How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs can be very hard to deal with after they happen because they easily get infected and can take a while to heal. While eventually, they do heal, sometimes you need to go to the doctor to get it professionally removed or wait a few weeks for it to come out by itself. So needless to say it is always better to prevent an ingrown hair from happening in the first place than trying to treat it after it happens. Here we give you a few simple steps you can take to greatly reduce your chances of getting an ingrown hair after your hair removal routine.
Do a quick Internet search of how to prevent ingrown hairs and the most common answer you’ll get is “exfoliation.” As you already know by now, ingrown hairs can happen for a few different reasons: curly or thick hair increases makes the hair more likely to bend or curl back into the skin, shaving or cutting the hair just below the skin surface can make it grow sideways and become entrapped, damaging the guiding tube out of the hair follicle can make the hair grow into the skin rather than out into the surface, and finally a clogged hair follicle can make it hard for the hair to come out to the surface, so it continues growing inwards.
Your skin is always regenerating – it is estimated that you shed around 40,000 skin cells every hour, this process is called desquamation and it happens to everybody. While many of these subtle skin cells fall off, the vast majority remain stuck to our skin. With so many dead skin cells pilling up every hour of every day, it is no wonder our hair follicles can get clogged up.
While we can’t always help the ways our little hairs decide to contort into and become ingrown hairs, it is much easier to control whether our hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells or not. There are two types of exfoliation: physical and chemical, and both of them are good options for removing dead skin cells and clearing out your pores.
Physical exfoliation, also known as mechanical exfoliation refers to the act of removing dead skin cells manually with a brush, glove or scrub that contains tiny grains. Though they all have the same principle (scrubbing off dead skin cells), all physical exfoliators are different and some of them can be harsher on your skin than others.
Since the skin on your face is more sensitive than the rest of your body, it is important to search for an exfoliator or scrub that doesn’t contain particles that are too large and therefore too abrasive on your skin. Dermatologists suggest avoiding exfoliators made from crushed nuts, seashells, seeds, fruit pits or anything with sharp, uneven edges because these tend to break the skin, causing micro-tears.
For the rest of your body, the size of the granules will depend on your type of skin; people with oily or thick skin can benefit from scrubs with larger granules that help you wipe off those dead skin cells while moisturizing your skin with jojoba oil at the same time.
Exfoliating gloves also fall into the category of physical exfoliators and these can be a great option for people with very sensitive skin who need a gentler form of exfoliation. Exfoliation gloves are regular mitts made from coarse materials that let you scrub off the dead skin cells from your body without needed specialized exfoliator lotions or scrubs. You can simply rub the gloves with your favorite soap or cleanser.
Regardless of the type of physical exfoliator you choose, it is important to note that depending on the product you use; exfoliation can be quite harsh on your skin. While there is some controversy regarding how often you should exfoliate your skin, the general consensus is that once or twice per week is enough to keep your skin free of dead skin cell buildup (and preventing ingrown hairs!) without hurting yourself in the process.
Exfoliating to remove dead skin cells is not only great for preventing ingrown hairs; often exfoliating also prevents acne and blackheads, keeps your skin clear and smooth, and allows your skin to absorb products better.
Physical exfoliators, especially scrubs, can sometimes be too abrasive on some people’s skins particularly when we aren’t being gentle enough or using the wrong kind of scrub, causing dryness, redness, and even breakouts.
Though the name might sound scary, chemical exfoliators can be gentler on your skin than physical exfoliators. A chemical exfoliator contains small amounts of acids such as glycolic acid, BHA, AHA, and salicylic acid to remove the dead skin cells from your skin and allow for new and bright skin to come out from underneath.
Chemical exfoliators made from fruit extracts such as pineapple and papaya are great for sensitive skin and remove dead skin cells by breaking down their bonds and making them detach from your skin.
While any type of coarse material works for exfoliating your skin, it doesn’t mean that you should exfoliate with anything. If you want to make your own homemade exfoliating scrub keep in mind that larger and uneven-shaped granules can seriously hurt your skin, so stick to smaller particles such as sugar, salt, coffee, baking soda, etc, and even then take care.
The basic formula for creating a homemade exfoliator is one cup of granules, half a cup of liquids (coconut oil, milk, honey, lotion, etc.) and one to two tablespoons of add-ons (essential oils, tea, vanilla, ground ginger, etc.)
Since the face tends to be a very sensitive area, we recommend that you only use DIY exfoliators on your body. Add-ons such as cinnamon or lemon can be very irritating and can cause some serious damage, so consider using only mild ingredients and do a patch test to see how well your skin tolerates the scrub before you use it all over your body.
Though epilators are very effective and convenient hair removal devices, many people out there aren’t quite sure what an epilator really is. Epilators became very famous in the 1980s as one of the first electrical hair removal devices to become available to the public. These devices work similarly to waxing because they pull each individual hair out from the root, offering you smooth and long-lasting effects. Epilators have a rotating tweezer design that grabs and pulls hair simultaneously as it glides through the area you want to remove the hair, making it less likely to irritate your skin.
Epilators are great options for reducing your chances of getting ingrown hairs for a couple of reasons; first, they pull the hair out from the root rather than cutting, which makes it less likely to bend inwards. And second, though epilators are similar to waxing, the process is much gentler and uses less force, therefore causing less damage to the follicle.
Another great advantage of epilators is that some of the best models come with a few different interchangeable attachments such as exfoliating and deep massage brushes. This will not only help you prepare your skin before epilating, but it will also make the whole hair removal experience feel like a day at the salon! Some also have features which lift up the hairs, reducing the risk of ingrown hairs.
After exfoliating, using a shaving cream is the most effective method for preventing ingrown hairs. Dry shaving is one of the most irritating things you can do to your skin; when you dry shave you are scraping the surface of the skin with the razor’s blades, which are only meant to cut the hairs. This will strip your skin from its natural oils and cause it to swell and irritate, creating the perfect stage for razor bumps (aka ingrown hairs).
To avoid ingrown hairs, use a shaving cream or gel (not soap as it can be very drying) that contains soothing ingredients such as aloe or shea butter that also moisturize your skin at the same time.
Laser Hair Removal
If no matter what you do you can’t seem to prevent ingrown hairs, you may want to consider getting laser hair removal. Laser hair removal works by damaging the hair follicle and making it unable to produce new hairs, and without hairs, you can’t get an ingrown one. It is best suited to dark hair on fair skin but can benefit a range of skin tones and hair colors. After enough sessions, it will give you long-term and even permanent hair reduction.
Though laser hair removal can be very expensive, some great at-home devices can be just as effective as professional treatments. If you are considering laser hair removal, check out our article on at home laser hair removal devices and find out which one is the right for you.
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