Ingrown hair is a common occurrence for many of us, but how do you remove ingrown hair without making your skin angry. Better yet, how do you prevent them entirely?
This guide will cover all you need to know about ingrown hairs, their treatment, and prevention, just in time for summer.
WTF Is An Ingrown Hair?
Whether it feels like your body is a breeding ground for ingrown hairs, or you’ve never experienced one before, understanding what an ingrown hair actually is, is an important part of treating them.
An ingrown hair is when the hair grows back into the skin - a common condition that results from hair removal through shaving, tweezing, or waxing. Obviously, you can avoid ingrown hairs by just not removing the hair, but this isn’t an option if you want smooth, hairless skin.
Ingrown hairs can appear on the facial areas including the chin, cheeks, and especially the neck, as well as the scalp, the armpits, pubic area, and legs. You can tell you have an ingrown hair if you experience:
- A small, solid, rounded bump
- A puss-filled, blister-like lesion or bump
- An embedded hair (when you have a loop of hair coming out of the skin)
- Hyperpigmentation or skin darkening
Razor Bump VS Ingrown Hair?
An ingrown hair occurs when a shaved or tweezed hair grows back wonky, pushing it back into the skin. A razor bump (not an ingrown hair, but still pretty annoying) is when the shaved hair grows back on itself and into the skin surface.
So, an ingrown hair is when the hair grows back into the skin, rather than UP and OUT, and a razor bump is when the hair has grown OUT and then back INTO the skin. Fortunately, they can be treated in the same way.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Anyone who grows hair can get an ingrown hair, but they are most common among people with coarse or curly hair, as it is believed that this encourages the hair to re-enter the skin once it is cut.
Hair removal is mostly responsible for causing ingrown hair, with shaving being the most well known, but there are also other reasons we get ingrown hairs. They can occur due to a build-up of dead skin on the surface, preventing the hair from breaking through the surface.
Here are the most common causes of ingrown hairs.
Shaving is the most common practice of hair removal for both women and men, but there are two major causes of ingrown hairs from the shaving process.
Multi-blade razors are advertised to help you achieve the smoothest shave possible, with the first blade lifting the hair, and the next blade cutting the hair below the surface of the skin. But when the hair starts to grow back, it can become trapped under the skin, which we know now is the cause of ingrown hairs.
Another problem with the multi-blade razors is that shaving against the direction of hair growth, the tip of the hair goes deeper beneath the surface of the skin, increasing the chance of razor burn, razor bumps, and ingrown hair.
The second problem with razor shaving is dull blades, which leave the hair jagged which causes irritation as the hair grows back. This also encourages you to go over the same spot over and over again, causing more trauma to the skin.
Waxing is said to be the worst culprit for causing ingrown hairs, due to the fact that the hair is pulled out directly from the root. As the hair is pulled out so rapidly, the lining of the hair follicle is disrupted.
This hair follicle, basically a small tube, is responsible for guiding the hair to the surface and out of the skin. Without this lining, the hair doesn’t have a way to break out of the skin so it often gets caught, causing ingrown hairs.
Waxing your hair sometimes causes the hair to break rather than getting removed from the root, which makes it hard for the new hair to pierce the skin and grow back properly. A similar occurrence happens when you epilate, where the hair is pulled directly from the root as it’s run across the skin, creating the same ingrown cause as waxing.
Surprisingly, your clothes could actually be causing your ingrown hairs and razor bumps. The friction caused by wearing tight clothes or underwear for long periods of time can rub the hairs against the skin continuously, and push it back into the follicle.
The elastic in tight underwear, around your legs and waist, can also press into the skin, trapping the hair as it begins to grow and encouraging it to grow back into the follicle. Synthetic fabrics like nylon leggings, skinny jeans, and polyester underwear can also exacerbate the ingrown hairs.
If that isn’t reason enough to treat yourself to some velvety soft, organic cotton underwear then we don’t know what is.
How To Treat Ingrown Hairs
It is said ingrown hairs will typically go away on their own, but if you experience excessive ingrown hairs or you have a sunny day ahead of you then you might want to speed up the process.
Firstly, for goodness sake, stop touching it! This will only anger the hair more, and you may cause an infection. Don’t try to pluck, pull, shave, wax or cut the hair where an ingrown is.
Secondly, very carefully use a sterile pin or tweezer and, without piercing the skin, try to lift the hair so that it can grow freely. If this isn’t possible without breaking the surface, hold a warm flannel to the area to help open the pores.
Thirdly, gently rub the area in a circular motion to release the trapped hair. Once it is removed, apply an exfoliating tonic and mild antiseptic to prevent infection. Remember, it’s important to remove the hair in the direction of growth.
If you can’t get the hair out, leave it alone, it’s not time for it to come out and if you rush it, you may cause further damage such as dark spots and scarring.
How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs
If you’ve gotten rid of existing ingrown hairs, preventing any future ones is your next best move. Here are the best ways to prevent ingrown hairs.
We’ve discussed how these multi-layer blades can promote ingrown hairs and razor bumps, but what are the alternatives? That’s where safety razors come in.
Single blade safety razors cut at the surface of the skin, preventing new ingrown hairs, they are also sharper so there’s no need to go over the skin multiple times, causing less friction to the skin. Safety razors only need the blade replacing, which makes them much more environmentally friendly and kinder to our planet.
Remember to shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it, with appropriate shaving products (never, ever dry shave) and rinse your razor after each stroke.
Exfoliate, And Exfoliate Some More
By regularly exfoliating you are removing the dead skin cells that clog the hair follicle, which is the key to preventing ingrown hairs. Exfoliating before hair removal to clear the pores and remove dead skin is also essential.
We recommend you use a body scrub 2 to 3 times a week, or daily dry skin brushing for the best exfoliating practise, and the softest of skin.
Keep Your Skin Thoroughly Hydrated
Dry skin will result in an excess of dead skin cells that will clog up your hair follicles, preventing the hair from reaching the surface. It’s so important to moisturise daily to prevent ingrown hairs as well as dry skin.
If you’re wondering what moisturiser you should choose, an oil or a lotion, consider this:
- Lotions are good as a sheer moisturiser and are best for skins that aren’t as dry, or for those with oilier skin.
- Body oils are the most emollient, which means they soften and nourish the skin. They also resemble the natural oils in our skin so they are easily absorbed. Oils don’t clog pores either.
Use A Dedicated Skin Treatment
The best way you can prevent ingrown hairs, razor burns, and strawberry legs are by using a dedicated treatment for them.
Our Daily Treatment Oil is a light-textured yet deeply penetrating oil that calms redness, prevents infected follicles, exfoliates dead skin cells and both hydrates and nourishes the skin. Used as part of your daily skincare regime, it helps to prevent ingrown hairs.
If you’re experiencing deep, inflamed ingrown hairs, our Exfoliating Tonic and Intensive Care Oil will unclog the follicle to prevent infection, and then calm the inflammation and reduce redness and discomfort.
MEET FOLLI OIL
Folli Oil is a natural, cruelty-free, Vegan skincare range that actually works. Using the finest, ethically-sourced and sustainable plant-based and natural ingredients. Our products are handcrafted in small batches at our studio in the beautiful Cotswolds. We test on willing humans, not animals, and our packaging is recyclable. Shop now.