The Connection Between Shaving and Acne: How to Shave Without Causing Breakouts

by Jay Kang | Posted on April 3rd, 2023

When it comes to grooming and skincare, shaving is a routine practice for many people. But did you know that shaving can sometimes have an impact on your skin, particularly if you’re prone to acne?

In this article, we’ll explore the connection between shaving and acne, and we’ll share expert tips on how to shave without causing breakouts and irritation. Whether you’re a skincare newbie or a grooming pro, you’ll find valuable insights and practical advice in the sections ahead. Let’s dive in!


Understanding the Connection

First, let’s lay the groundwork by understanding what acne is. Acne is a common skin condition that manifests as pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads. It occurs when hair follicles become clogged with excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. Various factors, such as hormonal changes, genetics, and certain medications, can contribute to acne development.

So, what does shaving have to do with acne? When you shave, you’re exfoliating the top layer of your skin, which helps remove dead skin cells. However, shaving can also cause irritation and friction, leading to razor bumps and ingrown hairs (when hair grows back into the skin). These conditions create an environment where bacteria can thrive, potentially worsening acne for those who are susceptible.

Expert Advice: Shaving and Acne

To provide you with reliable and accurate information, we sought advice from dermatologists and skincare experts. They emphasized the following points:

  • A dull or dirty blade increases the risk of nicks, cuts, and bacterial transfer, which can lead to inflammation and breakouts.
  • Shaving against the grain or too aggressively can create micro-abrasions, irritate the skin, and aggravate existing acne.
  • Proper cleansing and post-shave skincare are crucial to prevent clogged pores and soothe the skin after shaving.

Tips for a Smooth Shave

Having covered the basics, let’s delve into specific tips to help you achieve a smooth and comfortable shave while minimizing acne risk:

  1. Pre-Shave Preparation: Cleanse your face with a gentle, non-comedogenic cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and bacteria. Soften the hair and open pores with warm water or a pre-shave oil.
  2. Sharp Blade, Clean Razor: Always use a clean, sharp blade. Replace your razor blade regularly and rinse the razor thoroughly after each use to prevent bacterial buildup.
  3. Shave Gently: Shave with light, short strokes in the direction of hair growth (with the grain) to reduce irritation and ingrown hairs.
  4. Use the Right Products: Choose a shaving cream or gel formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid products with harsh ingredients, fragrances, or alcohol, which can dry and irritate the skin.
  5. Post-Shave Care: Rinse with cool water to close pores, soothe the skin, and reduce inflammation. Apply a hydrating, non-comedogenic moisturizer to replenish moisture and promote healing.

Debunking Shaving Myths

Let’s address some common shaving myths and misconceptions to help you make informed decisions:

  • Myth: Shaving causes acne.
    • Truth: Shaving itself doesn’t cause acne, but improper shaving techniques can lead to skin irritation, razor bumps, and ingrown hairs, all of which can exacerbate acne-prone skin.
  • Myth: Shaving makes hair grow back thicker and darker.
    • Truth: Shaving only removes hair at the skin’s surface and does not affect the hair follicle or growth rate. The appearance of thicker hair is an illusion caused by the blunt tip of the regrowing hair.

FAQs About Shaving and Acne

Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers!) about shaving and acne that you may find helpful:

  • Q: Can shaving spread acne bacteria? A: Practicing good hygiene, such as thoroughly cleaning your razor and washing your face before and after shaving, can minimize the spread of bacteria. Avoid shaving over active acne lesions to prevent further irritation and bacterial spread.
  • Q: Can I use an electric shaver if I have acne-prone skin? A: Electric shavers can be a good option for those with acne-prone skin, as they tend to be less irritating and reduce the risk of cuts. Look for electric shavers with hypoallergenic blades and adjustable settings to control the level of closeness.

Considering Alternatives

Shaving isn’t the only option for hair removal, and it may not be the best choice for everyone. If you find that shaving triggers your acne, consider exploring alternative methods:

  • Waxing: Offers long-lasting results by removing hair from the root. However, it can be painful and may cause temporary redness and irritation.
  • Depilatory Creams: Dissolve hair at the skin’s surface for painless removal. Perform a patch test before use, as the chemicals in depilatory creams may cause skin reactions in some individuals.
  • Laser Hair Removal: Provides long-term hair reduction by targeting hair follicles with laser light. It can be expensive and requires multiple sessions, but it’s a precise and effective method for many people.


We hope this article has provided valuable insights into the connection between shaving and acne and has equipped you with practical tips for a smooth and comfortable shave. Ultimately, the key is to listen to your skin and find a routine that works for you. Whether you choose to shave, explore alternative methods, or rock your natural hair growth, remember that healthy skin is the ultimate goal. Happy grooming!

Jay Kang

Just because i'm asian does not mean I don't need shaving. I always wanted to grow a beard when I was young, now I need to shave because hair growth for me is a problem. I'm going through what every man will and has gone through before.