The Slant on Beard Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a combination of inflammation and mild infection of the hair follicle. It can be caused from improper product use to chronic irritation.  It could occur anywhere on the body where there is hair but it is mostly is seen in the groin area, arms, legs, back and face. The beard area on men can look like it has acne with pinpoint raised pimple looking lesions but are irritated/inflamed hair follicles.  Secondary mild infections can make these lesions look pustular. 

The biggest offender in the beard area is shaving.  I want to focus on the shaving strategy and the ART OF THE SHAVE.  Regardless of race or age most daily shavers struggle with razor burn, bumps or ingrown hairs or maybe all three.

Timing of the shave is important.  It doesn’t matter when but it does matter where it should occur after a shower or at a sink on a moist skin.

Skin prepping should vary depending on the skin type. The majority of men don’t even consider this.  It is important that the skin be warmed that the pores are open and the beard hairs have been plumped with moisture. 

Skin Types

Normal – Normal Dry

These faces need the less prep prior to a shave. What is important is that the face is warm/moist while in the shower or immediately after at a sink prior to shaving.

Normal- Oily

An exfoliant will help to scrub bacteria and skin debris. A good exfoliant should have a texture of fine sand that can be mixed with a cleanser and worked in a circular motion all over the face with more pressure in the beard area.  Rinse well with water.

Dry-Sensitive or Acne Prone

Exfoliants are a no no. A use of them can increase dryness and irritate and spread acne.  The face and neck should be extra warm and moist.  Cleanser should be an enzyme based for dry sensitive skin.  Acne prone skin requires cleanser with salicylic acid and glycolic acid and exfoliates without grit.  For faces with pustule and cystic acne shaving is out until the acne can be treated and when there is less open lesions.  It is best to use a beard trimmer.  Trying to clear the beard has a high risk of spreading infection throughout deeper layer of the skin along with promoting bleeding and pain from the pustule. 

Seek help from a medical spa or from a dermatologist to have access to effective topical or oral medications to clear the acne and provide safe and effective cleansers.  Laser and Skin Care has a dedicated acne program that will allow for treatments covered through Alberta Health Care.

Shave prep is often skipped by most men.  A pre shave oil, such as American Crew Ultra Gliding Shave Oil, provides an invisible layer to cushion and provide some glide.  These products are usually clear and for some with minimal stubble will get a pain free/close shave. 

Shaving Products

A shaving cream like Aveeno that has a lubricant with an oatmeal base will work for everyone.  Massage it well into the skin and remoisten as needed.  There has been a trend away from highly scented shaving creams due to increase problem with allergic reactions to these.

 Coarser denser beard do well with a badger hair shaving brush that lifts the hair, exfoliates underneath and lubricates the skin.

The Blade

The closest best shave is with a classic straight razor or a safety razor. This is definitely what defines the art in shaving. Visit an old school barber, there are a few still around or many salons will offer a “grooming specialist” to learn. For the majority, the cartridge blade is popular. Despite the marketing ploys, there is no need for more than a 2-3 blade cartridge. A shave involves going over the same area at least twice, that’s 6-9 blades! Plenty!

The Step by Step Shave

Become familiar with the directions of the beard growth. Generally cheeks to jawline hair grows downward. It’s important to keep the area to be shaved taut so pull down on the neck. Start at the middle to bottom of the earlobe of in front of the earlobe and draw the blade along the jaw to the nose and chin area. Keep rinsing the blade with warm water. Repeat on the other side. The neck often takes the brunt of nicks. The hair is usually growing upward but not always in straight lines. Keep the skin extra taut helps those valleys and folds from unwanted cuts. Again, start at below the ears and work up until the chin is reached. Remember to keep adding cream or water for efficient blading.

The lip can be a bit tricky. Draw the top lip down over the teeth and keep tight. Shave straight down in minimal passes. Avoid side swipes and slow down close to the lip margin. When attacking the lower lip and chin the hair usually grows down. Curl the bottom lip over the teeth and keep the chin skin tight and take short single downwards strokes, again avoiding slanting. Keep the area moist. Shaving is not a competition or a race so take time to learn the angles of the face.

