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It’s official: There’s no need to suffer from bumps, in-grown hair and painful skin

Gillette helping men of color with specially-designed razor

The Undefeated

There it is.

The anxiety-inducing moment when red, painful razor bumps surface in an unwelcome cluster on freshly shaven skin. You thought you were more careful and gentler as to not irritate the unruly hairs, but to no avail, the bumps return to cause tender skin, painful swelling, and sometimes scarring.

And the physical blemishes from a bad shave can often turn psychological, according to board certified dermatologist Dr. Jared Jagdeo.

“A lot of the times, people can only see skin deep,” Jagdeo said. “A lot of times, we can’t really take into account how people are feeling about shaving, and about the self-confidence, and about how they look. A lot of men want to look their best and not being able to shave as frequently as they would like to really harms your self-esteem and it also can impact interpersonal relationships as well as professional ones.”

A recent clinical study from Wake Forest University revealed men and women of color are the ones most susceptible to ingrown hairs and unpleasant bumps because of the “extreme curl of facial hair.” But Jagdeo wants men who are distressed by the process to know that shaving doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience.

“Men who have concerns about shaving need to understand that they’re not alone,” Jagdeo said. “A lot of times men are suffering in silence and they don’t realize that this is a common challenge. And sometimes men think that this is just what shaving is, that shaving is just an uncomfortable experience and that razor bumps are part of it. One of the things I like to tell men about, especially men of any generation, color who have experience with razor bumps or sensitive skin, is that there are different ways and techniques and approaches to make that sensitive skin a lot more amenable to being shaven.”

When men of color with thicker, curlier hair shave the surface, the hair will sometimes curl back underneath and pierce into the skin, causing inflammation and irritation. Jagdeo has formed a method in order for his clients to understand what’s happening during the process and being able to prevent the problem before it starts. To start, Jagdeo recommends going to a professional to help with unwanted bumps and ingrown hairs.

“One of the things I always share with my patients is to please not try to use any tools or instruments, or even your hands to un-trap these razor bumps,” Jagdeo said. “It can sometimes cause more harm than good. I’ve also seen people pick or scratch at these razor bumps. Sometimes they can get infected. It’s really best to leave that sort of care to a dermatologist, someone who is especially trained in taking care of the skin.”

Jagdeo also recommends his own personal method to the shaving madness, which includes only four simple steps: Hydrate, lather, shave, soothe.

“Skipping any of those steps can actually lead to not getting the best shave and it’s very important to follow through on all of those so that men can achieve great skin,” Jagdeo said.

During the hydration process, Jagdeo suggests that men shave either during or after their shower, or using warm water to moisten the hairs to make them more amenable to cut. Lathering with a shaving cream or gel further softens the hair and skin around the hair to allow for a smoother shave.

“The next step is the shaving step,” Jagdeo said. “A lot of men just jump right into the third step, but you see that there are a few minutes of preparation preparing the skin to be shaved versus just going in and either dry shaving, or just putting a dab of shaving cream on and then shaving. You really have to approach it in the right way.” Moisturizing the area is recommended for soothing the skin immediately after a shave.

Jagdeo encourages men to look into products, including razors, specifically designed to prevent the aforementioned problems, and to double-check products with fragrances and colognes that may further irritate sensitive skin.

Companies like Gillette are invested in helping men of color achieving with products such as the Gillette SkinGuard razor that is specifically designed to stop irritation for men with sensitive skin.

According to a description listed in the clinical study, the new razor uses a bridge that separates two blades on the cartridge, which causes absorption of force and reduces pressure caused from the blade to the skin. The purpose of the two, low cutting forces blades is to be sure men are only shaving the hair with minimal contact with the skin. The blades are also designed to “put minimal stress on the hair follicle and reduce the tug and pull effect that can cause irritation and inflammation.”

The study using the Gillette SkinGuard razor revealed that after 12 weeks of shaving, incidents of razor bumps were reduced on average by 60 percent. “Additionally, respondents said the improvement also prompted significant, emotional and social benefits, such as feeling more attractive, more confident and more comfortable getting closer to others,” according to the study.

“As a physician of color and as a dermatologist, I feel like that this is such an amazing thing that Gillette has really done for men,” Jagdeo said. “It really helps a lot of men because you have no idea how many men of different ethnicities come and just see me. One of their main concerns is that they can’t get a good shave, or shaving is a very challenging, uncomfortable experience for them. There are different ways and techniques and approaches to make that sensitive skin a lot more amenable to being shaven and also that they can use different products that are innovative and that are out there in the market to help them get their best shave.”