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Does Shaving Help Acne Or Make It Worse?

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Acne is a chronic skin condition that can be caused by blockages in the hair follicle, leading to red and inflamed skin. If you’re not properly cleansing and hydrating your face, there could be spots on top of infected hairs, which can lead to acne breakouts. How you shave plays a big part in how well your pores are able to breathe and prevent the occurrence of acne flare-ups.

The Psychology of Shaving: Can Shaving Make Acne Worse?

Shaving can worsen acne because the hair follicles are cut and the hair is removed, leaving a small ‘wound’ on the skin (especially if you use a multi-blade razor) that may be prone to infection. As bacteria grows in this wound, an acne breakout can occur.

Shaving can cause acne in a few sneaky ways. If you have blemishes that appear soon after shaving, a couple of things could be to blame:

  • Dirty/old razor blades (old razor blades harbor bacteria and make their way into your skin when you drag your blade across your face).
  • Some shaving creams and gels can irritate the skin, causing swelling and inflammation that lead to pimples.

Razor Bumps vs. Rosacea Vs. Acne — What’s the Difference?

Razor bumps (pseudofolliculitis barbae) are small red bumps that can appear on the skin from shaving. Razor bumps usually occur when a person has been shaving for a long period of time and not giving their skin enough time to heal. Razor bumps are a result of the skin being cut by the razor, which can cause inflammation and infection.

Click/tap here for Sharpologist’s detailed guide on razor bumps.

Rosacea is a chronic disorder of the facial skin that can cause various potential signs and symptoms, often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. It typically begins at any time after age 30 as a flushing or redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead and may produce small, red, pus-filled bumps or pustules that come and go. Over time, the redness tends to become ruddier and more persistent, and small blood vessels may appear.

Click/tap here for Sharpologist’s article on rosacea.

Acne is usually classified as an inflammatory disease that occurs when pores become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Acne is usually worse on the face because it has a lot of sebaceous glands that produce excess sebum.

Can Shaving Help Acne?

Does shaving your face help with clear skin? It’s unlikely that anything other than medication will be effective in treating acne. In very rare circumstances dermaplaning, when performed by a professional might reduce acne. Dermaplaning is not the same as shaving though.

But managing your skin properly, including shaving the right way, can still help to provide a good way of maintaining healthy skin so your face begins to look and even feel fresh and healthy.

The Acne Shaving Cycle: Acne Shaving Tips

So here’s the $64,000 question. What is the best way to shave with acne?

Look for alcohol-free products

Alcohol-free products may help to hydrate and moisturize your skin and facial hair, but it is important that these products do not contain dyes or alcohol. Ask your dermatologist about the best shaving products for you.

What type of razor should you use?

[Note: Amazon and OneBlade links are affiliate.]

Using a multi-blade razor can cause more friction and lead to more acne-promoting skin damage. How do you shave and not get pimples? Consider using a single quality blade with a pivoting head will give less trauma and help prevent acne breakouts.

Unfortunately there are very few razors with a pivot available today. One razor I recommend is the OneBlade (not the powered trimmer made by Philips). The OneBlade razor uses a single blade on a familiar front-facing pivot that is very mild on the skin. Luckily there are OneBlade razors at several price points.

Click/tap here for Sharpologist’s in-depth review of OneBlade razors.

If you are looking for a more widely available, mass-market razor, consider the Gillette SkinGuard. Although it has two blades they are spaced too far apart for the skin-damaging “lift and cut” technology of most other razor blade cartridges to come into play.

Click/tap here for Sharpologist’s article about the Gillette Skinguard razor.

Shaving in different ways

Shaving can cause acne, but the practice of shaving is recommended to remove hair and oil from the skin. Shaving should be done in different ways to achieve a smooth shave without causing redness or bumps on your skin. After you have shaved, use moisturizer on slightly damp skin. Moisturizing facial lotion will keep your skin supple and prevent dryness that often comes with shaving.

How Do You Avoid Getting Pimples After Shaving? Adopt a post-shave routine

If you’re struggling with acne, a post-shave routine is an easy way to follow up with your moisturizer and close pores. Your skin should feel refreshed after this process!

But more importantly you should be routinely cleaning your shave kit to prevent the spread of bacteria.

Want even more help? Click/tap here for Sharpologist”s detailed guide to shaving with acne.

General tips for treating acne

Acne is often a difficult and confusing condition to understand and treat. Here are some general tips for treating acne:

– Avoid greasy foods.

– Wash your face twice a day.

– Use an acne treatment that is formulated with natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals. Consider trying natural acne treatments such as honey, tea tree oil, lemon juice (unless you will be out in the sun a lot), or coconut oil.

– Avoid touching or picking at your pimples–it can lead to scarring and infection.

– Dry your face with a clean towel after washing.

If you are in your teens or early 20’s click/tap here for Sharpologist’s detailed article on young men’s skin care.

Conclusion: Can Shaving Be Good For Acne?

Unfortunately shaving does not “help” acne. But you can adopt shaving and hygiene habits that won’t make acne worse!


Shave tutor and co-founder of sharpologist. I have been advocating old-school shaving for over 20 years and have been featured in major media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Lifehacker. Also check out my content on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest!View Author posts

2 thoughts on “Does Shaving Help Acne Or Make It Worse?”

  1. Great article. Thank you for putting it out. One thing I would like to add, from personal experience and professional advice. An aesthetician once advised me that washing twice a day was not good. The soap would dry out the skin, which would stimulate more oil production. She advised to wash only in the evening, but to use a moisturizer twice daily. It really did help. Just some input that has helped me. I would definitely agree that moisturizing is probably one of the key things that has helped the most.

  2. Tea tree oil is topically antibacterial. The Real Shaving Company in the UK is Creighton’s house brand, and their shaving cream is rich in this oil. It is an excellent SC.

    I believe it is available on Amazon

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