Ingrown hairs (or pseudofolliculitis barbae if you’re feeling fancy) are unfortunately an accepted risk of all non-permanent hair removal methods. They occur when the hair follicle becomes blocked by dead skin cells, and as a result the hair begins to grow sideways, under the skin. This is particularly common if the hairs are curly, coarse, or have been recently shaved. Sometimes these hairs can even exit the skin before curling over and re-entering it.
You’ll notice when you have one of these ingrown hairs, as they will cause a small pimple to occur over the site, which can become very itchy – and you may even be able to see the hair growing underneath the skin.
While you would have to be incredibly lucky to go without ever suffering from ingrown hairs, there are steps you can take to avoid them or minimize their chance of appearing.
Exfoliation is your first and the most effective defense against ingrowing hairs. This is because exfoliating your skin gets rid of the dead skin and built-up oils that can clog your follicles and cause the hairs to grow back on themselves. The best time to do this is in the bath or the shower. Before you get in, start by brushing your skin with a dry loofah or exfoliating sponge – this will loosen up the dry skin. Then wet your entire body from head to toe, and using the loofah or sponge, start to make small circles on your skin. Start from your feet and work your way up your body, being very careful around areas such as the bikini zone, as the skin can be very sensitive. This shouldn’t take a lot of time, but this simple routine goes a long way to avoiding ingrown hairs.
Choose the right method of hair removal
Some hair removal methods are a lot more likely to cause ingrown hairs than others, so it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right one for you.
- Shaving may be quick, but the clean-cut ends of the hairs are far more likely to dig into the skin and grow inwards.
- Depilatory cream can run a similar risk to shaving, as it is also a form of depilation. However, because the hairs are being dissolved rather than cut, the risk of having ingrown hairs can be far less than that of shaving.
- Waxing is often the best option for avoiding ingrown hairs, as it often removes the hair completely at the root. Because the hair is growing from scratch, it’s important to make sure that you exfoliate to keep your follicles clear to ensure they’re not diverting the hair back in to the skin. Warm wax is the ideal solution, as the warmth also causes the pores to open so the hair can be cleanly removed.
Whatever your chosen method, it’s important to make sure that you master it, as it is often improper technique that causes ingrown hairs to occur. So always read the instructions, and remember that practice makes perfect!