Pesky is putting it lightly. One single ingrown hair in a sea of three-thousand pores can draw immediate, unwanted attention. It’s incredible what a single blemish can do to your self-confidence, so today, we’re going to run you through the best methods to prevent ingrown hair, and experience soft, perfect skin.
It’s important to know that most causes of ingrown hairs are directly our fault. It’s in our shaving habits, inconsistent moisturizing and hydration, and a few other things that we’re going to break down in this article. You’ll encounter the ever so sparse singular ingrown hair now and again as flukes, but these methods and tricks are going to prevent the majority of ingrown hairs for the rest of your life.
1. Don’t Use Foaming Shaving Cream, Use Shave Soap
The number one mistake men make regarding shaving, is using Barbasol (or any foam shaving cream, not nitpicking on Barbasol). Not only does the formula found in most of these irritate your skin and cause redness, but it actually weighs down your hair instead of getting it to stand on end. We know that inexpensive cans of shaving cream are tantalizing; everyone wants to save a few bucks when and where they can, but it’s only going to hurt you in the long run.
Think of every positive and negative view of shaving in film and television. The guy who uses a disposable razor and foaming shaving cream is the one who ends up with a bunch of toilet paper fragments on his face, while an old-school shave with shaving soap and a safety razor have this clean-cut, Frank Sinatra smooth look.
In the long run, shave soap actually saves you money. It’s more of an upfront cost, but a quality puck of shave soap will last you for four to eight months on average. How long is that can of foaming cream going to last? Apart from the cost, shave soap also has a ton of other benefits.
More often than not, shave soap companies use 100% all-natural (and sometimes organic) ingredients. No irritation, a thinner layer is applied to actually help your hair stand on end, and you get a much easier glide on your face. Shave soap isn’t just soap, either: it contains attributes that hydrate your skin long after the shave is over. We’d also like to add that it means aftershave won’t sting quite as much, and actually has a light and pleasant scent. Nobody enjoys the chemical odor of foaming shave cream.
2. Hair Removal Creams
This one is a method that not a lot of gents use, but they really should be. This method works for about 95% of your body, you just can’t put it on your face or near any orifices. Men who are sick and tired of paying for waxing treatments to rid shoulder, stomach and out of control pubic hair finally have an alternative. Each hair removal cream is different, but work in a similar fashion.
You apply it to your skin, and wait the requested amount of time. You’ll usually use an abrasive face cloth or something similar, which is when you’ll pull it across your specific, and see nothing but smooth (slightly reddened) skin underneath. As you might imagine, you’ll have to use extra special care around sensitive areas.
Hair removal creams get tricky, because the active ingredients are usually acid-based. Before that has you running, think about laser hair removal and other methods; everything has a risk or way it can go sideways, so using caution will prevent those mishaps. If you have sensitive skin, hair removal cream may not be the best option. There are brands that use a very high percentage of all-natural ingredients to help hydrate your skin when all is said and done, but those brands charge anywhere from 1.5X to 2.25X more for their product. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it cost-effective? Not so much.
The last thing you want to take into account is cost and volume. How much are you spending for how much product? How many areas of your body are you using it on? Weigh the cost versus shaving, and the time that you’d have to spend monotonously dragging a razor across your skin instead of the standard four-minute treatment that hair removal cream offers. What we’re trying to say is that using this is a preference, but it’s also a time saver.
3. Practice Daily Use of Beard Oil
Beards are sexy, but ingrown hairs aren’t, especially when you can see them around the edge of an otherwise well-maintained beard. If you’re just growing it out for the first time, the secret weapon that should always be in your utility belt is quality beard oil.
Even if you’re just growing out 2mm worth of stubble for some aesthetic appeal, beard oil can still be beneficial. The biggest mistake that men make when growing out their beard is drying it out, or not cleaning it properly. Sounds very vague, we know, but bear with us. If you use facial scrubs and take long, hot showers, you’ll notice the hair on your face is dry and coarse, and perhaps wiry. If you’re not cleaning your beard properly, you’ll have a moist beard with improper oil redistribution.
