What’s your morning routine? If you’re anything like me, you want to make sure you look presentable. For some, this means grooming your stubble or beard. Others get rid of their facial hair either to appear more professional or out of personal preference.
What you’re immediately thinking is: How do I do away with this mess? Nobody wants the look of an acne-riddled teenager. Not to mention how painful ingrown hair can get!
I’m here to give you some tips and tricks on how to get rid of those pesky bumps and restore your face to its smooth glory. Read on to find out more about the causes, treatment options, and prevention of ingrown hair.
Why Do I Get Ingrown Hair?
You may be wondering why this curse has befallen you. If you have curly hair, or if it’s very rough, you’re more at risk, because individual strands are more likely to bend back into the skin. Here are the two most common culprits.
The cause of ingrown hair in most cases is simple: it’s because you shave.
In many ways, we humans are victims of our own success. Constantly striving for as close a shave as possible, many of us turn to cartridge razors with two or more blades.
If you’re always pulling on your skin and straightening it out while shaving, you’re not making the situation better. This only increases the chance of hair going rogue within your skin.
2. Clogged Pores
Your face is almost constantly exposed to the elements. The pollution that sticks to it, when combined with the oils your skin produces naturally and dead cells can create a plug that is hard for hair to penetrate. It has to go somewhere, though, so it bends, irritating your skin. People of oily skin type will experience this problem more often.
So What Can I Do about Ingrown Hairs?
If you’ve already developed an ingrown hair, your priority now is removing it as quickly as possible. Although an instant result is unlikely, there are several ways to speed up the process.
1. Ease Up on Shaving
The easiest way you can get rid of ingrown hair is to just wait until it passes. If you just skip shaving for 2-3 days, it’s very likely that the problem will solve itself. Although unsightly, razor bumps won’t cause you too many problems, so just relax and let your skin do the work.
What you absolutely shouldn’t do is mess with the inflamed area with your hands. It’s tempting, I know. You see this redness and it seems so easy to just squeeze out the problem.
But you’d be doing yourself a disservice. Your fingers and fingernails come with a whole assortment of bacteria. If they get into the ingrown hair area, an infection will be quick to follow. This will leave a scar and turn a solvable problem into a permanent one.
2. Keep the Area Warm
Your facial hair is particularly stiff and thick compared to the hair on the rest of your body. This is why the ingrown beard is more painful.
But you can soothe the pain by keeping the area warm and damp. Just washing your face with warm water helps your pores to open.
You know by now that the build-up of dead cells combined with dirt and your skin’s secretions can clog the pathway of your hair. This is why exfoliating can help that ingrown hair find its way out again.
The process is pretty simple. Get a facial scrub, apply it after getting your face wet, massage in circular motions, rinse. That’s all there is to it!
You can even do this twice a day to make sure your skin is breathing. Don’t forget to use moisturizer afterward, however, as you can expect some extra dryness after exfoliation.
4. Bust Out the Tweezers
Now, this should be your last resort. Please try some of the previous solutions before picking at the ingrown area. The reason for this is, again, that you may be exposing your skin to unwanted outside bacteria, paving the way for an infection.
Before even reaching for the tweezers, you should make sure your skin is washed and exfoliated. You’ll get better results after softening it with a warm compress for about 10 minutes. This will bring the hair closer to the surface.
If the hair is close to the surface, you only need to straighten it out. If you try to pull it out completely, you can’t count on that swelling going down quickly. Just redirect the hair so it goes back out. If you can’t reach it with tweezers, just leave it alone.
If you managed to release the ingrown hair, apply some anti-inflammatory cream if you have some. This will help reduce the swelling. And don’t forget to moisturize, as this will give your skin the nutrients to help it return to normal.
How Can I Stop This from Happening Again?
If you’ve had to deal with razor burn even one time, it’s still one time too many. But luckily, some simple changes to your routine can help keep this problem at bay.
1. Grow a Beard
OK, so this is an obvious one. But why not try putting down the razor and see if the bearded look works for you? Studies show that men with facial hair tend to be perceived as more attractive. And ingrown hair definitely won’t be a problem anymore.
2. Shave Smarter
OK, I’ll concede. Some men just don’t want facial hair. In this case, you need to re-evaluate your shaving routine. Here’s what you can pay attention to:
- Think about the razor you’re using. You should opt for a single-blade one or, even better, go for an electric shaver. A great choice would be the Braun Series 9, which delivers amazing results while taking it easy on your skin.
- Don’t pull the skin while shaving. If you’ve got a good shaver, you won’t need to.
- Shave along the grain. You should have learned this as a teenager, but shaving against the grain makes hair turn backward, which is what leads to razor burn.
- Make your hair softer. Shaving while showering under warm water makes your beard softer and easier to clip. Make sure your shaving cream is doing its job in getting the hair ready for cutting.
- Soothe your skin after shaving. When removing hair, you also damage and dry out your skin. Use a quality aftershave to make up for this quickly. You can also press a cool washcloth onto your face to reduce any irritation.
3. Focus on Skincare
To avoid ingrown hair, you need to cleanse and nourish your skin. Exfoliate a couple of times a week to remove any dirt build-up. Wash and massage your face to increase blood flow. Moisturize to prevent your skin from drying out and getting irritated.
