Karen Gillan shaved her head for Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy, and described the experience to Metro as, “hilarious.” But, unfortunately, many redheads describe shaving with opposite adjectives, such as ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘itchy’.
1. Do you have problems with bumps on your legs from shaving?
2. Do the bumps resemble bug bites and begin to itch and sometimes hurt?
3. Do the bumps spread to your underarms? If you stop shaving, do they go away?
If you’ve answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you might be allergic to nickel in your razor. To get further information, we spoke with Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell, dermatologist, dermatopathologist and founder of VMV Hypoallergenics.
Verallo-Rowell confirms that women, especially those with sensitivities, can be allergic to certain razors with nickel in its make up. “Nickel is one of the most allergic metals and in many studies is the most common allergy,” says Verallo-Rowell. “Symptoms include dryness, redness, scaling, itching, darkening or other abnormal symptoms on areas that might come in contact with the metal parts of the razor.”
She also shares that in razor blade studies, it has been proven that those with small skin irritations due to the nickel in the blade have increased reactions if one is sensitive and/or allergic to the fragrance in the shaving products. And, the nickel release in the razors, if allergic, can worsen reaction to shaving cream and/or shaving products. This proves that sensitive skin can be equally affected by fragrance and nickel, both of which redheads should avoid if experiencing the symptoms above.
In an electric shaver study, pure nickel particles can be released during use due to the wearing action of the cutter against the shaving foil. In a European study, it also showed that a new Braun razor was composed of pure nickel, while an old Braun shaving razor was pure nickel, but coated with a thin layer of palladium and platinum. Companies, of course, change manufacturing methods so the best way to detect if nickel is present in the razor blade or electric shaver you are using is to a DMG test before using the device.
“The presence of nickel may be detected using a chemical called Dimethylglyoxime in what is called the DMG test. DMG Test was (+) in all 6 Braun brand shavers tested; only 2 of nine Phillips brand were (+). They found that six out of six Braun shavers gave positive DMG test outcomes, whereas only two of nine Phillips shavers gave positive reactions,” says Verallo-Rowell.
“Alternately, there are several types of lasers that are quite successful in permanently removing the leg or facial hairs to stop the need to shave, although redheads might have difficulty with laser hair removal.”
So, if you’re now convinced you’re allergic to nickel, these are the steps to stay away from it for good:
1. Do a DMG test prior to shaving.
2. Use a razor blade where the metal part is only in the blade, and the rest is pure plastic. Sometimes, the metal around the blade can comprise of pure nickel, and that in itself can cause extreme irritation.
3. Use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free shaving products.
4. Find a laser hair removal center that will work on redheads. Typically, laser experts will not work with a redhead because their hair is too light; but if you find the right center with the right technology, you may have luck. If you keep hearing “no,” begin researching the electrolysis process.
5. Stop using your razor if you suspect a nickel allergy! The irritation will rarely ever disappear if you continue to use the razor on your skin. Use a nickel-free razor like Preserve.
6. Opt for a shaving cream for sensitive skin.
Rock it like a Redhead!