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Neck Irritation & What to Do About It

Over the past two years I have been focused on achieving daily shaves with no neck irritation. I have struggled with razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis barbae; and I don't want to see any red whatsoever after the shave. The journey has been frustrating but ultimately rewarding: many months--perhaps even a year--yielded few results, but I have now found the technique and a particular rig that allows me to shave daily with a clear neck. I will still get irritation when experimenting with new razors, but I have learned how to manage the irritation much more effectively.

Here is a compiled list of my main takeaways, most of it gathered from the wisdom spread out here on B&B. I will let you know what worked for me, but as always YMMV:

Basic razor technique is no pressure and consistent angle. Learn shallow vs steep angle and see what works for you with a particular razor. Quality lather is fundamental to protect your neck. If you are having doubts about your lather, don't push it. There are many threads here that can teach you these basics.

If there is a risk of irritation, limit your number of passes. If you're still mastering technique, trying a new razor, just pressed for time, or shaving over existing irritation, the fewer number of passes you do, the less irritation you will introduce. Start off with a single WTG pass, then once you can consistently shave without adding more irritation add an XTG, and eventually either another XTG or ATG.

If you have irritation, rest your skin. For me that means taking a day or two off but not more. I read in the above linked article that it could take up to a month of not shaving to fully heal. I found that letting my beard grow for more than about 3 days will actually cause more irritation. I let my hair grow for about two weeks and could still see red dots underneath. I'm sure eventually the hair would get long enough to not curl back and irritate, but I found it much more productive to give a brief rest and then do a minimal pass with my most comfortable razor.

Pay attention to where you get irritation and focus on those areas when you map your beard. There's a great thread about irritation at the bottom of the neck and how this relates to a common beard-growth pattern where the hair grows in a U-pattern on each side of the neck.

When you are shaving the neck area try bullfrogging. Many people will recommend skin stretching and it is definitely worth a try, but bullfrogging is the opposite and was a revelation to me. I didn't realize that I had been habitually stretching my skin by pointing my chin up as I shaved my neck. With bullfrogging you tilt your chin down to relax the skin on the neck, similar to how your cheek skin is relaxed. This technique took a bit of effort to get used to, but was a gamechanger for me.

Products with acetylsalicylic acid such as Tend Skin or Bump Patrol help reduce bumps. This is the active ingredient in aspirin and you can find a recipe to make your own.

Do not overlook blade choice. Find a blade that works with your neck and then use that as a baseline when you are changing other variables. For me that blade is Astra SP.

If you have struggled with neck irritation, I hope you find this helpful. Please share your stories and advice.

Happy shaving!
 
Thanks a lot new friend, you saved me from having to constantly re-type this! Bookmarked and will post a link to it, likely in the next week.

I like your term "bullfrogging." However, I think this needs a disclaimer that it is a more advanced technique. If a person hasn't learned what a light touch really is, they could get bit very badly.
 
Great post. I know many here, including myself, took a long time to master those bits of neck irritation.

For me it was getting good with an aggressive razor with a sharp blade. Better yet, a straight razor. For my own trouble spot I'll hit it with 2 WTG passes before hitting it XTG. If I go against the grain I might as well just shave with sand paper. I just don't fret about getting my trouble spots perfectly close, as those red bumps look worse than a little bit of extra stubble that will just blend in soon anyway.
 
Great advice! I would also add warm not hot water. Like many I had problems with irritation around the crease on my neck, along with the remedies already mentioned I've had great results with CeraVe hydrating cleanser. In the few months I've been using it I've had zero irritation. I found out about it from members on here and it's been a game changer for me.
20211022_170252.jpg
 
Great advice! I would also add warm not hot water. Like many I had problems with irritation around the crease on my neck, along with the remedies already mentioned I've had great results with CeraVe hydrating cleanser. In the few months I've been using it I've had zero irritation. I found out about it from members on here and it's been a game changer for me. View attachment 1369348
Nice! I like CeraVe products so I will check this out. Do you use this as part of your shave routine or just for washing your face when not shaving?
 
