I think we can all agree that ingrown hairs are the absolute worst!! Unfortunately most Canadians don’t have that perfect, flawless skin and we have to deal with the things like pimples and ingrown hairs that come along with it. Don’t worry though, there is hope for us yet! By understanding your skin and treating it accordingly, we can absolutely maintain beautiful, healthy skin and avoid those nasty ingrown’s. This post will provide you with some tips for preventing and treating ingrown hairs.
First, let us understand a little further what an ingrown hair actually is. There are three types of ingrown hairs you can develop. In every case, the hair is trapped under the skin, typically because of dead skin build up that makes it hard for the hairs to break through. The first type of ingrown hair is the Burrower. This is a hair that you can see from the surface squirrelling through your skin, but there is no visible lump or bump that goes along with it. These can be particularly hard to remove as they can be quite deep in the skin. The second is the Nester. This hair remains in the follicle and also fills with pus and bacteria creating a small or large pimple on the skin. This is can be quite painful if it gets large enough. The third type of ingrown is the Teaser. It presents itself like a blackhead, ready to be extracted as it has a darker head or loop of hair out of the skin. But before you go squeezing and popping, read the rest of this blog to know how to safely prevent, treat and remove ingrown hairs.
– 12-24 hours before your appointment, vigorously exfoliate and lightly moisturize the part of your body you’re having waxed. This makes sure our wax gets right to the base of the hair and when we remove it, there is no breakage.
– Don’t be afraid to trim. If your hair is over half an inch long try to give a little trim so it’s more comfortable to spread the wax, and guarantees that we can get the wax to the base of the hair. For areas that are particularly overgrown this is the most important. Just make sure to leave the hair at least the length of a grain of rice or the length of your pinky nail. Trimming will lessen pain, hair breakage and ingrown development.
– Directly after the wax try to take it easy. When we exercise post wax, the bacteria we produce through sweat can very easily get into the open hair follicle. If the bacteria gets in, then the follicle closes, it is an easy recipe for pimples and ingrown hairs. Time your waxes accordingly and make sure you can relax post treatment.
– Bathing post wax is totally fine but there are a few things you need to take into consideration. Try not to take hot baths or showers directly after a wax. Our skin has been deeply exfoliated with a wax and hot water can damage those new skin cells. Make sure the water is warm and comfortable. Another thing to take into consideration is the type of soaps/body washes you are using. Most body washes contain added scents that can irritate the freshly waxed areas. If you can switch to natural washes/soaps that do not contain added scents (light essential oils are typically fine to use post wax) then try to do so. Even bulk barn carries a really lovely assortment of natural handmade soaps that won’t break the bank and will keep your skin happy.
– After 24 hours, be sure you keep a regular exfoliation routine. We recommend exfoliating lightly every time you shower and making sure to do a deep exfoliation 1-2 times a week. When you exfoliate it is normal to see the skin turn pink and the heat of the water feels intensified. If you are scrubbing until you are red and raw you are damaging the protective layer of oils we carry on the skin. Dry brush, sugar scrub, exfoliating gloves are all excellent tools for getting rid of your dry or dead skin. Talk to your esthetician about which one will be best for your skin.
– Don’t forget to moisturize! Choose your moisturizer according to your skin and the time of year. In the winter our skin typically gets drier with less moisture in the air. We recommend oils like Jojoba oil or Grapeseed oil because their composition is the closest to the oils that our bodies produce naturally. Don’t load up on heavily scented moisturizers that can actually dry you out further. If you like to have a scent with your lotion or body oil, try adding a few drops of essential oils into your mix. Talk to your esthetician about which essential oils can create the effect you are looking for.
– If you are anything like us here at Lily of the Valley, you get a strange satisfaction from picking and popping ingrown hairs. This is one of the most damaging things we do to ourselves. Most of the time people pick at things with unwashed hands. There is an incredible amount of bacteria on our hands that will get into those open follicles when we pick and pop. Have you ever popped a pimple or ingrown hair and the next day it’s TWICE as big. That’s because we are opening the follicle and then pushing more bacteria into it. Instead of picking and popping, choose to exfoliate, moisturize lightly, keep the area dry, and try to wear cotton. Leave it to the professionals to remove if exfoliation isn’t quite doing the trick.
– We are all for serums and tinctures to treat ingrown hairs but know your ingredients! Products containing alcohol definitely dry out the affected follicle but it also dries out the skin around it, causing damage that can make the problem worse. Think of your skin as a barrier protecting what is underneath. When we use ingredients that damage that barrier, we are more prone to ingrowns and pimples, the opposite of what we think we are achieving. Get the idea out of your head that you have to dry everything out, keeping our skin hydrated keeps it strong and will help you heal faster. Instead of alcohol, look for ingrown serums that contain Alpha or Beta Hydroxy Acids such as Glycolic or Salicylic. This type of ingredient is like a dead skin packman. It eats away at the dead skin making it easier for the ingrown to break free from the clogged follicle. These acids leave the surrounding skin unharmed and gently exfoliated.
– If you are getting ingrowns that present themselves as “Teasers” and you absolutely MUST remove them, just be sure to follow these steps; Wash your hands thoroughly before you touch the area. Clean the area you want to remove from with soap and water. Use kleenex around your two index fingers and gently squeeze with the SIDES of your fingers. Do not squeeze from the tips because your fingernails can cause damage. Once the hair has released, if it has detached from the blood supply it will just wipe away. If the hair is still attached, try to leave it be until your next wax appointment. After you have removed the ingrowns, dab the area with witch hazel or tea tree oil. This will keep the area disinfected and help to close up the follicle.
– Patience is a seriously important virtue when dealing with any skin condition. It will take time to heal and remove ingrown hairs but it will happen if you have patience. Quick fixes lead to more damage in the long run. Let your body heal and remember it’s not a race, it is regular maintenance that will keep your skin protected and healthy. Never feel ashamed if you get ingrown hairs because WE ALL GET THEM! The best thing you can do for yourself is to know why you get them and how to safely prevent and treat.
If you have any other ingrown hair related questions feel free to comment, privately message or e-mail the ladies of LV. We are more than happy to take time to help you understand your skin and body hair.
The Ladies of LV, Cassie and Chloe