Folliculitis and Your Face: Shaving Tips When a Beard is Not an Option

barber-1007875_1280It’s understood that most people want to put their best face forward, but that can be a problem for those with folliculitis, a common skin condition that causes skin inflammation and red marks on the skin.  It’s distressing for men who want to look professional at work and be attractive in social realms.  In worst-case scenarios, the infection can cause scarring and hair loss.  Some of those inflicted grow a beard to hide the red bumps, crusty skin, and white-head pimples, but it’s not always an option.

When a Beard Is Not an Option

Some men dealing with folliculitis grow a beard to cover the unattractive bumps and pimples, but growing a beard is not always a convenient option.  For example, some businesses have an all or none policy, which means that you can have a beard if it is already grown.  Of course, it may take a week or longer for some men to grow a full beard, so they either have to forget the idea of growing one or take time off of work to grow it.  In other cases, as part of a company policy or food safety standard, some bosses do not allow employees to have beards.

When Shaving Is a Necessity

In some cases, shaving is a necessity in order to meet personal grooming standards or to adhere to company policies.  In this instance, it’s advised to use an electric razor rather than store-bought disposable razors.  Alternatively, invest in a sturdy, sharp handheld blade.

Before shaving, bathe your face in warm water and use a gentle cleanser.  Clean with a wash cloth, using a gentle, circular motion.  Afterward, apply shaving cream or gel to your face and let it settle for five to ten minutes.

Some prefer to cut against the growth of the hair because it makes for a closer shave, but those with folliculitis should always shave in direction of growth, especially if they have thick and curly hair.  Similarly, some prefer to stretch the skin taut for a closer shave, but doing so may increase the likelihood of irritation.

Shaving with an Electric Razor

Newer electric razors are wet/dry, so you can use them with or without the aid of water.  However, most agree that you’ll get better results with an electric razor if your skin is dry.  Since the skin naturally produces oils, it’s best to use an alcohol-based pre-electric shave solution.   Also, it’s important to hold the razor appropriately since faces are very angular.  Foil razors work best with a back-and-forth stroke, and those with circular blades should be used with a circular motion.  Since razors are small machines, and working machines produce heat, it’s best to tackle areas of the skin that get infected first.  For example, if folliculitis is worst at areas on the neck, then start there first while the razor is still cool.

Also like larger machines, electric razors are in need of care and maintenance.  Worn parts need replacement and you may need to take parts out of the razors for proper cleaning.  Doing so produces a better shave and prolongs the life of the electric razor.  It may be a habit to tap parts on the edge of the sink, but parts are delicate and may be damaged if jostled too violently.  Search online for the best electric shavers for men.

Lastly, if you’re newly using an electric razor, realize that your skin needs time to adjust and you may not get the best shave for a few weeks.  Moreover, some mild irritation is common when first switching to an electric, so don’t immediately make a judgment on a given product without giving your face time to acclimate.

Shaving with a Straight Edge Razor

Shaving with a straight edge is a custom of many older men who did not have the options of disposables or electric razors when growing up.  Advocates believe it’s the best way to get the closest shave.  To start, check the quality of the steel blade.  A quality blade sharpens easier than razors featuring coarser metal.  When selecting, consider the width of the blade.  A blade of ⅝ is easy to control and will work well with the various contours of your face.  Also, consider the type of blade; blades come with rounded or sharp points.  Sharp points are best reserved for those with experience due since the blades have a tendency to cut and nick the skin.  Rounded points are easier for beginners to handle.

Folliculitis needs to be managed, and plenty men choose to grow a beard rather than shave, but if shaving is not an option, pay greater attention to your shaving product, method of shaving, and maintaining your chosen instrument.
Ben Gamboa is a men’s hair stylist that has had to personally overcome brushes with folliculitis. He enjoys sharing his insights on the topic online to help others. His articles mainly appear on men’s style and lifestyle blogs.