What’s your morning routine? If you’re anything like me, you want to make sure you look presentable. For some, this means grooming your stubble or beard. Others get rid of their facial hair either to appear more professional or out of personal preference.
What you’re immediately thinking is: How do I do away with this mess? Nobody wants the look of an acne-riddled teenager. Not to mention how painful ingrown hair can get!
I’m here to give you some tips and tricks on how to get rid of those pesky bumps and restore your face to its smooth glory. Read on to find out more about the causes, treatment options, and prevention of ingrown hair.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Get Ingrown Hair?
You may be wondering why this curse has befallen you. If you have curly hair, or if it’s very rough, you’re more at risk, because individual strands are more likely to bend back into the skin. Here are the two most common culprits.
The cause of ingrown hair in most cases is simple: it’s because you shave.
In many ways, we humans are victims of our own success. Constantly striving for as close a shave as possible, many of us turn to cartridge razors with two or more blades.
But these are so often the fiends that cause ingrown hair. The first razor blade tugs the hair, while the others cut it. This sometimes causes the hair to be trimmed so short that it gets caught within the skin. From here, it can’t grow out like it normally would. Instead, it grows inwards.
Your skin gets confused and thinks that some foreign body is invading it. It thus increases blood flow to this area, resulting in irritation. This can often lead to pus, and that’s when you’re really in the nasty territory.
If you’re always pulling on your skin and straightening it out while shaving, you’re not making the situation better. This only increases the chance of hair going rogue within your skin.
2. Clogged Pores
Your face is almost constantly exposed to the elements. The pollution that sticks to it, when combined with the oils your skin produces naturally and dead cells can create a plug that is hard for hair to penetrate. It has to go somewhere, though, so it bends, irritating your skin. People of oily skin type will experience this problem more often.
So What Can I Do about Ingrown Hairs?
If you’ve already developed an ingrown hair, your priority now is removing it as quickly as possible. Although an instant result is unlikely, there are several ways to speed up the process.
1. Ease Up on Shaving
The easiest way you can get rid of ingrown hair is to just wait until it passes. If you just skip shaving for 2-3 days, it’s very likely that the problem will solve itself. Although unsightly, razor bumps won’t cause you too many problems, so just relax and let your skin do the work.
What you absolutely shouldn’t do is mess with the inflamed area with your hands. It’s tempting, I know. You see this redness and it seems so easy to just squeeze out the problem.
But you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Your fingers and fingernails come with a whole assortment of bacteria. If they get into the ingrown hair area, an infection will be quick to follow. This will leave a scar and turn a solvable problem into a permanent one.
2. Keep the Area Warm
Your facial hair is particularly stiff and thick compared to the hair on the rest of your body. This is why the ingrown beard is more painful.
But you can soothe the pain by keeping the area warm and damp. Just washing your face with warm water helps your pores to open.
You’re best off using a simple warm compress, however. Take a washcloth, run some warm water over it and press it against the irritated area. When it cools down, repeat the process for about 10 minutes.
The displaced hair should loosen up and the skin around it will relax. This alone can bring the hair closer to the surface and relieve the inflammation. You can try this several times a day for best results.
You know by now that the build-up of dead cells combined with dirt and your skin’s secretions can clog the pathway of your hair. This is why exfoliating can help that ingrown hair find its way out again.
The process is pretty simple. Get a facial scrub, apply it after getting your face wet, massage in circular motions, rinse. That’s all there is to it!
You can even do this twice a day to make sure your skin is breathing. Don’t forget to use a moisturizer afterward, however, as you can expect some extra dryness after exfoliation.
4. Bust Out the Tweezers
Now, this should be your last resort. Please try some of the previous solutions before picking at the ingrown area. The reason for this is, again, that you may be exposing your skin to unwanted outside bacteria, paving the way for an infection.
Before even reaching for the tweezers, you should make sure your skin is washed and exfoliated. You’ll get better results after softening it with a warm compress for about 10 minutes. This will bring the hair closer to the surface.
If the hair is close to the surface, you only need to straighten it out. If you try to pull it out completely, you can’t count on that swelling going down quickly. Just redirect the hair so it goes back out. If you can’t reach it with tweezers, just leave it alone.
If you managed to release the ingrown hair, apply some anti-inflammatory cream if you have some. This will help reduce the swelling. And don’t forget to moisturize, as this will give your skin the nutrients to help it return to normal.
How Can I Stop This From Happening Again?
If you’ve had to deal with razor burn even one time, it’s still one time too many. But luckily, some simple changes to your routine can help keep this problem at bay.
1. Grow a Beard
OK, so this is an obvious one. But why not try putting down the razor and see if the bearded look works for you? Studies show that men with facial hair tend to be perceived as more attractive. An ingrown hair definitely won’t be a problem anymore.
2. Shave Smarter
OK, I’ll concede. Some men just don’t want facial hair. In this case, you need to re-evaluate your shaving routine. Here’s what you can pay attention to:
- Think about the razor you’re using. You should opt for a single-blade one or, even better, go for an electric shaver. A great choice would be the Braun Series 9, which delivers amazing results while taking it easy on your skin.
- Don’t pull the skin while shaving. If you’ve got a good shaver, you won’t need to.
- Shave along the grain. You should have learned this as a teenager, but shaving against the grain makes hair turn backward, which is what leads to razor burn.
- Make your hair softer. Shaving while showering under warm water makes your beard softer and easier to clip. Make sure your shaving cream is doing its job in getting the hair ready for cutting.
- Soothe your skin after shaving. When removing hair, you also damage and dry out your skin. Use a quality aftershave to make up for this quickly. You can also press a cool washcloth onto your face to reduce any irritation.
3. Focus on Skincare
To avoid ingrown hair, you need to cleanse and nourish your skin. Exfoliate a couple of times a week to remove any dirt build-up. Wash and massage your face to increase blood flow. Moisturize to prevent your skin from drying out and getting irritated.
Ingrown hair is annoying, that much we can all agree on. But as skin troubles go, this is a mild one that will resolve itself in most cases. With proper skincare and some self-pampering, you can bypass the problem altogether, leaving you with healthy-looking smooth skin.