Every Barber has to deal with questions regarding shaving of the beard, and razor bumps in particular. Now a little history lesson will tell you that in the days pre-dating specialization of professions, barbers were basially Surgeons, and Dentists! The Barber performed all sorts of tasks from blood letting (the red on the barber pole symbolizes blood), to pulling teeth. Needless to say, today, we are not Doctors! As a Barber, if I recognize bumps as being parasitic or fungal related, my advice usually is “go see a dermatologist”.

  A common issues we deal with is Psueudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) or what we commonly call shaving or razor bumps. PFB is an inflammatory reaction of the hair follicles, that primarily affects curly haired males who shave. Basically the curly hair grows back into the skin after shaving causing the body’s immune system to react. The inflamed follicle leads to the hard bumps that afflict many a black man.

As a precursor I want to state that everyone has different skin and hair so each situation is unique. With that being said, some recommendations are universal. First and foremost is hygiene. Always use new or sterilized razors, and shavers. If reusable razors are your thing, sanitize them before and after ever use. I’m of the belief that you can never be too clean, so you can go with soap and hot water, as well as alcohol. The same thing goes for electric shavers and trimmers (no soap and water, except for certain shavers, see instructions ie. Braun).

The next phase of hygiene is your skin. Be sure to clean the area you shave. I find the best results occur after bathing or washing up. As far as shaving products go, I like them as natural as possible. I use aloe vera gel or Shave Therapy by Xotics.  You can choose whatever you feel comfortable with, and there are many products on the market to choose from.  I prefer to shave myself and my clients with a product that doesn’t have to be washed off because of an uncomfortable post shave residue. Shave Therapy can actually be used pre, during and post shave. I usually reapply it to the skin after cleansing.

Cleansing the skin is of the upmost importance. At home you can use soap and hot water, and I recommend a hot towel pre and post shave. Hot towels soften the hair pre shave, and cleanse as well as open the pores post shave.  I use products that may contain alcohol for antiseptic qualities (after shave, sea breeze etc.), but this is where an individual’s skin condition should be taken into consideration. For example, a person with psoriasis or exzema may find their skin too sensitive to handle excessive amounts of alcohol. On the other hand, some people need to feel that burn!  Monitor it, and in the case of skin conditions, once again, consult your dermatologist.

Now here’s a little something many of you don’t realize. Once you start to shave, shaving probably has to be performed on a regular basis. Personally if I don’t shave every other day I start to bump up. Many of my customers only get shaved at the Barber Shop. If I recognize a bump issue, I may recommend purchasing a good pair of trimmers (check the sidebar of the website) to maintain the beard hair in between visits. Some can’t take a razor on the neck at all and should use trimmers, or shavers that don’t take the hair  too close. You may choose to use a depilatory such as Majic Shave, which chemically removes the hair. Once again, skin condition is a major factor determining ones ability to use such products. When shaving with a razor there’s no reason to apply too much pressure. If the hair is softened, and properly moisturized with a good shaving product, the blade should do the work.

Shaving is something that all men have to do, or have done. As with any other task the more knowledge you have of it, the more successful the results will be. Hopefully this article will help!

Blog written by Dan Brown “The Barber”

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