How to shave your beard, head and elsewhere

June 20, 2018 Providence Health Team

Do you want to look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson?

Or would you rather sport a dense beard, like James Harden?

Or maybe both, like a latter-day Patrick Stewart?

Whatever suits you, you should bear in mind some of the skin and hair care issues that go along with shaving, not shaving or partly shaving. There’s more to maintaining the look than simply applying a razor.

The beard

Even with a full beard, you’ll want to do a bit of shaving on the neck and perhaps parts of the cheeks to maintain a sharp line. That means you may invite abrasions, ingrown hairs or other issues.

The American Academy of Dermatology offers some tips for shaving:

  • Wet your skin and hair to soften them before shaving.
  • Apply shaving cream or gel.
  • Shave in the direction the hair grows, not against it.
  • Rinse your razor after each pass, and change blades or disposable razors regularly.
  • Store your razor in a dry place so that it dries completely between shaves, preventing the growth of bacteria.
  • If you have acne, consider electric shaving or disposable razors with sharp blades and shave lightly so as not to tear the skin.

Maybe you prefer a short beard — stubble, really. That’s a look that helps you avoid creating ingrown hairs. But there’s a science to that as well. Philips, which makes shavers, says it’s a four-step process:

  • First, grow a beard;
  • Second, trim the neckline;
  • Create the length of stubble you want with an electric shaver;
  • Maintain the neckline and stubble regularly.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for growing a beard when you have a job that requires you to use a respirator. 

Beneath the beard

Your facial hair can mask issues with your skin. They can also magnify them.

A condition known as seborrheic dermatitis creates “beard dandruff", in which the skin battles a type of infection by creating dry, flaky skin. You can cope by using a dandruff shampoo or a topical solution.

Some people develop bumps in their beards. Monitor those and if necessary, consult a health care provider. If the bump is changing or irregular, you may need to have it biopsied or removed.

If you have acne, clean your face and beard twice a day with a cleanser and consider using a topical medication.

The head

Here’s a style tip: Make sure you’re comfortable with the way your head looks and feels with no hair. Heads have different shapes, and a shaved dome may not be your best look.

Be mindful when you shave your head that the skin is sensitive, especially if it hasn’t been shaved previously. You’ll want to get your hair as short as possible first, then shave with a razor with multiple blades to reduce the chance of irritation. You’ll probably want a pro to do it for you, at least the first time. 

Shaving elsewhere

If you’re interested in shaving your pubic region, be mindful of the possibility of opening avenues for infection or urinary injuries.

A reminder: Pubic hair serves some useful purposes, such as providing a cushion against abrasions and helping to regulate temperature and moisture. For women, this is important to protect against yeast infections.

If you develop a rash, or if you are concerned about the condition of your skin or hair, see a dermatologist or health care provider. Find a Providence provider near you in our online directory, or visit a Providence Express Care clinic for same-day care and extended hours. We can also diagnose rashes, skin conditions and many others with Express Care Virtual, our secure, live video technology that connects you with a provider in minutes. Download the app on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.

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