My skin is tremendously prone to ingrown hairs and to acne, so this subject is personal to me! I have been working on a skincare routine to get my skin as flawless as humanly possible from head to toe, and it has taken years of trial and error to get close. I still have to manage my problematic skin, and I know how emotional this subject can be. With all of this in mind, I wrote this guide.
What is it?
Ingrown hairs (or pseudofolliculitis) happen when the individual hair grows under the surface of the skin, instead of up and out of the hair follicle.
How is it caused?
A hair can get trapped under the skin for many reasons. Typically the growth is impacted by clogged follicles, which can be from dead skin cells, dirt, oils, or topical products. Other factors can include how dry the skin is, and friction from tight clothing.
I’d like to point out that everyone has to manage this problem to some extent. Many of my clients who experience ingrown hairs are very down on themselves, and feel a negative stigma. Ingrown hairs do not mean that you are unhygienic, or lazy, or a bad person. They just mean that you need to change your skincare routine, and probably only a little bit!
Ingrown hairs without bacterial infection can be gently coerced out of the skin. The best way to to start treating current ingrowns and preventing future ones is exfoliation.
My two favorite exfoliants are scrubby gloves that you use in the shower on wet skin, and a dry body brush that you use outside of the shower, on clean, dry skin. Gloves can be picked up pretty much anywhere. Body brushes can be found at most natural grocers with a body care section, and online. Try one or both methods gently to kick-start your skin-smoothing process. (Hint: these bad boys can be used on your whole body!)
I find that most of my clients aren’t moisturizing their skin (yes, even the skin down there needs some moisturizer). An expedient fix is whatever facial moisturizer or oil you use that doesn’t break you out. Clients often raise their eyebrows at me when I tell them this, but it is a sure-fire way to hydrate your skin without causing more ingrown hairs. Another product I’m a big fan of is Finipil, it is a hydrating moisturizer that has antiseptic properties as well.
A spot treatment can also be beneficial for ingrown hairs. Common options are TendSkin and PFB, although you can use any spot treatment that works well for facial breakouts on ingrowns just as well!
Try any one or combination of these steps with your skin, and if your skin needs an extra boost, slowly add in additional steps. Don’t start them all at one time, your skin might get over-exfoliated and you’ll lose healthy skin progress!
Removal and Extraction
Listen, I rarely suggest trying to remove or extract an ingrown hair at home. But we’re all only human, and sometimes it is easier said than done to leave it to either self-resolve or have a professional remove an ingrown hair for you.
So, if you’re going to have at it on your own, here are some guidelines:
- always start with clean hands and clean skin
- wearing gloves is a good idea
- if you try to squeeze, limit yourself to 2 attempts of a 3-count squeeze. if nothing comes out, trying further will cause more inflammation and irritation
- if you’re using an implement like tweezers or a lance, make sure they are sterilized!
- spot treat the area after with an antiseptic like Finipil
Definitely try my suggestions from the treatment section, even if you’re manually extracting hairs. The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings very true in this regard!