Your hair is nothing but dead skin, guys. It secretes oil, just like your living skin does, and the skin underneath your beard is still creating oil. You know what that means? Clogged pores, improper hair growth, and a lot of irritation. Not to mention, it’s just not a clean beard. Applying beard oil not only adds the benefits of its ingredients to your beard, but also helps to redistribute oil that’s currently in your beard, since you’ll be combing/brushing it in. But there’s one more thing that consistent beard oil use does for you.
It restores balance. Your skin creates as much oil as it needs, and if you have a dry beard or dry ends, then your skin is going to create more oil to restore it. You see the problem? Using beard oil locks in hydration to your beard, and once order has been restored, your pH levels are balanced once again. No more excess oil production, no more ingrown hairs.
4. Go With the Grain
The most overlooked trick is one of the most influential. If you like a clean shave, then you’re battling yourself every single morning to prevent the growth of ingrown hairs. You’re actually more susceptible since you’re cutting them down to the nub, which is why you should be going with the grain.
Every man is different, but on average, each gent has sixteen different facial zones. That means hair grows in sixteen different directions, and requires specific attention. If you just drag your razor down no matter what zone you’re tending to, it’s not going to be pretty. When those hairs grow back after being cut at a wrong angle, they’re going to grow inward towards your skin. This doesn’t mean they’ll tunnel under the surface, but it causes irritation.
When you shave with the grain, you’re cutting your facial hair at the perfect angle to promote healthy regrowth. Keep in mind that you’re not going to get the same effect with a crummy disposable razor (more on this in a minute); you’ll need a proper safety razor or the dexterity to use a straight razor.
It’s more than ingrown hairs you’re preventing. Going with the grain reduces your chance of razor bumps, redness that lasts more than a few minutes, and general irritation throughout the day. An alarming number of men don’t know how to shave properly; this is one of the commandments of a quality, smooth shave.
5. Switch to a Safety Razor
Alright, I’ve been talking about safety razors this whole time, but now it’s time to break down why they are so fantastic. Safety razors are the hybrid between a straight razor and disposable. Where you’d sharpen a straight razor, you’re going to regularly switch out your razor blades on a safety razor.
While there are plenty of brands that use weighted handles, like Gillette or Dollar Shave Club, they only do so because that’s how safety razors have been doing it all along. They know that having more power in your hand is going to result in a better shave, and they’re right (if only their disposable blades properly help up).
Safety razors are designed to provide even weight distribution, so even if you lose a bit of your grip, it’s not going to fall to one side and hit the floor, or worse, leave a cut or razor burn. You’re given a lot more control. The most important aspect is how the head is designed.
Safety razors provide a closer shave, without causing irritation. If you’re thinking, “Either way, I’m dragging steel across my skin, so what’s the difference?”, you’re absolutely right to question it. Think of every commercial or ad you’ve seen for a five-blade razor. They preach that more blades is better, but that’s just not the case.
Sometimes you have to go back over a spot, and you’ve already dragged five pieces of steel across one patch of skin. Now you’re going to do it again? It’s insanity. Double-edged safety razors can be used on either side, so you’re only dragging one piece of sharpened steel across your skin. No more razor burn, bumps, irritation; safety razors are the best method for all skin types, accompanied by proper practice (shave soap, hot towel, etc.).
6. Drink More Water
Be honest with yourself: you’re probably not drinking as much water as you could be, and coffee doesn’t count. It sounds like a stretch, but drinking more water can seriously help prevent ingrown hairs. Your hydration levels help to promote proper blood circulation. When your cells are slowly dehydrating, your body isn’t firing on all cylinders. In short, you’re basically robbing yourself of necessities, and it has an ugly side-effect.
When you’re dehydrated, your skin is harder to work with. Makes sense, right? Well your hair shafts that grow beneath the skin are traversing through this dry, dehydrated, rough skin to try and find the surface. Can you imagine they’re having a hard time doing that without veering off-course?
Hydrated skin behaves better, and greatly minimizes your chance of ingrown hairs. You’re giving those hair shafters an optimal environment, and promoting blood circulation. Consequently, increased blood circulation in your face is going to gently stimulate facial hair growth. That’s great if you’re trying to grow out a beard or some stubble, but if you’re a clean shaved kind of guy, don’t be startled by the fact that you’ll need to shave more often during the week.
