Shaving is the fastest, most convenient, and cheapest method for removing unwanted hair. When done correctly, shaving delivers satisfying hairless and satin-smooth skin. However, improper shaving techniques can lead to many skin concerns, including dark spots or hyperpigmentation.
If you notice clusters of dark spots on your skin after shaving, do not panic. It is a common side effect; you are not alone. While it can feel uncomfortable and frustrating, there are ways to resolve this condition.
This article will answer “How to get rid of dark spots from shaving?” I will share proper shaving guidelines and dermatologically-recommended natural remedies, product ingredients, and professional treatments that can help you remove dark spots.
But before that, let us first clarify what dark spots from shaving are and find out why they appear. Let us start.
What are the dark spots from shaving?
Dark spots from shaving are also known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Based on the name, skin discoloration happens because the inflamed or irritated hair follicles and skin triggers the melanocytes or skin pigments.
Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation can manifest in different ways. Aside from dark spots or patches, it can also have papules or tiny bumps. Papules often combine inflamed follicles, dead skin, oil, sebum, dirt, and ingrown hair.
Sometimes these dark spots are mistaken for acne. There are also other common names for the said condition. For example, the dark marks on the legs’ pores are strawberry legs. Likewise, the textured dark bumps are called chicken skin. All of these can develop in men and women of all skin tones who engage in shaving practices regularly.
Why does shaving cause dark spots?
As I said earlier, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation occurs because the inflamed or irritated skin triggers the melanocytes.To understand why shaving causes dark spots, we must know how shaving can inflame and irritate the hair follicles and skin. There are two most prominent explanations for this.
Pseudofolliculitis or Pseudofolliculitis barbae (barbae because it typically occurs around the beard area) is the primary reason why shaving causes dark spots. It is an inflammatory disorder of the hair follicles and the skin around them, leading to the development of ingrown hairs because of shaving.
How does Pseudofolliculitis happen?
When you cut the hair with a razor, the ends become sharp. Because the hair tends to bend as it grows, especially for people who have curly hair, the pointed ends pierce and grow into the skin’s surface. This process is called extrafollicular penetration.
The skin treats the piercing hair like a foreign object. Thus, it becomes irritated and inflamed. When this happens, the melanocytes increase melanin production and melanosome transfer, causing skin discoloration.
2. Poor shaving practices
Poor shaving practices are the second explanation for why shaving leads to dark spots. Below are some habits you may unconsciously be doing if you have skin discoloration because of shaving.
Using low-quality razors or dull blades. If your razor is not sharp enough to cut the hair in one pass, you are more likely to stroke it back and forth repeatedly. It can lead to the tugging of the hair and the skin structure underneath, making the skin more susceptible to rashes, burns, and irritation.
Shaving aggressively. Putting too much pressure on the razor and shaving the same area can pierce through the dermis, often leading to bleeding. Cuts, nicks, and wounds can develop infection, scarring, and discoloration.
Dry shaving. Shaving dry hair requires more pressure and force because it is coarse. Also, dry shaving increases the friction between the skin and the blade. You can more likely shave the uppermost layer of your skin, called the stratum corneum, which can lead to irritation, like burns, rashes, and itching.
Shaving against the direction of the hair growth. While shaving against the grain can give you a closer shave and smoother finish, it is more likely to irritate the skin. If you already suffer from dark spots from shaving, refrain from this technique to avoid further skin irritation.
Not applying moisturizer after shaving. Shaving makes the skin dry because it removes the natural oils and skin barrier at the outermost layer of the skin. The dry skin can develop rashes, itching, and irritation if you do not replenish the lost moisture. Also, shaving over dry skin repeatedly makes it more susceptible to burns and cuts.
How to get rid of dark spots from shaving?
Now that we know why shaving causes post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, let us answer how to get rid of dark spots from shaving. It involves two crucial process:
- Stop the dark spot progression with the proper shaving practices
- Fade dark spots from shaving using appropriate remedies
Let us talk about each of the steps in detail.
Step 1: Stop the dark spot progression
According to dermatologist Dr. Tina Cheung, you can not successfully eliminate dark spots from shaving unless you stop them from progressing.
The good news is these dark spots can heal naturally. And the fastest way to encourage healing is to stop shaving until the skin discoloration fades away completely.
However, most people cannot afford to let go of shaving. In this case, observing proper shaving practices is the only way to stop further skin discoloration. Follow the shaving guidelines below:
Exfoliating helps remove dead skin, unclog the pores, and soften the hair, making shaving easier. You want to exfoliate days before you shave and not on the same day. Since shaving is also a form of exfoliation, you do not want to overdo it because it can irritate the skin more.
Prepare the skin
Wash your skin before shaving. You can use a shaving brush to free the ingrown hairs and shaving creams to soften the hair grains, especially when shaving men’s beards. Aside from using shaving creams, dermatologists also recommend using hair conditioner to soften hair before shaving.
