Over several years of working as a sugar waxing specialist, I got many cases and success stories of fighting with ingrown hairs. In this article, I would like to highlight the top reasons causing ingrowing hairs and share recommendations on how to reduce chances to get such issue. But first of all, what is an ingrown hair and why does it happen?
What is an ingrown hair?
Ingrown hairs are hairs that have been broken off or cut (often through hair removal methods) below the skin level or hairs that are growing from a damaged follicle. Then, instead of naturally growing out through the hair follicle, they choose their own exit path and penetrate the surrounding tissue. Alternatively, some hair that has come out of the hair follicle in the normal way can curl back and start growing into the skin. Then again there can be a buildup of dead skin cells which clog the hair follicle thus causing the hair to choose a different route out through surrounding tissue. In most cases, hair grows out perfectly from hair follicles but when ingrown hairs clog up the hair follicles, pimples may develop along with redness of the surrounding skin. That is pretty obvious, but what the reason for ingrown hairs?
Top 4 reasons causing ingrown hairs based on my personal experience:
• Hair removal method. Some hair removal methods may not just work for you. They can irritate the hair follicle or damage the skin during the procedure. It is possible to "break" a hair under the skin instead of removing it as well as damage hair follicle and make micro bloodying. Then this hair is likely to grow into the skin. Dead skin cells that are accumulated on the surface of the skin can make the hair trapped under the old cells and bring to further irritation of the skin.
• Dry skin, dehydration, lack of moisture. Even, if you are consistent with hair removal sessions and if hairs have been removed properly you still may struggle with ingrown hairs issue. Over the time sugaring makes the hair thinner and weaker and the combination of thin hair and dry skin makes hairs difficult to grow through the surface.
• Too tight underwear. Consistent wearing of tight clothing like polyester, skinny jeans, leggings etc because they can prevent the skin from being able to breathe properly, and this can expedite the process of ingrown hair forming.
• Hormonal imbalance. It is not obvious, but hormonal medicines (including contraceptives) may affect your skin state and hair growth process.
So, that were the four top reasons for ingrown hairs from my standpoint. But what to do if you are currently struggling with this issue? First of all, don't panic. If you narrowed done the potential reason, then you almost succeed.
General recommendations on how to get rid of ingrown hair:
1. First of all, make the right choice on the hair removal method and specialist. If you have too many red spots, irritation or even bleeding the right after hair removal procedure, then maybe the current method or specialist is not the best choice for you. Skin without hairs the right after hair removal session is not an indicator of the well-done epilation yet. Take your time and count how many days past after the last epilation procedure to the day when hairs started to resurface. If your hair removal been done well, then you should NOT get sharp black hairs growing through the skin just a one week after epilation, instead, hairs should start to resurface approximately 3 weeks after and they must be soft and have brighter compare to original color tone.
2. Keep a reasonable interval between hair removal sessions. Schedule yourself to get hair removal done on a regular routine. The longer time between sessions - the stronger hair roots, the higher the chances to damage the follicle during hair extraction and cause ingrown hair issue later on. On average, women return between four and six weeks for their next treatment. By keeping up on a schedule, your aesthetician will be able to remove potential trouble causing follicles. In another hand, the more you are consistent with sessions the longer period between sessions will be as the speed of hair growth along with the overall amount of hairs will be going down over time.
3. Keep your skin moisturized. But bear in mind, that you can apply skin care remedy only 3 days after hair removal session. Creams and moisturizers applied following waxing is a sure-fire way to clog up hair follicles. The idea is to keep the path of re-growth clear and open. Try to keep an even balance of natural oils and just listen to your skin. At the moment I'm writing this article I still didn't find a skin moisturizer which will 100% satisfy my requirements, so I still use aloe and tonics.
4. Stay loose (at least when you are at home) and use underwear made from natural materials. Wearing tight clothing that presses up against the newly waxed skin can cause ingrown hairs. First, the tight material can cause initial irritation. Then in the weeks following, the restrictiveness of the clothing can cause the hair to grow back into the skin. The area needs the opportunity to breathe. Cotton and other natural fabrics can help if you are prone to ingrown hairs.
5. Exfoliation matter. Please don't neglect such important aftercare procedure as exfoliation. It is also important to make it right. I recommend doing exfoliation 2 times a week since day 4 after your sugaring session. For the best result do exfoliation after several minutes of hot shower, when pores of the skin are open. If you have no exfoliation remedy at this moment - not a problem. Just take a handful of ground coffee, apply on to the skin and make light massage rounded movements all around epilated zones. Skin exfoliation with a shower sponge should be avoided. Scrubbing your skin when you have pimples in the hair removal zone will only make them worse. Exfoliation is the main remedy which helps to prevent ingrown hairs issue, but it is also an important general skincare procedure and your skin will love it
6. Keep Clean but take a step up from regular soap or shower gels which overdry your skin.
What to do if you already got ingrown hairs after waxing or hair removal?
1. First of all, please DO NOT try to squeeze acne caused by ingrown hairs and don't try to extract ingrown hair by yourself.
2. Ask for an advise your hair removal specialist
3. Do not delay the treatment. The idea is to help ingrown hair to resurface in a natural way before it "dies". If regular daily care and exfoliation didn't bring the desired result and you got first signs of ingrown hairs such as little dark spots under the skin or pimples, then you may try "ingrown hair solution".
I was using that one https://www.lifepharmacy.co.nz/home/shop-by-brand/nads/nads-ingrow-solution-125ml but you try any other. The common ingredient across the most "ingrown hair solutions" is Salicylic Acid, which helps to destroy the connection between cells and release path for the growing hair, as far as this ingredient in the lest you are good to go. But please be careful and follow the instructions and apply solution only on affected spots. If you apply remedy to often, then it may overdry the skin.
Hope you find the information above useful. I would appreciate if you give feedback in comments below, or maybe share your experience.
Sugar Waxing Specialist
Bare Care, Auckland