How to trim chest hair without the itching is a question that has plagued many a manscaper for years.
Many set forth on the noble pursuit of lifelong bare-chestedness. But unfortunately, there are those who admit defeat after only a few battles due to the inevitable, insufferable itch.
The prickly hairs, the chafing – it’s all just unnecessary and oh so distracting.
I was one very nearly one of those men. But after a period of dedicated study, I was able to devise a plan of attack that would allow even the hairiest of chests to be tackled without fear of the itch.
If it can work for me, it can work for you.
Let me share it with you in a nutshell first, then we’ll dig a little deeper into each aspect. So how do you shave or trim your chest hair without causing itching?
Take a warm shower with no harsh gels or soaps, use a nice new razor with a sensitive shaving gel and take time to ensure the correct technique. Use a gentle anti-inflammatory gel to finish off. If you’re reading this too late and the itching is very much in progress, try a soothing toner, a botanical moisturizer, warm compresses, loose clothing and letting it heal before having at it again.
By the way, click here to find out my most recommended chest hair grooming tools of the year.
Now let’s dig deeper.
The reason trimming and shaving chest hair makes you itch
Just before we dive headfirst into a sea of the juiciest chest grooming tips you could ever believe, it’s a good idea to take a moment to learn the why.
What’s with the itch?
When a razor blade cuts hair on your chest, it doesn’t actually remove the entire hair.
The hair follicle (from which the hair arises) remains intact under the skin, and what you’ve done is simply cut the hair close to the surface.
Think of a lawnmower cutting grass. It isn’t going into the soil and pulling out roots – it’s simply cutting visible part of the grass close to the ground to make it look more presentable.
It’s the same thing.
Now, the shorter you cut the hair, generally the more likely it is for the skin to become irritated and itchy. This is why shaving generally causes more irritation than trimming.
Also, the blades of a trimmer can pull the hair follicle in different directions and cause hairs to grow in ways it shouldn’t, causing ingrown hairs and more irritation.
This irritation can appear as a sore, red rash called “razor burn”. In more severe cases the inflammation can cause little bumps called “razor bumps” which usually require medical attention.
If all this is sounding like a horror story you’d rather not tune in to, let me give you some tips and tricks to both prevent and stop itching due to shaving or trimming your chest hair.
12 Tips to Prevent And Stop The Itching After Trimming Your Chest Hair
1. Exfoliate before shaving or trimming
Two days before the big day, rub a gentle, exfoliating body scrub over your chest.
If this all seems like overkill just hear me out.
To exfoliate is to unclog the skin pores. To remove the gunk – the dead skin cells, the oil, the dirt.
All this stuff is most likely matting down the chest hair where you can’t even see it and will obstruct the blade’s path. This increased friction will lead to irritation and itchiness.
Exfoliating will also reduce the likelihood of those hairs not re-growing into the skin and causing ingrown hairs.
Doing it a day before the big day will give the chest skin enough time to recover, as exfoliating can make skin dry and irritated as well. That’s why it’s so important to moisturize immediately after exfoliating as well.
Here’s an example on Amazon. It’s a gentle, exfoliating body scrub.
2. Take a nice warm shower
Or even better a warm bath. Yes guys, pamper yourselves. Make an event of it. The warmth of the water will soften and relax the skin, as well as open the pores.
It will also soften the hairs making them easier to cut and with less friction and therefore less irritation.
Use a gentle body wash with soothing botanical ingredients such as aloe vera or richly moisturizing ones like shea butter. Just avoid anything with fragrance, parabens, and alcohol because they’re irritating and drying.
Doing these things should set the stage and reduce the likelihood of potential inflammation of the follicles, ingrown hairs, itching and razor burn.
3. Use a fresh razor
This one is essential. Especially if you are shaving as opposed to trimming and the blade is coming into close contact with the skin, you want to make sure that the blade is clean. Even better, new.
Let’s put it this way. That blade has seen things. It’s done things you and I can’t even imagine. Yes, it cuts hair, but it also inadvertently scrapes dead skin cells, oil, dirt and shaving foam.
This appetizing mix is a breeding ground for bacteria, and it’s not something you want around a sensitive, freshly shaven or trimmed chest.
In addition, fresh blades can cut wet hair with less friction and makes irritation even less likely.
Dull and blunt blades also increase the risk of ingrown hairs. Nightmare.
I tend to stick with large names such as the Gillette Fusion 5 due to it’s proven track record and durability. Plus they tend to last longer and provide better value for money.
4. Use a sensitive shaving gel
One that gets you. One that understands you.
Using a shaving gel or cream enriched with soothing ingredients such as chamomile or witch hazel and is (once again) fragrance-free should ensure that you’re giving your skin enough TLC before you do the deed.
But please do use a shaving gel. Shaving dry or shaving without enough lubrication is a recipe for disaster as the friction from the blade will cause needless inflammation of the skin.
Do remember to regularly top up the gel during the shaving process if you feel like it’s running dry. Yes, it’s important not to waste, but in these circumstances, you need to make sure that you’re lathering yourself up to a more than adequate extent.
This one on Amazon is great because it contains aloe vera, coconut, and lime. So it moisturizes thoroughly and it also smells incredible.
5. Take your time
Rushing through the shaving or trimming process is going to lead to carelessness. You need to make sure you set aside enough time for the entire process without having to hurry.