Best Shaving Cream And Hair Conditioner To Soften Hair
Designate different razors for sensitive areas
Use different razors for sensitive areas to avoid the spread of bacteria and prevent infection or irritation. For example, you can use an electric shaver for women’s legs for the arms and armpits too. But it would be best if you had a different electric shaver for women’s pubic hair.
Remember that wet shaving is less likely to cause irritation. Use a manual razor or a waterproof electric razor for wet shaving.
Avoid too much pressure
Apply light and gentle strokes to avoid any irritation and inflammation. Do not drag the razor back and forth.
Shave with the grain
Shaving toward hair growth is associated with fewer cuts, nicks, and irritation. While this technique may not give you a close shave, it will be less likely to cause hyperpigmentation.
Apply gentle moisturizer after shaving to replenish the lost moisture and barrier. It will soothe your skin and prevent further irritation.
Most Dermatologically-Recommended Face and Body Moisturizers
You cannot skip wearing sunscreen everyday if you want to get rid of dark spots from shaving. Protecting your skin from harmful UV rays from too much exposure to the sun is the only way to prevent further hyperpigmentation.
Clean your razor
Always clean and dry your razor after use to prevent it from rusting, blunting, and causing skin infection. If you prefer using disposable razors, replace them every five uses.
Step 2: Use appropriate remedies
Informing yourself with the different available remedies to fade dark spots from shaving will help you choose an effective treatment regimen.
Using dermatologically-recommended natural remedies is the first option for treating dark spots because of shaving. These are very affordable. With consistent application, they can help fade hyperpigmentation.
- Aloe vera is the first natural remedy for dark spots. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that boost the skin’s healing process. Aloe vera contains aloesin, a compound known to help fade dark spots. The gel extract also acts as an excellent protective skin barrier. To use, extract the gel from the aloe vera leaves. Apply it to the skin’s surface. Leave it for 15-30 minutes. Wash it with cold water. Do this twice a day until the dark spots fade entirely.
- Potato juice is another effective natural remedy for dark spots. It is rich in Azelaic acid compound and vitamin C, which both help lighten dark spots and brighten the skin. Potato juice also contains Hyaluronic acid that moisturizes and hydrates the skin. To use, peel the potato and chop it into cubes. Grind the chopped potato using a blender—strain to separate the potato meat and the juice. Apply the potato extract to
Using topical products like skin-brightening cleansers, toners, serums, and moisturizers is the more common and effective method of removing dark spots from shaving. Topical products lighten dark spots in because they contain ingredients that function in four different ways:
- Inhibit melanin production: Vitamin C, Arbutin, Azelaic acid, and Kojic acid
- Inhibit melanosome transfer: Niacinamide and Sea daffodil
- Increase keratinocyte or skin cell turnover: AHAs, Retinoids, and Lactic acid.
- Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties: Aloe vera and Niacinamide.
Choose products that combine two or more ingredients from each category. Below are some of the best dermatologically-recommended topical products for dark spot treatment:
Best Topical Products For Dark Spot Treatment
You can always consult your dermatologist for possible professional treatments for dark spots from shaving. Professional treatments are the fastest way to get rid of skin discoloration. However, they also tend to cost more. Here are the most common procedures that dermatologists offer:
- Chemical peel is an exfoliating chemical solution that removes the dead skin cells on the epidermis or sometimes the upper layer of the dermis.
- Laser therapy for dark spots uses intense pulsed lights to break down skin pigments in the skin. It is a non-invasive skin procedure for treating skin discoloration.
- Laser hair removal converts a concentrated light beam to heat to remove hair roots and follicles. You can switch to this hair removal method if you want to reduce skin irritation and discoloration from shaving.
These are the most common remedies for treating dark spots from shaving. I recommend that you consult your dermatologists for best results.
For everyone asking how to get rid of dark spots from shaving, know there is no quick fix to make hyperpigmentation disappear overnight. Treating this condition requires patience, diligence, and consistency.
According to dermatologists, there are two crucial steps to fade dark spots. First, observe proper shaving practices to stop the dark spot progression and address the root cause of the problem. Second, use a dermatologically-recommended dark spot remedy to help fade hyperpigmentation and brighten the skin. You can use natural remedies, topical products, or professional treatment services.
For your reference, a complete dark spot treatment regimen uses the following products:
- Exfoliant (physical or chemical): use at least a day before shaving
- Gentle cleanser: use before shaving
- Shaving cream or conditioner: use during shaving
- Moisturizer: use every after shaving
- Topical serums or creams: use them every day
- Sunscreen: use every day
Finally, remember that for best results, always consult with your dermatologists.
Diana used to work as an Assistant Salon Manager in Los Angeles, CA before she started writing for Union of Barbers. With over 10 years of experience, she has tried hundreds of hair care products and has seen, styled, and treated all types of hair. Now, she shares all of the things she has learned in the hair industry and gives advice on everything about hair. When she’s not writing, you can find Diana at the beach on her yoga mat!