This post is in partnership with European Wax Center®
I think we can all agree with the notion that ingrown hairs are the devil. They have this tendency to pop up at the most inconvenient times, like right before a vacation or the morning of a formal event. Whether you wax, shave, laser, or depilatory creams to remove body hair, most of us have encountered one of these stubborn, unsightly bumps a time or two. If you're not careful, trying to pluck them can cause even more damage. As fate would have it, people with curlier or coarser hair types are more prone to getting them.
While ingrown hairs aren't life-threatening, they sure as heck are painful! So painful, they can make sitting, walking or any other daily activity very uncomfortable. With regular waxing and at-home care, you can minimize and even prevent the presence of ingrown hairs. But first. let's recap what they are and how they even develop in the first place.
What are ingrown hairs?
Deidra Green, licensed esthetician and the Senior Field Training Manager for European Wax Center, says an ingrown hair is essentially just a strand of hair that has curled down back into the skin instead of growing straight out through the follicle. "Sometimes it can cause a raised bump," she says. "Sometimes it's right underneath the surface of the skin. Other times, it can become impacted or even infected if you have a really extreme case."
What causes ingrown hairs?
As with many other things, ingrown hairs can happen to anyone. However, they can also be caused by poor hair removal techniques. Lack of exfoliation can lead to a build-up of dead skin cells, which block hair follicles and cause a hair strand to grow sideways instead of straight up. People with curly or naturally coarse hair are more likely to run into this problem since their hair thickness and shape lend themselves to growing beneath the skin. Green says ingrown hairs can be caused by a number of things you might not suspect, like shaving with a dull razor or using the wrong products. "[With both of these things] the hair just has a hard time finding its way out of the follicle."
How do I treat ingrown hair?
When it comes to ingrown hairs, the best thing to do is handle them with care. The pain and inconvenience of an ingrown hair popping up unexpectedly might make you want to go at it with tweezers and get to the root of it. But err on the side of caution. Gently exfoliating the hair and applying a serum, like European Wax Center's award-winning ingrown hair serum with glycolic acid, will treat recent breakouts while preventing new ones from cropping up. If you've got a particularly pesky ingrown that needs special attention, get an esthetician or wax specialist on the job to safely get the trapped hair out.
What keeps ingrown hairs away...for good?
Sadly, there is no guarantee that you'll never get another ingrown hair in your life, but you can reduce them significantly by trading in shaving for waxing. This is especially true if you tend to get them along your bikini line and pubic area. As opposed to shaving or trimming which just removes the skin at surface level, waxing removes the hair from the root which helps it grow back unobstructed. Waxing also helps the hair become softer over time, and therefore, less likely to get caught beneath the surface of your skin. As mentioned above, frequently exfoliating between waxes also help keep your follicles clear of dead skin and easier for new hair to penetrate.
Never been waxed? Visit waxcenter.com for more tips and to book your very first wax for free.