Note: Our site links to products sold by outside vendors, and we may earn a commission if you purchase an item after clicking a link. Learn more.

Pimples After Shaving Face

Pimples After Shaving Your Face? (what to do)

Anyone who starts to see pimples after shaving will have some questions and concerns. What causes your face to break out in pimples after shaving? Is it razor burn or something more? And perhaps most significantly, how do you stop ending up with pimples after shaving your face? Keep scrolling to find out!

In today’s article, I’ll explain exactly what the likely causes are, how to treat this issue, and how to keep it from happening again in the future.

But first thing’s first. Let’s make sure you’ve accurately identified the issue.

Pimples vs Razor Burn: What Do You Have? 

You’ve got to figure out what is going on before you can decide what action to take. Pimples and razor burn can look quite similar, but they require different approaches to treat and prevent them.

Pimples and razor burn both look like raised bumps that are typically rounded and sometimes red if irritated. There is the risk of infection with both.

That’s what you want to avoid since it can lead to permanent skin damage.

Pimples After Shaving
Pimples after shaving (pictured) typically look different than razor burn.

Pimples or acne occurs at the pore level when they become clogged with sebum and bacteria. Sebum comes from your sebaceous glands, located near your hair follicles.

When that happens, you’ll see the familiar black or white bumps.

And it isn’t something you outgrow either.

Razor burn, on the other hand, is caused by ingrown hairs that can look like acne in their outward appearance. You may also notice patches of dark skin. Razor burn sometimes itches like crazy, too.

They may occur on your neck too. In any case, they aren’t pretty.

Razor burn can invite a host of other problems such as bacterial infections if you can’t keep from scratching. You may end up with scars, too.

Bacteria growth is what you need to watch out for in either case. And that’s where you’ll find some common ground on solutions for getting rid of them and preventing a recurrence.

Its presence triggers an immune reaction in your body which is why the bumps may look red, swell up, or start itching. At that point, your skin is more sensitive too which can create a vicious circle.

Some Tips to Prevent Acne After Shaving

There’s a simple way you can tell the difference between acne and razor burn to get you on the path to clearer skin.

Take a Break to Figure It Out

First, put away the razor for a few days and get your five o’clock shadow on big time. If things don’t seem to get any better, it’s probably acne. If they do, then it’s the burn.

We’ll focus on acne and how to get rid of it along with some prevention tips.

Heal Up Before You Try Again

It’s a smart move to give your skin a chance to heal before you start shaving again—especially if you see signs of irritation as we talked about before.

It’ll make the rest of what we have to say less painful. Trust us.

So, now your skin has recovered, and you’re anxious to get your smooth face again. Let’s talk about bacteria.

Prepare Your Face

A great shave requires that you set the stage properly. Make it a hard-and-fast rule to wash your hands and face with warm, soapy water before you pull out the razor. We’re trying to minimize the bad stuff that can clog your pores.

Prepare Your Face for a Shave

A hot towel on your face isn’t a bad idea either. It will help to open up your pores and make your skin more supple, there is less of a chance of nicks and cuts.

Also, it’ll get your whiskers standing at attention to make cutting them easier, too.

Next, apply a beard oil to your face and existing beard before you start shaving. We know. It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s the right thing to do.

It’ll mean less pulling, and, yes, less irritation that can fuel a breakout.

That’s why we suggest using a shaving cream, too. It’ll prepare your whiskers to take the cut of the razor easier and smoother.

Dial in Your Shaving Technique

Now let’s talk about your shaving technique.

There is an art to shaving the correct way that spares you the misery and embarrassment of both acne and razor burn.

Razor Quality Matters

Let’s start with your razor. Number one rule is that it has to be sharp, really sharp.

Otherwise, you’re just pulling at your whiskers and setting the stage for bacteria accumulation.

We know that razors aren’t cheap, but don’t skimp on quality. Suck it up and buy good ones.

Use Quality Shaving Equipment

A double-edged safety razor is an oldy but a goody when it comes to your skin.

That same advice applies to the blades too. Don’t try to squeeze the last bit of use out of them.

Yes, they’re spendy, but worth the cost in the end. Make sure to change them frequently and consider some of our favorite safety razor blades.

Think of it as insurance for your skin.

Then, there’s the matter of how you shave. You should go in the direction of the growth of your whiskers. 

Yeah, your skin may feel softer if you the opposite way. But you might be setting yourself up for razor burn. And we want to minimize the risk of potential problems.

Take Care of Your Skin After Shaving

Let’s move on to aftercare. Again, all of these measures are providing additional protection against a recurring issue. Besides, everything we’ve outlined is simple. Right?