If any areas are missed post check, re-cream and go slightly diagonal, never against the grain. That is a common culprit of creating ingrown hairs.

Lastly, rinse with cool water and dab to dry.

Post Shave

Some men like a post shave toner or balm, such as Aveeno Men’s After Shave Lotion, Fragrance Free. These act as an astringent to close pores as well as reduces bacterial spread and reduce irritation. Again, it is best to avoid perfume balms or heavy tick products if prone to folliculitis. Balms, unless they are considered a medical grade are not recommended for acne skin. It is better to apply a topical acne product recommended by your doctor or aesthetician.

Moisturizers are key to calm, repair and hydrate the shaved areas. For problem skin, seek advice from a skin doctor or a spa that carries science based products.

Shaving takes practice to become quick and efficient with zero nicks.

I hope this brief review of the art of shaving will help avoid the unwanted left over result of hair follicle irritation – folliculitis.


Recommended products;

Over the counter:

Aveeno shaving cream

Medical Grade:

Zo Gentle Cleanser (can be used as a shave cream)

Zo Exfoliating Polish

Skin Medica Ultra Sheer


Visit acne treatments in the service column on our website to learn about the dedicated acne program.

Acne- A Self-Esteem Downer

Everyone knows someone or has suffered themselves with acne. The word “suffer” is appropriate for the overwhelming effect psychologically and socially with a benign skin condition that can take control of a person’s life. Acne is most prevalent in the teens and 20’s but can also present or return in later decades. Having acne carries a stigma, it can decide whether you get the mate, get the job, even its presence will be linked with a person’s I.Q. Sad but so true! Continue reading “Acne- A Self-Esteem Downer”

Aging and Our Brains

We have many proven and visible techniques for skin rejuvenation such as science base skin care, laser, and plasma (PRP) injections that can reverse aging factors and give us back replacement tissue.  But this does not hold for the brain.  It is a very unique organ, can tolerate a lot of abuse and tissue insults but we cannot replace our cells. It is well known that alcohol, marijuana, opioids and other hard chemicals alter or kill our brain cells. 

How we live and how we care or not care for our bodies and brains determines what we end up with.  Genetics plays some role such as in conditions like familiar dementia.

There are many misconceptions about brain function as well as many mysteries.  Chronological aging doesn’t correlate with automatic decline.  We all know someone in their eighties or nineties who have maintained great brain function. 

The brain is made up of specialized compartments.  Our life and accomplishments depend on a variation of functional areas.  Varied activities and exercises help in brain training so that this function can be stimulated.  Brain training can occur through different techniques such as meditation and cognitive therapy and training. Cognitive therapy is orientated to learning how to solve current problems and teaching people to modify behavior and modify dysfunctional thinking through brain adaptation.

Brain age is a myth.  No two people have the same brain or outcome of brain function.  Maintaining  a healthy brain requires the mental cross training activities that keep complex thinking pumped as well as life style attention to some critical factors.  These include the following. 

  1. Fruits and Vegetables

These food groups are full of great brain food.  Generally what is good for the heart and body is also good for this critical organ.  Studies have been disappointing to prove the benefits claimed by many supplements and herbal formulas.  The human systems of digestion and absorption and distribution have spent eons evolving to deal best with real food.

  1. Chronic Stressors

Lots have been written about acute and chronic stress and what that does to our bodies. We do know that it elevates blood pressure and there are many chemical changes that create a cascade of negative events in the body. In the brain these chemical changes slow down and stop neurogenesis (the development of new neurons). This effects memory and cognitive complex thinking. Stress management is critical to a long life with a healthy brain as part of it.

  1. Physical Exercise

Anything that particular gets the heart beating fast provides the best improvement in brain function. Exercise increases the blood supply to critical organs such as the brain and increases growth hormone.  It’s a win win situation- burn calories to help weight control and keep the brain in top shape.

  1. Mental Stimulation Activities

Examples of these that stoke mental stimulation include ongoing learning, new hobbies, not retiring or returning from retirement back to work, complex card games such as bridge, and structural learning activities that require rapid complex thinking.  All these help build neuron reserves that help delay brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s Dementia.