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When you glance at your face, you notice an unwelcomed raised, red bump just to the left of your chin. Quickly reducing it to nothing more than a pimple, you clean it again and head out.
As the day goes on, this bump begins to get more and more painful and irritating. The next day that perceived pimple has turned into a painful boil-like sore. Before you go buy a bottle of concealer, you need to understand that odds are you don’t have a pimple but rather have an ingrown hair.
Why you? How did that happen? How do you get rid of ingrown hair immediately?
The bad news is, we don’t know how to cure it immediately. But here’s what we know.
What is an ingrown hair?
An ingrown hair occurs when hair either curls backwards or grows sideways into the skin. For this reason, ingrown hairs happen far more often with those who have curly or coarse hair.
Curly hair is the most likely to take an 180 degree turn and re-enter the skin after being cut or shaved. It often begins with a minor skin irritation that produces a small red, raised bump or cluster of bumps that looks really similar to a pimple. These ingrown hairs bumps are usually itchy and easily agitated.
It is common to see pus or hair inside of these bumps. As an ingrown hair progresses and isn’t properly handled, a sensitive sore develops and grows.
Ingrown hair usually occurs in areas where shaving is frequent. Men often get razor bumps on the face (most often chin) and neck while women get these on the legs and armpits.
What causes ingrown hair in the first place
Still, you may ask yourself what makes a hair grow sideways or curl back into the skin? Most commonly four culprits tend to be the cause of ingrown hair.
Dead Skin Cells:
When skin cells are not removed from the skin, they can prevent hair follicles from growing out of the skin. Since they can’t grow up, they have to grow somewhere and turn sideways or backwards.
Razors are intended to cut hair really close to the skin. When the skin is pulled and tugged to get a close shave, edges of hair can frequently get caught within the skin rather than growing out.
While this isn’t a common problem for men because they usually don’t wear clothing on areas where they shave, if you shave areas other than your face, it could be. Clothes can cause friction and create pressure on hair follicles and the hair responds with curling back to relieve the tension and ingrown hairs occur.
Pulling on Skin:
Many people pull and stretch to get the skin to get the closest shave possible. Pulling the skin can allow hair to get caught below the skin when released and cause problems.
How should you prevent getting an ingrown hair?
Just as with most facial skin issues, many ingrown hairs will eventually go away on their own. Still, some can get infected and require antibiotics and turn into much larger sores. Here are ways that are proven to reduce ingrown hairs in most men:
1. Change how you shave.
As stated above, many men pull and stretch the face to get a close shave. This is proven to be effective when shaving but does promote an environment where ingrown hairs can occur. Hairs are cut and then caught underneath the skin surface and as you let go, hair re-enters the skin rather than growing up.
Cartridge razors are without question the most frequent razor associated with ingrown hairs. The reason for this is oriented around how the razor is built to perform.
Cartridge razors work by having the first blade pull the hair outward and having the second blade cut it. While this seems like a great sequence of events, it allows the hair to draw back under the skin more often than with any other type of razor.
For this reason, we recommend switching to a double-edge safety razor such as Edwin Jagger Double Edge Safety Razor to prevent ingrown hairs, if a frequent occurrence for you. It cuts the hair without pulling the skin and doesn’t get clogged up with debris that can be transferred to the face and not allow hair to properly grow outward.
Always make sure that the blade is sharp and clean because dull, dirty blades don’t cut properly and ingrown hairs are bound to ensue. Never push down on the the skin as using too much force will cut the hair below the outer layer of skin and prevent it from growing correctly.
Additionally, shaving while showering dramatically reduces the chances of getting ingrown hairs. The warmer water serves to soften the hair and create an optimal surface for the blade to move across the skin without friction for a smoother shave.
Debris and hair is simultaneously removed from the skin so that nothing impedes the hair’s growth.
2. Take better care of your skin.
Every man should think about three main principles behind facial maintenance: Exfoliation, Cleansing, and Moisturizing.
It will do the most for reducing ingrown hairs at it is the best solution to removing dead skin cells on the face and body. Dead skin cells can inhibit hair growth as it blocks the hair follicles from growing out.
If you have neglected to exfoliate in the past and get ingrown hairs frequently, beginning this process could stop ingrown hairs for you all together.
We recommend finding a good product like Jack Black Face Buff Energizing Scrub to begin. A word of warning, you only need to exfoliate 2 or 3 times a week. Anymore than that can dry out the skin and cause an additional set of problems as a result.
This is something that can be done more frequently than exfoliation and serves as a great method of removing dead skin cells.
When using a cleanser, we suggesting getting a good liquid one such as Rugged and Dapper Daily Power Scrub Facial Cleanser For Men.
You should wet the face and neck with warm water then lather the cleanser in a circular motion all over the face for around 30 seconds. This will dislodge all of the tips of ingrown hairs and clean the debris and dead cells from your face so that the hair has the best chance to properly grow.
It’s definitely a must for those that exfoliate and cleanse their face regularly but many men neglect to do it. Exfoliation often leaves the skin dry and irritated, so it must be reinfused with hydration.
In addition to helping your overall facial health, some of the best men’s moisturizers can help reduce ingrown hairs.
When your skin is dried out, hairs are more often breaking at the surface rather than being properly shaven and extracted from the face. We recommend a product like MD Solar Sciences: Daily Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30.
3. A Robust Lather and Shaving Brush
When shaving a good quality shaving cream or shaving soap and a brush are essential to prevent ingrown hairs. The lather that is obtained with a shaving brush is, simply put, better than that of one without. It is foamier and easier to apply. This allows the razors to move constantly across the skin without tugging or irritating it.
