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7 Ways To Prevent and Treat Ingrown Hairs

7 Ways to Prevent and Treat Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs: two inglorious words that can dampen all of our dreams for flawless skin.

Odds are either you or your clients have had them, which prove that ingrown hairs are all too familiar for many of us - and that prevention is often much more manageable than treatment.

Visual of an ingrown hair compared to a normal hair

No doubt you cringe at the sight of those red (sometimes even painful) bumps. Though most of us view hair removal and waxing as a necessity, it's unfortunately the process thereof that can encourage the backward growth of these pesky individual hairs.

ingrown hairs on the bikini area of a woman wearing white underwear

Well, we certainly aren't going to eliminate waxing and let hair grow out to prevent ingrown hairs. So, realistically, how can we treat and prevent ingrown hairs, and how do we encourage our clients to do the same post-waxing?

To learn how to prevent ingrown hairs after waxing, let’s first review some basics.

What Are Ingrown Hairs?

Before learning how to prevent ingrown hairs after a wax, it’s important to know what ingrown hairs are, and how they form. 

Ingrown hairs occur when hair grows back into the skin after various kinds of hair removal. They can happen anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the face, neck, armpits, bikini line, legs, or where hair is particularly coarse. 

Signs of symptoms of ingrown hairs can include seeing small, rounded red bumps on the skin, known as ‘papules’, or small lesions containing puss or that look like little blisters, which are known as ‘pustules’. These papules and pustules can be itchy or painful, as most of us know, but are highly treatable and preventable (don’t worry - we’re getting to that soon!).

Complications from ingrown hairs can occur from scratching, hyperpigmentation, or other afflictions caused by chronic ingrowns. To avoid complications and lower the risk of infection from ingrown hairs, take the care not to scratch or further inflame irritated skin. We know it’s uncomfortable and annoying, but you’ll only spread bacteria and further inflame your skin surface if you do. 

Your ingrown hairs can also progress into an ingrown hair cyst, which can progress due to improper hair removal techniques, including waxing in the wrong direction, or against the direction of hair growth. For the complete risks, prevention methods, and treatment options, read our article, How to Treat An Ingrown Hair Cyst.

For those with sensitive skin, you’ll want to take additional precautions to prevent and treat ingrown hairs. The longevity of ingrown hairs, and how uncomfortable they might be are directly related to your skin type, skin surface, and how you’ve taken care of your skin following hair removal, so take care to use the proper pre and post-wax care products after a waxing service. 

Do Ingrown Hairs Go Away on Their Own?

Most ingrown hairs can and do go away on their own.

With that said, it does take time for ingrown hairs to go away if they form after a waxing service. After waxing, the hair needs to grow out naturally. This can take weeks or even months to do, depending on how deep the hair has grown back into the skin, as well as your hair type and general hair growth rate after a waxing service.

If they’re okay with waiting and letting nature take its course, warm compresses can be your client's and your best friend during these times. The warmth will soften the skin, aid in helping the hair to come to the surface on its own, and relieve some of the pain and irritation as well.

Always keep an eye out for signs of infection when waiting for an ingrown hair to go away on its own. If infection occurs, seeing a doctor or dermatologist is always recommended so they can treat the infection before it gets worse.

Ok, so we don't always want to wait for ingrowns to go away on their own. Which leads us to...

How Do You Get Rid of an Ingrown Hair?

When approaching a waxing service, make sure your client is educated in how to prevent ingrown hairs, and also how to treat them if they occur. Prior to a wax, exfoliate and cleanse the skin, and soothe and mositurize skin post-wax to keep skin in it’s best condition. 

To get rid of an ingrown hair, you need to remember and put several steps into action, including softening your skin, exfoliating the area with the ingrown hair, removing it only if you can see the hair, and then soothing the area with an antibacterial oil. Additionally, treat the waxed area with Ingrown Hair Spray (Hair Puller) 24-48 hours following a service. 

  • Let's examine these seven steps individually.

    1. Soften the Skin

    As mentioned earlier, softening your skin is vital in removing ingrown hairs. Soft skin allows for a more accessible barrier for the hair to emerge from and reduces inflammation before an extraction.

    Even if you do not extract the ingrown at this time, softening the skin before gentle exfoliation can aid in the ingrown hair's ability to grow out naturally. Use a warm compress for a few minutes, even doing so a few times a day.

  • 2. Gently Exfoliate

    Using the same gentle washcloth you used for your warm compress, apply light pressure and, with small, round movements, exfoliate the area where the ingrown hair is. Exfoliating will help eliminate any dead skin cells that are obstructing the hair from breaking through the epidermis.

    Only exfoliate for a short period of time to reduce the risk of adding to the irritation.

    You can also use a fine sugar or salt scrub once or twice a week, with gentle pressure, during this time to help eliminate dead skin cells that are trapping your hair under the skin. These scrubs can also aid in helping the ingrown to come out more on its own time, with a bit of assistance from you.

  • 3. Remove the Ingrown Hair

    If you can see the looped portion of the hair starting to come out of the skin, take clean (if possible, even sterile) pointed tweezers to remove the hair. Pull the entire hair straight from the follicle.

    If the hair does not come out or there isn’t easy access to get to the hair superficially, avoid picking and prodding. Let the area be and continue your routine of softening the skin and exfoliating throughout the week. It will come in time.

