The quest for the allusive clean shave is often more difficult than you think. Because the skin is a fickle organ, it is common for it to become irritated with razor bumps and dark spots. Read on to learn how to get rid of dark spots from shaving.

What Are the Dark Marks From Shaving?

The dark marks left by shaving fall into two major categories.

1. Razor Bumps

Also called pseudofolliculitis barbae, razor bumps form when strands of hair grow back into the skin. These irritated bumps are a nuisance, both because of both their unsightly physical appearance and the discomfort they may bring to sufferers of the condition. Severe cases of razor bumps can even lead to scarring while milder cases are likely to lead to the development of acne.

2. Post-inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)

As the skin's natural response to inflammation after a wound, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation presents itself as discoloration on the surface of the skin. When a scrape or other irritation becomes inflamed, the skin begins to produce excess melanin in an effort to heal itself. This melanin darkens the skin and remains even after the wound has healed.

Why Does Shaving Cause Dark Spots?

1. Irritation of the Skin

The process of shaving can be harsh when it is not done properly. Take care to ensure that you are using the proper products that will not further irritate your skin.

2. Shaving Cream or Other Irritating Products

Although you may think that shaving cream is helping the issue, some products may actually irritate the skin further and lead to dark spots. It may take some experimenting with different products and treatments to find what is right for your specific skin type.

3. Ingrown Hairs

An ingrown hair is formed when the hair grows sideways and breaks back into the skin via the follicle wall. The body reacts with redness and swelling because the skin sees this hair as foreign. Shaving increasing the chances of developing ingrown hairs, making this problem common in many people.

4. Improper Shaving Technique

It is important to take your time when shaving and to not rush the process. Not using gentle enough strokes can also contribute to irritation and dark spots.

How to Prevent Dark Spots From Ingrown Hairs

1. Shave with the Grain

Shaving in the correct direction will help to ensure that bumps do not crop up where you least want them to appear. This rule is especially important when shaving around the crease of the neck. Shaving with the grain will prevent irritation, ingrown hairs, and razor burn.

2. Shaving Cream is Your Friend

You need a shaving product that will properly lubricate the skin and soften the hairs in order to prep the area for a shave. Although the type of shaving cream that you use is a personal preference, you should choose a product that is free of fragrance so that you avoid further irritation and inflammation. Be sure to use a generous amount of product to get the most benefit.

3. Use a Clean Blade

Using a dirty blade will only serve to increase the chances of introducing new bacteria to the skin. Isopropyl alcohol is strong enough to kill the germs so that your blade is fresh and ready to go.

4. Cleanse Prior to Shaving

Although it may seem like overkill, it is imperative that you clean prior to shaving. Washing the skin with warm water and a cleanser designed for that particular part of the body will remove dirt, oil, and other impurities. You want to start with a clean slate prior to running the razor across the skin or you will run the risk of these irritants getting into the pores during the shaving process.

5. Use an Exfoliant Containing Salicylic Acid

A quality exfoliation process is a two-pronged attack against the formation of dark spots caused by shaving. Exfoliating prior to shaving will ensure that skin is clean and free of harmful bacteria and other irritants by removing dead skin cells. Using an exfoliant containing salicylic acid after shaving works as an anti-inflammatory to help razor bumps.

6. Employ the Use of a Benzoyl Peroxide Treatment

The proper use of benzoyl peroxide on acne breakouts will reduce the chance of infection when shaving. Razors have the potential to inadvertently pop the pimples as they do their job. This exposed acne can lead to infection and further irritation of the skin.

Best Products for Dark Spots From Shaving:

1. Vanicream Shave Cream for Sensitive Skin

vanicream gentle shaving cream for sensitive skin

This dermatological formula is specifically designed for sensitive skin. The unique ingredient combination protects against various types of razor irritation such as knicks and cuts. The cream enables smooth razor gliding while simultaneously leaving the skin feeling moisturized and soft after each use. This product is free of alcohol, fragrances, dyes, and other preservatives. Lastly, use this product daily for best results.