The benefits of a top notch shaving brush don’t stop there as it can help break free any ingrown hairs that it touches so that the skin can heal.
4. Beard Oil
Beard oil has been proven to provide relief and prevent ingrown hairs.
Many men that understand they have ingrown hairs think that pulling them out is the best solution. They get a needle and some tweezers and try to remove the hairs. While this can work, in theory, it is, often, extremely hard to do and can result in more skin irritation and infection than could have occurred if just left alone.
Here’s why beard oil works. The oil opens up pores of the skin and allows all the bacteria and, possible, pus to rid itself from the skin. They often contain antiseptics like Tea Tree Oil which prevents infection and relieves any itching or burning you maybe feeling.
Beard Oil will greatly reduce the redness and pain by the next day and in 3 days or so it is usually gone to a level than you can’t find where it once was.
Beard oil should be applied 2-3 times a week and you should always look for an oil that has ingredients like Castor or Jojoba Oil. We recommend Seven Potions Beard Oil Pure Equilibrium. It doesn’t feel greasy and makes the facial hair soft, shiny, dandruff free beard, and will reduce ingrown hairs.
5. Post-Shave Cream or Aftershave
Aftershave balm aids the skin in returning back to its natural state following your shave.
We often forget that shaving removes a bit of skin in addition to the hair it cuts. For this reason, a good aftershave or post-shave creams and balms are needed because they moisturize instantly, soothe the skin, and heal it quickly.
If you have a problem with ingrown hair look for a cream or balm with glycolic or salicylic acids to help rid the skin of trapped hairs and fight any bacteria that cling to them. We like Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment.
6. Just stop shaving
If you have frequent ingrown hairs that are irritating and frustrating.
When you stop shaving, you will have less ingrown hairs as they are allowed to grow naturally without shaving clipping them and allowing them to get trapped under the surface. Plus, beards are increasing the popular and provide numerous styling options for any man.
This may not be an option for some men but if you want a low maintenance solution, this is it.
How to get rid of ingrown hair properly?
Now that we have given you ways to prevent ingrown hairs, what do you do if you have one currently?
Before telling you how to heal the ingrown hairs quickly, there are two things that you do not need to do.
- Never pick at or use your fingernail to try to scratch out the ingrown hair. You may think that it seems ridiculous to state this but you will be tempted to do this. While in your head you may think, “it’s right there and I can just pick it out,” it is always the wrong idea. Oil and bacteria are injected into the area from your fingers and infection, that could have been prevented, develops and could ultimately scar the face because you thought you could just get it really fast.
- Another thing that you should never do is try to squeeze out the hair. Just like a pimple, don’t squeeze it. The skin will be irritated and inflamed as a result and infection and skin damage will come.
Now knowing what you shouldn’t do here is how to approach an ingrown hair that you currently have.
Remember most ingrown hairs will go away on their own so first…
- Stop shaving and let the hair grow for 2 or 3 days and see if it corrects itself. This remedies the situation more often than not if we just leave it alone. If it hasn’t gone away in a few days and you need to shave, move to step two.
- First wash the face with warm water and wrap a warm town around the face for 5-10 minutes before shaving or exfoliating/cleaning. This will soften up the skin, open and loosen pores so that hair will be hair will be given a push to grown out correctly. It is ok to do this several times a day so that the hair is quickly freed up.
- Exfoliate once or twice a day with a proper men’s face wash. This is not something that needs to continue but will help when there is an ingrown hair present. Exfoliation is possibly the best way to rid ingrown hairs out there. It will remove all the dirt, oil, and dead skin cells from the problem area. These could be responsible for trapping the hair and the could quickly fix the problem.
After trying these solutions, if the hair still seems trapped and no change seems to be taken place, then you have several, last resort, solutions.
If you can see the hair and it doesn’t appear to deep below the skin, you can try to tweezer it out. We must say that we do not like this option and think that it should only be considered as a last option. When doing this we recommend that you thoroughly clean the tweezers with hot water and soap or by pouring alcohol or hydrogen peroxide over it.
Here’s how we recommend you do this, last ditch option.
- Wash and Exfoliate the skin first. This will make sure the area is clear and the hair is most visible.
- Apply a warm towel for about 10 minutes. This will soften the skin and hair and make it easier to remove.
- Sterilize those tweezers like you are about to do surgery with them. Look for tweezers with a pointed edge as it is easier to grab small hairs with them. If you don’t clean the tweezers, infection is really probable.
- Put on the hair so that one side is released. You don’t want to put the hair out completely as it will irritate the area even more. The goal is to straighten the hair not pull it out.
- If it doesn’t come out easily, stop and try again tomorrow.
- Treat the red, inflamed area. Wash the area and then apply some anti-inflammatory cream so that the skin can heal quickly.
- Lastly, moisturize. The goal is to return skin to its natural order and moisture will do just that. We can say that we believe you should continue using an exfoliation so that inflammation is reduced and it will eventually correct its natural course.
If ingrown hairs continue to happen in the same area, it maybe worth seeing a doctor to see if there is an underlying issue causing them.
Regardless, if you have a fever that can be contributed to the ingrown hair and/or you feel warmth or redness growing away from the area, go see a doctor as soon as possible.
Most ingrown hairs have fixed themselves in 4-5 days so if you have had one for a week or so, it is time to go to the doctor as well.
While ingrown hairs can be frustrating and irritating, they are usually harmless and will resolve themselves. By taking preventative measures, we promise ingrown hairs will be less frequent and shaving will become more enjoyable. Thanks for reading and we hope this article gives you confident, ingrown hair free skin in the future.