Tips & Techniques, Wellness / Self-Care

How to Stop a bleeding Shave cut

The sure-fire way.

words by: Adam Hurly
May 21, 2022

Every so often, the razor nicks even the best of us. No matter how steady the hand, lubricated the shave, or fresh the blade, we all experience shave cuts. Never mind how it happened; the bigger problem is that you’re bleeding (hopefully in a minor way—anything severe should take you straight to Urgent Care). Hopefully, too, you’re reading this in advance of actual bleeding, to be prepared for the inevitable. But if you’re here with an active shave cut now, then read fast!

 

Here’s the best way to stop a bleeding shave cut. (And no, you won’t see the “tiny bits of toilet paper” method endorsed here).

 

First, disinfect the cut

Start with a clean washcloth, and run it under hot water (not boiling hot, but certainly not lukewarm, either). Press this against your cut to cook any critters that may have otherwise hopped up into the wound. While the warm water won’t exactly do you any favors in the slowing-of-the-blood-flow department, the 30 seconds you spend applying pressure should at least assist in slowing things down.

 

Next, sprinkle some witch hazel onto a cotton pad, or apply a tiny dab of antimicrobial post-shave (something with tea tree oil, witch hazel, rosemary oil—but not any pure forms of essential oils). This will further and better neutralize bacteria in the area.

 

Now, stop the blood

Here is where you actually constrict the blood vessels and clot the cut. You can try the ol’ ice cube method, wherein you apply a cube directly to the cut for 15 seconds. An icy cold compress should suffice, too. Just as a cold splash of water helps “tighten the pores” and close off the skin after a shave, your icy spot-check on this shave cut should help seal things off.

 

Another option, if you want to plan ahead, is to buy a styptic pen or alum block. Both harness the powers of aluminum sulfate, which is a natural astringent that constricts blood vessels. By simply pressing either of these tools onto your disinfected cut, you can quickly clot the blood. Simply wet it first, and then rinse and wipe it off after, allowing it to air dry before the next use.

 

Typically, styptic pens pack a little more punch than alum blocks. (Though their nomenclature may boil down to the shape and design of each product, rather than their potency.) Honestly, for minor cuts, both should be fine for what you require out of them. Styptic powder is also an option, and is used more commonly in barber shops where the use of a styptic pen or alum block would be unsanitary from one customer to the other. (It’s also commonly used on pets, since it is much easier to sprinkle on a solution than hold them still while maneuvering an alum block beneath their fur or feathers).

 

We love Clubman’s styptic pencil, Gentleman Jon’s alum block, and Infalab’s Nick Relief styptic powder.

 

Then seal off the wound

The final step is to apply an emollient over the top of the cut—to trap moisture inside and to prevent bacteria from creeping in. You can do this with a fresh Chapstick, a more gooey healing balm, or even an antibiotic ointment to further boost defensiveness. If you wash the area later in the day, be sure to disinfect it again and once more seal it off to trap moisture, thwart critters, and promote faster, smoother recovery.

 

Audit your shave

If you aren’t sure how you got the shave cut—typically a pimple or natural contours are to blame—then it could otherwise be your razor blade. If you experience a cut while shaving, then it’s smart to toss that razor after use (and even consider swapping it out mid shave). There’s a good chance it’s past its optimal use date (which tends to be 6-8 shaves or 2-3 weeks, whichever comes first; some infrequent shavers will push this to 6 weeks, and we mean push it).

 

Keeping on top of your razor hygiene is imperative for a smooth, safe shave. Anything less than perfectly sharp will lead to razor drag, clogged pores, ingrown hairs, uneven shaves, and yes, shave cuts.

 

Here’s a guide to how often you should replace your grooming products.