I Have An Ingrown Hair! What Do I Do?
Ugh! Ingrowns! For those of you asking yourself what they are, you can skip this blog post and say a little prayer thanking the follicle gods that you were blessed in not having to deal with this inflamed, bumpy, sometimes itchy and painful irritation.
For anyone that has stood five feet from a mirror and can still see the rosy glow of one or more angry bump, or a tear comes to your eye when the elastic of your underwear gently presses down on one of these monstrosities, the forthcoming info is for you.
Before you start picking at your skin, let’s learn a little bit about this pesky problem. Some people are prone to ingrown hairs, and some body parts are more prone to ingrowns than others. An ingrown hair is a condition where a hair curls back or grows sideways into the skin. Often it’s minor. You can see the hair just below the skin surface and if left alone it’ll usually go away without you having to do anything. However, sometimes it may become infected and form a pimple-like spot.
An ingrown hair can be caused by several factors and once your Sugaring Specialist gets to know you and your skin, they can provide solutions tailored to your needs. In the meantime, it’s easier to prevent something from happening than it is to repair the damage, so try to incorporate these five steps into your self-care routine:
1. Exfoliate Often
Dirt, oils, and dead skin cells can clog the hair follicles. Removing these can treat and help prevent ingrown hairs. Gentle exfoliation is sometimes enough to pull ingrown hairs up and outside the skin, where they can grow correctly.
For most ingrown hairs we recommend exfoliating with an exfoliating glove 1-3 times per week, remembering to change the glove a few times a year. Exfoliating gloves are best used wet, with a body wash or soap. Exfoliating more often than recommended may cause very fine hairs to break, which can lead to irritation. A glove used for more than 8-12 weeks tends to not be as abrasive, resulting in loss of effectiveness. An easy way to stay on top of this timeframe is to switch out your exfoliating glove with the changing of the seasons. Using a dry brush can also be an effective form of exfoliation. Brushing the skin with a firm, long-bristled brush in a circular motion before jumping in the shower, can gently scrape away the outer layer of dead skin cells, revealing softer skin underneath.
2. Remember to moisturize and stay hydrated
Whether you consider yourself to have normal or sensitive skin, everyone can benefit from hydration. If the skin is dry, hair breakage is more common. Chemicals and fragrances can irritate and inflame the skin, leading to skin issues, so use a water-based moisturizer to keep your skin soft and hydrated. Quick tip: People report that staying hydrated by drinking lots of water before a sugaring appointment also makes hair removal quicker and less painful!
3. Remove hair in the right direction
Anything which causes the hair to be broken off unevenly or with a sharp tip can cause hairs to grow in the wrong direction, promoting those hairs to get stuck underneath the surface of the skin. This is typical with hair removal methods like waxing or razoring, because your hair is being pulled and removed in the opposite direction of the natural way it grows. Sugaring regularly not only exfoliates the skin, but by coaxing the hair out of the follicle in the natural direction of growth, it is least traumatic for the skin and prevents breakage that occurs with pulling the hair back. This is especially beneficial for people who have course or curly hair.
4. After sweating excessively, wash the area and put on clean clothing
Too much friction or sweat can result in irritation and inflammation on the skin. I will NEVER give up my yoga pants. I have more tight fitting stretchy pants than is necessary and even though they are the most comfortable things to wear, they aren’t always made from the most breathable fabrics. Even worse, is the magic that is sweat-wicking material. The fabric dries so quickly that it tricks you into believing that sweat isn’t just resting on your skin causing bacteria growth and clogged pores. After a workout or excessive sweating, wash and dry the ingrown-prone area (or in a pinch, use a wipe) and change into fresh, clean clothing as quickly as possible.
5. Use a post-hair removal treatment
There are some over the counter serums and treatments available for people who regularly get ingrown hairs. These products contain ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, glycolic acid and lactic acid to help break down the bonds between the layers of skin to allow the ingrown hair to penetrate the surface and emerge from the skin, all without being abrasive. Our favourite is PFB Vanish. It’s designed as a roll-on for daily use, to be applied all over the area, starting 3-5 days after a sugaring treatment, up until the hair starts growing in. Then you can spot treat as needed.
Sometimes you do everything right, but there it is, an angry red spot staring up at you. Resist the temptation to squeeze it! You could end up pushing the hair deeper into the skin, or you could spread bacteria into the pores triggering an infection. Avoid trying to pinch the sides of the ingrown area to remove it, as this can put pressure on the follicle underneath the skin and could cause more damage or pigmentation that takes longer to heal.
If you simply MUST pick, wash the area and your hands and fingernails with mild soap and warm water. If the area is not irritated, gently exfoliate it, then hold a warm, wet washcloth over it for a couple minutes to hopefully open the follicle. Using sterilized tweezers, gently tease out the rest of the hair. When the entire hair is above the surface of the skin, use the tweezers to grab its base and pull firmly, in the direction of growth, to remove the hair. Success! Wash the area again with warm, soapy water and pour yourself a glass of wine 😉