Beauty

How to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Istockphoto Image by: Istockphoto Author: Canadian Living

Beauty

How to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Those little red bumps that crop up on your legs, underarms and bikini line just in time for summer are called "ingrown hairs," and while they're not dangerous, they possess the power to ruin an otherwise perfect day at the beach. If you’re burdened by a bump (or two), rest assured: Ingrown hairs are not only treatable, but preventable, too. With proper care, those painful and unsightly ingrowns will be good and gone by bikini season.

What is an ingrown hair?

An ingrown hair “is a hair that does not grow sufficiently out of the follicular opening and continues to grow underneath the surface of the skin,” says Bailu Lu, senior researcher of the Gillette Reading Innovation Centre.

Although several factors contribute to the development of ingrown hairs, “a tendency for thick, tightly curled hairs and the presence of excess skin flakes surrounding and clogging the hair follicle opening” are primary culprits, says Lu. “These conditions typically exist in the bikini [and underarm] regions.” For that reason, summer is a particularly unforgiving time for ingrown hairs to rear their ugly heads.

Prevention

Women can greatly reduce the number of bumps they experience by adding two simple steps to their bathing routines.

First, says Lu, “light exfoliation with gentle scrubs will help to prevent ingrown hairs by removing and reducing flaky skin around the hair follicle opening.” Women with sensitive skin might prefer exfoliating pads or a natural-fibre mitt or brush in lieu of a body scrub, but some level of exfoliation is necessary in the prevention of painful bumps.

Second, don’t forget to moisturize. Women who shave should use a hydrating shave gel to ease the glide of the razor (using short, gentle strokes), while women who wax, depilate or laser should round out their hair removal session with a light layer of unscented body lotion.

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7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Wax strips

It is essential to keep moisture in, even when hair is coming out. These easy-to-use wax strips are 30 percent more moisturizing than the average wax strip, and are effective on hair as short as 1.5 millimetres. Nair Moroccan Argan Oil PerfectTemp Wax Strips, $15, naircare.ca. For more info on achieving the perfect at-home wax, click here.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Nair

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Shave gel

If you shave dry, you’re pretty much asking for ingrown hairs. Create a barrier between your skin and your razorblade by lathering up with this supremely hydrating shave gel. Gillette Satin Care Ultra Sensitive Shave Gel, $4, shoppersdrugmart.ca.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Gillette

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Exfoliating pads

Chemical exfoliation is the way to go if your skin is too sensitive for rough scrubs. These handy one-time-use pads are soaked in a solution of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, as well as antioxidant actives, which means your skin stays smooth until hair grows in. Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads, $45 for 50 pads, sephora.ca.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Sephora

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Body scrub

These scrubs contain sugarcane extract, which cleanses and exfoliates, leaving skin soft and free of flakes and bumps. Plus, each scent is perfectly suited to summer, so your morning shower feels more “tropical vacation” than “daily routine.” Mark body scrub, $14, avon.ca. To make your own scrubs, click here.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Mark

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Scrub mitt

Use this all-natural cactus scrub mitt to dry brush your body before a shower, working upward in small, circular motions. The Body Shop Cactus Scrub Mitt, $10, thebodyshop.ca.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: The Body Shop

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Moisturizing lotion

This lotion is noncomedogenic, nonirritating and fragrance-free, so it helps keep ingrowns out and moisture in. It might not be sexy, but your bump-free bikini line will be. Cerave Moisturizing Lotion, $15, cerave.ca.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Cerave

7 great products to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

Tweezers

Ingrown hair removal calls for some serious detail work! While angled tweezers are great for eyebrows, this pointed pair ensures you always pluck out the ingrown—and never your skin (ouch!). Quo Classic Point Tweezer, $4, shoppersdrugmart.ca. For more beauty advice, visit our Style Desk blog.

Image by: Canadian Living By: Sarah Feldman Source: Quo


Treatment

Bikini bumps fade quickest when caught early. “If you do find ingrown hairs,” says Lu, “free them by carefully removing excess skin so that a part of the hair can be caught and pulled.” This method works best after a warm shower when hair follicles are as open as possible. “Always use clean tweezers when removing ingrown hairs,” explains Lu. And be sure to pluck in a quick, streamlined motion to avoid breakage while removing the offending hair from root to tip.

If an ingrown hair becomes painful and bright red with a bulbous white or yellow tip, it might be infected. Treat the area with a topical antibiotic ointment, or speak with your doctor if you’re especially prone to infections.

For more beauty advice, visit our Style Desk blog.

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How to treat and prevent ingrown hairs

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