic acids, this gentle, soap free foaming cleanser is just the ticket for cleansing and helping gently dislodge the ingrown hairs without irritating the skin.

Hydroxy Cleanser

Hydroxy Cleanser

A soap free, lightly foaming cleanser.

  • Leaves skin feeling clean and soft
  • Doesn't strip natural oils
  • Perfect for normal/oily skin


2.) Smooth Serum

Exfoliants like glycolic acid remove the dead cells from the surface of the skin and have been shown to help in the management in pseudofolliculitis barbae.

Smooth Serum

Smooth Serum

An Alpha Hydroxy Acid exfoliating serum for daily night use.

  • Smoother skin
  • Evens out skin texture
  • Promotes skin cell turnover


3.) Ultimate A/ A+

Vitamin A helps with skin cell turnover and can help with the plugging of the hair follicles that is at the heart of this condition. Prescription retinoids can sting and burn. Retinal is the most effective and most well tolerated retinoid available, although it has never been directly studied for shaving rash.

Ultimate A

Ultimate A

Vitamins A and B. High strength. Effortlessly improves skin texture and tone for skin that is soft smooth and supple. Also effective in managing acne. 

  • Rebuild collagen
  • Increase skin elasticity
  • Reduce hyperpigmentation

Ultimate A+

Ultimate A+

A Vitamin A (Retinal – 0.1%), B3 (Niacinamide – 4%) and AHA (Glycolic Acid – 2%) based night cream. Vitamin A is the ingredient with the strongest anti-ageing evidence and Retinal is the most effective and least irritating form of Vitamin A. 

4.) Hydroxy Overnight Mask

Salicylic acid is keratolytic acid and anti-inflammatory as well as antibacterial. It has been successfully used to treat shaving rash.

Hydroxy Overnight Mask

Hydroxy Overnight Mask

Salicylic Acid 5% and Urea 10% based exfoliating and hydrating leave-on night mask, for acne-prone, oily, sun-damaged or sensitive skin. 

5.) Steroid creams

Skin irritation and inflammation often respond really well to 1% topical corticosteroids. You can get these over the counter from the pharmacy.

6.) Benzoyl peroxide.

Benzoyl peroxide has antibacterial properties plus it can be keratolytic, helping remove dead skin cells that plug the pores and anti-inflammatory. It can burn and sting, making the issue worse and it can bleach your clothes and pillowcase so beware!

If it keeps coming back and a beard isn’t your thing, maybe try laser hair removal?

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