As you’re shaving, you notice you’ve developed a few small bumps on your skin. They’re not really pimples, and they are not hives or insect bites. Chances are they are ingrown hairs. Fortunately (or not), ingrown hairs are relatively common, generally harmless, and typically easy to treat. But one of the best things you can do if you’ve found that you are prone to the issue is learn how to prevent ingrown hair.

An ingrown hair occurs when the hair in a particular follicle has curled backward and grown into the skin instead of out of it. There are several different causes of this issue, but it is most often the result of dead skin cells or dirt particles clogging the follicle and changing the natural growing pattern of the hair.

Likewise, cutting the hair, particularly if it’s curly, too close to the skin can exacerbate the issue. Use these tips to keep yourself groomed while avoiding unsightly and even irritation ingrown hairs.

1. Choose the Right Hair Removal Technique

don't shave your legs

Three of the main hair removal techniques actually contribute to the frequency of ingrown hairs. These are shaving, waxing, and epilating. So choosing a different technique, one that is not known to cause ingrown hair, is a first step toward how to prevent ingrown hair.

Hair removal techniques that actually dissolve the hair protein or kill the hair follicle make it easier to avoid ingrown hairs. These methods include depilatory creams, electrolysis, and IPL. Such hair removal techniques actually make it easier for the hair to grow back correctly, if at all.

If you choose one of these options, though, you need to weigh the benefits of the suggested treatment options compared to the negatives, including cost.

2. Wear Loose-fitting Clothing

If you find that you are getting ingrown hairs in the same location frequently, it may be because of your clothing. Tight-fitting clothing actually presses against the skin and makes it difficult for the hair to grow in its natural direction. The fabric of tight-fitting clothing actually causes pressure and friction on the hair follicles as well, making it more likely for the hair to grow backwards. To help prevent ingrown hair, try to avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing as much as possible.

3. Work on Your Shaving Technique

While shaving is one of the key causes of ingrown hairs, learning and using the right technique can help you learn how to prevent ingrown hair. Many people are taught to pull the skin taut to get a closer shave. Although this technique does work to achieve the closest shave, it actually also causes the hair to get stuck beneath the surface of the skin when you let the skin fall lax. As this occurs, the hair naturally reenters the skin without any time to grow upright first.

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To prevent this from happening, choose a double-bladed razor to get a closer shave without needing to pull the skin so taught. Also, experts suggest waiting until the end of your shower to shave to reduce your risk of ingrown hairs. The water functions to soften and smooth the hair and skin, giving you a sleeker shave with less risk of ingrown hairs.

4. Follow an Effective Skin Care Regimen

how to prevent ingrown hair by using an effective skin regimen

Keeping your skin well cared for is also an important factor for how to prevent ingrown hair. Begin a routine that involves exfoliating, cleansing, and moisturizing to reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

Exfoliation functions to eliminate dead skin cells on the body. These cells often lodge themselves in hair follicles, preventing the hair from growing outward and causing ingrown hairs. Exfoliating one to two times a week can drastically reduce your number of ingrown hairs.

Cleansing your skin is also important to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and other debris that can clog hair follicles. To cleanse, use a mild liquid cleanser and apply it in circular motions across your skin. This practice not only most effectively cleanses the skin, but it also functions to stimulate blood flow and reduce ingrown hairs.

Moisturizing not only saturates the skin but also the hair with nourishing hydration. This step is important in reducing the number of hairs that break at surface level during hair removal, so it is helpful for preventing ingrown hairs.

5. Use an Effective After-shave Product

Nourishing and soothing the skin after shaving, waxing, or epilating is also helpful for preventing ingrown hairs. There are several different products available to achieve an appropriate level of skin hydration after treatment, so look for one that works well for you. Options that include a rich moisturizing component, like shea butter, are good for most individuals.

6. Eliminate Existing Ingrown Hairs Correctly

exfoliating the legs to prevent ingrown hairs

Treating any existing ingrown hairs correctly can directly affect whether you’ll get one again in the future. To do so, avoid picking, scratching, or squeezing the ingrown hair. These actions only irritate the skin and further damage it.

Instead, exfoliate the surrounding skin once or twice a day to remove any dead skin cells or dirt that may be trapping the hair. Then apply salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide to reduce any swelling in the area.

When possible, apply a warm, wet cloth to the area for 10 minutes to allow the skin to soften, the pore to loosen, and the hair to grow properly. Within a few days of this treatment, the hair should become free and any irritation should subside.

7. Consider the Products You Use

Using harsh hygiene products can dry and irritate the skin, making ingrown hairs more frequent and more painful when they do occur. Look for skincare products that are as natural as possible and that contain soothing components for the skin. A good rule of thumb is that if a product makes your skin feel tight or dry after use, it is too harsh for your skin type.

8. Try Permanent Hair Removal

woman undergoing laser hair removal

If it’s in your budget, consider a treatment like laser hair removal to permanently remove hair. These treatments not only eliminate the hassle of hair removal, but they also negate the possibility of ingrown hairs.

Summing Up

While ingrown hairs typically aren’t an alarming skin condition, they can be irritating and even embarrassing in some situations. With a little finesse, however, you can learn how to prevent ingrown hair and improve your overall skincare routine while you’re at it. Using the right products for your skin, watching your hair removal technique, and following an effective skincare regimen will help you become an expert at how to prevent ingrown hair in no time.

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