  • 4. Soothe Your Skin

    Soothing your skin with antibacterial oils can help prevent bacterial growth in the irritated area after extraction or exfoliation. It will help prevent infection, allow the site to heal sooner, and reduce redness and inflammation. What can you use?

    Soothing with antibacterial essential oils diluted with carrier oils is an effective way to do this. Witch hazel also has antibacterial properties. Using witch hazel with a soothing oil is also effective.

    Starpil’s Original Ingrown Hair Serum Spray is a fantastic option for this step. It directly helps pull out ingrowns and soothe the skin, clearing bacteria away.

    But we’ll go into that more thoroughly a little later on.

    Generally, we all have to face ingrown hairs at least once or twice in our life, but it sure would be much easier to prevent these problematic ingrowns, rather than always having to treat them instead.

  • Here are three ways to prevent ingrown hairs before and after waxing:

  • 5. Exfoliate Before and After Waxing

    Around two days before waxing, exfoliate to remove dead skin cells that could clog pores leading to ingrowns. You can use gentle exfoliation techniques, like exfoliating with a washcloth as aforementioned or exfoliating with sugar or salt scrubs.

    These are all effective techniques to cleanse the area prior to waxing. Normal hair growth should occur straight through the follicle, but when dead skin cells aren’t removed from the epidermis, an obstruction is formed which can cause the hair to bend and grow in a different direction, rather than the typical growth pattern. This re-directed growth can cause hair to turn and grow back into the skin or even coil directly under the skin, leaving you with an uncomfortable ingrown hair.

    This is why knowledge of exfoliation before and after hair removal is essential for clients coming in before their waxing appointments and leaving their waxing appointments.

    What’s the takeaway? Always stress and provide education about exfoliation pre and post-waxing appointments!

  • 6. Use an Ingrown Hair Serum Post Waxing

    Specifically made for ingrowns are created to prevent them by clearing the area of bacteria and dead skin cells. Starpil’s Original Ingrown Hair Serum Spray (Hair Puller) was formulated and designed to keep the pores and follicles squeaky clean after waxing and removal of the hair.

  • A 200ml bottle of Starpil Wax Ingrown Hair Serum
  • Using salicylic acid as its chemical exfoliant, it rids dirt, bacteria, and dead skin cells deep down. Salicylic acid also prevents hair from staying under the skin by keeping the hair follicle open. By combining soothing and calming ingredients with salicylic acid, this post waxing serum relieves redness and calms irritation after waxing.

  • The Serum Spray packs a punch by being both treatment and prevention for ingrown hairs. It will quite literally help to pull them out!

    Use it 24 hours after your and your client’s waxing treatments, and you will all be addicted!

  • 7. Avoid Tight Fitting Clothing

    After waxing, tight-fitting clothing, or clothing with unbreathable materials, can actually cause growing hair to be pushed back into the skin rather than growing outward in the usual growth pattern. These are all callings for ingrown hairs!

    Tight clothing can also create friction which can break the hair and create an unusual growth pattern. To prevent this from occurring, try to wear clothes with a looser fit and/or made of 100% cotton.

    While there are some other preventable recommendations, like keeping hydrated and hydrating your skin with light, non-oily moisturizers, the key preventions listed above are lifesavers to avoid the frustration and discomfort ingrown hairs cause you and your clients.

How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs in the Pubic Area

A specific area that often sees the formation of ingrown hairs in the sensitive bikini line and pubic area. This area’s delicate skin is especially prone to irritation, and often experiences friction and rubbing that can inflame or break skin and lead to bacteria build up. 

When wondering how to prevent ingrown hairs on the bikini line? Because the area is so susceptible to friction and irritation, it’s even more important to practice proper pre & post wax care, as well as wearing loose clothing following a wax, and properly exfoliating and cleansing the area prior to waxing. 

A waxing professional should also wax in the direction of hair growth to avoid irritation, and should always advise clients to soothe, moisturize, and allow the area to properly breathe after their session. To learn more about how to care for your Brazilian wax or bikini wax, and how to prevent ingrown hairs on the bikini area, read The Complete Bikini/Brazilian Wax Guide

In Summary

Although common, ingrown hairs can go from 0 to 60 pretty quickly. While starting as just a small papule or pustule, they can quickly cause pain, create a cyst, be infected, or simply be an eyesore to your otherwise flawless skin.

While most ingrown hairs do go away on their own, there are a few helpful tips to aid the ingrown hair to come to the surface naturally. Avoiding digging for the hair and picking and popping is critical to prevent infections and scarring.

Prevention is the most crucial action to implement during pre and post waxes. Exfoliation two days prior and three days post-wax helps rid dead skin cells to keep the skin free for your hair to grow upward along the follicle. Products like Starpil’s Original Ingrown Hair Serum are a powerhouse for calming your skin after waxing and keep your hair follicle- down to the root- free and clear of anything that can clog your pores and create ingrowns. One try and you'll see it is necessary to treat and prevent ingrown hairs, leaving your skin glowing and clear to show off to the world!

Knowledge is power. Sharing what you know regarding treatment and prevention of ingrown hairs will ensure that your wax experience, and those whom you wax, will always be a positive one.