Irritation of the skin – it’s cause and prevention

Again, Shaving Made Easy:

Some men almost always experience burning and irritation of the skin after shaving. To such, we wish to offer some suggestions, which we hope will greatly benefit, if not entirely prevent the trouble.
The most common cause of irritation is undoubtedly a dull razor. If the razor is keen and sharp, the hairs will yield readily to the blade and no irritation will be produced. But if the blade is dull, instead of cutting the hairs easily, it passes over some, slices other lengthwise, and pulls and strains at the roots of all. This necessitates scraping the face over and over again, in order to get a clean shave, and the result is an irritation that perhaps continues until you are ready to shave again. Thus the tender parts of the skin are kept in a state of continual irritation. The remedy is of course, to see that the razor is always keen and sharp.
Another cause that may be mentioned, is chafing of the neck by the collar. If the edge of the collar is worn and rough, and comes in contact with the tender skin, it is sure to make it sore.
Too close shaving is a frequent cause, and those who are troubled in this way will do well to shave over the face but once.
Some of the cheap toilet waters are adulterated, and contain ingredients which undoubtedly produce a bad effect on the skin. In using bay rum or other face lotions, use only the best. If much trouble is experienced, we should advise the use of pure distilled witch hazel, which may be obtained at any drug store. This is soothing to the face and allays the burning.
Sometimes the trouble is due to an excess of alkali or potash in the soap. The best shaving soaps are especially prepared and have antiseptic and demulcent properties, which render them practically non-irritating. After shaving, take care to remove all the soap from the face; for during the process, the lather has been worked into the pores of the skin, and only by means of a thorough washing can it all be removed.
Irritations resulting from constitutional disease, or impurity of the blood, should, of course, be treated by a physician.
Some men are more subject to irritation of the skin than others. Those who have a thin and tender skin and a heavy and stiff beard, are especially liable, but with care, even these may prevent most of the trouble.

Just as true today as it was 110 years ago.. a few observations and comments:

  • A dull razor is something we who uses SE and DE can easily avoid – the cartridge user too, if he changes carts often. For those who wield the straight it’s avoidable too, it just is a little more work to hone a razor than the change a blade.
  • Chaffing can be as much of a problem today as it was back then, but at least we can be well dressed without having to put on a tall, cardboard stiff detachable collar.
  • Too close a shave… yes, we have all been there, chasing the BBS. Most of us learn not to do fifteen passes after a while.
  • Substandard aftershaves and soaps are hopefully less of an issue today than a century ago, since consumer protection has come a long way since then. But if you’re getting irritated skin and nothing else helps, try changing the products you use.
  • Tender skin and stiff beards can be cured with due care and diligence – pre- and postshave treatment is the key there.

Leave a Reply