by Aisha Powell
Ingrown hairs are the dreaded reminder that the process of hair removal isn’t as simple as it seems, especially for black women, who tend to get them more often. However, with preventative measures, you can avoid them and banish them from existence.
Ingrown hairs are hairs that have curled around and grown back into your skin instead of rising up from it. ¹Ingrown hairs can appear like a pimple or a black head, but when closely examined you can see the curled hair follicle. They can happen anywhere but are more common on legs, armpits, bikini area and neck/chin. ²Ingrown hairs are not harmful to the body at all, however, they can be unsightly, cause irritation, soreness, hyperpigmentation/scars and create insecurity.
If you already have ingrown hairs, here are some steps to eliminate them. First step is to stop removing hair in that area… until all the ingrown hairs are gone. Continuous use of tweezers, wax, razors or whatever you use will further irritate the skin. Touching, picking and scratching the bumps can also further irritate and cause scarring as well. ³Sometimes ingrown hairs go away on their own, but if they are persistent, apply a warm compress to the area or take a really hot shower. The warmth/steam will open your hair follicle and make the ingrown hairs easier to eradicate. Use sterilized tweezers to extract the ingrown hair. ³Make sure the spot is healed and refrain from digging in the skin, which can cause an infection or further scarring. Finish by wiping area with alcohol. If you cannot remove the hairs, go to your dermatologist to see what they can do.
The key to tackling ingrown hairs is prevention. It’s those extra steps you take prior to removing your hair, during the process and after you are done, that can really stop this issue.
Prior – Take vitamins! Make sure your body is built up to protect yourself. Take flax seeds to flush toxins out your body and vitamin C to fight against infections. 4You can also take vitamin E, biotin and Omega-3 to promote healthier and more elastic skin. 5Exfoliating your skin regularly can also help. It is not the best idea to exfoliate the day of hair removal due to the possibility of skin irritation. 6But exfoliating regularly, will remove the top layer of skin and alleviate the ingrown hair on its own.
During – If you tend to get ingrown hairs everywhere, it could just be your blade. Some people have found relief by using a single blade razor. You won’t get that close shave as you desire, but it could dramatically reduce the instances of ingrown hairs. 6“I highly dissuade patients who suffer from razor bumps from using triple or quadruple blade razor systems. The closer the shave, the worse the razor bumps will be,” says Dr. Joely Kaufman, M.D., a board certified dermatologist and a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Try using the Bevel razor, which is designed specifically for African Americans with curlier textured hair. The razor company is a black-owned business started by Tristan Walker to combat the lack of razors on the market that are adaptable to all kinkier body hair textures.
You should also make sure you are using a shaving gel. Don’t put a razor to your skin without having a barrier between the two. Some people even use hair conditioner or coconut oil to have some added hydration. 8Other things you can do is shave in the direction of the hair growth, not the opposite. Use an antiseptic cleanser after shaving instead of using a loofah to wash the area after shaving. 2Although ingrown hairs can occur whether or not your waxing, tweezing or shaving, people from African descent are often more susceptible to pseudofolliculitis barbae or razor bumps. 7If you stop shaving and opt for another hair removal option, this could solve your ingrown hair issues, especially if it’s mainly caused by a razor. Other hair removing options are waxing, epilating, chemical hair removers and laser hair removal.
After hair removal, you need to keep the area clean and moisturized. You should exfoliate again but not directly after shaving and wait a couple of days or more to start regularly exfoliating again. You can also treat the area with topical antibacterial creams or treatments to cease any infection. 2Using witch hazel, tea tree oil or aloe gel can help moisturize and treat the area.
So there you have it- all the tips to get rid of those nasty ingrown hairs anywhere on your body. Now let your skin thrive!