Itchy, bumpy and oh-so-unsightly, most of us have experienced ingrown hairs at some point in our lives. But what are ingrown hairs? What makes some of us more susceptible than others? And how can we avoid them?
What Are Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs are itchy little lumps that appear on the skin’s surface. They look a bit like a pimple and you’ll commonly find them in any area you regularly shave, including your face, armpits, chest or nether regions. While ingrown hairs usually go away on their own, they can occasionally become infected and lead to scarring.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
An ingrown hair is created when a hair grows sideways or backwards under your skin, instead of pushing upwards as normal. Usually, this occurs for one of two reasons, either due to a build-up of dead skin cells clogging the follicle or because the hair has been cut at an awkward angle.
While anyone can find themselves battling ingrown hairs, it’s those of us with curly or coarse hair that suffer the most. The reason for this is that these hair types are more likely to get trapped or to curl back and re-pierce the skin. But even thin, straight hairs can become ingrown if the follicle itself gets clogged.
If you’re guilty of skipping over the exfoliating part of your skincare regime, you may well find yourself with these dreaded little bumps, as the hair can struggle to break through dry skin. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to establish a good shaving and skincare routine.
How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs
One of the best ways to prevent ingrown hairs is to exfoliate daily in the shower. While it doesn’t need to be particularly abrasive, giving your skin a light rub with a washcloth or an exfoliating body scrub helps to keep dead skin cells at bay.
Next, ensure that you’re shaving with a sharp blade and that you lubricate your skin with shaving cream. This helps the razor cut without irritation and prevents the newly cut hair from catching under the skin.
Lastly, apply a nourishing post-shave moisturiser to particularly dry areas, which will help the skin retain moisture and prevent future follicle issues.