Your skin care routine has a lot to do with how your skin reacts after a shaving session or when you’re trying to grow facial hair. If you don’t take the right steps to take care of your skin, you can open it up to harsh and irritating skin conditions.

Folliculitis barbae (FB) and pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB)—also known as razor bumps and irritation—are some of the most common skin conditions that can impact those with curly, coarse hairs. However, you can take action to keep these irritating skin conditions at bay. Here’s what you need to know:

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FB

Folliculitis barbae (FB) occurs when your skin is infected or inflamed. The typical reason FB occurs is due to bacterial or fungal infections. What may start out as white-headed pimples or red bumps surrounding your hair follicles can ultimately transform into an itchy, scar-prone situation. There are several forms, too. These include superficial forms of FB, such as bacterial folliculitis and pseudofolliculitis barbae, and deep forms of FB, such as sycosis barbae and furuncles (boils).

If left untreated, the superficial forms of FB can turn into deep forms of FB. For example, bacterial FB occurs when bacteria, such as Staph bacteria, infects your hair follicles. If Staph bacteria causes a deep infection, it can turn into boils or furuncles under the skin. This can lead to permanent skin damage, including dark spots and scarring. It also happens more often with improper shaving. So, keeping the face clean and using shaving best practices helps to keep this skin condition at bay.

PFB

Pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB) is the scientific term for razor bumps. It’s a type of superficial folliculitis that occurs in up to 60 percent of African American men, but it also occurs in other people who have curly hair. PFB isn’t like other skin conditions that happen just from an infection, however. PFB comes about from irritation that doesn’t have anything to do with infections. In fact, it is a direct result of poor grooming or skin care practice. That means PFB is completely preventable if you take the right steps to keep it in check.

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The Fix

Stopping FB and PFB requires putting a plan in place. You can put the brakes on these skin conditions by putting a few best practices into action:

  • Go for glycolic acid and exfoliate. A good step to treating PFB can be by using products with glycolic acid and using products that help to exfoliate your skin before you shave. A quality badger brush is beneficial to exfoliate your skin like the one in the Bevel Shaving System to remove dead skin cells that can clog your pores.
  • Avoid shaving against the grain. Though it provides a quicker close-shave, it leaves you much more prone to developing bumps. Shaving against the grain cuts below skin level and once that happens, hairs continue growing into the skin, subsequently becoming razor bumps. Instead, shave with the grain to ensure hairs grow above skin-level in an intended manner.
  • Avoid multi-blade cartridge razors. We’re talking about the ones you find in just about every drug store that are popularized today. The razors in multi-blade cartridges are generally placed so close together that curly hair can become trapped in between the blades, tugging at them instead of cutting them properly – this is a contributor to irritation, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Opt for a double-edge safety razor and lightly glide the razor with the grain of your facial hairs to execute a proper cut and help prevent hair from being pulled from the skin.
  • Keep it clean and conditioned. There are tons of hair products out there that clean and condition your hair. You can also use products that are oil-free or that keep your skin from being irritated, which will prevent your pores from getting clogged while keeping your skin conditioned. Bevel Priming Oil works great as a primer before applying shaving cream, and also works wonders for keeping facial hairs and skin feeling soft, in general.

Keeping the bumps and inflammation that FB/PFB brings requires taking action to keep your skin clean and free from irritation. Focus on putting skincare and shaving best practices into place, and you’ll be well on your way to successful shaving with clear skin.