Taking it slow will reduce the likelihood of nicking or even cutting the skin, leading to more irritation, inflammation and potentially even infection.
It’ll also make sure you’re using the appropriate technique (which we’ll come on to in a minute) as well as using enough lubricating gel to avoid friction.
6. Don’t shave against the grain
Rub up and down your chest and figure out in which direction you encounter resistance. That direction is against the grain (ATG) or in other words the opposite direction of the hair’s growth.
Shaving ATG increases the likelihood of irritation, nicks and cuts which are all things we are trying to avoid.
Having to bear this in mind at all times takes concentration and therefore time, which is why rushing through this is a no-no.
Having said this, shaving ATG can get you a closer shave, which is why a lot of men choose to ignore this and still do it. But please don’t. The subsequent irritation won’t be worth it.
Also remember, the closer the shave, the more itchy and irritated the skin will become.
7. Avoid re-strokes
Let’s go back to the lawnmower. Imagine mowing over the same small patch of grass 50 times. Eventually, those blades are going to do some lasting damage.
It isn’t necessary, my friend. A very significant percentage of blade strokes across your chest will be “re-strokes”.
The problem is, after the first stroke, you remove the gel and lubrication. The second stroke is essentially a blade gliding over very exposed and unlubricated skin.
Itch. Irritation. Inflammation.
Be aware of shaving or trimming over the same area over and over again. Also, just use gentle pressure. There’s no need to use brute force to extract a tiny little hair.
8. Warm compresses
It’s over. As you lay your weapon (be it razor, trimmer or groomer) back down and you walk away from the battle site, you notice a prickly itch arise from your left peck.
What to do? Well, the skin is dry and inflamed – this itches. If you shaved your chest and you’ve now got stubble, those tiny little hairs are now pricking against your skin – this itches.
Well the first thing you could do is rest a warm, damp cloth over your chest and gently massage it. The warmth should help soften the skin and soothe irritation.
9. Use some aloe vera gel
Also, you could use some aloe vera gel, like this one on Amazon. Aloe vera has been used in traditional medicine for millenia due to its possible healing properties.
It’s incredibly soothing to the skin and is most likely exactly what your chest needs after rubbing a blade across it numerous times.
The cooling effect of the aloe vera gel will also feel like you are rubbing paradise across your skin. All that friction will have generated some serious heat, and aloe just happens to be the king of cool.
It’s also hydrating and will inject some much-needed moisture into your skin.
The soreness will settle down with time. But in the meantime take some extra steps to make this post-trim period as pleasant and painless as possible.
10. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
By this point, your chest skin has gone through a lot. You’ve likely scratched, rubbed, pulled and plucked without even realizing it. Moisturising is a phenomenal way to counteract irritation or inflammation.
By providing moisture to the skin using a good occlusive moisturiser you’re actually strengthening the skin barrier and preventing loss of water. This keeps the skin happy, healthy and speeds up the recovery process.
Again, try to choose a moisturizer free of fragrance, parabens, and alcohol.
11. Wear loose clothing
The feel of a tight T-shirt rubbing against a trimmed chest is a discomfort that could be avoided. As it comes into contact with dry and irritated skin it’s going to cause some seriously distracting itching and chafing.
Plus it’s essentially just causing more friction over an area of skin that’s seen plenty of that already.
Wearing loose, soft upper bodywear for a few days after the act will reduce the discomfort. It will give the skin space to breathe and heal.
12. Give it time to heal
The main point here is – don’t shave too often! Remember what I said about re-strokes? The same principle applies.
Doing this every few days or even weeks shouldn’t be necessary and what’s worse is that the irritation and dryness will almost become chronic because it’s not given any time to heal itself.
It’s therefore important not to rush into hair removal again until the itching subsides, any razor burn subsides and definitely until any bumps you may see subside.
When you finally do decide it’s time to get back at it, don’t forget to follow these 12 crucial tips again. If you follow them you’ll most likely not only notice a significant reduction in itch and discomfort, but you’ll also notice the end result is more aesthetically pleasing.
Looking after your skin is just as important as removing the hair on top to achieve a great looking result – something I’ve come to learn and am sharing with anyone that listens.
Shaving, Trimming Or Waxing Chest Hair: Which One Causes More Itching?
As mentioned, shaving cuts the hair very, very close to the skin, leaving stubble which can rub and cause itching.
With trimming, the hair isn’t usually cut that close to the skin and although this is great it still can cause discomfort and itching.
Waxing on the other hand actually pulls the hairs out from their roots, not only leading to longer-lasting results but also feels great because you don’t have the prickle of stubble or short hairs to contend with. It’s just nothin’ but smoothness. In addition, as the hairs are being pulled out by their roots there isn’t a risk of ingrown hairs which is awesome.
At the end of the day, it’s personal preference. Yes, waxing is overall less itchy than shaving or trimming the chest. However, it’s also less practical as you most likely need someone to do it for you – ideally a professional.
You’ll also need to get it done fairly frequently.
If you do go down this route, be sure to take the same post-procedure steps I outlined above. Products such as soothing botanical gel and occlusive moisturizers are still great to use as the skin is nonetheless going to be dry and irritated following this method too.
Alternatively, if you want to stick with shaving or trimming, the tips we’ve talked about should hold you in good stead, my friend.