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Small study shows razor technology reduces pseudofolliculitis barbae


Gillette announced in July that a 12-week study shows its SkinGuard razor reduced incidence of pseudofolliculitis barbae papules in men by more than 61% at three months.

Gillette announced in July that a 12-week study shows its SkinGuard razor reduced incidence of pseudofolliculitis barbae papules in men by more than 61% at three months.

Researchers studied 20 men, ages 20 to 60 years, including 11 African Americans, 8 Caucasians and 1 Asian. The men had at least a 2-year history of razor bumps and with symptoms of mild to moderate razor bumps, irritation and razor-related inflammation of the hair follicles based on Investigator Global Severity Assessment, according to a Gillette press release.

Men were asked to use the SkinGuard with their regular shave preparation products daily for the 12 weeks of the study. Researchers evaluated the men at weeks 4, 8 and 12.

According to the study, presented in June at the 24th World Congress of Dermatology in Milan, Italy, subjects experienced slightly more than a 20% reduction in papules at week four, a 57% reduction at week eight and more than 61% at week 12. The skin’s appearance improved continuously during the study, falling from 2.5 on the Investigator Global Severity Assessment (0 to 5 scale) to slightly more than 1 at 12 weeks. Men’s quality of life, including self-confidence and social interactions also improved.

Gillette SkinGuard addresses the problem of razor bumps with its design, and the razor’s technology is very different from what has been offered to men in the past, according to Amy McMichael, M.D., professor and chair of Dermatology at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Dr. McMichael led the clinical Gillette-funded study on the SkinGuard and is a consultant with the company.

“Instead of adding more blades to the razor, there are actually only two blades in this razor, so each beard hair is only pulled and cut up to two times in each shaving stroke. Importantly, the two blades are separated by a so-called ‘skin guard,’ which is a little blue ‘bridge’ in the center of the cartridge that protects the skin by ensuring blades press less on skin,” according to emailed responses from Dr. McMichael. “So, as the blades pass, they don`t irritate the skin or the hair follicle. This causes the skin to not form [pseudofolliculitis barbae] lesions and allows men to have a very nice shave without the pain.”

The SkinGuard also features lubricants in the razor’s strips, which are similar to shave gels.

“They are long linear molecules, or polymers, called polyethylene glycols, or PEGs. When the [strips are] wet, they are activated by water and create a cushioning, protective layer between skin and the blades and ensure the razor glides smoothly over the skin. What is clever about the SkinGuard razor is that it has this lubrication strip in 2 locations on the razor: both before and after the blades to minimize friction,” she writes.

Dr. McMichael tells Dermatology Times that when she sees a patient with pseudofolliculitis barbae who says he wants to continue shaving, she recommends the SkinGuard as part of a regimen that includes gentle cleansers and moisturizers.

“I would suggest that men with sensitive skin or a history of [pseudofolliculitis barbae] try the SkinGuard instead of their regular razor. That is the only way they will really get the benefit,” she writes.

Gillette SkinGuard retails for $9.99 for a handle and two cartridges. Two refill cartridges cost $8.99 or $14.99 for four.


Dr. McMichael is a consultant and researcher for Gillette.

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