Magazine / Beauty / Grooming

Men's Shaving Club: Shaving if You Suffer from Acne

MD Alexandra Dorobantu
On Jan 18th, 2021

Best tips, according to dermatologists. It is possible to control acne breakouts, and how you shave will play a significant role in preventing it from getting severe. Acne can be challenging and irritating to handle.

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In the Shaving Club mini-series, we look in-depth at the best way to shave for a more comfortable experience. In the first episode “Shaving with or Against the Grain” we explore the benefits and downsides of the two different shaving methods. Our second episode has six helpful tips for shaving if you are suffering from acne.

Despite many beliefs, shaving does not cause acne. Bumps you see mostly on the jawline may turn out to be folliculitis, an inflammation around the hair follicle caused by Staphylococcus Aureus. When in doubt, see your dermatologist.

It is tricky to shave with acne-prone skin. Skin with acne is in a more fragile and sensitive state. Since everyone's skin is different, you may notice various pimples like blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules, nodules or cysts. Therefore, you can't technically treat everyone's acne the same way. 

The best thing you can do in any case is to use gentle, non-comedogenic products, not press too hard the razor on the skin to cause extra discomfort, and make shaving as simple as possible. You have to be extra careful when shaving if you have acne-prone skin.

With a few simple steps, you will know exactly what you need to do. First, to prevent clogged pores that lead to acne, clean your skin properly every day. Wash your face with a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cleanser and apply acne spot treatment as prescribed by your dermatologist. Always moisturise after, to keep your skin hydrated and protected. 

High-Quality Shaving Tools

Shaving with the wrong instruments can trigger or exacerbate acne breakouts. Make sure that you shave with a new, sharp razor blade that's not overused or damaged. A twin-blade razor is best suited for delicate skin. Single-blade razors tend to tug on the skin, whereas four or five-blade razors are a bit too strong for already sensitised and reactive skin. 

Try avoiding electric razors. They spin or vibrate at high speed, causing further damage and tiny wounds that heal hard and are the perfect bacterial growth environment. Therefore, when dealing with acne or acne-prone skin, electric razors are most likely to irritate and cause you breakouts or folliculitis.

Ideally, it would be best to use a clean, new blade every time you shave to avoid any chances of getting unwanted skin bumps. If you cannot do that, you must keep your blades in a dry, clean and dust-free area in your bathroom. 

Take a Warm Shower

Before shaving, taking a lukewarm shower can soften bristles and open hair follicles, loosening the skin so that you will have a smoother and more comfortable shave. It is even more beneficial to exfoliate in the shower to help flush away dead skin cells, sweat and other debris accumulated during the day. A 10-15 minutes shower is all you need, as more extended periods and hot water can cause skin barrier damages, redness and irritations.

Use a Gentle Shaving Cream

Picking the right shaving cream for acne-prone skin is crucial for a smooth, breakout free shave. After removing all the sebum and dirt, try using a salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide cleanser.

Choose non-comedogenic products, suitable for your skin type that won't clog pores and don't contain harsh alcohols that can dry your skin. Apply the shaving cream in slow, circular motions with a soft-bristled brush. Using a good quality gel or cream will prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps. Leave your shaving cream on for at least 2-3 minutes before you start shaving.

Shave with the Grain

Stick to shaving with the grain if you have sensitive skin or acne, ingrown hair, or irritation. Shaving against the grain will exacerbate your skin problems and make the shaving process painful and annoying. Check out our first episode of Men's Shaving Club mini-series where we dived right into this men's grooming dilemma! 

When you shave, use precise, gentle strokes. Avoid pressing the razor directly over the pimples. Take your time, don't rush as you can cause micro-wounds to allow the bacteria to spread. Shave in the direction of hair growth, from top to bottom.

Shaving against the grain or path of hair growth offers a closer shave, but in the end, it will cause more damage than good. It will irritate an already sensitised skin and causes more discomfort. Consider the process of shaving a ritual of self-care. So, choose to shave whenever you have the time! 

Skip the After Shave Lotion

As a dermatologist, I would say skip this step and go directly to moisturisation. Aftershave lotions contain alcohols and are very astringent. I have seen patients that did all right steps and still breakout or worsened their acne.

Typical aftershave products require ingredients like isopropanol or ethyl alcohol. Applied right after shaving, on an impaired skin barrier, is too harsh for a sensitised skin and can cause inflammation, stinging and burning sensation.


After you shave, use a rich, creamy moisturiser to hydrate and protect your skin. A moisturiser will help ensure that your skin will be soft and protected. After you did a mechanical exfoliation by shaving, the most important thing is to help maintain the skin's natural protection barrier healthily. Go for oil-free moisturisers with glycerin, ceramides or acne ingredients and don't forget to use sunscreen too.

Self-care is crucial for every individual's wellbeing. Find time for your everyday skincare routine.

Wash your face at night to remove dirt build-up, environmental pollutants, sweat and excess sebum. Do not forget to use specially formulated products for acne-prone skin, hydrate and use SPF daily regardless of weather or season to avoid sun damage and hyperpigmentation.

As a dermatologist, I understand how annoying and difficult acne can be! What you always need to remember is that acne can be controlled and never give up! It may take longer than you expected, but everything will get better with the right treatment and routines!

See you next time when we will talk about another shaving dilemma: wet or dry shaving? What will be your favourite? Use the #menshavingclub for more tips and products to use for a great shaving experience.

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