Because shaving can be extra brutal in winter, it’s no surprise that our legs might be looking less than stellar—and there’s nothing quite like those angry red bumps, unsightly ingrown hairs, and irritated skin to ruin a new outfit. Whether it was a dull razor, piping hot water, or not enough shaving cream, we’ve all been there!
What are razor bumps?
While most of us imagine that razor bumps happen during a shave, in reality, they occur long after—as the hair begins to grow back. Those dreaded red bumps are actually caused by sharp hairs that curl around and re-enter the skin—ouch!
Instead of growing straight out of the skin, the hair becomes trapped and grows back into the skin, becoming an ingrown hair, explains Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., a dermatologist with Modern Dermatology of Connecticut. “When hair is under the skin, it is extremely irritating to our body, which then recruits inflammatory cells to try to wall the hair off, resulting in the pimple-like pus bumps around the hair follicles.”
If razor bumps are a frequent occurrence for you, you’re probably eager to find a few remedies for treating them or, better yet, preventing them altogether. Not only are they unsightly, but they also cause redness and discomfort due to swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Thankfully, it’s possible to get the inflammation in check without giving up shaving altogether. There are natural solutions for getting rid of razor bumps and burn once and for all.
13 Ways To Treat Razor Bumps and Burn—Naturally
Here are some natural remedies for your skin, before and after it encounters your razor and just in time for colder temps.
Can I prevent bumps & burns? Yes!
1. Hot compress
Prepping the skin before shaving is just as important as healing it after shaving. To prevent razor bumps in the first place, lay a hot, damp towel over the area you’re about to shave and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. This will open the pores and cause the hair shafts to swell and become more pliable, so they’ll be easier to shave.
If you already have razor bumps, using a hot compress will help reduce the swelling and kill bacteria that might have been transferred from a dull or dirty blade.
2. Moisturizing shaving cream
Always good for softening the hair and moisturizing, shaving cream lubricates the skin for a close shave without so much irritation. Try this moisturizing homemade shaving cream with coconut oil, honey, aloe gel, and tea tree essential oil—all of which are antibacterial and can help calm red, irritated skin.
Or try making a simple shaving oil:
- 1 ounce light carrier oil, like grapeseed or sweet almond
- 10–12 drops of an anti-inflammatory essential oil like lavender, sandalwood, frankincense, or myrrh
Combine ingredients in a 1-ounce bottle and replace the lid. To use, pour a small teaspoon-sized amount of oil into your palm, and rub it into your skin. Store in a cool, dry spot and use within 3 months.
3. Frequent razor change
Change your razor often. If the edge is dull, you’ll press harder, which causes more irritation [source]. You can also try alternating between a razor and an electric shaver. Switching things up after a month can reduce razor burn.
4. Correct technique
The right shaving technique will go a long way to avoiding skin irritation and ingrown hairs.
Some tips [source]:
-Don’t pull your skin. Again, shortened hairs can go back under the skin and get trapped.
-Shave down instead of up. Shave from knee to ankle to go with the grain and avoid irritation and ingrown hairs.
Ways To Calm Razor Burn
5. Witch hazel
Skip those expensive, fragranced products with skin-drying alcohol, and splash on witch hazel to tone and soothe the skin after shaving. This combination of aloe vera and witch hazel will help reduce skin redness and irritation.
- 3 tablespoon witch hazel
- 3 tablespoon aloe vera gel
- 2 teaspoon glycerin
- 5 drops tea tree essential oil
- 3 drops lavender essential oil
- 3 drops sandalwood essential oil
Combine ingredients in a 4-ounce spray bottle. Shake before each use, then apply to sensitive areas after shaving. Keep refrigerated and use within 6 months.
Aspirin has anti-inflammatory properties that can help calm the redness and irritation associated with razor burn. To use, crush 2–3 aspirin with the back of a spoon and mix with 1–2 teaspoons of water to make a paste.
Apply the paste to the affected area, and let it dry completely, then rinse off. Repeat twice a day until the redness subsides.
7. Aloe vera
Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to areas of razor burn twice a day and massage in—don’t rinse off! Continue until the irritation has subsided.
8. Milk compress
Milk has been shown in an animal study to aid in wound healing [source]. It can be applied topically in a cold compress. Add a gentle, anti-inflammatory essential oil like Roman chamomile to ease pain and relieve inflamed skin [source]. The lactic acid in milk will also soften stubble and exfoliate dead skin that can trap potential ingrown hairs [source].
- 1 cup milk
- 10 drops Roman chamomile essential oil
Soak a washcloth in the mixture and wring out the excess. Place on the skin for 5 minutes. Store leftovers in the fridge and repeat daily until irritation subsides.
Cucumber has long been used to cool inflamed skin and relieve pain [source]. It has also demonstrated antibacterial properties [source]. Apply slices directly to the irritated skin and leave on for 15 minutes. Or you can peel and puree half a cucumber with half an avocado and apply that to the area.
Calendula is an herb with anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that has a long history of soothing damaged skin [source], including things like razor burn. Simply rub calendula oil on the injured skin to ease irritation and speed healing. Make sure to use calendula oil not the essential oil.
Ways To Eliminate Razor Bumps
11. Tea tree essential oil
Like other oils, tea tree essential oil moisturizes, cleanses, and nourishes the skin. But what makes it different are its natural antiseptic and antibiotic properties [source]. These innate healing properties make it perfect for soothing skin irritation and healing ingrown hairs.
Add 3–5 drops of tea tree EO to a tablespoon of any carrier oil like jojoba, coconut, or rosehip seed, and apply a small amount to razor bumps. Let the oil’s natural astringent properties go to work disinfecting, soothing irritation, and calming redness.
12. Sugar scrub
Since sharp hairs trapped just beneath the skin cause razor bumps, daily exfoliation is essential. A gentle sugar scrub can remove dead skin cells and help the hair to grow out freely.
To make, combine ½ cup of sugar with ¼ cup of olive oil and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil. Gently massage over the area in a circular motion, and follow with a liberal application of coconut or olive oil to moisturize.
Sometimes you can see the hair under the skin surface and remove it. You should only do this if the hair is easily accessible, and you don’t have to break the skin barrier.
Soak a washcloth in warm water, and apply it to the area for about 5 minutes to soften the skin and hair. Sterilize a pair of tweezers with alcohol and gently pluck the hair. Follow by applying an antiseptic to the skin.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice, and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.224