Razor Bumps, aka Folliculitis, the enemy of man’s desire for a clean shave. You want to know what causes it and how to abolish the assault on your facial hair follicles! That brings us to the what.
Hair Follicles, the sea of tiny sacs that produce individual strands of hair and hopefully a nice, full, shiny coat of man-hair on your face. However, when infected and inflamed, we call that follicu-litis. Now let’s pause for a second because I often hear people complain about the use of medical terms but in some cases it’s necessary. For example, a lot of folk call any and all skin conditions, eczema. But eczema is a form of dermatitis and there are various types with different causes, different effects and require different solutions. See where I’m going here. We cannot lump all skin issues in one box and try to treat them with one solutions. That’s why you hear people say they’ve tried everything and nothing worked! Well, have you tried identifying the actual source of the problem. We call that root cause. Some conditions can be dealt with at the skin level and others must be addressed internally. See. Ok, back to follicu…razor bumps.
Razor Bumps | Folliculitis Classifications
Folliculitis is the group of skin conditions (see how they lump it all together) that identify inflamed hair follicles. It looks a bit like acne or a small boil. The result is a tender red spot, with a surface pustule. It can occur anywhere on the body where there are hairs, including chest, back, buttocks, groin, etc.
Type 1: Folliculitis barbae is a type of folliculitis affecting the beard area due to infection with the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus. Yep, staph but worry not, there’s all types of staph living on your skin and it occurs whether you shave or not. Deep-seated folliculitis barbae is called sycosis barbae; this type leads to scarring and patchy areas of permanent hair loss. It could be the reason that your beard is thinning out. We’ll come back to this.
Type 2: Pseudofolliculitis barbae is second type of folliculitis. It’s an inflammatory reaction to ingrown facial hairs. This one is also known as shaving rash, barber’s itch, razor bumps and ingrown hair. This type can also occur on any other area of the body where hair is shaved or plucked, including the armpit, pubic area, and legs.
Pseudofolliculitis barbae can be divided into two types of ingrown hairs: (1) hair that has exited the follicle and reentered the skin (extrafollicular) and (2) hair that never exits the follicle (transfollicular), but because of its naturally coarse and curly nature, it grows back into the follicle causing fluid build-up, inflammation and irritation.
Potential Causes of Type 1: Folliculitis barbae
What cause ingrown hair and/or razor bumps?
- dead skin clogging hair follicles
- bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, on the skin or tools used to shave (Folliculitis barbae)
- coarse, dry hair
- dry shaving
- reusing disposable razors (hygiene)
Folliculitis Barbae and Pseudofolliculitis can certainly co-exist together. It may not be an either or, you may suffer from both! However, Pseudofolliculitis is most common in individuals with coarse, wiry hair. The reason for this is, coarse hair is often curly and when it grows, it tends to curl into the skin instead of growing straight out the follicle, leading to an inflammatory response. The result is itchy, red and pimpled skin. Acne like pustules can also form if the area becomes infected.
Razor Bump Prevention
Use skin care products that contain bacteria (Staphylococcus aureus) fighting essential oil (like ours). I’ve listed a few common oils below, however, the list is longer for advanced essential oil blenders and users:
- Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree essential oil)
- Salvia officinalis (Sage essential oil)
- Thymus vulgaris (Thyme essential oil)
- Pogostemon Cablin (Patchouli essential oil)
- Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary essential oil)
- Foeniculum vulgare dulce (Fennel essential oil)
Exfoliate. Exfoliate your skin by using a gentle organic scrub (sugar does a fine job) or small bristle brush before shaving to help to remove dead skin and loosen coarse hair’s curl pattern. By doing so, both before and between shaves, you can effectively free trapped hair out and away from the skin before the hair has a chance to embed itself.
Consider changing shaving techniques. Since we know that getting too close of a shave can create an ingrown hair problem (sad, I know), you may need to ditch the multi-blade disposable razor. This razor type is designed to lift the hair slightly before cutting, to give a closer, longer lasting shave but for those with coarse hair, it may also be a factor in the ingrown hair problem.
Clean your tools, brushes, rags, razors, especially your electric razor. If you use this type of razor, I’d suggest using drops of tea tree oil on the blades before and after shaving. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) kills a host of staph types. If you’re getting your electric shave at the barbershop, it would be in your best interest to have a conversation with him/her to find out about how he/she maintains the equipment used to shave you. It may seem rude, but your skin is more important than the ‘perceived’ offense of asking.
It may be time to get acquainted with the straight razor! The fact is, if you have coarse curly hair and that hair is cut below the skin’s surface, when that hair begins to grow, it can begin curling slightly before it reaches the surface, missing the original exit point, in an attempt to create a new one. This leads to unsightly hair bumps.
Do not dry-shave, no matter how convenient it is; it isn’t pleasant. Not only are razor bumps a potential but razor burn is almost instant. Properly prep and protect skin with a pre shaving cream, foam or a shaving soap to soften skin and hair, making the shave easier.
Establish a good shaving routine using products with ingredients that protect the skin and not just ease the process of shaving.
Our Solution To Razor Bumps
We have teamed up with Master barber and shop owner, Robert Terry of Crisp Cuts (Lenexa, KS) to bring holistic barbering solutions to you. Our soon-to-be released to the public, 4-step shaving line, branded under STYLES, Fine Hair & Beard Care gives you an amazing shaving experience.
STYLES PREMIUM HAIR & BEARD CARE
(1) prepares the skin with a 100% organic, antibacterial pre-shave oil
(2) provides a smooth, bump-free shave with our house-made therapeutic, organic shaving bars
(3) treats and seals the skin with our aftershave h20 which includes aloe and skin smoothing alpha hydroxy
(4) moisturizes and protects with a bacteria fighting balm.
Our product line features organic ingredients to help your skin look its best!
Our brands are designed to soften skin and hair, helping to minimize re-entry of coarse hairs. They contain bacteria fighting essential oils that help keep skin clear; and protected from damage and discoloration.
Skin is the body’s largest organ and we often advise individuals to eliminate the use of products containing synthetic ingredients and fragrance (parfum) as they: (1) contain cancer causing ingredients, formaldehyde, formaldehyde-releasers and hormone disruptors; (2) are known to cause irritation; (3) create or exacerbate eczema; (4) and can contribute to unsightly discoloration (darkening). Stick with natural products with ingredients that get as close to the source as possible, preferably a plant-source.
Often people aren’t easily convinced so instead of rehashing information that’s already readily available, I challenge you to (1) investigate the ingredients in your products and (2) do a simple search on fragrance oil and skin-health.
Whatever steps you take, remember to treat your skin kindly with chemical-free products as much as you can.
Modric, J. (n.d.). Folliculitis Pictures. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.healthhype.com/folliculitis-pictures.html
Oakley, A., MD, & Gomez, J., MD. (2016, July). Folliculitis barbae and pseudofolliculitis barbae. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/folliculitis-barbae/
Swamy, Mallappa Kumara, Mohd Sayeed Akhtar, and Uma Rani Sinniah. “Antimicrobial Properties of Plant Essential Oils against Human Pathogens and Their Mode of Action: An Updated Review.” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM 2016 (2016): 3012462. PMC. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.