I like your term "bullfrogging." However, I think this needs a disclaimer that it is a more advanced technique. If a person hasn't learned what a light touch really is, they could get bit very badly.
Thanks for the kind words. For credit's sake I picked this term up here and also mantic has a video about it. This is a good point about advanced technique. I picked this one up after more than a decade of wetshaving. I also have wondered a bit whether some extra pounds put on during this pandemic have helped with the results in the neck area. 😲
 
For me it was getting good with an aggressive razor with a sharp blade. Better yet, a straight razor.
I am intrigued by straights after hearing that they can be the gentlest on the skin. I have had good results with the increased rigidity of GEM blades so I imagine a straight is even better in that regard. That said, I don't see any straights in my future. I have considered an AC shavette but that is a whole different kettle of fish.

There is a lot of talk about a mild razor with a sharp blade. A medium razor with a medium blade seems to be what works for me.
 
Over the past two years I have been focused on achieving daily shaves with no neck irritation. I have struggled with razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis barbae; and I don't want to see any red whatsoever after the shave. The journey has been frustrating but ultimately rewarding: many months--perhaps even a year--yielded few results, but I have now found the technique and a particular rig that allows me to shave daily with a clear neck. I will still get irritation when experimenting with new razors, but I have learned how to manage the irritation much more effectively.

Here is a compiled list of my main takeaways, most of it gathered from the wisdom spread out here on B&B. I will let you know what worked for me, but as always YMMV:

Basic razor technique is no pressure and consistent angle. Learn shallow vs steep angle and see what works for you with a particular razor. Quality lather is fundamental to protect your neck. If you are having doubts about your lather, don't push it. There are many threads here that can teach you these basics.

If there is a risk of irritation, limit your number of passes. If you're still mastering technique, trying a new razor, just pressed for time, or shaving over existing irritation, the fewer number of passes you do, the less irritation you will introduce. Start off with a single WTG pass, then once you can consistently shave without adding more irritation add an XTG, and eventually either another XTG or ATG.

If you have irritation, rest your skin. For me that means taking a day or two off but not more. I read in the above linked article that it could take up to a month of not shaving to fully heal. I found that letting my beard grow for more than about 3 days will actually cause more irritation. I let my hair grow for about two weeks and could still see red dots underneath. I'm sure eventually the hair would get long enough to not curl back and irritate, but I found it much more productive to give a brief rest and then do a minimal pass with my most comfortable razor.

Pay attention to where you get irritation and focus on those areas when you map your beard. There's a great thread about irritation at the bottom of the neck and how this relates to a common beard-growth pattern where the hair grows in a U-pattern on each side of the neck.

When you are shaving the neck area try bullfrogging. Many people will recommend skin stretching and it is definitely worth a try, but bullfrogging is the opposite and was a revelation to me. I didn't realize that I had been habitually stretching my skin by pointing my chin up as I shaved my neck. With bullfrogging you tilt your chin down to relax the skin on the neck, similar to how your cheek skin is relaxed. This technique took a bit of effort to get used to, but was a gamechanger for me.

Products with acetylsalicylic acid such as Tend Skin or Bump Patrol help reduce bumps. This is the active ingredient in aspirin and you can find a recipe to make your own.

Do not overlook blade choice. Find a blade that works with your neck and then use that as a baseline when you are changing other variables. For me that blade is Astra SP.

If you have struggled with neck irritation, I hope you find this helpful. Please share your stories and advice.

Happy shaving!
A guy I workout with is a dermatologist and he had a few recommendations:

1) Use Witch Hazel before you shave
2) Use a pre shave cream
3) Shave your neck first when the cream or soap is warmest and wettest
4) Use a moisturizer with squalene and/or lactic acid after shaving
 
I am intrigued by straights after hearing that they can be the gentlest on the skin. I have had good results with the increased rigidity of GEM blades so I imagine a straight is even better in that regard. That said, I don't see any straights in my future. I have considered an AC shavette but that is a whole different kettle of fish.

There is a lot of talk about a mild razor with a sharp blade. A medium razor with a medium blade seems to be what works for me.
It was a pleasant surprise. I originally learned to use a straight out of curiosity but after a while I realized my neck was perfectly clear with daily use. They are a lot more benign than people make them out to be. Very nice on the skin once you get your technique down. You also mentioned GEM blades and came to the same conclusion. I would have mentioned that too but it slipped my mind haha.
 
