Razor Bumps and Strawberry Legs: How to Prevent and Treat Them
For many women, running their hands over their freshly shaved legs is a damn good feeling. The skin feels smooth and soft and they can’t wait to put on that skirt or those shorts and enjoy the summer, sunshine and beach life. Yep. For many women the situation I’ve just described is probably pretty relatable. For others however (me included) it’s not. I’ve been struggling with ingrowns, razor bumps and strawberry legs for as long as I can remember. And while I will probably always struggle a little with my (what feels like larger-than-life) pores, I’ve found some ways and products that have helped to improve the appearance of my legs.
If you struggle with strawberry legs or razor bumps, read on! I’ve also covered my “ingrown strategy” in a separate post, so feel free to head on over HERE, if you wanna learn more.
And now without further due: Here’s how I avoid and treat razor bumps and strawberry legs!
What are Razor Bumps?
Razor bumps are little red bumps that sometimes form after you’ve shaved. They appear due to skin irritation caused by shaving. Other terms that describe razor bumps include:
Before I became a “regular waxer”, beach vacation time was high time for my Venus! I would shave every day, which took quite a toll on the more sensitive areas. Especially my arm pits and bikini area. It once got so bad that my mum gave my an antibiotics cream to treat my irritated skin topically (which worked wonders by the way!). The razor bumps and irritated skin weren’t just a cosmetic issue for me. They actually really hurt! I’ve also noticed: The more regularly I shave, the bigger the chance they appear.
Most of the time razor bumps are just a temporary nuisance and sometimes disappear within minutes. In some cases however, the little bumps can turn into a rash that lasts for a few days. In very severe cases (infections etc.), razor bumps have led to permanent damage, when not treated appropriately. How likely you are to experience complications largely depends on how sensitive your skin is.
Razor bumps are usually caused by improper and/or repeated shaving of a particular area of the skin. Dull razors are another reason they appear. Dull blades essentially shear off some of the skin and not just the hair. When this happens, the body responds instantly by increasing the flow of blood to that particular area, which results in redness and possibly inflammation.
Strawberry Legs? What’s that?
“Strawberry Legs” colloquially refers to Comedones. Essentially comedones are a clogged pores (hair follicles). Usually skin debris (Keratin) combines with oil to block the follicle. Comedones can be open or closed by skin, which gives them a black or white appearance (blackhead vs whitehead).
Strawberry Legs are essentially blackheads on your legs. The little dark bumps can resemble the seeds found on the skin of strawberries. Strawberry Legs are sometimes confused with a rash, but they are different. As mentioned dark pores usually appear as a result of clogged hair follicles and pores.
Strawberry Legs are not necessarily caused by frequent shaving like razor bumps or ingrowns. Acne, dry skin and folliculitis are more likely causes of the condition. Strawberry Legs are more common among people with darker skin, but anyone can be affected.
Prevention and Treatment of Razor Bumps and Strawberry Legs
So now that you know a little more about razor bumps and strawberry legs, you probably wonder what you can do to avoid or treat them. First, it is important to note that both conditions aren’t just an unsightly by-product of hair removal, but can lead to painful infections and skin issues. Over the years, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to improve both the appearance and feel of my “after-shave skin” and avoid irritation. Below are my 6 top tips.
1. Throw out your dull razors!
While we all know that using a dull razor is bad for our skin, we’re probably all guilty of sometimes using our razors a little more often than we should. Dull blades irritate the skin and won’t get you that “clean and close” shave you’re looking for. My go-to razor at the moment is the Venus Comfort Glide, as I find the little flexible moisture bars pretty great. For more sensitive areas, I like to use eyebrow trimmers.
2. Use Shaving Cream!
As mentioned, I like to use the Venus Comfort Glide (best smelling razor ever!! :D), which also moisturizes the skin. If you’d rather go with a “regular razor, I really encourage you to use shaving cream. Shaving creams are specifically designed to help you get a better shave. Try and find a shaving cream with Aloe Vera or other moisturizing compounds, like this one.
If you don’t have shaving cream and REALLY need to shave, use hair conditioner instead. It’s not great, but better than nothing.
3. Let it groooow! (I may have watched “Frozen” too many times…)
When you have razor bumps, you are often just one shave away from skin irritation and infection. So no matter how hard it is: Let your skin rest, let your skin heal and make sure it stays hydrated.
I found this Aloe Vera Gel to be a game changer, as it hydrates the skin but is gel-based, which means it doesn’t clog the pores. It’s also made from freshly cut Aloe Vera Plants and doesn’t have Xanthan in it. No Xanthan means it is less sticky than your usual Aloe Vera Gel. You can use it on irritated skin, but it is also great as a regular part of your skin care routine. If you shave in the shower, apply it to the wet skin for best results.
5. Exfoliate. But be gentle!
Exfoliation can help you get rid of dead skin cells and other debris on your skin and in your pores, which helps to prevent and treat the dreaded Strawberry Legs we’ve discussed earlier.
There are many different ways to exfoliate. Some include:
- Chemical Peels
You’ll have to experiment a little to find what works best for you. I’ve seen great results with Soap and Glory’s “The Scrub of Your Life”, Soap and Glory’s Smoothie Breakfast Scrub and my good old Konjac Sponge, which is similar to a loofah sponge.
My skin is not very sensitive. If yours is, my recommendation for you is to exfoliate on days when you’re not shaving to avoid over-irritation of the skin. If you have sensitive skin, your best bet is a chemical peel.
Tip: Head on over to my detailed post on the Best Creams and Chemical Peels for Strawberry Legs, where I recommend my go-to cleaners and lotions for sensitive skin.
I also recommend chemical exfoliation (e.g. AHA from The Ordinary) for the face instead of scrubs. I used to be addicted to St. Yves Apricot Scrub, but now wouldn’t get near it any more. You can read more about why that is in my post about the Reddit SkinCareAddiction Routine, which I follow pretty religiously.
6. Say Bye-bye-bye (N-sync anyone?!) to the razor…
If you’re done dealing with razor bumps and strawberry legs, you might want to consider dumping your razor for one of these alternatives:
Epilator – While some might find hair-removal with an epilator rather painful, many women prefer this method to shaving as razor bumps and strawberry legs occur less often.
Waxing – Waxing can be painful the first couple of times, but most eventually get used to it. The results usually last for a month or so and given the right skin care, common side effects like ingrowns can usually be avoided as well.
Permanent Hair Removal – If you’re done with hair in unwanted places and are looking for a permanent solution, you might be ready for IPL, Laser Hair Removal or Electrolysis. Read our Guide to Permanent Hair Removal to find out more about these alternatives.
As you’ve probably noticed some of the strategies I use to avoid and treat razor bumps and strawberry legs are not rocket science. In the end, it really comes down to consistency. Throw out that razor in time, use that moisturizer and exfoliant more than once a week and just generally be kind to your skin.
Neither razor bumps nor strawberry legs are the end of the world and most people are able to treat them on their own. If, however, your skin irritation lasts longer than expected or you’re really unhappy with the appearance of your skin, I recommend you reach out to a dermatologist, who can help you to put in place a treatment plan that works for you and improves both your skin’s appearance and health.
Wanna learn more? Head on over to my post on the best chemical peels and creams for strawberry legs!