It's that time of year again, where we start baring part of our bodies that haven't seen the light of day in six months. And so we start prepping, tanning, shaving, and exfoliating.
Unfortunately, all that new shaving can lead to a common concern: ingrown hairs. Many adults suffer from this in some form or another, especially in areas that are shaved often. Essentially, the hair is shaved leaving a sharp edge which then curls back into the same hair follicle as it grows. As this happens, the body responds with an inflammatory reaction, often in the form of raised red bumps, some of which can also itch or even hurt. What you may think is a pimple is actually an ingrown hair - the two look the same sometimes.
So, how do you treat the bumps you have? The preferred method is to use a beta hydroxy acid (BHA) such as salicylic acid (one of my favorite beauty ingredients EVER) on the area. They have the ability to actually penetrate into the plugged follicle and slowly release the hardened proteins. If you're feeling as if it needs to come out NOW, you can try removing the hair yourself. Start with a warm compress on the affected area for a few minutes. When the skin has softened enough, use tweezers to remove the ingrown hair from the area. If you can't get to the hair, please don't dig at your skin. Put a salicylic acid product on it, and leave it alone. It will eventually go away on it's own, or you can try again another day.
Preventing the bumps is key. This is where excellent exfoliation comes into play. Use gentle exfoliating products with salicylic acid and a washcloth or shower puff. You can even find special products for exfoliation, such as brushes and mitts. Try shaving in the direction of the hair growth, although that isn't always an option for people with curly, coarse hair - in other words, the person who is most prone to ingrown hairs! Instead, try alternative ways of removing hair such as depilatory creams or waxing. Both of those will drastically reduce your ingrown hairs.
Permanent hair removal is also an option, if it's in your price range. Many people have excellent success with laser hair removal.
A few products that you must have for shaving, if you are prone to ingrown hairs:
- Bikini Kitty's Clean Up Kit: Complete kit for bump-free shaving. Includes Smooth Shave Gel, No Nick Razor Oil to apply to your single-blade razor, Everyday Magic Spray for daily exfoliation, and a brush for physical exfoliation. $39.95
- Veet Hair Removal System with Bladeless Tool: a fast-acting depilatory cream with a razor-like tool for physical removal with no sharp blade. $7.99
- no!no! Hair Removal System: Conducts a gentle pulse of heat to the hair, removing it and possibly reducing hair density. Has an odor, and can be cost prohibitive. $250
- Bliss Poetic Cosmetics Waxing Kit: Popular do it yourself in the privacy of your own home waxing kit. Includes everything you need to wax. $45
- Emjoi Gently Gold Caress Hair Removal System: Highly rated epilator with "pain reduction" technology. $59.95