If you believe the marketing, shaving is one of those everyday rituals that’s easy to take on. Yet, very few go into detail as to how it’s supposed to be properly performed. And let me tell you, doing away with hair anywhere on the body is no easy feat, from finding the perfect razor or shaving cream for your needs to taking steps that ensure your shave has longevity. Not to mention, the postshave burn and the occasional outcome of uncomfortable red bumps you might experience — especially along the delicate bikini line.
This is something I’ve seen firsthand: I’ve been an esthetician for over a decade and have experienced the latter myself while also treating razor bumps on my client’s skin. Although they are unfortunate, it’s very normal and fairly common. To better understand what those red bumps are, why they happen, and what to do about them, we spoke with board-certified dermatologist in New York City Marisa Garshick, MD. Keep reading for everything you need to know so you can finally say goodbye to shaving bumps — for good.
What Are Razor Bumps, and Why Do They Happen?
Razor bumps, medically known as pseudofolliculitis barbae, are ingrown hairs that develop after shaving or other hair-removal techniques, such as waxing or tweezing. “When the hair grows back, it curls back into the skin and can trigger inflammation,” Dr. Garshick says.
Although not always, in my professional experience as a master esthetician, this is a more common occurrence in those with curly and/or coarse hair and can appear on any area of the body someone might shave, from the face to the legs, bikini area, and even the underarms.
What’s the Difference Between Razor Burn and Razor Bumps?
While both instances might seem similar, they are not one and the same. “Razor burn refers to a skin irritation, which can be thought of as an irritant contact dermatitis,” Dr. Garshick says. This can appear as red, itchy patches on the skin as a result of friction between the razor blade and the skin, causing irritation on the skin. Although both are inflammatory responses, razor burn gives the appearance of a surface-level rash, whereas razor bumps are raised as a result of trapped hair beneath the skin. Shaving bumps may also carry a little pus inside, as you also sometimes see with ingrown hairs.