Expert Q+A

I think my skin is getting darker from shaving. Why does this happen and how can I prevent it?

ANSWER:

First off, you are not alone. Shaving, whether with a razor or an electric shaver, can lead to skin discoloration. It happens when the rubbing or scraping action of the blades results in minor cuts to the skin, which in turn causes hyperpigmentation -- the skin’s way of replacing color to the damaged area.

The good news is that this darkening effect can be prevented with just a few easy steps:

1. Prep well.
When wet-shaving, make sure to follow the necessary steps for prepping the skin, which will greatly reduce any nicks. (For more on how to prep your skin for shaving, check out “Shaving: Secrets Dad Never Told You ”)

2. Avoid shaving against the grain.
This practice will not only cause irritation, but also nicks to the skin in some cases, which result in the hair being pulled and snagged instead of cut. When this happens, your skin enters damage-control mode -- and the signs of hyperpigmentation begin.

3. Exfoliate.
The act of exfoliating gently removes the dead skin cells to free up younger and healthier layers of cells that are working their way to the surface. A skin-exfoliating regimen twice a week (a day or two after shaving) will show fantastic results.

One more thing: Bear in mind that it will take time for your skin to lighten. Patience is the key for all three of these steps to produce results. Trust me: If it worked for me, it will for you!

About the Expert

Craig the Barber Craig the Barber is a licensed professional barber and men’s grooming expert, and a frequent contributor to Men’s Life Today. He owns the Los Angeles–based grooming service The Grooming Concierge, serves as a contributor to national magazines and television shows, and is the editor in chief of the daily blog The Men’s Room.

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