How To Prevent And Cure Ingrown Hairs (Ouch!)

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how to prevent ingrown hairs
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We all know what it's like to shave, wax, or tweeze and experience the uncomfortable and unflattering ingrown hair. So what exactly are ingrown hairs? They're hair follicles that grow back after being removed, and instead of growing out, embed themselves into the skin and never breach to the surface.

This can cause irritation and inflammation, and if not treated properly can become infected. When putting together our wellness and hair removal routines, we should make sure to account for ingrown hairs and try our best to prevent them.

Below, we've put together a handful of ways for how to treat ingrown hair as well as how to prevent ingrown hairs. So, what can you do when you have them?

First, here's how to prevent them:

1. Let your hair grow out.

As self-conscious or scratchy as you may feel, it's always wise to let your hair grow up before shaving again. Many women shave every three days (and even some every day!), but this can cause irritation on the skin and increase the likelihood of producing an ingrown hair.

Traditionally, it's recommended to wait until the hair is 1/4 of an inch long before shaving. 


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2. Change your razor head.

Not only does using a new razor blade cut hair precisely and leave your legs silky and smooth, it helps prevents the possibility of irritating the skin (which can happen with worn down blades) and forming ingrown hairs. Additionally, new razor heads prevent the spread of germs as they're cleaner than those used over longer periods of time.

Overused or dirty razor blades can cause infections like folliculitis if not cleaned properly. Knowing that razors can be expensive, keep your razor head lasting longer by rinsing between each stroke and patting down with a dry towel after every use. 

3. Use shaving cream.

Don't cut corners when it comes to purchasing shaving cream. Besides moisturizing the skin and leaving a clean shave, shaving cream creates a thin layer (or barrier) between your skin and the hair follicle to prevent the blade from rubbing up and irritating your skin (which can cause ingrown hairs).

The use of shaving cream can also decrease the chances of scrapes or cuts that can happen to the skin when simply using water or un-moisturized soap, which can decrease the risk of getting an infection

Some great shaving cream products include:

4. Use a post-shaving treatment.

One of the most overlooked steps in our hair removal wellness is applying after-shave. When we think about the act of shaving, we're actually taking a sharp blade and rubbing it against our skin, creating friction and irritation.

To restore any lost natural oils to the surface of our skin, we should apply an after-shave treatment to prevent our pores from becoming irritated. After-shave also helps prevent our pores from clogging and closing up which eventually can lead to ingrown hairs. Consider trying MooGoo's Post Hair Removal Cream after each shaving session. 

5. Consider laser hair removal.

While many laser hair removal treatments come with a hefty price tag, there are now at-home hair removal devices to help weaken follicles and eliminate hair growth. With no hair growth, there's no need to worry about ingrown hairs.

Laser hair removal targets the melanin in the hair follicles to disable the hair's ability to regrow. For both an affordable and accountable at home laser hair removal device, Try Cos Beauty's IPL Permanent Hair Removal System


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6. Remember to exfoliate.

Exfoliation is a key component to preventing ingrown hairs. The practice of exfoliating helps removes dead skin cells from the surface. By lifting these cells, you're avoiding potential pore clogging residue to remain on the skin.

Additionally, by exfoliating you're lifting the hair further away from the skin which gives an overall better shave. 

Some over the counter exfoliators to consider include:

If you're looking for a cheap way to exfoliate the skin, try using ground coffee. Not only with the rough surface exfoliate your skin, but the caffeine in the grounds will invigorate your cells and reduce the appearance of cellulite.

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So, it happens: you've got an ingrown! And now you're looking to get rid of it. While it does take time and patience, here's how to get rid of and treat ingrown hairs. 

1. Wash the area with warm water.

This helps open the area's pores. By washing or steaming your skin with warm/hot water you're causing the pores to open and giving the hair an outlet to breach the skin to the surface. If it's difficult or you don't have access to a steam room, try opening your pores by using a warm compress with a wash towel or taking a hot bath.

For men that experience ingrown hairs on their face, try washing your face with warm water and a gentle cleanser to help remove impurities, like Insta Natural's Glycolic Cleanser

2. Don't touch it!

The worst thing to do when experiencing ingrown hairs is to try and pick, pop, or touch it. Not only can it push the hair follicle further back into the skin, it can become infected.

Infected pores can cause folliculitis and spread to surrounding and nearby pores. Instead, continue to rinse with warm water. If pain or itchiness ever occurs, try reaching out to a dermatologist who will recommend steroid cream. 

3. Invest in a good paid of tweezers.

When the hair has breached the skin (AND ONLY WHEN) and the surrounding area is healed, it's okay to lightly pull away the hair follicle from it's room (versus shaving). Wait until the hair is fully visible and outside the skin's surface. If not, picking and breaking the skin can only increase the risk of infection. 


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Elizabeth Blasi is a New Yorker. A lifestyle & travel writer, who is often seen with a suitcase in hand, jetsetting to her next location. But as a true Digital Nomad, her love of writing and romance novels means her laptop is always beside her.

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