How to Shave Properly: Avoiding and Treating Cuts
No matter your age or how long you’ve been shaving, getting a nick or cut every now and then is inevitable. The best thing is to do, besides treating it as we’ll show below, is to not let it get to you or hurt your confidence. Instead, check out your shaving techniques to make sure there’s something that can help you minimize the risk of injury.
Treating Your Shaving Cuts
There’s a long tradition behind using a piece of toilet paper to stop the blood from a shaving cut. However, this method not only takes a while to dry, but it also leaves bloody paper on your face that you may forget to remove during the early morning rush. Instead, let’s look at other methods of clotting a nick.
Small Cuts or Nicks
Most products geared toward treating small nicks or cuts contain astringent. The astringent constricts blood vessels to slow bleeding and allow the blood to coagulate and dry.
Products You Can Keep in Your Shaving Kit:
- Styptic Pencil: This is a small, inexpensive stick of mineral astringent, such as potassium alum or titanium dioxide, that stops bleeding and seal off the skin. This is a spot treatment where you wet the tip of the pencil and apply it to the cut. Afterwards, make sure to rinse off any white powder it may leave behind.
- Alum Block: This is a solid block of potassium alum that you can wet and use on your face after shaving. This is a great thing to have around when starting to wet shave with a safety or straight razor.
- Nick Rollers or Gels: These tend to be newer products on the market; able to stop blood without leaving behind the chalky mineral residue of styptic pencils and alum bars. They often use aluminum chloride and a moisturizing ingredient such as aloe or vitamin E to soothe the skin and reduce redness.
- Aftershaves: Most aftershaves contain alcohol or witch hazel, which are both astringents. These can reduce the chance of infection and give you a bit of fragrance as you get ready to leave the house.
No Product Fixes:
- Splashing your face with very cold water should be your first reflex to wash away any blood. It also constricts your blood vessels and slows the bleeding. Sometimes this step will be all you need.
- If you use an unscented anti-perspirant, you can rub a bit clean and dab it onto the cut for its astringent qualities.
- Beeswax-based lip balms can help to seal the cut, allowing it to clot.
- Alcohol-based mouthwash or eye drops can be used for its astringent properties as well.
Bad Cuts or Lacerations
Shaving with a straight razor will get you the closest shave that you can get. But it will also make cuts and nicks more likely, and it’s probably the only method to give you a really bad cut if something goes wrong. Our first advice is to stay present while shaving and pay attention to what you’re doing.
It’s possible that a straight razor slip-up will give you a deep cut. These bleeders are likely to occur near the lips, earlobes, or on the neck, so first tread carefully on those areas.
- Using a tissue, put pressure on the cut, pressing at the origin of the bleeding.
- If the bleeding hasn’t abated after five minutes, you need to pinch and hold the bleeding skin together to close off the vessel.
- If pinching isn’t able to stave off the bleeding, try applying firm pressure on the spots above and below the wound to pinch off the blood vessel.
- If the bleeding is not stopping, you should get to the emergency room for stitches. A cut that severe will probably leave a scar.
- When the bleeding stops, clean the cut, using hydrogen peroxide and Neosporin to prevent it from becoming infected. In some cases, you might need to bandage the cut.
How to Get a Close Shave
- Wet Your Skin Before Shaving. Applying the lather onto dry skin does not offer enough moisture to give you a close shave and stay safe. Instead, wet your skin and facial hair before lathering. It can even be a great idea to shave when you’re in the shower or right after one, with some men swearing by the practice.
- Make Sure to Use a Quality Steel Blade. While a very sharp blade may sound dangerous, when it comes to the careful maneuvers of shaving your face, a dull blade is even more dangerous. If you’re using a straight razor, make sure to hone and strop, or sharpen, it frequently, and opt for one with a rounded point to save yourself from nicks and cuts. If you’re using a safety razor or even a cartridge razor, don’t pinch pennies when it comes to changing the blade.
- Use a High Quality Lather. If you find yourself getting a lot of nicks and cuts and you’re using fresh, sharp blades, you may want to consider your lather. Lather does a variety of services, as it moisturizes the skin making it a slicker surface for the blade to move over without digging into it, while also raising the hair away from the face. If simple lathering isn’t doing the trick, invest in a badger hair brush that will help you wet the lather and lift the hair as you work the lather into it.
- Relax a Little. If you’re nervous about shaving, you’re more likely to use more pressure to force the razor to shave at a certain angle. You are more likely to cut yourself this way. Instead, relax a little, take your time, and get a feel for the angles and shape of your face. If you’re nervous, it’s also a good idea to take short strokes, so that you stay in tune with what you’re doing and take your time. This is not the same as repeated strokes, as you should not go over the same skin multiple times without reapplying lather.
Skin Factors that May Affect Your Shaving
Skin ailments that cause the skin to be raised or rough may also cause you to cut your skin or steer your blade from the proper angle when shaving. Watch out for pimples, ingrown hairs, blemishes, dry or flaking skin, scarring, or any other blemishes that raise the skin. Try using a scrub to exfoliate your dry skin before rinsing and applying lather.
Those with sensitive skin may find that shaving too frequently over-exfoliates their skin, making it much easier to break the skin each time they shave. In this case, take breaks in between shaves so your skin can grow strong. They also may want to take care in the fragrances they use after shaving.
Individuals with very curly facial hair are more likely to have ingrown hair and razor burn than others. If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, make sure to shave with the grain, rather than against it.
Nicks and cuts happen to everyone at some point. You can prevent scarring on the face, by taking care of your wounds in a clean and efficient way. However, if you feel that your shaving has been dangerous lately, or you’re having to wear more Band-Aids on your face than you’d like, it’s best to review your shaving techniques to see if there’s something you can improve on to make it a more comfortable experience.