What Are Ingrown Hairs?
By: Kate McCallum
Have you ever finished shaving, plucking or waxing your body hair just to find a patch of red, itchy and inflamed skin afterwards? If so, you are not alone. Ingrown hairs are a common occurrence for anyone who removes body hair, particularly those with curly hair. While these bothersome bumps can be irritating, the good news is that there are many ways to prevent and treat ingrown hairs. At Apricotton, we sought out to answer your burning questions about shaving care and ingrown hairs.
Are Ingrown Hairs Common?
Ingrown hairs are an extremely common occurrence that impact that vast majority of people who decide to remove body hair. Despite the nearly universal experience of ingrown hairs, many women feel self-conscious of their irritated skin. As we approach the summer months, where razor bumps and skin imperfections are often more visible, try to remind yourself that these marks are a common bodily response to hair removal practices.
Why Do Ingrown Hairs Happen?
While it can be difficult to believe that such aggravating rashes can be caused by the regrowth of tiny hairs, ingrown hairs are exactly that! This phenomenon occurs when a hair that has been removed begins to grow back into your skin, rather than rising from it. Although most hairs grow back seamlessly, the body reacts quickly to hairs that grow beneath the skin. Our skin reacts to ingrown hairs as it would a foreign object, resulting in pain, redness and swelling.
This may present itself as raised bumps where you shave, tweeze or wax, burning, itching or hair caught in the shape of a loop. Because we often remove hair in the same location, this discomfort can build upon itself, and irritation can worsen if you do not take steps to prevent it.
How Can I Prevent Ingrown Hairs?
The most reliable method of preventing ingrown hairs is refraining from shaving, waxing or plucking altogether. After all, the way in which you treat your body hair is entirely your prerogative. That being said, hair removal is a personal preference that many people share. Luckily, there are many worthwhile skincare and hair removal strategies that help minimize irritation and the frequency of ingrown hairs when shaving.
- Prepare the area for shaving by washing your skin with gentle soap and warm water.
- Lubricate the area with shaving foam or gel.
- Use a clean, sharp (preferably new) razor blade - it is important to discard razors after every 5-10 shaves.
- Leave your skin relaxed when shaving - do not tug or stretch.
- Shave in the direction of hair growth.
- Rinse your skin after shaving, apply a cool, wet cloth and a mild soothing lotion. Cooling gels such as pure aloe vera and witch hazel can be highly effective.
By taking just a few more minutes during your shaving routine to prepare and soothe your skin, you will be pleased with a noticeable difference in your skin condition! While ingrown hairs can be stubborn, they can certainly be reduced by practicing careful hair removal.
About the Author
Kate is a business student at Western University, who enjoys hiking and canoeing in her free time. As the oldest of three sisters, Kate has a passion for sharing advice, and helping girls build a sense of self-confidence.