Even the most careful shaver will get the occasional nick or cut. But before you start putting little dots of tissue on your face, here are 11 ways to treat them.
The classic way to treat a shaving nick or cut is with a styptic pencil. A styptic stops bleeding by contracting skin tissue to seal injured blood vessels. A classic styptic (like this one from Clubman) is made of aluminum sulfate (1!). Aluminum sulfate is not an aluminum metal but rather a naturally occurring mineral. You wet it then rub it against the nick or cut. Yes, it usually stings. Its typically a solid though some products like this one (2!) add additional ingredients like aloe vera to make a liquid which is then applied using a roller ball. And here is set of single-use styptics (3!) in the shape of a matchbook (this example from The Legends Of London)
Another common spot nick treatment ingredient is aluminum chloride or one of its cousins like aluminum chorohydrate. It is again used with additional ingredients to make a more skin friendly, convenient product. Pacific Shaving’s Nick Stick (4!) is also is applied with a roller ball. And Proraso Styptic Gel (5!) is in gel form. By the way I have to give a shout out to my buddy Geo from Shavenation.com for turning me onto this gel. It works really well for me and I’ve found a tiny bit goes a long way.
A few other “in a pinch” ideas for spot treatment of nicks or cuts when nothing else is available include a bit of petroleum jelly (6!) or even lip balm (7!). Aluminum chlorohydrate is used in commercial antiperspirants so rubbing your finger on an antiperspirant stick (8!) then onto the nick could help.
Full Face Treatments
What about solutions that are used on the entire face? These aren’t meant specifically as a nick or cut treatment but are useful for them anyway.
The classic face treatment for after shaving is using an alum block, like this one (9!)or this one (10!). Alum block is made up of potassium alum, another naturally occurring mineral. It was primarily used for its antiseptic properties back in the day, but it is a mild astringent too so it’s useful for those little shaving weepers. You wet the block and rub it all over your moist face. If you have not nicked yourself you may experience a cold tingle. As is goes over a nick you may get a bit of a sting though. Allow the face to dry briefly then rinse off with cool water–you don’t want to keep the mineral on your face due to it’s salty properties.
By the way, Alum Blocks can also be used as an anti perspirant. And vice-versa, some of the crystalline deodorant blocks you see at the supermarket might be useful for the face. Just be sure the main ingredient is labeled as either potassium alum or potash alum.
Finally, here’s a technique I learned from a barber in Las Vegas. Soak a hand towel in water, wring it out, then place it in the freezer before you start your shave. After you’re finished take the towel out of the freezer and place it on your face. The combination of the temperature and the pressure from the towel should stop minor bleeding (11!). It’s also a great, refreshing sensation for your face during the dog days of summer! If you’ve seen my videos before you know I’m not an advocate of using alcohol-based products on your face, but here’s an exception. After you take the towel out of the freezer sprinkle a little of your favorite aftershave onto it, then apply to your face. The alcohol will act as an antiseptic but because of the cold temperature of the towel it won’t penetrate too far under the skin and you won’t get that sting.
What nick-sealing products work well for you?