Whether you are just learning to shave or have been shaving for years, razor cuts are inevitable at some point in your grooming journey.
Cuts and nicks are signs that something is wrong with your shaving routine and needs to be addressed.
In this article, we’ll cover how to treat a shaving cut, what likely caused the cut in the first place, and products you can use to stop bleeding quickly.
How to Treat a Wound to Stop Bleeding
Follow these steps to quickly treat the wound, whether on your neck, face, or lip:
- Wash Hands: Cleaning your hands will prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Disinfect: Clean the wound with cool-to-warm soapy water, alcohol, or another disinfectant.
- Rinse: Apply ice-cold water to temporarily numb the pain.
- Apply Pressure: Press a clean washcloth or gauze firmly on the shaving cut. Hold until the bleeding has stopped.
- Treat Wound: Place a band-aid on the wound.
What if it doesn’t stop bleeding?
If, after treating the wound and the bleeding continues, seek medical attention immediately. Depending on the severity of the cut, the doctor may need to apply stitches or medical-grade glue.
How to avoid cutting yourself while shaving
Shaving cuts are a sign that something is wrong with your shaving routine.
First and foremost, you should focus on your technique. When shaving, apply light to moderate pressure with the razor, hold the skin taut, and shave with the grain. Cartridge and disposable razors are much more forgiving than a safety razors.
Aside from technique, dull blades, poor lubrication through the use of pre-shave oils or shaving cream, and inadequate prep can cause the skin to become irritated and cut more easily. Before shaving, make sure your skin is supple, an adequate amount of shaving cream is applied, and the razor blade is sharp.
Shaving products that are effective at stopping bleeding
If you shave regularly, you should add one of the following to your medicine cabinet:
- Styptic Pencil: Styptic pencils are a specifically designed shaving accessory to stop razor cuts from bleeding. Made from compressed anhydrous aluminum sulfate and wax, styptic pencils stop the bleeding and disinfect the open wound. Some moderate stinging will occur and varies on the size of the cut.
- Alum Block: Made from potassium alum, this product is a type of aftershave used to both disinfect and stop bleeding from open wounds. Like the styptic pencil, an alum block will slightly sting when it comes in contact with the shaving cut. To use an alum block, wet it with water and rub it directly onto your face. Alum blocks are affordable and can be purchased at online marketplaces and boutique shave shops. Lastly, alum blocks are a good substitute if you don’t have a styptic pencil handy.
- Witch Hazel: A natural astringent, witch hazel is a good natural alternative. This ingredient is found to also shrinks swollen tissue (source). Witch hazel does not sting when it comes in contact with an open wound. It’s found in many men’s grooming products, such as toners and aftershave balms. To use, pour out a teaspoon-sized amount into your palm, rub your hands together, and apply evenly to your face.
- Aftershave: This multi-faceted product can treat cuts, moisturize the skin, and reduce tightness post-shave. Astringents with aftershave will either be alcohol or witch hazel. While we outlined witch hazel already, alcohol will sting on contact when applied to a wound. Alcohol is commonly found in aftershave splashes and lotions, whereas witch hazel is found in select aftershave splashes and aftershave balms.
Other products that may work
If you don’t have a styptic pencil or other shaving accessory on hand, here are a few good alternatives:
- Toilet Paper: While toilet paper has no antiseptic qualities, it can quickly stop blood from dripping down your face. When applying, you may need to fold it a few times so it can absorb the blood and stick to your skin. Once the clot has formed, simply remove the toilet paper.
- Cold Water or Ice Cubes: Both cold water and ice cubes are helpful in temporarily numbing the pain. Additionally, cold water will constrict the blood vessels and reduce blood flow. It is recommended to apply cold water or an ice cube to the cut for approximately 30 seconds.
- Lip Balm: Like a styptic pencil, lip balms often contain wax. This natural protectant and sealant should only be applied once the cut has been thoroughly cleaned out. A lip balm may or may not sting, depending on the ingredients contained within. Consider this product if you have a cut on your lip.
- Petroleum Jelly: Like a lip balm, petroleum jelly (Vaseline) can be an effective sealant for a shaving cut. Petroleum jelly has no disinfectant or astringent properties. Therefore, it should only be used after a shaving cut has been treated.
- Antiperspirant: – Antiperspirants often contain the active ingredient aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex gly or aluminum chloride. These aluminum compounds are used to plug pores to prevent the sweat glands from excreting fluids. Based on personal accounts (anecdotally), it has been claimed to be effective at healing a shaving cut. As far as safety concerns, we could not find any proven scientific evidence of antiperspirants and open wounds.
- Mouthwash: – Many types of mouthwash contain alcohol to remove bacteria. This potent disinfectant also acts as an astringent and will constrict blood vessels to stop bleeding. Apply a small amount to a cotton ball and then rub it on the open wound.
- Band-Aid: – Rather than using toilet paper or gauze, a simple band-aid is effective at stopping mild bleeding. Before applying, make sure that the wound is fully cleaned. Consider applying a scar cream (i.e., Neosporin) to reduce the appearance of a scar, especially if the wound is large.
- Other Products: – Medical-grade products such as QuickClot are used on battlefield wounds. These are a hemostatic dressing that contains kaolin (a type of clay) which helps to clot a wound quicker (source). Hydrogen peroxide helps disinfect a cut prior to it being dressed with a band-aid or tissue.
Alternative products and home remedies to treat minor shaving nicks include eye drops, a green tea bag, lotions, and other products. Exercise caution when using any of these products, as they may cause adverse side effects.