7. Hot Towels and Hot Water
There are twenty-thousand pores on your face, and anywhere from two to four million on your body. That translates to a ton of variables, but also one blanket approach that you can take to ensure proper hair growth. You may have seen old-school movies where they throw the piping hot towel on the gent’s face before a shave. You know why they did that? Because it works.
A hot towel or a hot water treatment opens up your pores. Your skin is tight, constantly constricting each and every single hair. If you’ve ever had to pluck between your brows (who hasn’t?), you’ll remember that some hairs were easier to pull out than others once you changed your angle. These hairs are all constricted, and a hot towel is going to loosen things up.
If you’re using a low-quality product on your face (think back to my rant on foaming shave cream), you could potentially clog those pores you just opened up. Using an all-natural product, whether it’s shave soap or something else, is going to be your best bet. Those products get absorbed into the skin, and do nothing but help you out.
So slap that hot towel on your face to open up those pores. As a bonus side effect, those of you with sensitive skin will notice a clearer complexion, and far less irritation. You’re giving your safety razor a major advantage when you treat your skin beforehand.
8. Try Body Trimming Instead
Guys, there are some of us who just have it rougher when it comes to getting that smooth, sexy shave. It’s not always possible, but it doesn’t mean you can’t combat ingrown hairs and look dapper at the same time. If you’re not getting the results you want, whether it’s from a lack of practice or just being dealt a tough hand, you can use a body trimmer instead.
These can work on your face (provided you get a high-quality one), chest, stomach, just about anywhere you can imagine. The goal is to leave 1mm or more of hair, so new hair growth already has a conduit to the surface. You’ll still experience new follicle growth in new areas of your skin from time to time, but this method works to combat the majority of all ingrown hairs that come through.
With less hair to worry about, properly moisturizing and exfoliating, which we’ll touch on in a moment, can help you out even more. If you get a rotary shaver, shave your hair, and use face exfoliator immediately after. Your hair holds oil, like we talked about earlier, and when you’re grooming you’re bound to accidentally distribute some of that excess oil onto other areas of your skin. It doesn’t take long for it to sink in, making exfoliation all the more beneficial.
9. Use the Exotic Dancer Method
When your body directly affects your employment, you develop methods to keep it in tip-top shape, and staying silky smooth. Gents that have gotten into exotic dancing have a lot more areas to manage where hair would normally grow, and you can use one of their methods to say sayonara to ingrown body hair.
It starts with cutting down the hair, then opening up your pores, shaving it all away, and locking in hydration to keep skin free of ingrown hairs. Your skin’s health is vital to keeping ingrown hairs at bay. If your skin isn’t super sensitive, after you shave it all away, you can use baby oil followed by a cold shower to lock in moisture and keep your skin nice and slick. Alternatively, you can also use a deodorant stick (one that doesn’t contain aluminum) to apply to your skin after you’ve shaved. Sounds crazy, but it does the trick.
10. Use an Exfoliation Mask or Treatment
Last but not least, exfoliation is a serious player in preventing ingrown hairs. We talked earlier about your skin being hydrated, going with the grain, all these things that you should be doing. Exfoliation is your check and balance system. Most exfoliator masks can be used two to three times a week, but for those of you with sensitive skin, you can find brands that are for daily use.
Exfoliation feels a bit like rubbing seawater on your face. Not tempting, I know, but it contains microdermabrasion beads that users often describe feels like sand. Why does it feel like this? These beads cascade across your skin, while the remaining formula helps to dig up dirt from your pores and bring it to the surface. In short, it’s like having a ton of little scrubbing dirt eliminators on your skin.
Exfoliation should be part of your skincare regimen already. Your skin’s health is a direct reflection of your internal health, and needs to be treated with care. You’ll not only prevent ingrown hairs, but you’ll be able to speed up blemish recovery of previously ingrown hairs that you may have plucked out or shaved over. You’re pulling any and all fluids to the surface, to be wiped off the face of the Earth with those microdermabrasion beads.
Remember to Find What Works for You
Some of these tips should be adopted into your everyday practice, some are going to be more situation-specific. Either way, your skin is different from the guy sitting next to you, and that means it’s time to try everything until you find what looks, feels and behaves the best for your skin.