I switched from cartridges to DEs/Straights due to issues on my neck. Mostly ingrown hair and irritation. I agree with the points above. Mapping the beard was a big eye opener and helped me plan out the 3 passes that I use. The other item that made a big difference for me was pre-shave.

Pre-shave has two pieces in my routine. First is beard prep which is putting on lather, rubbing it in and then rinsing it off with lots of hot water. That softens my beard.

The second is that I use proraso pre-shave before my third and closest pass. This helps give some lubrication to the skin when I am going for the BBS.

These additions give me the best results consistently in terms of irritation (very very little and none that lasts past putting on the aftershave), ingrown hair (there is none) and nicks and cuts (maybe 1 out of 3 shaves).

With this approach and what the OP has said, I normally don't see an issue regardless of the efficiency, aggressiveness or sharpness of the blade. I do see an uptick in nicks, but nothing major.
 
Why can't you see a straight razor in your future?
It is appealing but a rabbit hole I was trying to avoid. We have a busy household as two working parents with two toddlers. I often don't even find time to shave, so the extra gear & maintenace seems like a bit of a nonstarter--at least for the time being. I am more open to an AC shavette but a bit reluctant because I think they are less forgiving.
 
Over the past two years I have been focused on achieving daily shaves with no neck irritation. I have struggled with razor bumps or pseudofolliculitis barbae; and I don't want to see any red whatsoever after the shave. The journey has been frustrating but ultimately rewarding: many months--perhaps even a year--yielded few results, but I have now found the technique and a particular rig that allows me to shave daily with a clear neck. I will still get irritation when experimenting with new razors, but I have learned how to manage the irritation much more effectively.

Here is a compiled list of my main takeaways, most of it gathered from the wisdom spread out here on B&B. I will let you know what worked for me, but as always YMMV:

Basic razor technique is no pressure and consistent angle. Learn shallow vs steep angle and see what works for you with a particular razor. Quality lather is fundamental to protect your neck. If you are having doubts about your lather, don't push it. There are many threads here that can teach you these basics.

If there is a risk of irritation, limit your number of passes. If you're still mastering technique, trying a new razor, just pressed for time, or shaving over existing irritation, the fewer number of passes you do, the less irritation you will introduce. Start off with a single WTG pass, then once you can consistently shave without adding more irritation add an XTG, and eventually either another XTG or ATG.

If you have irritation, rest your skin. For me that means taking a day or two off but not more. I read in the above linked article that it could take up to a month of not shaving to fully heal. I found that letting my beard grow for more than about 3 days will actually cause more irritation. I let my hair grow for about two weeks and could still see red dots underneath. I'm sure eventually the hair would get long enough to not curl back and irritate, but I found it much more productive to give a brief rest and then do a minimal pass with my most comfortable razor.

Pay attention to where you get irritation and focus on those areas when you map your beard. There's a great thread about irritation at the bottom of the neck and how this relates to a common beard-growth pattern where the hair grows in a U-pattern on each side of the neck.

When you are shaving the neck area try bullfrogging. Many people will recommend skin stretching and it is definitely worth a try, but bullfrogging is the opposite and was a revelation to me. I didn't realize that I had been habitually stretching my skin by pointing my chin up as I shaved my neck. With bullfrogging you tilt your chin down to relax the skin on the neck, similar to how your cheek skin is relaxed. This technique took a bit of effort to get used to, but was a gamechanger for me.

Products with acetylsalicylic acid such as Tend Skin or Bump Patrol help reduce bumps. This is the active ingredient in aspirin and you can find a recipe to make your own.

Do not overlook blade choice. Find a blade that works with your neck and then use that as a baseline when you are changing other variables. For me that blade is Astra SP.

If you have struggled with neck irritation, I hope you find this helpful. Please share your stories and advice.

Happy shaving!

EXCELLENT POST!! :thumbup1::thumbup1::thumbup1:

This should go in the WiKi IMO.
 
Pre-shave has two pieces in my routine. First is beard prep which is putting on lather, rubbing it in and then rinsing it off with lots of hot water. That softens my beard.

The second is that I use proraso pre-shave before my third and closest pass. This helps give some lubrication to the skin when I am going for the BBS.
Kyle's prep is similar to this of applying lather to your beard pre shave. Similar to a barber you hold a wet, hot towel on the lather.

