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Can I shave when I have acne?
Can I shave when I have acne?

Should I shave everyday? Which razor should I use? What is the best shaving cream for people with acne?

Dr. Harth avatar
Written by Dr. Harth
Updated over a week ago

For people with acne, it is preferable to shave every day (or at least every other day), and using the right method, products and tools are essential. Check out these tips:

  1. Start with a warm (not hot) shower. Heat and humidity will soften your beard and make your shave smoother and less irritating. 

  2. Cleanse your skin. Use a facial cleanser with medicated anti-acne ingredients such as salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, preferably customized to your skin type, acne severity, and sensitivities. 

  3. Invest in a high-quality razor blade. A high-quality razor will provide a better, closer shave, and will tend to last longer than cheaper options. Standard, multi-blade razors or single-blade razors are preferable to electric shavers, which have a tendency to crush the hairs of the beard and may penetrate and wound the skin.

  4. Use a sharp, clean razor blade. To prevent breakouts and irritation, ensure you are shaving with a fresh razor blade that isn't dull, rusted, or full of bacteria. A rusted, dull blade is also more likely to nick pimples, which can result in scarring.

  5. Look for creamy, moisturizing shaving cream. Standard shaving creams found in drugstores are frequently comedogenic (clog pores), contain alcohols, and can be extra drying...this is a recipe for disaster for acne-prone skin as it can cause an increase in the production of sebum and ultimately pimples. Higher-quality shaving creams can also be a bit pricier but are worthy investments for clear, acne-free and ingrown-free skin. 

  6. Allow your shaving cream to set on your skin. Leave your shaving cream on your face for a minute or so (ideally 3-4 minutes!) before beginning to shave.

  7. Always shave with the grain rather than against it. Shave in one direction: from top to bottom with the grain (i.e. the direction of hair growth). Shaving in two directions goes against the grain of the beard and can cause the tips of the hairs to penetrate and wound the skin and grow back underneath the surface the skin (i.e. difficult to treat ingrown hairs!) 

  8. Take your time to be careful and precise. Consider the process of shaving a morning (or evening) ritual in self-care. And if that doesn't resonate with you, just trust us when we say that going slowly and treating your skin gently will help prevent those breakouts, ingrown hairs, and irritation we all want to avoid.

  9. Use less of your aftershave or scented after shave creams (or ditch them all together!). Aftershave balms and lotions can actually be irritating for acne-prone skin. Use these infrequently (if ever) and stick to moisturizer.

  10. Hydrate your skin. After shaving, do not forget to hydrate your skin. A good moisturizer will leave skin soft and smooth and help maintain the skin's natural moisture barrier. You can use an oil-free moisturizer (preferably one with active, acne-ingredients) and/or a good oil-free sunscreen, to protect and hydrate your now freshly-exfoliated skin.

For more info and tips on treating your acne, check out the "Acne Help" section of the MDacne blog! 

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