If you are prone to ingrown hairs its can feel like you constantly have them and nothing is working to get rid of them. The most common areas to get an ingrown hair is after an underarm, leg or Brazilian wax. I am going to breakdown the what, why and how of how to prevent ingrown hairs. Beware, there’s some science ahead…
What is an ingrown hair?
For those of you that have had an ingrown hair this questions seems like a no-brainer. Simply put, it is a hair that is unable to grow through the surface of the skin. This means it continues to grow in some shape or form underneath the surface.
What causes an ingrown hair?
The most common causes of ingrown hairs are:
>Cutting very curly hair close to the skin eg shaving
>Dead skin cells on the surface of the skin
>Poor waxing methods
The type of hair determines the shape of the follicle it came from. For example, a straight hair growing directly out of the skin is sat in a straight follicle which is perpendicular to the skin:
When a curly hair is cut very close to the skin it is more likely to grow back into the skin. Curly hair can also be more prone to becoming ingrown as the curly shape of the follicle can make it more difficult for the growing hair to follow the curved shape of the follicle channel to the surface. Waxing over time can start to change the shape/direction of the hair follicle. This is a benefit especially for curly hair as it can straighten the follicle. This gives the hair an easier path of growth to the surface and in the long run reducing the frequency and helping to prevent ingrown hairs.
The most common cause of ingrown hairs is dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. Our skin naturally sheds daily without any intervention from us. Depending on your skin and hair type, in order to prevent ingrown hairs some manual exfoliation may also be required. This is especially true for a Brazilian wax. Most people never don’t incorporate any skin care treatment to the front area of their Brazilian/bikini area.
Poor hair removal or waxing technique (especially for Brazilian wax) could also be to blame. If a hair is broken and not removed from the root this can leave the hair with a blunt end. A blunt end can irritate the skin when it continues to grow. This can lead to a breakout or ingrown hair. Finding a reputable studio to get waxed at will eliminate this factor altogether.
How to get rid of an ingrown hair and how to prevent ingrown hairs
If you want to get rid of and prevent ingrown hairs it requires similar steps but in varying frequency. It is important to first acknowledge that ingrown hairs can come in different forms. Some are easier to treat than others.
The first 2 images above are ingrown hairs that cause more inflammation. These can also come with a blocked follicle causing some sort of breakout or pustule in that particular follicle.
The second 2 images can usually look like a hair laid flat on the surface of the skin but it is actually just under a dead layer of skin.
The treatment for all of these are the same but in varying degrees. The following is a fool proof way to get rid of and prevent ingrown hairs:
- Exfoliate EVERY DAY. This will remove the dead skin on the surface to allow the hair to grow through. There is no needs to exfoliate so your skin is red and raw. Gentle to mild exfoliation each day is enough. Ideally using an exfoliating body glove or an abrasive body cloth is ideal. They do a thorough job without having to continuously purchase them unlike body scrubs. Some body scrubs may be abrasive enough but by relying on small beads or sugar granules to exfoliate you cannot trust that every follicle will be exfoliated.
- Moisturize EVERY DAY. This will help keep the surface of the skin supple and soft so the hair can grow back through the surface of the skin easier. Try to use moisturizers with as fewer chemicals and fragrance in, especially after a Brazilian wax. Only use creams/lotions recommended safe by your wax technician.
- Use an ingrown treatment serum. There are a lot of these on the market but they all work in similar ways. They usually all contain an ingredient such as salicylic acid. This acts as a chemical exfoliant to further lift dead skin to reveal stubborn ingrown hairs. They usually contain an ingredient with anti-bacterial properties such as tea tree. Follow the directions of use for the product you have.
Everyone’s hair and skin is different so action these prevention steps accordingly. Got super sensitive skin? Don’t exfoliate as vigorously. Not getting any ingrown hairs? Maybe reduce these actions to every other day and then may be to every 2-3 days. You will find what works for you and then stick to it.
*The most important factor to keep in mind is consistency*
Your skin has a renewal process of around 4 week. The ‘baby’ skin cells at the bottom layer of skin take around 4 weeks to come to the surface to then be shed as dead skin. If you adapt a new product or action into your skin care routine you must maintain this for at least 4 weeks to see if these new steps are making a difference.