I am glad the Proraso pre works for you! I tried the Green as well as AOS pre shave oil and Anthony logistics. The AOS was the only one that did much for me, and eventually I was able to eliminate it from my routine. I may reintroduce it when trying new equipment. I hear Grooming Dept has an amazing pre shave.
 
I agree with all the steps the author is pruposing. I also recognize the struggle.

I’ve been wetshaving for a couple of years now. As many before me, I started out wanting less irritation and to make shaving less of a chore. 50+ razors and hundreds of soaps, AS, creams, unicorn tears, drops of dinosaur extract later speaks to it not being a chore anymore (or?).

How about the irritation. Well. I have this spot on my neck where the whiskers grow ”sideways”. Everything else is N—>S. This spot though….it has been the bane of my wet shaving existence. Until recently, nothing worked. Believe me, I tried EVERYTHING. With every new gear I bought I made sure to at least give it a 10 shave trial, using the same setup. The only thing I changed was blades. If a certain blade made my face look like modern art then I switched blades.

Now. My ”irritation” is…irritating to say the least. I never get razor burn or bumps or ingrown hairs. My beard sits right between ”medium” and light growth. I need to shave every 3rd day. Sometimes every other day. I also work as an army officer in the swedish army so I need to be clean shaven.

My irritation creeps up the day after the shave. In THAT spot alone. It stings, Itches and becomes red with some red ”streaks” running parallell with the growth. I dont feel it unless I stretch my skin. Looking up or sideways.

Its really hard to shave WTG in that spot because of sheer ”neck-anatomy”. I usually do a two pass shave. WTG and XTG on my cheeks and jawline. I dont go ATG because I dont need it and I dont/Can’t chase BBS. I also dont care about BBS, irritation free and comfort is my goal.

I shave N—>S for my first pass except for that spot. N—>S on that spot becomes XTG. So I have to channel my inner mime and try to shave WTG sideways with the handle pointing towards my right ear. That usually gets it but I often need to touch that spot up. I’ve tried shave in a Criss-Cross pattern, diamond pattern, X-pattern, ATG but everytime my necks mocks me , turning into the ”predator” clicking the self destruct action on his wrist-computer-thing, laughing.

My routine right now is. Shower/or warm water soak(cold water shave did nothing. Warm water feels better). Wash face/neck with Marseille soap. Nohai preshave gel (it probably doesn’t do anything but it feels good). Lather my face/neck with my now favourite soap (MdC). Warm towel on lather splattered face. Re-lather. Shave. Wash Off soap residue. Witch hazel, Laneige moisturiszing toner (fancy pants Korean skin care) and CerVe cream.

Feels awesome. No burn, no redness, no soreness….until the next day. Some days are better some are worse.

The only razors that give me irritation free shaves more often than not are:

Gamechanger .68 (Silver Blues or indian wilkies saloon)

Hawk V3 (Kai protouch).

Razors I’ve tried:

Homelike START (all the plates)
Timeless ti.68
Karve AA,A,B,C
CG level 1,2
Vector
34c
DE 89
Fatboy
Slim Adj
New SC, LC
Post war Tech
Masamune
Tradere
6S,C
Henson Mild, Medium (yes, even these gave me irritation more often than not)
ATT SSM1
R41
R89

To name a few. I dont want to be that guy who says that I’ve mastered angle and pressure BUT I can shave every other part of my face with an R41 with minimal prep without a hint of an issue.

6/10 shaves are usually free from irritation but there is always the chance of that spot coming to haunt me like Freddy. I’ve come to a point where I feel like screw it, live with it. But something inside me refuses to be beaten by a patch of skin on my neck.

Sorry for the long post and thank you for reading. If you have/had the same experience, please share. Any tips would also be recieved with gratefullness.
 
Another thing I thought of that also helped with neck irritation was to discard a blade after 2-3 shaves. I would usually try to squeeze out a week or more per blade but using a blade longer just wasn’t good for my skin. My beard does need a sharper blade however so some may not benefit as much using only fresher blades.
 
Thanks a lot new friend, you saved me from having to constantly re-type this! Bookmarked and will post a link to it, likely in the next week.

I like your term "bullfrogging." However, I think this needs a disclaimer that it is a more advanced technique. If a person hasn't learned what a light touch really is, they could get bit very badly.
what if you have a non-chin and below that a second chin? You can picture it.
 
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