As a shaving enthusiast, I have my share of embarrassing ingrown hairs on my body. It’s totally a bummer if you want to reveal your bare skin for the summer. They can be itchy and painful, especially if you’ve plenty of them on your bikini line, armpits, and legs.
Ingrown hair is a hair that curls back into the skin instead of rising to the surface. Anyone can have ingrown hair but it’s most prevalent to people with curly or coarse hair. If you want to know how to prevent ingrown hair, here are some tips you can follow.
- Exfoliate Regularly
According to harlotbeauty blog, ingrown hair can happen when dead skin cells clog the hair follicle. The clogging of hair follicles affects the growth of the hair. Instead of rising upwards, it grows sideways developing into an ingrown hair.
The best way to remove those dead skin cells is to exfoliate at least once a week. Regular exfoliation will help prevent the buildup of dead skin cells on the skin pores. New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner recommends exfoliating two days prior and three days after shaving or waxing,
To exfoliate, rub your skin in a circular motion using a gentle exfoliating scrub or a damp washcloth. Ask a pharmacist about good exfoliating products to help prevent ingrown hairs. Alternatively, you can use a dry brush to remove the dead skin cells.
- Prepare The Skin For Shaving
Treat the skin before using a razor to reduce the risk of ingrown hair when hair begins to grow back. First, wet your skin with mild soap and warm water to soften the hair.
Next, apply a lubricating gel or shaving cream to create a shield between your skin and the razor. A good shaving cream will give the right lubrication to help your razor to easily glide over your skin. It ensures that the razor blade doesn’t drag and cause irritation that might lead to ingrown hair.
Choose a shaving cream that’s alcohol-free to prevent over-drying your skin. For people with sensitive skin, opt for natural or hypoallergenic shaving cream products. Read the ingredients list and watch out for synthetic ingredients that might irritate the skin leading to skin problems, like ingrown hairs.
- Use A Sharp, Single-Blade Razor
Some razors are made to minimize the risk of ingrown hairs. Choose one that won’t cut the hair close to the skin. Another good option is to just use a single-blade razor.
A single-blade razor cuts cleanly through the hair reducing the risk of developing ingrown hairs and other irritations on the skin. Unlike multi-blade razors, single-blade razors won’t tug and pull the hair under the skin surface.
Ingrown hairs also happen if you use dull blades. For this reason, always use a sharp blade to make clean, precise cuts. Replace your razor if the blade becomes dull.
So, how do you know that your blade is dull and needs to be replaced?
If your razor starts to snag or tugs the hair, then that’s the time to replace it. A dull blade will only cause nicks, cuts, and ingrown hair. Never reuse a disposable razor because it’s only meant to use for a few uses.
- Practice Proper Shaving Techniques
Shaving is one common cause of ingrown hair on legs, underarms, cheeks, and bikini line. Hair tends to curl back into the skin after shaving. For shavers like me, it’s best to observe proper shaving techniques.
When shaving, go in the same direction of hair growth. Use a few strokes to reduce the chances of hair curling back into your skin. After each stroke, rinse the blade with water to remove any debris that might get transferred into your skin and cause infection.
Never tug your skin to get a closer shave. It will only allow the remaining hair tips to curl back into the skin. If you’re an electric razor fanatic, hold it slightly above your skin surface. Never press too hard because you’ll end up pulling back the skin as you shave.
- Soothe The Skin After Shaving
You might not know it, but each time you use a razor across your skin, you’re not only removing hair but also a bit of skin. To heal your skin after shaving, revamp your post-shave routine.
Apply a cool washcloth to the area that you shave after shaving to help reduce irritation. It’s also a good idea to apply a moisturizer after you shave.
A good moisturizer helps keep your skin hydrated and lessen the risks of irritation. When buying for a good post-shaving moisturizer, look for brands that contain chemical exfoliants, such as salicylic acid and alpha hydroxy acids to help disintegrate the dead skin cells that cause ingrown hair.
- Consider Other Hair Removal Methods
Your razor is the main culprit of ingrown hair. Stopping to shave might actually be good prevention to this condition. If shaving causes you ingrown hairs, switch to other hair removal methods, like depilatory creams, electrolysis, and laser.
- Depilatory creams dissolve the hair without cutting the hair too closely. This hair removal method is fast and easy but it may be too harsh for sensitive skin. To avoid possible irritation, conduct a patch test on your skin 24 hours before using the product.
- Laser hair removal is a semi-permanent solution to ingrown hair. It damages the hair follicle to remove hair at a deeper level. Like electrolysis, laser needs several treatments to work. This method might not be effective if your hair is light-colored or blond. The results also differ widely but the hair that regrows might just be finer and lighter than the previous one.
- Electrolysis uses an electric current to destroy the hair roots. It’s a permanent solution to ingrown hairs but you need to undergo several treatments to get the permanent hair-free result that you want.
- Try Out A Serum That’s Designed To Prevent Ingrown Hair
There are many serums meant to prevent ingrown hair out there. These products contain specific ingredients, like salicylic acid, to shed off dead skin cells. Some serums are also formulated with soothing ingredients, like aloe vera, to help fight irritation. Though these products have no Serious Scientific Research, they show positive results in preventing the growth of ingrown hair.
- Let Your Skin Breathe
Your skin gets irritated and inflamed each time you shave. For this reason, you need to let your skin rest to reduce additional chafing in the area. Avoid wearing tight clothing.
For your legs, avoid wearing tight jeans and pants after shaving. Try wearing loose shorts or pants. For your bikini area, use soft cotton underwear.
When To See A Doctor
Following the prevention tips shared above may help you prevent ingrown hair. But if you still end up with an ingrown hair, avoid the urge to squeeze it or you could proliferate the bacteria into the pores leading to infection.
You might want to visit your doctor if the area affected with ingrown hair becomes painful or you have a high fever. The doctor will help you find the right treatment for your ingrown hair problem.
A doctor might prescribe you some steroid creams to reduce the swelling or antibiotic tablets or cream to fight infection. He or she might free trapped hair using a sterile needle or scalpel.