As you all know already I have a passion for hair removal and epilators. After some time starting to remove my hair I found my self a victim of ingrown hair; I was wondering how to prevent ingrown hairs since then.
What Is Ingrown Hair?
Chances are you’ve heard of ingrown hair by now.
The condition is discussed in all the beauty magazines, regularly making the cover of magazines like Cosmopolitan every few months.
Yet, despite the proliferation of the term and the condition it represents in the mainstream of cosmetic publications, the lack of good information included in this coverage makes it quite likely that most people still do not know what it means.
So what are they?
What are the causes, how can you prevent them and how can you treat it? Even if you don’t know what an ingrown hair is, if you shave or epilate then the chances are you’ve had one…and considering their resemblance to juicy zits and fat pimples, you didn’t like having one.
To help ensure your skin remains smooth and free of these aberrations, let’s take a quick look at what they are and what you can do about them.
Defining Ingrown Hair
“At risk of stating the obvious, the natural direction of hair growth in humans is outwards from the skin and follicle. In the case of an ingrown hair, due to one of a few possible reasons the affected hair grows inward. While more prevalent in those with curly hair (because hair of this type doesn’t grow straight out the follicle anyway), those with straight hair are certainly not immune from experiencing them.”
While an ingrown hair may be an eyesore, they don’t pose any health risks and shouldn’t be viewed as anything really beyond a minor annoyance.
In most cases they heal themselves and this healing can also be expedited with a few minor treatments you can do yourself.
Why Causes Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hair has a few main causes, with shaving leading the pack by a wide margin.
When a razor isn’t applied flush to the face during shaving or has become a bit dull, the hair it is meant to shave can be cut diagonally rather than straight across.
The hair that is cut like this then begins to grow out in a direction it isn’t supposed to, resulting in pressure against the skin that manifests itself as an ingrown hair.
Hair can be altered such that it grows out the way it would with improper shaving via other means as well, including waxing and wearing very tight clothes (particularly clothes that don’t breathe well as cotton…the air trapped between the clothes has enough strength in these materials to alter the structure and growth of the hair underneath it).
Anything that applies pressure to the hair and/or hair follicles can be a culprit, as this pressure can result in the hair being forced in a sideways growth pattern rather than how it would grow naturally without any external factors.
Hormonal causes can also be at the root of someone experiencing ingrown hair. Sexual hormones, namely DHT but some others as well, that are responsible for the growth and maturation of hair can also cause the off-kilter growth responsible for the condition. The hormones responsible for pigmentation (e.g. – melanin) can also be to blame, which makes African Americans, Latinos, and other ethnicities with thick skin, more vulnerable to experiencing ingrown hair.
Despite the wider prevalence, the causes of the hair growing the wrong way in these ‘colored’ demographics are the same as they are in the groups with thinner and lighter skin.
Ingrown hair causes red bruises and bumps on the skin. The bumps tend to look like tiny pimples they are indeed not pimples.
Ingrown hair may be painful, forming boil-like sores on the skin. At times the bumps may produce some pus.
The particular hairs causing the ingrown hair condition can usually be easily seen and recognized. In men, ingrown hairs are found most commonly on the chin, cheeks, or neck, naturally correlating with the most common regions they shave.
In women, ingrown hair is more common to the parts of the body they shave, namely the legs, the armpit or pubic region. Some women may notice ingrown hair on the buttocks as well, it all depends on where they shave , epilate or wax.
Treating Ingrown Hairs
As mentioned earlier, ingrown hairs usually go away by themselves if just given some time. As new skin grows (the surface of your skin regrows at a rate than means you have a new top layer, aka epidermis, every two to four weeks), the dead skin comprising the ingrown hair is pushed away and replaced.
In a very small amount of cases, the help of a dermatologist might become required. In these instances, the new skin cannot displace the ingrown hair so the bump of the ingrown hair has no impetus to move or become pushed out of its’ present location.
The typical treatments used by dermatologists when they encounter ingrown hair are either a steroidal cream or an antibiotic (oral or topical). As these two treatments work on different pathways, it is becoming more and more typical for someone to use both when trying to manage their ingrown hair.
Preventing Ingrown Hairs
It’s been said that the best offense is a good defense, and while it’s not a universal truth, it is certainly applicable here. If you’ve found yourself particularly prone to getting ingrown hair or you just want to make sure your aesthetics remain intact, there are a few simple precautions to take to keep your skin free of these nuisances. Here I have mentioned some of my own tips on how to prevent ingrown hairs.
Exfoliate Before Shaving or Epilating
Exfoliation removes your skin’s dead cells and causes your ingrown hair to pop out of the skin. There are many exfoliation methods ; physical exfoliation, chemical exfoliation, DIY exfoliation etc.
However I’m not much in to exfoliation creams or gels; moreover I’m in to physical exfoliation. I use a exfoliation glove (Previously I used a normal spa glove; also which suits the process). The best exfoliation glove I have used until now is the Earth Therapeutics Exfoliating Hydro Glove (pair of gloves) which costed me lesser than $7.
Use a Tweezer to lift Out Your Ingrown Hairs
Use a pair of tweezers just to lift the ingrown hair out. Do not remove them using the tweezer. It might lead to unexpected skin irritations. Let your shaver or epilator do the work in removing them. These tweezers are really cheap and what I use is the pair of tweezers called “Majestic Bombay” which I bought online for around $10.
In some rare occasions, tweezers might not be able to lift up the ingrown hair since it has been grown for a longer period and deeper in the skin. For such ingrown hairs, I recommend you to go for a dermatologist as I have mentioned above and get a perfect treatment. However it is possible that you can use a needle to lift them up; yet it might lead you to skin infections. So why take the risk!
Following a proper shaving or epilating technique helps you to prevent ingrown hairs
As shaving and epilating is the main cause for ingrown hairs, it’s essential to focus on the proper technique. Make sure you wash the area you’re about to shave or epilate before you start removing hair, as this will clean your pores and allow the blade or the tweezers to remain straight as you pull it through each stroke.
If you are using shaver you should also ensure that you replace your razor as often as you should; if you feel any pinching from a razor, chances are that it’s time for a new one. Shaving cream or gel can also be very effective, as they decrease the friction between the face and the blade, resulting in smoother and straighter shaves.
Using an efficient and fast epilator to remove your skin hair
In my personal experience I think using an epilator more often can cause ingrown hair. My recommendation would be to use an epilator which removes more hairs at a single pass. Emjoy AP-18 Emagine with 72 tweezers embedded is the best epilator which suites the critea.
- Read my review on Emjoy AP-18 Emagine epilator reduce the pain while removing skin hair
The Bottom Line
The best method of prevention though, is to pay attention to your body; when you see an ingrown hair, make sure you figure out what caused it…and change that action!
While they are perpetually an aesthetic nightmare, ingrown hairs are easily preventable as well as easily treated just in case you are a human and you make a mistake.
Please be humble to share your ideas with us using the following comments section. If you have your own experience with ingrown hairs post them up. And even if you have your own tips on how to prevent ingrown hairs, share them with us. 🙂