The First Signs of an Ingrown Facial Hair
One of the first things you’re going to notice when an ingrown hair on your face occurs is itching. Soon after that, the surrounding skin will become red and swollen.
Inside the bumps, you will notice a pustule or papule with a hair in the center. The severity of the symptoms may vary depending on your genetics, overall health, and lifestyle.
The other things that will determine the symptoms of ingrown hairs are the way facial hair grows into the skin, the presence of an infection, and how deep that infection is.
When it comes to infected ingrown hairs on the face, they usually affect only the surrounding skin. However, sometimes the infection spreads and evolves into an infected hair follicle.
There are two groups of ingrown facial hairs – those caused by, already mentioned, infected follicles, and the ones caused by a secondary skin infection.
It is possible that you don’t suffer from any kind of infection, and the pustule on your skin is only the product of your immune system as a response to an invader. In this case, the invader is your own hair.
Doctors often think that ingrown hair is the result of a skin infection and prescribe antibiotics when there is no need for them.
Everyone can experience ingrown facial hairs from time to time, but if that condition becomes chronical, it’s important to find the real source of a problem and not treat the symptoms.
Do the opposite, and chances are high that you will be left with ingrown facial hairs and their symptoms permanently.
A chronic case of ingrown hairs sometimes indicates that you are suffering from pseudofolliculitis barbae, also known as “true” folliculitis.
Can Ingrown Facial Hairs Cause Acne
Ingrown hairs can easily be mistaken for acne. After all, not only the symptoms are similar, but they also look alike.
Even the dermatologists can find it hard to make a difference between symptoms of ingrown hair and acne.
That’s when they will submit you to a skin culture test. This test tells if you suffer from an infection, either bacterial or fungal.
This being said, many men who think that they have acne, actually have a problem with ingrown hairs on their face.
Identifying which of these two problems you are dealing with is important, because the ways you should treat them are different.
Both, acne and ingrown hair develop in hair follicles. However, acne is formed from dead skin and oil buildups that cause pore blockage.
When the pore grows bigger, the material inside of it spills into the surrounding skin. The skin then becomes red, irritated and swollen.
An ingrown hair, on the other hand, doesn’t form a pore blockage on your face skin. Instead, what happens is that the hair grows back into the skin by piercing the follicle wall.
Your body will see your own hair as an invader and cause redness, pustule, and swelling. The end result is a bump that looks precisely like acne, but it’s not the same.
The Causes of Ingrown Facial Hairs
Although anyone can get ingrown hairs, the problem tends to be worse for people who have very coarse and curly facial hair.
As the facial hair grows, it tends to bend back instead of continuing outward and upward.
If this happens you can straighten your beard naturally by establishing a morning routine that includes a quality beard brush like Beardoholic Boar Hairs Brush, a hair dryer like Revlon 1875W Quick Dry Hair Dryer, a premium beard balm like Honest Amish Leave-In Conditioner.
Once it bends back, the sharp edge of the facial hair simply pierces the skin and continues growing under it.
This is especially common after the hair has been shaved because the edge of the hair is now razor sharp.
Razor bumps usually develop on men’s chin and neck, while women typically get them on the armpits and legs.
Ingrown facial hairs can’t be treated the right way if you don’t know what caused them in the first place.
Three of the most common reasons why ingrown facial hairs occur are:
1. Dead Skin Cells
Removing dead skin and oil buildups can prevent ingrown hairs on your face. When this is not done often enough, they stay on your skin, preventing new hairs from growing out.
Those new hairs have to grow somewhere, and when they can’t grow up, they go backward or sideways and cause ingrown hairs.
2. Shaving too closely
It is already known that razors tend to pull and tug the skin to give you a close shave. Cutting hairs really close to the skin surface with a razor blade can cause their edges to get caught in the skin, preventing them from growing out.
The result is an ingrown facial hair.
3. Pulling the skin
Again, this has a lot to do with the previous cause. While shaving, a lot of men tend to pull or stretch the skin to get a closer shave. When released, the hair can get caught below the skin and cause an ingrown hair.
Besides all of these causes, ingrown facial hairs can also be the result of bacterial or fungal infection, chemicals that irritate skin, pore-clogging skincare products, dirt, makeup, and grease.
The skin that lacks moisture is more prone to developing ingrown hairs because it can weaken the skin’s natural healing and defense mechanism.
On the long run, this increases blood flow, and your body releases chemicals in the area with the ingrown hair. As a consequence, surrounding hairs can start growing abnormally.
Every man who tried catching ingrown hairs with tweezers knows how frustrating it can be to pull it when there are multiple thin or thick hairs formed as one.
People who tend to have higher levels of sex hormones usually have excessive hair growth, and they see these painful bumps on the skin after shaving more frequently.
Related Article: 4 Steps to Increase Testosterone and Beard Growth
Latinos and African-Americans also see more razor bumps, or pseudofolliculitis, due to the fact they tend to have thicker and curlier hair.
The ingrown facial hairs can be caused by waxing, shaving, or plucking the hairs.
Good To Know: 5 Tips on How to Grow a Thicker Beard