Naturally, hair is supposed to leave its follicle and exit the skin, growing straight up and out. Yet this doesn’t always happen. An ingrown hair occurs when one of two things happen. Either a hair strand may grow sideways under the skin instead of pushing up and out. Or the hair will grow out of the follicle then curl back to pierce and reenter the skin. This explains why ingrown hairs are common among people with naturally coarse or curly hair. In both cases, the result is an ingrown hair which the body responds to as if it were a foreign object. What follows is skin irritation, itching, raised red bumps or even mild infection (looks like acne filled with pus). While ingrown hairs are considered harmless, they pose aesthetic risks such as skin discolouration and scarring. They can be unsightly and sometimes painful, but the good news is that there is a practical way to treat them and prevent them from returning
Main Triggers of Ingrown Hairs
Shaving or Tweezing
Shaving doesn’t remove the entire hair — it only removes the part that you can see. The rest of the hair is still alive and well beneath the surface of the skin. This is what makes the hair grow back (and why you’ll have to shave again pretty soon). Sadly not all the hairs are able to make their way to the surface of the skin. This is why ingrown hairs often pop up in areas where you shave the most, such as:
- Pubic area
A common culprit is getting a super close shave. When the hairs are shaved too close to the skin, they tend to have sharp edges, which can reenter the skin and cause ingrown hair. A prime example of this is “razor bumps”— a common complaint among men—brought about by ingrown hairs in the beard region. What about tweezing? Well, it not that different as it often leaves fragments of hair under the skin surface, which continue to grow and may result in ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs are more common in those with curly or coarse hair. As the hair curls, it can easily get redirected and start growing back into the skin rather than up. For example, many people might notice most of their ingrown hair appears in the pubic area. This is not a coincidence since pubic hair is more coarse and curly, so you’re more likely to develop ingrown hairs in this area
Common Mistakes People Make that Cause Ingrown Hairs
- Shaving against the grain. Improper shaving techniques are the major cause of ingrown hairs. If you want to stick with shaving, do so in the direction of the hair growth. People shave against the direction their hair grows in an effort to get that close shave, only to end up with ingrown hairs. Also, get rid of all those old and dull shaving razors you have lying around in your bathroom.
- Failing to exfoliate. One common mistake people make is failing to exfoliate regularly. As a result, dead skin cells pile up and block the hair follicles, causing ingrown hairs as they have no space to grow out.
- Wearing clothing that is too tight. Tight clothing, especially those made with synthetic fabrics, can rub against and exacerbate ingrown hairs. When you have ingrown hairs, the best thing to do is to stick to breathable cotton clothing that doesn't rub against your skin.
Getting Rid Of Ingrown Hair: Laser Hair Removal to the Rescue
One of the best ways to prevent ingrown hairs is to leave your hair alone. Some people find that putting a pause on waxing, shaving or tweezing for a prolonged period allows the ingrown hairs to clear on their own. However, this is not a viable option for most of us. Although an ingrown hair can heal on its own and naturally dislodge, it can also be tough to get rid of it. The next best thing is laser hair removal, the ideal solution for people who get ingrown hairs frequently.
During a laser hair removal treatment, the laser light is absorbed by the pigment in the hair and is converted into heat energy, damaging the hair follicle in the process. This, in turn, ensures hair growth reduces and, eventually ceases. The premise of this approach is fairly simple and straightforward—if there’s no hair growing, there will be no ingrown hairs.
Other hair removal methods such as shaving and waxing will often leave you with hair regrowth and tag-along ingrown hairs a few days or weeks later. If you are concerned about cost, it’s true the upfront cost of laser hair removal is greater than that of waxing. But did you also know, the average woman in 10 years will spend 3-5 times more money waxing their underarms and bikini line in comparison to getting laser hair removal!
For long-lasting results, a course of 6-10 sessions is usually recommended, but it really depends on your hair type. For most people, five sessions are deemed sufficient to permanently eliminate most of their ingrown hair, and prevent it from ever returning!
Have you been fighting a losing battle against your ingrown hair? What methods of hair removal have you been using? We would love to know in the comment section. In the meantime, if you are wondering if laser hair removal is the best approach for you or you would like to gather some more information, please feel free to contact us. We would love to help you on your journey of being free of the menace of ingrown hair!