How To Shave With Acne: 14 Tips for a Comfortable Shave

by Garrick Dee | Last Updated:
An honest disclosure: Just an F.Y.I., there are maybe be affiliate links in this post. And if you click any of those affiliate links, I’ll earn a commission (A.K.A. money). However, you won’t be charged any more money for this to happen, so it’s a win-win for both of us!

You’ve been through this stage – puberty. It’s a time of rejoicing because you’re crossing over from being a child to becoming a man. During this stage, hormones are raging, and there’s one adverse side effect – Acne.

Shaving in itself without cutting your self takes time and practice. Now imagine how tough it is to shave with acne all over the face and neck.

But with the right prep, a sharp blade, and gentle enough product (that won’t irritate the skin), it is possible.

Related: If you’re looking for a razor, you can check this article I wrote about the best razor deals right now for products like the safety razor, cartridge razor and much more. Get the best deals for yourself or buy it as a gift.

One option would be to grow out your beard and hide the acne (make sure to follow these beard grooming tips), but when that is not an option, follow these tips for a clean-shaven, irritation-free face.

1. Shave Every Day recommends that if you’ve decided to go the shaving route, it will be best to shave once per day because if you let your facial hair grow, there is more pull when you drag a razor across your face.

Pulling and tugging will irritate acne.

2. Preparation Is The Most Important Step

Preparation is the most essential part of shaving, even with clear skin. When you have acne, this is an even more important part of shaving that you cannot skip, or you’ll end up with an irritated face, and lots of razor bumps will make your face look worst.

Take A Hot Shower Before Shaving

The best way to prep your beard area for shaving would be taking a hot shower because the steam from the hot water will soften facial hair and open up the pores of your skin.

A hot shower also helps rid the face of excess oil, thus minimizing the risk of bacteria spreading during shaving.

Some people take it as far as shaving in the shower. That will be a personal preference. If you’re comfortable shaving inside the shower, by all means, do so.

If a hot shower is not possible, make sure to wash your face with warm water and/or apply a hot towel on your face and leave it on for around 3 minutes or so. That’s what the professional barbers do.

Use A Gentle Soap

While having a hot shower, make sure to wash your face with a soap formulated for sensitive skin.

These products have the right amount of cleaning power to remove excess oil without drying out the skin.

Some of the recommended facial cleansers I found include cleanser, the Olay foaming facial wash and CeraVe’s foaming facial cleanser. These three products are liquid soaps, but if you prefer a hard soap, try using the Cetaphil Gentle Cleansing Bar or Neutrogena’s Transparent Facial Bars.

I’ve read some discussions in Reddit that you should use glycerin-based soaps that contain vitamin E, such as the Clearly Natural Glycerin Bar Soap. This soap would be great for people with oily skin, but don’t overuse it because it can dry out the skin making shaving painful.

Pop Those Zits

Before shaving, check your pimples and see if there are whiteheads that are ripe for popping, pop them before you shave.

Pop That Zit

Doing this lessens the risk of spreading the bacteria through the blade, but before popping it, make sure you know how to do it, or you’ll only make your pimple worst. I’ve found detailed guides on safely popping a pimple here, here and here.

Don’t Forget The Neck Area.

If you have pimples on the neck area, don’t neglect washing that area with hot water and gentle soap. The neck area is more sensitive than the facial area, so take extra time to prep this area.

Avoid Scrubbing

Do not scrub pimples with a coarse washcloth. In fact, avoid rubbing all together. It will only worsen acne.

Apply Pre-Shave Oil

There is some debate on using pre-shave oil. Proponents say that applying this adds lubrication, softens facial hair, and improves the way the razor will glide on your face.

While others like the Sharpologist don’t recommend using it because it can worsen acne. If you still want to try, go with something labeled non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores.

3. Don’t Use A Shaving Brush

I did mention in the shaving tips article that you’ll need a shaving brush, but this is one of the few instances where a shaving brush will do more harm than good.

If you have acne, use of your hands (make sure they’re clean!) to lather and apply shaving cream on your face because a shaving brush might pick up bacteria and spread it to other parts of the face and make acne worse.

4. Don’t Use A Razor With More Than 2 Blades

When you watch Gillette’s video, they recommend you use a multi-bladed razor that is spaced closely together – in the video, you’ll see the man using a 5 bladed razor.

But when you read the forums, most men would not recommend using cartridge razors because it causes irritation. And since a sharp blade is a must, you will need to change more often. That means you’ll spend more on cartridges.

