Is it damaging to shave my face every day?

Skin Irritation

Shaving is meant to make our faces look better, not worse. But improper shaving techniques can lead to a host of problems that are both uncomfortable and unattractive.

Chief among these -- as any man who's ever gotten caught with an empty can of shaving cream on the night of a big date can attest -- is razor burn, a condition in which the skin becomes irritated from the friction of the blade scraping across the skin. Normally, time, a cold-water compress and some alcohol-free moisture is enough to soothe the angry facial skin.

If redness, itching and small, white-headed pimples develop, this can indicate another shaving-related problem: barber's rash or folliculitis. This occurs when the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus penetrate the hair follicles. The condition generally goes away on its own, especially if the irritating factor is removed. However, persistent cases may require topical or oral antibiotics.

Folliculitis is not to be confused with razor bumps, or ingrown hairs, another dastardly depilatory condition that can develop from poor shaving practices. Ingrown hairs occur when a shaved whisker curls and grows back down into the skin. Ironically, multiblade razors can help contribute to this condition because after the first one, subsequent blades pull hair up and out before snipping. When the hair snaps back, it's actually below the skin's surface. This might make for a very close shave, but when the hair is deeper in the follicle, the chance of it becoming ingrown is even greater.

Fortunately, nearly every skin irritation brought on by the razor can be eliminated by following the simple shaving routine you'll find on the next page.