It’s a well-known and unavoidable fact – men get ingrown hairs. They’re unsightly, painful, and take days to get rid of. An ingrown hair occurs when an ordinary facial or body hair takes an unexpected turn… literally. This often happens after shaving, when hairs grow back into the skin instead of out toward the light — creating a nasty red bump.
For the rest of the day, you try to forget about and ignore that itchy, angry, bright red bump everyone keeps staring at. But no matter how hard you try, it’s at the forefront of your consciousness, eating away at your confidence and style.
And it feels hopeless because you think you did everything right! How in the world can you possibly prevent something like this from happening?
SO, WHAT ARE INGROWN HAIRS?
Ingrown hairs are actually skin wounds.
Ingrown hairs are baby hairs that are trying to break the surface of the skin — but somehow they just don’t make it. Instead, they push just under the skin, curl inward, and begin growing down back into the epidermis (other layers of the skin). This causes inflammation, redness, itchiness… and irritation…on so many levels!
Now, sometimes this “curling back” happens when there is dead skin, oil, or dirt clogging the pores of your skin, creating a blockage to the pore your hair would normally grow from.
Sometimes ingrown hairs occur simply because your body and/or facial hair is curly. If you have curly hair that you shave close to the skin, it actually sharpens the end of the hair. Then when it tries to break through, it pierces the skin. This causes real irritation — even if the hair makes it through the pore, it’s going to be red and sensitive, just like a small wound.
Lastly, you can get ingrown hair if you haven’t exfoliated and moisturized your skin properly. If your skin is dry, your pores will be open, but tight — kind of like tiny, shallow craters. The hair will have a hard time making it through the pore gently and instead can cause irritation when it bursts through.
It’s also hard to get the dirt and blockages out of dry, tight skin. As for oily skin, it’s usually clogged with oil. Even if the hair makes it through, the oil can attract dirt, and cause serious blockages around the root of the hair. Again, more irritation.
So what can you do to make this embarrassing painful situation go away (or prevent it in the first place)?
STEP ONE: Wash Your Face Daily With A Quality Cleanser
A well-rounded pre-shave routine is the best way to prevent ingrown hairs from digging in. Start with a hot shower to soften up face and whiskers. Once warm, use a facial cleanser (and a scrub 1-2 times per week) to prime the skin’s surface. Next, check your shave equipment. If your blade is gnarly or rusty, ingrown hairs will be the least of your worries. Changing up the blades may be costly, but they’re worth it for your skin’s health.
After the face is prepped and equipment checked, get started by applying a shave oil and shaving cream. Work them in aggressively and allow them to tenderize the skin before shaving to improve razor glide and skin protection. Get all your pre and post-shave products in one handy kit with Grooming Lounge’s Greatest Shave Ever Kit.
STEP TWO: Exfoliate 2-3 Times Per Week (Especially On Shaving Days)
Once or twice a week you need to gently exfoliate your skin. Exfoliators should have tiny beads that help to stimulate and massage the skin — releasing what is stuck in pores and sloughing off dead skin. We have found that it’s best to do this at a time when you are not shaving (usually a bit after you shave is best) — because shaving itself can be a light exfoliator.
Exfoliation or scrubbing is just a fancy word for ‘dead skin removal.’ Removing old, dead skin cells allowing newer, healthier skin to surface and thrive. Dead skin build-up can block hair follicles on the face and lead to – you guessed it – ingrown hairs. Exfoliators can also help unearth ingrown hairs, making that whole “tweezer thing” we spoke about moot.
Following up with a good exfoliating scrub can help get rid of any excess dead skin that might be left from shaving. Be careful about how often you do this, as exfoliating too much can dry out and irritate the skin.
There are several effective ways to exfoliate, so try a few to see what works. The most popular form of exfoliation is the Facial Scrub. These are facial cleansers designed with some grit that provide a super deep cleanse and slough dead skin, impurities, and blackheads down the drain. There are many other ways to exfoliate including pads, wipes, tools, or even volcanic stones.
STEP 3: Free Ingrown Hairs With A Tweezer (But Don’t Pull Them Out)
Grab a pair of tweezers and search around for bumps and ingrown hairs. Gently pull ingrowns loose – but not all the way out. Just lift to the surface so the razor can cleanly take them off. Pulling ingrown hairs out with tweezers can lead to infection. And… nobody likes infection.
STEP 4: Use A Shave Oil To Soften Whiskers & Provide Extra Lubrication
Adding generous amounts of shave oil and shave cream are essential. Use lightweight and fragrance-free products, as something with “heavier” filler can stick around and cause oiliness.
STEP FIVE: Shave With Clean, Sharp Blades
Another great tip is to make sure you have a sharp, fresh razor. When you shave with a dull razor you are creating a dull cut to the hair. This can cause the hair to have a hard time breaking the skin when it regrows — which causes ingrown hairs. Also, if you use an old razor it has tons of bacteria, oil, and dead skin on the blades… which is a recipe for creating blockages for the pores.
STEP SIX: Use An Ingrown Hair Solution
Traditional aftershaves are great at targeting dryness by moisturizing and nourishing the skin. However, they don’t take responsibility when it comes to battling ingrown hairs. That’s why there are solutions specifically targeting post-shave complications/ingrowns. Find a product that works and be consistent with use as it might take the skin some getting used to before nirvana is reached.