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Ask Levi: What’s With These Little Red Bumps After Shaving?

If you decided to shave your legs and have completed shaving them, there could be one more question…

i have another question. after im done shaving red bumps appear on the inside of my shins. is this because of the razor im using, shaving cream or lotion?

That’s not uncommon at all. It sounds like a case of “razor burn” which could be caused by… the razor, shaving cream, lotion, shaving technique, and/or the sensitivity of your skin.

It could also be something called folliculitis, which basically means ingrown hairs.

Either way, there are a few things to try that will most likely solve the problem:

1. Shave with the grain.

While shaving against or across the grain of the hair can lead to a closer shave, it can also lead to razor burn if you have sensitive skin.

So you always want to shave with the grain of the hair (usually from the knee towards the ankle) instead of against the grain (usually upward from ankle to knee.) This is probably your best bet.

2. Shave smoothly.

Another key to preventing razor burn is simply using the razor as little as possible.

To do so, make sure you’re using long, smooth strokes and not shaving over the same spot twice.

3. New (old) razor.

When I switched to a Gillette Fusion razor (one with five blades,) razor burn became more common. Despite the “more blades the better” approach from companies, I’ve had better luck with the two and three blade systems.

Or go totally old-school and try a safety razor like this Edwin Jagger.

So that is something to consider.

4. New lotion.

It’s possible that a different lotion or after-shave balm, or the addition of a pre-shave oil, will help.

I always had a problem with razor burn until trying Day Away, which alleviated the razor burn on my thighs.

Some “aftershaves” contain alcohol which dries out your skin, so that could be part of the problem. If the red bumps are only in one location and not all over your legs, chances are it’s not any sort of allergic reaction, but it’s worth switching if nothing else helps.

And for further reading, check out this guide to the perfect shave from The Art of Shaving. You can pick up some good tips from their guide (that are helpful even if you don’t buy any of their stuff.)

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6 Comments
  1. Everytime I shave I get these bumps even on unsensitive areas. I’ve tried new razors, single to 5 blade,and evry cream there is. If I use a lotion or wax removal my skin breaks out awful. Because or the burning feeling I end up taking it off b4 the alloted time and the hair is still there along with nasty irritation. I know I have sensitive skin but since I moved to the city there is a lot of bleach in the water. Could that be it?

  2. @Erica

    Good question. I guess the city water could be at least partially to blame, especially when applied to freshly shaved sensitive skin. But I can’t say for sure.

    Perhaps you should talk to a dermatologist. They might know something we don’t!

  3. I shave without any cream or lotions. Works better for me. Also, don’t apply any lotion for a day after shaving, that seems to make the irritation worse.

  4. @Ken

    Interesting. I have shaved sections of my calves with just water and a razor, but never my entire leg.

    I don’t know if I could go without any lotions at all, but I would definitely skip most of the lotions you can get at a department store. They might do more harm than good.

  5. I heard great things of Nivea Body Daily Lotion, just put it on after you finish shaving.

  6. Wet the skin then lather on a sensitive skin shaving cream pretty liberally. You can get this type of cream relatively cheaply. I used to get Barbisol brand for under a buck, but now you can get it for less than $2 in most places.

    The key is soaking the skin and putting the cream on thick. This protects and prepares the skin. Do not re-use your razor (if disposable) or razor head too many times…it can get nicks in it that may break the skin or require you to go over the area too many times, thus irritating it.

    It’s best if you complete the shaving several hours before you ride. For after shaving treatment, I use baby oil with vitamin E dabbed on my skin while still wet but sparingly so as not to clog pores. Baby oil is not recommended if you are shaving then getting right on your bike–baby oil needs time to soak in. It protects and nourishes the skin while keeping it from drying out.

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coach levi
Hi, I'm Coach Levi. I'm a USA Cycling Certified Level 3 Coach as well as Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition. Want to feel better, ride faster, and look great? Let's work together!

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Coach Levi is my favorite child and favorite cycling coach. I'd choose him over Christoper McCarmikael even. Did I mention that Levi can coach you to a healthier lifestyle where you look and feel your best?
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