Whether you have extremely sensitive skin or not, ingrown hairs won’t discriminate care and they’ll cause bumps, redness, or even pain if they want to. It seems that no matter how careful we are with our shaving techniques and routine, these bumps can appear virtually out of nowhere – on our arms, legs, face, bikini area, you name it. They’re unsightly and sometimes even painful so the AYA™ Medical Spa team wanted to share some of our tips for preventing ingrown hairs so you can save yourself a bit of irritation!
Improper shaving can irritate the hair follicles of the skin. As new growth starts to happen, sometimes hair follicles get trapped beneath the skin – either curling back around and growing into the skin versus out of the pore, or growing sideways due to dead skin cells hardening on the skin’s surface and blocking its path. It may seem like an unpreventable thing since we don’t technically control how our hair grows, but the key to preventing ingrown hairs lies in your shaving technique and skin treatment after every hair removal treatment (this includes shaving, tweezing, waxing, etc.). Those with naturally coarse or curly hair tend to be more prone to ingrown hairs than others, but here are the top four top ways anyone can reduce their chances of having an ingrown:
- Don’t Rush – We aren’t going to shame you if you’ve ever dry shaved in your lifetime (many of us are guilty of that), but this isn’t going to help you get a closer shave. Water helps to plump up the hair follicles, essentially making it easier to cut. Shaving cream is helpful because it reduces nicks and provides much-needed lubrication for the razor, in addition to helping the skin retain moisture. As often as possible, we recommend letting the shaving area soak for a few minutes (but no more than 15 minutes as that can cause the skin to wrinkle and swell – aka make it harder to get a close shave) to open up the pores and get the area primed for hair removal.
- Perfect Your Shaving Technique – The way in which you shave is important because believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong direction for shaving. Close shaves can give you razor burn and cause red bumps of encasing ingrown hairs to pop up everywhere. We’ve been conditioned to believe shaving against the hair growth gets the closest shave – while this may be the case for some, for many, it’s one of the biggest reasons they’re experiencing irritation, cuts, and ingrown hairs. Starting your shave by going in the same direction of the growth helps reduce this irritation and is vital for people with sensitive skin. If you need a closer shave or have stubble that you’re trying to address, shaving against the growth is acceptable as long as you prep the shaving area and go easy on the pressure you’re putting on the razor, and ultimately your skin.
- Razor Maintenance – Dull razors are pointless. They won’t get you a close shave and could leave you with some unwanted nicks, bumps, and scratches (not to mention opens up an invite for trapping bacteria and potentially causing infections). A razor’s lifespan is typically 5-10 shaves so it’s imperative that you toss the old razors and start fresh when trying to avoid an ingrown situation.
- Post-Shave Skincare – This is one of the last steps for completing a shave and one that shows the skin much-needed love. After we shave, our skin is at its most sensitive. Take about 30 minutes before applying lotion or moisturizers as certain ingredients can irritate the skin and make that area become inflamed. The final, and one of the most important tips, is exfoliation. Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells that could be obstructing the pores and encourages cells to regenerate – typically wait 24 to 48 hours after hair removal to start this and do it often.
If you really want to prevent an ingrown, leaving the hair alone and not shaving or waxing will do the trick. But if you enjoy the hair-free look and are looking for better ways to get silky smooth and tossing the razor for good, then we would suggest considering laser hair removal. Laser hair removal can be used on just about any place that has hair and patients can live a razor and ingrown-free lifestyle with as few as 4-8 treatments (this varies by person since laser hair removal works uniquely for different skin/hair tones and types). There’s still some time to get started on your laser hair removal treatments before summer season officially kicks off, so feel free to contact AYA™ Medical Spa to learn more and schedule your complimentary skincare analysis today!