Also, expert shavers like the Sharpologist say that using multi-bladed razors on acne is a bad idea because it can “break pimple heads and spread bacteria.” recommends a 2-bladed razor like the Gillette Sensor Excel and Gillette Trac II over a one blade razor because it provides the best compromise of a close shave without irritating the skin.

These razors are hard to find and can cost more down the road because you’ll need to replace them more often.

A more cost-effective solution would be using a safety razor because after the initial investment, you can replace the blades for as low as 10 cents a pop compared to the $1.3 – $4 per cartridge of a Gillette.

Gillette Fusion Refills

These cartridges are costly, and the costs will add up.

Safety Razor Blade Price

These blades are way cheaper.

The best razors for acne are the least aggressive ones that don’t expose too much of the blade. Some examples include the Weishi Safety Razor and the Merkur 34C. The latter has 5 adjustable settings depending on how close you want your shave to be; obviously, you’d to set it at the least aggressive setting.

5. Use A Very Sharp Blade

Here’s the bottom line, a dull blade will irritate the skin more because instead of cutting hair, it will tug and pull, thus creating more friction. And since you’re working with a dull blade, you will tend to put more pressure, which will generate more friction – not suitable for acne.

One of the advantages of using a safety razor is it gives you the option of picking a specific blade type for your need. If you have a dense beard, opt for a sharper blade like the Feather DE Blade.

If you need a sharp blade, then these brands are good choices. It will slice through the coarsest beards with little to no pressure.

6. Don’t Use Old Towels

If you have the habit of using day-old towels to save on laundry costs, don’t do it. Old sheets can be a breeding ground of bacteria than you can reintroduce to your face. Always use new towels that way. You’ll be sure that there no bacteria that can make your acne worst.

You can use an ordinary towel or use what barbers use – barber towels. There are lots of options in Amazon, depending on the quality and brand, it’ll range between $10 and $40++.

7. Always Go With The Grain

Going with the grain simply means shaving in the direction the hair grows, doing this will cut down on irritation because there will be less pulling. Also, it will lessen the risk of ingrown hair that even looks like acne.

8. Avoid Putting Too Much Pressure

To piggyback on what I said about using sharp blades, you must not put too much pressure when shaving. In fact, don’t use any force at all, use the weight of the razor to your advantage and let it glide smoothly on your face.

9. If Possible Avoid Shaving Directly Over A Pimple

If you have a severe case of acne, shaving over it may break the whitehead (that contains bacteria) and spread the puss on the exfoliated part of the face.

10. Rinse The Razor Often

Shaving not only cuts facial hair but dead skin cells, and these contain bacteria.

Make sure to rinse the razor often with hot running water so that bacteria from the blade doesn’t go on the exposed facial skin.

11. If You Pop A Pimple With A Razor Rinse Immediately

Just in case you pop a zit with your razor, stop shaving and rinse that razor under hot running water immediately.

Rule of thumb is to not rinse it in a bowl of water. Rinsing it under running water is a better option.

Make sure to stop the bleeding before shaving again. You can use a clean facial tissue to clean the area and absorb as much blood as possible. User “Raimundo” in the forum recommends using a styptic pencil to stop the bleeding and prevent bacteria from spreading

12. Disinfect The Blade With Alcohol

After shaving, makes sure to rinse the blade with alcohol to kill any bacteria present.

If you’re using safety razors, you can take off the whole blade and use a cotton ball to wipe both sides of it. Make sure to do the same before shaving.

Make sure to wipe the blades dry before storing them, so rust doesn’t form.

13. Rinse Your Face Well

After shaving, your face will have shaving cream residue. Don’t just wipe it off with a towel. Make sure to rinse it off thoroughly with warm water so that it doesn’t clog the pores.

After rinsing with warm water, apply cleansing toner or witch hazel aftershave using a cotton ball.

Rinse again with cold water to close down the pores.

Some old school shavers recommend applying alum block to disinfect. Since this is a disinfectant, it will have a stinging sensation.

14. Don’t Forget The Aftershave Protection

After applying the alum block, wait around a minute then use a shave balm to hydrate and protect the skin from further irritation. Some of these products contain Aloe Vera that moisturizes the skin and has antimicrobial properties that help fight acne.

If you have acne, try to avoid aftershave because these products contain alcohol that can dry out the skin’s natural oils.