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Beauty Dilemma: Razor rash


Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Library Image. Photo: Getty Images

Help! My skin is dry and it really flares up after shaving. The reaction I get seems is a bit unpredictable and although most of the time I tend to suffer from mild irritation, sometimes I'm left with a quite a sore rash, especially on my shins. I have tried moisturising after I shave but this doesn't always help. Any ideas on what I can do to calm things down ?

Going from your description, the problem you have is almost certainly razor burn which although extremely annoying is extremely common and relatively easy to treat.

While it is all very well being smooth and svelte, the problem with shaving is that every time we do it we end up taking the top layer of skin off our legs. Although we can't see it, this causes inflammation which in turn causes blood to rush to the skins surface to heal the wound. The worse the job we do, the more the irritation, so the answer is really in doing a decent job!

Like most successful things in life, good preparation is the key and although you are moisturising after you shave, the irritation has already been caused and the damage done. While all moisture is good, taking steps to get moisture into the skin before you shave rather than afterwards will aid matters greatly.

Before you even get near the razor, look to open pores as this will cut down on friction and help to minimise the damage done by the razor. Start by hydrating skin with a hot bath or shower and allow at least ten minutes to let the moisture in and the pores open.

By the time your skin has warmed up a good shaving cream will soften things further. Although this is a little time consuming, allow any product you do use ample time to sink into skin before you begin as this will aid the razor. On the subject of creams there are versions especially for sensitive skin but in my opinion many of these should be looked at with caution rather than taken at face value. Best to head to a good pharmacy for a recommendation. Shaving foams aren't the only game in town and some shaving oils are excellent for dryer skin.

When it comes to the actual shaving the two most common mistake we girls tend to make is in using poor blades and shaving against the grain of the hair. On the subject of razors, it really helps to use a fresh, sharp, quality blade and change blades as frequently as possible. Generally, the better the blade, the better the job, and the less irritation. If you do reuse your blades, dry them afterwards and never store in the bathroom as the humidity does tend to blunt them.

Finally, on the subject of technique, always work the blade downwards or in the direction of hair as this will make for a smoother shave and decrease the risk of ingrowing hairs. Although it's tempting to shave over the same spot several times, this takes even more skin off so look to get the job done in one good sweep. Once you're are done with the razor, rinse legs with hot water, pat dry with a towel and add a moisturising aftershave balm which will help act as a barrier to keep infections from pollutants at bay.

If after all this you are still coming out in a rash it may be an idea to switch from shaving for a couple of months and use a dissolving depilatory cream like Veet while the skin repairs itself. Hope this helps.

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