We all know this a little too well unfortunately: ingrown hairs make wearing summer outfits seriously stressful, especially as the temptation to squeeze and pick at them is incredibly hard to resist – but don’t. Aggravating those annoying ingrowns could result in an infection, scarring, and a pretty ugly red spot. But what are ingrown hairs and how can you get rid of them? And how can you actually avoid getting them in the first place? Read on for Savoir Flair’s tips.
What are ingrown hairs?
Often the result of hair-removal methods like shaving and waxing, ingrown hairs are exactly that – hairs that have grown back into the skin instead of growing out of it. They can also be caused by dead skin that clogs the follicle, preventing the hair from being able to grow out. Either way, they can be pretty painful and uncomfortable, not to mention unsightly.
Ingrown hairs often look like red, irritated pimples, but if you look closely, you can often see the hair outline underneath the skin surface. They’re a particular problem if you have curly hair or they’re growing in areas where you’ve recently shaved, as the hair that grows back has a sharper tip that can pierce back into the skin. Common areas of concern include the legs, armpits, and nether regions.
How can I avoid them?
The easiest way to stop ingrown hairs in their tracks is to put down the razor. If you don’t fancy letting your leg hair roam free though, you could try other hair-removal methods such as depilatory creams, waxing, or laser hair removal.
If shaving is your method of choice, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of ingrown hairs plaguing you all summer. Ahead of shaving, make sure that you wet your skin with warm water and use a cream or gel for lubrication. Never shave dry skin! Use a sharp, clean, and good quality single-blade razor and shave in the direction of the hair growth, not against it. Finally, using fewer strokes means less irritation, and make sure you rinse your razor between every stroke.
You should also scrub up before you wax or shave (ideally earlier the same day or the day before), and exfoliate regularly if you want to get rid of and prevent ingrown hairs. Gently sloughing off dead skin means there isn’t any left on the surface to clog the hair follicle, and exfoliating helps dislodge hairs that are starting to grow inwards. If you’ve shaved or waxed, wait a day or two before exfoliating over the area to keep pesky ingrowns at bay.
How can I treat them?
Thanks to its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil works wonders at treating and preventing ingrown hairs whilst also fighting off infections. If you feel like some are starting to develop under the skin’s surface – or if you’ve just shaved or waxed – mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a spoon of olive oil and massage it into the area. The olive oil helps keep skin soft and moisturized, while the tea tree oil works to treat ingrowns beneath the surface.
Alternatively, you can apply a heated compress to an ingrown hair to make it much easier to get it out, as the heat opens the pores and softens the skin. Soak a washcloth in warm (not hot) water and hold it to the affected area for five minutes. You can then use your tweezer to extract the hair easily and painlessly – just be sure to sterilize it first.