A quick guide to hair gone awry.
For those who participate in hair removal, the sneaky threat of ingrown hairs can add some dread to the process. An ingrown hair is a hair that’s curled inward, towards and underneath the top layer of skin, instead of outward. The result is a painful bump on skin. They can crop up anywhere, but are particularly common in areas where hair removal is typical, including underarms and bikini lines.
The first step is to determine if you are actually dealing with an ingrown. If you can see a hair underneath, and/or if it is an area where you typically shave (and, too, where you do not typically break out) you can assume it is an ingrown hair. When in doubt, consult your doctor.
Gentle acids and the use of essential oils like tea tree oil can aid in soothing ingrowns, and generally calming irritation. For ingrown treatment and prevention, exfoliating is your friend. Exfoliating, either with a scrub, dry brush, or exfoliating mitt, will help soften the outermost layer of skin. Adding this physical exfoliation into your shower routine will help prevent ingrown hairs from forming, too. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, space out your regular exfoliation–try starting with once a week.
Post shave, opt for lightweight, gentle moisturizers and oils on skin. Friction and pressure can aggravate ingrowns, so be mindful of this when wearing tight clothing, exercising, and when having sex.
On that last one: there is an emotional component to ingrown hairs, too. When they crop up in intimate areas, it can be distressing, or can make us feel self-conscious during sex. This is a good moment to remind yourself that they are totally normal. Vulnerability is a powerful component of intimacy–so lean in, get close.