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Common Shaving Problems and Solutions

The Problems

This page will attempt to cover the most common problems that a wetshaver will face during or after their shave. Not all problems are documented here, only the ones that are common.

During the shave


Problem: The lather is not working, it's thin, it disappears, there's no glide, what's going on?
Solution: Make sure that you have a product labeled "Shaving Cream" or "Shaving Soap" to start with. More product and/or more lather is likely required. Consult the Lathering tutorials for more information

Blade Angle/Shave is not close enough!

Problem: I am not cutting anything
Solution: The blade angle is likely to be the issue. Consult the blade angle page to help you rectify this
Blade Angle for DE, Blade angle for SE, Blade angle for Straight
Solution 2: Your DE razor is not assembled correctly, please verify that you have assembled your DE correctly - See this page

After the shave

It burns, Burns, BURNS!!!

Problem: Razor Burn
Solution: Razor burn is another word for irritation caused by shaving, usually resulting in red, irritated bumps on the skin. This can be caused by many things, including overly-aggressive shaving, improper razor angle causing scraping, shaving aggressively against the grain, and insufficient lubrication. Common treatments include witch hazel, alum blocks, and after-shave balms.

Bumps, red dots, it's itchy!

Problem: Ingrown hairs
Solution: Ingrown hairs, also referred to as "folliculitis" or " pseudofolliticus barbae " are a common problem with cartridge razors and electric razors which use a "lift and cut" action. Ingrowns are hairs which are shaved too close and then do not emerge from the follicle, but grow into the skin, causing painful bumps. Shaving with a DE or SE can reduce ingrown hairs, but many people are susceptible to them regardless of shaving regimen. Sometimes, Blade Angle (see above) is a factor.

One home remedy for ingrown hairs is to rub the bump lightly with a clean, dry, soft toothbrush, to exfoliate and free the trapped hair. You can also make a paste by crushing aspirin with a few drops of water. Apply the paste to the bump for five minutes, and then rinse it off.

Off-the-shelf solutions are typically lotions, creams or gels which contain chemicals exfoliating the skin. They help the skin to free the trapped hairs and grow out again. Common ingredients include salicylic acid ( a precursor of aspirin ), glycolic acid and lactic acid. Maximum allowed concentrations vary by region, but 2-3% are typical. Always follow application instructions, because some substances can cause redness and irritation if not used properly. If symptoms do not improve or worsen after a week, seek a dermatologist.

It's bleeding, ouch!

Problem: Nicks and cuts
Solution: Small cuts can occur during shaving, called "nicks" or "weepers." Often they stop bleeding by themselves, especially after a cold water rinse following the shave. For those that do not stop bleeding, an astringent/styptic/antihemorrhagic such as a wet styptic pencil can be applied for a few moments, or an alum block run over the skin. For minor nicks, witch hazel's astringent effect can be sufficient to close the nick.

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