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2. Sebamed Clear Face Cleansing Foam

sebamed cleansing foam

The panthenol in this cleansing foam works to soothe irritated and inflamed skin, delivering much relief to areas of razor burn. The product is also adjusted to the skin's natural pH of 5.5, ensuring that the natural protective acid mantle is protected. By strengthening this natural skin barrier, you will be less likely to develop negative side effects from shaving.

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3. Stridex 2% Salicylic Acid Pads

stridex red for preventing ingrown hairs

These pads are pre-moistened for ease and convenience. The non-stripping blend of ingredients will work to rid the skin of excess oil, dirt, and other environmental impurities. By doing so, the skin will be less likely to experience irritation after shaving. Because the pads only contain two percent salicylic acid, they are better for use on the face than other stronger products. The Stridex pads are a good choice for treating both active acne and minimizing the outbreaks of razor bumps at the same time.

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4. Alpha Skin Care Intensive Renewal Serum

alpha hydrox for dark spots

Although this product is not the best choice to treat active acne, it is ideal for minimizing the effects of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and dark spots as a result of shaving. The active 14 percent glycolic alpha hydroxy acid boosts collagen production and lifts away dead skin cells to reveal younger skin.

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5. Paula's Choice RESIST Advanced Pore-Refining Treatment 4% BHA

paulas choice for preventing dark spots

This exfoliant dives deep into the skin to unclog pores and deliver much-needed antioxidants. Because of its strength compared to other products, this treatment is a good choice for use on the entire body and those areas that may be resistant to other protocols. The leave-on formula should be applied once every night for maximum results in ridding the skin of razor bumps.

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6. 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide

acne org benzoyl peroxide

As the gold standard in acne treatment, benzoyl peroxide boasts a bevy of uses. Containing 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, this ointment goes on clear and dries quickly. By removing excess sebum and dirt and unclogging pores, the product will reduce the chances that razor bumps and burns develop after shaving. Numerous studies have shown that treatments containing 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide are just as effective as those with ten percent of the solution, without causing the dryness and skin irritation often associated with the ingredient.

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When to See a Dermatologist

It may be time to consult with a professional if your dark spots and acne are preventing you from shaving. The last thing you want is for the issue to become so bad that it begins to erode your self-esteem. A dermatologist can help to prescribe the best course of treatment so that you can resume shaving without fear of acne or dark spots developing.


How do I get rid of dark spots on my private area after shaving?

Like the other areas of the body, the private region should be treated with the same products listed above. The same principles of cleansing and exfoliating that apply to the legs, face, and other regions also apply to the private areas of the body. Although it may be embarrassing, it is helpful to contact a skin care professional if you are not seeing results with the various OTC treatments.

How do I get rid of razor bumps on my legs?

Razor bumps on the legs can be treated much like the same blemishes on the face. After thoroughly cleansing the skin, it is important to exfoliate with a proven product. Because the skin on the legs is not as sensitive as the skin on the face, you can also choose to use a mechanical element such as a konjac sponge to provide an added benefit of exfoliation. After shaving, apply a leave-on exfoliator containing salicylic acid to minimize inflammation and to deter new acne from taking root.

Can I get rid of dark spots from shaving naturally?

While some people may try to get rid of shaving dark spots using natural products, this is not the professional recommended course of action. Because there is limited evidence that these natural remedies are actually effective, it is a better choice to stick with proven ingredients in your treatment protocol.

How long does it take for razor bumps to go away?

It is difficult to pinpoint an exact timeframe because every individual's skin responds differently to the various treatment protocols. However, a general time estimation to expect is approximately two weeks. Although the common razor burn might only take a few days to clear up, the additional trauma associated with razor bumps will take longer to heal.

The Bottom Line

Dark marks left behind after shaving can be caused by irritation, ingrown hairs, and improper shaving techniques. Using preventative measures can help prevent these dark marks from forming in the first place so that you have a more even skin tone and texture after shaving.