Why you get ingrown hairs and how you can manage them.
Updated: Jun 29
Have you ever had an ingrown hair, or suffer from their effects regularly? I can raise my hands to both. For a long time I found them embarrassing and would often find myself sat with a pair of tweezers trying to prize them out. Don’t do a me! I’ve been there and done that and unless you know what you are doing you will just end up in a cycle of picking, with possible scars and infections to boot. It wasn’t until I understood why I got them, and how I was making them worse, that I was able to break the cycle. Keep reading to find out why we get ingrown hairs in the first place, and for some useful prevention tips.
First of all, to prevent hairs from growing in this way you really need to understand what is going on underneath the skin, and what effects each method of hair removal has on this. Shaving, waxing, and other hair removal methods will impact the regrowth of hairs. Some people are simply more prone to ingrown hairs based on their genetics, they occur naturally, and also come with the territory of hair removal. Now, if you are anything like me, you will just prefer to not have hair in certain places. By the way, big ups to all the ladies that are hairy and care free – I think that is awesome.
To all the shavers out there...every time you cut your hairs with a blade you are creating pointed sharp edges. If you have hair that curls (and most pubic hair does!), then the hairs can easily go ahead and curl right back round, re-piercing the skin and continuing to grow inwards. The skin will keep regenerating new skin cells, making these hairs harder to reach. As well as this, you’re probably experiencing stubble, rashes, and itchiness as part of the parcel of using a razor.
Hey fellow waxers! Waxing is also guilty of causing ingrown hairs. “Why’s that?” you ask. The best thing about waxing is that every time you do it your hair grows back sparser, finer, and lighter. This is because each time you rip a hair from its root you are damaging the hair follicle from which it grows, which in turn makes the hairs weaker and weaker. Don’t get me wrong, this is great if you want to see less hair down there, but it does also contribute to the development of ingrown hairs. A normal, undamaged hair will typically grow up from the root and pierce through the skin, before doing whatever it is that hairs do when they’re not getting their heads cut off or are being ripped away from their roots. A waxed, damaged hair is more likely to struggle to do this (bless), and will potentially start growing sideways underneath the skin. Here is a short clip of what a waxed ingrown hair looks like. Thin, weak and blunt at the end.
Ummm hair removal cream users...I hope there isn't many of you relating to this part but if there is, here we go.
Hair removal creams do a very similar job to shaving apart from the hair isn't being cut, it is being chemically dissolved. The chances of ingrown hairs are less than using a razor but you're still looking at skin irritation and itchiness. In my eyes using these harsh chemicals on your skin is a bigger risk factor. You only need to smell the products to know those chemicals are nasty! You can NOT use these on sensitive areas so anybody thinking of touching their down there hair with it needs to re think a few things. Nobody wants a burnt lady garden.
So now we know what the effect of each method is we can look at other factors that will be contributing.
Hygiene! Now this is a biggy. It is so important to keep area's you remove hair from clean. A build up of dirt and oil can be the difference between an ingrown hair naturally sorting itself out or becoming infected and painful.
People that wax with me might have noticed that before I even come near you with that wax
I will be getting gloves on and cleansing the area to be waxed thoroughly.
Tight clothes and poly based fabrics. Wearing tight clothes puts pressure on hairs encouraging them to grow inwards. They can also lead to excessive sweating. So all you lycra wearing gym goers make sure to give your skin a chance to breath, even if gym clothes are really comfy.
Not exfoliating. If you never remove those dead skin cells then you're not giving the hair a chance to relieve itself.
Hot weather and sweating - In the hot weather you will naturally sweat more. Sweat and dead skin cells can block the hair follicle trapping it under neath the skin.
So what can we do to prevent ingrown hairs?
Keep the area clean - now we all know not to use soap down there as it can disrupt our pH balance but in fact you can use a gentle soap on the top pubic area without going underneath and it is perfectly fine. Make sure after bathing or showering that you dry the area and you put on clean clothes.
Wear the right size cotton underwear. Lets face it, cotton pants aren't always the sexiest but comfort over sexiness is what you wanna go for if you want to avoid ingrown hairs. Especially for the first few days after a wax.
Exfoliate - This is so crucial! It is important to get the right balance though. Like don't go in scrubbing away with your pumice stone. You need to find something gentle to exfoliate sensitive areas. It doesn't have to be expensive, you can even use oats or sugar. At the same time you don't want to be over exfoliating this can lead to the skin regenerating more skin cells to compensate so can actually be counter productive.I recommend no more than 2/3 times a week. Exfoliating removes dead skin cells giving waxed hairs more opportunity to break through the skin.