Take Care of Your Skin After You Shave

We suggest using an aftershave product. We’re not talking about the alcohol-based ones that will have you screaming the seven dirty words you can’t say on television in more creative ways that would make a sailor blush.

Instead, look for something without alcohol, such as witch hazel. It’ll give you that same boost against the bacterial formation to prevent both of these skin conditions effectively. We also have some DIY aftershave recipes you can make yourself at home.

Focus on gentle and soothing. Ahhhh! Now doesn’t that feel good?

And as those wise old men said, prevention is the best cure. Don’t open yourself up to acne and razor burn.

Find ways to keep it from happening in the first place. It’s the easiest way.

Consider Razor Impact

Your choice of razor plays a role too with both acne and razor burn. Cartridge razors are one culprit.

You’ll see them with two, three, four, or even five blades.

The idea is that they’ll lift each hair for a clean cut that leads to smoother skin. The problem is that they do too good of a job at it. That’s how ingrown hairs happen.

The best safety razors avoid that issue with a single swipe through your whiskers. It won’t pull at your skin nor will it shave too close to the surface.

Sure, shaving will take longer. And we haven’t forgotten about those nasty nicks.

That’s why it’s essential to do the prep that we’ve discussed to help prevent them.

Our Favorite Shaving Kit
Viking Revolution Luxury Safety Razor Shaving Kit

"If you're starting out with wet shaving, this safety razor kit from Viking Revolution has everything you need for a special shaving experience. From razor, to balm, to badger brush and bowl - you're all set for an amazing shave. We recommend it."

- RTG Editorial

Check Best Price Compare at Walmart
Gents, we are reader supported. This means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we shave a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Here’s something else to consider that may sway you and help prevention on multiple fronts. Cartridge razor blade replacements are outrageous! It’s just the principle of the thing.

Double-edged razor blades are cheap, dirt cheap in comparison. It’ll be less painful to toss out a used one (or better yet, recycle it) and do it more often which offer excellent ways to prevent acne by going to the source.

Our Tips for Preventing Skin Irritation from Shaving

But there are a few other things you can do to keep your skin clear in addition to the steps we’ve already outlined for you.

Take care of your razor.

Your razor needs some love, too. You’ll make it—and yourself—happy if you keep it squeaky clean.

Rinse your razor thoroughly between passes, preferably with warm or hot water. And for heaven’s sake, do not keep it in the shower. Geez!

Be patient

We get it. You want to get rid of acne fast. We all do!

But, the immune system works on her time which isn’t always ours. As long as take care of your skin and keep the conditions right, it’ll happen.

Don’t scratch!

Acne can be nothing less than a major buzzkill if it has crossed the line into an infection. But, no matter what, do not give into the itch. Give it a rest and let your razor burn heal.

Take your time

Think of shaving as a guy’s spa time. That’s not just for the ladies, after all.

Don’t rush through it. You’re more likely to do something to irritate your skin that way.

Wash your face every day

It’s the single best way to keep bacteria in check.

Wash Your Face Every Day

Use a regular face wash (one that is suitable for your skin type) in the morning, but just remember to be gentle. A rinse with warm water at night will work.


Contrary to what you heard growing up, stress doesn’t make you break out, but it can make an existing condition worse. Look for ways to decompress during your day. It’s always welcome advice.

Keep the oil under control

Oil plus bacteria is a horrible combination. A cleanser with alpha hydroxy acids or benzoyl peroxide can help manage it before it can clog your pores.

Avoid too many rays

If you have an active acne condition, it’s probably best if you spend a bit less time in the sun. It can make it worse. Remember a sunburn ramps up the immune system response.

Hit the shower

Always shower after your workout to avoid fueling bacteria growth with all that sweat. C’mon man! Just do it!

And we also recommend that you shower before you shave in most cases.

Don’t rule out a visit to your doctor

Acne happens, and sometimes it gets out of control. Don’t hesitate taking it to a higher power if it doesn’t clear up on its own. Remember, acne can cause scars.

Be gentle with your skin

Irritation is like opening the door to acne and inviting it in for a long visit. Breaking the skin removes that barrier to microbes and bacteria that can lead to skin problems.

Final Thoughts: Pimples After Shaving Face

So, now you know why you’re getting pimples after shaving your face. Even more importantly, you know how to deal with the problem.

Smiling Clean-Shaven Man with No Pimples on His Face After Shaving

Do you have sensitive skin? It will help to use the right products. Before you go, check out my thoughts on the Best Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin, so that pimples after shaving your face and razor-burn don’t become a regular occurrence.

Michael Morris is the head writer here at Rough and Tumble Gentleman. He's got a ducktail beard and loves Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He's married to the woman of his dreams and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top