I've been meaning to dedicate a column to the beauty woes of black men for a while, but the time just never seemed right. Besides, where would I start? But then, a few weeks ago, this magazine's Wellbeing pages had an article that included a section on razor bumps, since when virtually every black man I know, more than a few I don't and pretty much all their girlfriends, wives and mothers have been in touch, demanding to know more. Specifically, why is it that black men are particularly prone to the blighters and what, if anything, can they do about it?
So here you go: pseudofolliculitis barbae, or razor bumps as they are less grandly known, "occur when the hair curls back into the skin and causes inflammation", says Will King of King Of Shaves. "Hair that has just been shaved is short, hence rigid, and has a sharp tip, so it can curl around and force its way back into your skin, causing a bump that may become inflamed and painful." Ouch. And, since afro hair is curly, it's more likely to re-enter the skin. Double ouch.
"Not shaving will prevent razor bumps," says King. "However, on the basis that you prefer a clean-shaven look, the key thing is a) to prepare the face using a facial cleanser and scrub [to exfoliate the skin]; b) shave using a decent, sharp razor blade - Mach 3 or Quattro; and c) shave with a shaving oil, which is far superior in delivering blade glide and lubrication. Alternatively, try an electric razor with which, because of the foil, the hairs aren't cut so close to the skin."
That's prevention covered, but what about cure? "Wash the face first with a flannel and antibacterial facewash [such as ASC2], then tweeze out the hairs using boiled, sterilised tweezers [painful, but necessary]. Having done this, shave with the oil, using a Mach3 and short strokes. A routine of washing, tweezing out and shaving with oil should sort them, but will take weeks, not days, so be patient - the results will be worth it. This is what our NBA star Jason Kidd suffered from, but we sorted him out," adds King, by way of encouragement.