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Ingrown hairs—everything you need to know

Ingrown hairs can be a frustrating and uncomfortable issue to deal with—especially when summer hits and you want to be in your bikini everyday—but understanding their causes and implementing preventive measures can make a huge difference. I’ve pulled together everything I think you should know below:

What exactly is an ingrown hair?

An ingrown hair is a hair that has grown back into the skin instead of growing out of the follicle. It occurs when the hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells, oil, or other debris, causing the hair to curl or bend and grow sideways or downward beneath the skin's surface. 

What do ingrown hairs look like?

Ingrown hairs typically appear as small, raised bumps on the skin. They may be red, pink, or tan in color and often resemble pimples or small, inflamed cysts. In some cases, the area around the ingrown hair may be itchy or painful. When you examine closely, you might notice a hair trapped beneath the skin's surface. In severe cases, ingrown hairs can cause more significant inflammation, leading to the formation of pus-filled bumps or even painful, boil-like lesions. 

What are the most common causes of ingrown hairs?

Hair removal  /  when hair is cut or removed, it may have a sharper edge, making it more prone to curling back into the skin.

Curly or coarse hair  /  people with naturally curly or coarse hair are more susceptible to ingrown hairs. The hair's natural texture can cause it to bend and re-enter the skin instead of growing straight out.

Dead skin cell buildup  /  when dead skin cells accumulate on the skin's surface, they can clog the hair follicles, leading to ingrown hairs. This is particularly common in areas with thicker skin, such as the bikini area or beard area.

Tight clothing  /  wearing tight clothing that rubs against the skin, particularly right after hair removal, can contribute to ingrown hairs. The friction and pressure from tight garments can cause hair to be forced back into the skin.

Improper shaving technique  /  shaving against the grain or using a dull razor can increase the likelihood of ingrown hairs. These practices (both common when using a multi-blade cartridge razor) can cause the hair to be cut shorter than the skin's surface, making it more likely to grow back into the skin.

Excessive skin oil production  /  excess oil production can contribute to clogged hair follicles, increasing the chances of ingrown hairs.

Genetic predisposition  /  some individuals may simply have a genetic predisposition to developing ingrown hairs. 

How can you avoid ingrown hairs?

Gentle exfoliation  /  before any hair removal method, prepare the skin by gently exfoliating to remove dead skin cells that can clog hair follicles. This helps create a smoother surface for hair to grow out.

Use proper hair removal techniques  /  when shaving, always use a clean, sharp razor (ahemmm — safety razor) and shave in the direction of hair growth to reduce the risk of cutting hair too short or against the grain. If waxing or plucking, ensure the technique is done correctly to minimize the chances of ingrown hairs.

Avoid tight clothing  /  opt for loose-fitting clothing, especially in areas prone to ingrown hairs, to reduce friction and irritation that can contribute to hair becoming trapped. I’m a big advocate for going underwear free post-shave.

Moisturize the skin  /  keeping the skin well-hydrated to maintain its suppleness and prevent dryness, ensures hair is less likely to become ingrown. Our ingrown oil is particularly good for this!

Dealing with ingrown hairs can be a nuisance, especially when you're longing for days at the beach or poolside. However, armed with the knowledge of what causes ingrown hairs and how to prevent them, you can significantly minimize their occurrence. Be proactive and don't let ingrown hairs dampen your summer spirit—take control and enjoy the sun with confidence!


***If you’re thinking the above is great, but you happen to already have an ingrown and want to know how to deal with it, check out How to get rid of an ingrown FAST