Shaving Tips for Acne Prone Skin

Shaving when you have acne can be a bit tricky. If you're not careful shaving around pimples, it's easy to be left with raw, red, burning skin.

Man shaving face in bathroom mirror
Thomas Northcut / Getty Images

Short of tossing your razor and growing a beard that would make ZZ Top envious, what can you do?

Although it takes just a bit more care, you can remain relatively clean-shaven and still treat your skin gently, while allowing pimples to heal.

Don't Shave Over Pimples

First and foremost, don't try to tough it out and shave right over the pimples. Seriously — ouch! That's definitely not good for your skin.

Shaving the tops off of pimples won’t help them clear faster. What it can do is open your skin up to infection and possible scarring.

It also prolongs the healing process, turning that pimple into an open sore and then a scab that takes much longer to go away. Not to mention, acne treatments can sting quite a bit when applied to broken skin.

Instead of shaving over pimples, try to shave around inflamed blemishes as much as possible.

Switch to an Electric Razor or Single Blade

Those really nice multi-blade razors give a super close shave. They also create a lot of friction and drag when it's pulled across the skin. That, my friends, can be extremely irritating to already inflamed broken-out skin.

If your acne looks and feels worse after shaving with your multi-blade razor, try switching to a nice quality single-blade razor or an electric razor instead. You won't get as smooth a shave, but these razors are much less irritating and gentler on the already-inflamed skin.

Ditch the Shave and Trim Instead

For some guys, shaving can trigger a breakout. If even careful shaving causes considerable redness and irritation, you may want to ditch the razor altogether. Instead, use a trimmer to keep yourself well-groomed.

Because a trimmer isn't dragging across the skin, you won't get that friction burn you get with a razor. It may not be an ideal way to shave but it definitely is the most gentle. And if your breakouts are fairly widespread, it may not be realistic to shave around each and every pimple anyway.

You can use this technique only in the midst of a bad breakout, or switch to it full-time, depending on how sensitive your skin is and how severe your acne.

Make Certain It's Really Acne

There are other skin conditions that cause acne-like bumps and pimples, especially in the beard area.

Very common is a condition called pseudofolliculitis barbae. We know this condition by the more common term "razor bumps." The cause of this is, ironically, shaving.

When the hair is shaved close, it can cause the hair to grow into the skin rather than up out of the pore as it normally does. These ingrown hairs can look rather like acne, and can sometimes be mistaken for acne.

Suspect pseudofolliculitis barbae if the pimples only occur in the bear area. Your physician can help you diagnose the problem if you're unsure.

Start an Acne Treatment Routine

The ideal situation is one where acne is gone, making the above tips moot. Your acne can be cleared up. You just have to find the right treatment.

If your acne is mild, you can start with over-the-counter acne treatments first.

Try the over-the-counter acne product for several weeks. If you get good results, keep using it! Stopping the use of acne treatments allows pimples to return, so plan on using your acne treatments for the long haul.

If OTC products just aren't cutting it, make a trip to the dermatologist. There are a lot of prescription acne medications that can start clearing breakouts rather quickly, within a few weeks. So, give your dermatologist a call.

Whatever treatment you choose, always treat your skin gently. Let it heal. While shaving, take your time, try not to rush, and be careful with your skin.

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By Angela Palmer
Angela Palmer is a licensed esthetician specializing in acne treatment.