Shaving, waxing and many other forms of hair removal are great, until the hair starts to grow back and ingrown hairs become an issue. Ingrown hairs occur when the tips of the hair catches in the layers of skin, growing between them instead of up and out. They cause issues like the skin becoming irritated and inflamed. The good news is that you can avoid ingrown hairs coming back. The trick is to understanding why they happen and taking steps before hair removal.

Man shaving his face
Credit: graur razvan ionut/

Shaving is one of the most common reasons for ingrown hairs

What Causes Ingrown Hairs?

The most common reason for the hair to grown between layers is shaving. When you shave, the hair catches at odd angles and is removed just level with the skin. However, this is not the only reason for it to happen. Waxing and using an epilator can also have the same effect. If the hair is caught at an odd angle, it can catch between the layers of the skin. When they grow, they remain under these layers, instead of coming straight up and out.

It happens on the legs, arms, back, chest, face, and anywhere you choose to remove hair from. The bikini line can be one of the most painful areas to get ingrown hairs.

While it is possible to remove these hairs, you still have to deal with the pain. You also need to deal with the red marks and swollen areas. It is often best to just avoid them from occurring when possible.

Get Away from Shaving

The best thing to do is change your method of hair removal. While waxing and epilating can cause the issue, they are less likely to compared to shaving. If you do shave regularly, start thinking about other ways that you could continue with your beauty routine. The downside with all the other hair removal methods is that they take longer, and are often painful.

This is where laser hair removal is an option. It is a quicker and easier method, and really does avoid ingrown hairs coming back. Laser hair removal is permanent. However, it is not for everybody. Not everyone wants to permanently remove their hair, while others find it is too expensive to try.

If you want to continue shaving, you will need to follow a few tips to avoid ingrown hairs occurring.

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Use Shaving Gel to Moisturize the Skin

Make the skin as soft as possible. Moisturizing the skin is the best way to do this and there are now many shaving gels with added moisturizing lotion. Many people choose to shave while in the bath or shower, but there are issues which will be discussed later on. Using shaving gel or even a good foamy shower gel is a great way to limit the majority of the problems that can cause these types of hairs.

Make sure you lather the shaving gel on your legs, chest, or anywhere you choose to use the razor. It’s also a great way to tell if you accidentally missed a spot.

Shave in the Right Direction

Many people shave against the way the hair grows. It can be easier to do it this way, especially when shaving the legs, but it is cause the hairs to catch as they grow. It will take longer to shave in the direction of the growing hair, but it is better for you in the long run.

Why is going the opposite way so bad? It causes some tugging and pulling at the hairs. The bits underneath the layers of the skin end up trapped at bad angles, so they grow in the wrong way.

Woman shaving her legs
Credit: marin/

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Make the Skin Soft

Moisturizing helps to make the skin soft and ready for hair removal, but it is not the only thing to do. As well as the skin, you need to make the hairs soft. Rough bumps along the flesh cause the razor to miss spots and catch hairs in the wrong way. The good news is that you don’t need anything special. Warm water is perfect for this job.

This is why shaving in the bath or shower may not be the best idea. If you do, make sure the whole bathroom is warm. When you’re cold, goose bumps appear. This is more likely if your leg has gone from somewhere hot, like in the bath water, to someone cold, like just out of it. You may want to consider a razor suitable for in the water so you can do it all underneath.

You can also loosen the hairs by using a washcloth and rubbing it in circular motions on the skin. This is something to do afterwards to, so you promote good re-growth.

Exfoliate Before You Shave

Exfoliating the skin is something worth doing before you get the razor out. This will take away the layers of dead skin cells, so you have glowing, clean and fresh skin at the top. Your pores will also be unblocked to help encourage good hair growth afterwards.

Exfoliating is worth doing anyway. It promotes healthier looking skin, since the live cells are brighter, fresher, and look better.

Watch Out for Those Extra Blades

Think the three- or five-blade razors will give you a better shave? While they give you a closer one, they’re not so great for the ingrown hair issue. They draw more hair backwards in a short space of time, risking the chance that more hair is caught within the layers of the skin. A single blade razor allows you to take your time while shaving and make sure that the hairs are removed at the right angle.

Electric razors are a great option. The shave isn’t as close and they’re excellent for a daily basis. They also relatively quick and don’t need the shaving gel; although you may want to moisturize and get your hairs ready to be removed.

Look After Your Skin to Avoid Ingrown Hairs

The removal isn’t the only part to think about. To avoid ingrown hairs, you need to look after your skin and encourage good hair re-growth. Wash your legs with cold water straight away. Your pores will be tightened, which encourages the hairs to grow straight from the beginning.

Make moisturizing your skin part of your daily beauty routine and massage your body to stimulate blood flow. You could also opt for shaving gel to work in and care for your hairs. This will also help your skin look great.

It is possible to avoid ingrown hairs. By knowing more about them and knowing the steps, you can continue shaving and have the best legs, chest or arms in your area. Never have to try and tease out the hairs again!

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