If you shave regularly, you know how much of a nuisance ingrown hairs can be. Not only do ingrown hairs look bad on your skin, they can also be itchy and, at times, very painful.
Luckily for us, there are a few things that we can do to prevent ingrown hairs. It all comes down to the details of your shaving routine. You have to rethink the tools you have, the products you apply and the methods that you use. You have to research different safety razors, exfoliants, shaving creams and so on.
It’s a lot to think about. So, to help you get rid of those razor bumps once and for all, here is a short guide on how to avoid ingrown hairs.
What causes ingrown hairs?
An ingrown hair occurs when a strand grows back into the skin as opposed to growing outwards. This happens when someone shaves improperly or has naturally coarse and curly hair. Essentially, anything that causes uneven growth can increase your risk of getting ingrown hairs. They can also occur when dead skin cells clog the follicles and disturb your hair’s natural growth. In this instance, the hair is trapped under layers of skin, forcing it to grow under the epidermis.
Ingrown hairs almost always cause a swollen red bump to appear on the surface of the skin. Its appearance is very similar to a pimple. Some ingrown hairs grow completely under the skin, while others only have their ends embedded in the epidermis.
Now that we know the general causes of ingrown hairs, we can take a look at what you can do to avoid them.
Use safety razors
Cartridge-based razors use replaceable heads that hold multiple blades within a single plastic casing. They’re cheap, easy to use and accessible.
The problem is, cartridge-based razors are a common cause of ingrown hairs. Firstly, their multi-blade system makes it difficult to achieve an even shave. Multi-blade razors often cut your hair at different lengths, leading to an uneven stubble and possible ingrown hairs.
Secondly, multi-blade razors use a lift and cut system. This is where a leading blade lifts the hair up and the following blade cuts it. As a result of this, some of your hair ends up being cut close to or even under the epidermis. When the hair grows again, there’s a high chance that it will grow into the skin
To avoid these problems, it’s best to use a safety razor. Safety razors only have one sharp edge and they are much easier to control compared to multi-blade cartridge razors. With sharp safety razors, you can get a clean and even shave almost every time. In turn, this means less patchy stubbles and fewer ingrown hairs.
Shave with the grain
When shaving, it’s best to shave in the same direction in which your hair grows. This way, you reduce the risk of cutting the hair below the epidermis. When you shave along with the grain, you’re also reducing the risk of irritating your skin as the blade isn’t coming too close to the surface.
Shaving with the grain sometimes means you have to go over the same area twice. To make sure that you’re getting the cleanest shave possible, make sure to rinse the blade and get rid of any debris before every stroke. Try to use as few strokes as possible so as to not irritate the skin.
Shaving against the grain is useful when you’re trying to get a close shave or when you’re cleaning up a stubborn patch of hair. However, this method can cause irritation and ingrown hairs. Similar to lift and cut methods, shaving against the grain will often lead to the hair being cut under the epidermis layer.
Replace the blade
This is a simple but important tip: replace your shaving blades regularly and often. When you shave, you want to have the sharpest and cleanest blade possible. Using a dull blade will lead to an uneven and jagged cut. This simply creates more chances for the hair to catch your skin and start growing inwards.
If you shave manually, try to rinse the blade after every stroke. Additionally, you should aim to replace your blade after six to seven shaves. If you’re shaving strong, coarse hair, you’re going to have to replace your blade more often as it will dull out faster.
Use shaving oils and creams
Quality shaving oils and creams are essential if you have a clean shave. These products provide lubrication, allowing the razor blade to effortlessly glide over your skin. This reduces friction which then reduces the risk of irritation. Additionally, it softens the hair, meaning you don’t have to put too much force when shaving. All of this makes it easier for you to achieve a smooth, even shave.
Also, make sure your skin is always moisturised. Moisture acts as a barrier between your skin and the razor. This protective layer shields your skin from irritants. Keep in mind that skin rashes and infections can be caused by a variety of factors outside of shaving. For more information on skin health and common skin irritations, click here.
In just a single hour, we shed millions of dead skin cells. Unfortunately, some of these cells end up staying on our skin longer than we want it to. It can clog your pores and hair follicles, causing acne and ingrown hairs.
As such, you need to take additional steps to make sure you’re getting rid of those dead skin cells. You can get a chemical exfoliant which aims to dissolve the dead skin cells, or you can use a mechanical exfoliant which physically scrubs the dead skin cells away.
With a little bit of research and just a little more effort, you can finally be free of those annoying little bumps. Just remember the tips we’ve listed above and you should be good to go. Go get that clean, smooth shave that you deserve.