Ah, the dreaded ingrown hair. If you’ve ever had one, you know just how annoying and painful they can be. To put it simply, ingrown hairs occur when the follicle is clogged, so the hair curls and grows back into the skin instead of moving through the pore opening. They aren’t always an area for huge concern, but chronic ingrowns can lead to serious infection, scarring, redness, and pigmentation – yeah, no thanks.
Ingrown hairs can appear anywhere on your body that (funnily enough) grows hair, but are more susceptible to emerging in areas that are frequently shaved such as the legs, bikini line and under the arms. I have carefully assembled below five of the best tips to put a stop to those nasty bumps for good.
- Use the best blade.
If you’re looking for a sign to ditch the disposable razor that’s been sitting in your shower for way too long, this is it. One of the biggest contributors to ingrown hairs is a dull multi-blade disposable razor. These razors are not designed for long-term use, don’t stay sharp for very long, and are hard to clean which results in a build-up of soap, dead skin cells, oil and hair in the cartridge. The multi-blade design also cuts the hair at various angles and lengths, which (you guessed it), will form an ingrown hair.
Investing in a single-blade safety razor is your best bet for a smooth and clean shave, and it doesn’t come with bonus ingrown hairs. These razors are super easy to keep clean, changing the blade is very simple, and they are designed to last. I recommend the Ritology Smooth Operator Razor, which is made from quality sustainable materials and includes all the features to prevent ingrown hairs from forming.
- Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate!
- Don’t forget your shaving lubricant.
Whatever your lubricant preference may be, it is very important to use one to prevent ingrown hairs. A good shaving cream, gel, foam or oil will allow your razor to glide along the skin with ease which ensures the blades won’t drag and cut the hair at weird lengths. My top recommendations include the J.R Liggett Shaving Foam, Ursa Major Stellar Shave Cream, and Dr Bronner’s Organic Lavender Shaving Gel. These shaving lubricants are all hypoallergenic, natural, hydrating, and have no hidden nasties.
- Shave with the grain.
Shaving in the opposite direction of your hair growth will provide you with a first-class ticket to irritated skin and ingrown hairs. The reality of shaving against the grain is that the razor blade tugs at the hair before cutting it at a sharp angle. Which will, lets’ say it together, result in ingrown hairs!
It is important to find which direction your hair grows in so that the matter can be easily resolved. Simply take a few moments to run your fingers over your stubble and determine the direction in which your hair grows. Then, just shave with it. Easy peasy! Oh, and if your razor and blade are the high quality they should be, you'll get the smoothest shave with the grain.
- Moisturise after you shave.
Moisturising ensures your skin stays smooth and hydrated and also reduces the chances of irritation as it reinforces the skin’s protective barrier. Shaving and exfoliating can sometimes dry the skin out and if it’s not properly moisturised, ingrown hairs can form. I recommend using an organic Shea Butter moisturiser or an Aloe Vera based moisturiser as these are natural ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory and moisture retention properties.
And even though you did everything right, if you do find yourself with an ingrown hair it is important not to panic and especially not to pick at it. Depending on your hair type, you may just be more susceptible to getting ingrown hairs, and that it okay! If it is a minor ingrown hair and isn’t causing you any problems, just let the little guy be and it will likely go away in a few days. However, if it is causing you any pain or discomfort, get in contact with your GP and let the professionals handle the rest.