The Possible Key To Stopping Ingrown Hairs

There are only three things in life that are certain: Death, taxes, and ingrown hairs. Okay, maybe that's not exactly how the saying goes, but for as long as you have body hair, you'll likely encounter pesky ingrown hairs at least once in a while. In a nutshell, ingrown hair is essentially hair that grows like it usually would, but instead of sticking out of your skin, it gets stuck under the topmost layer. 

These hairs often resemble pimples because they manifest in painful bumps, but really, they're just hair that has grown inwards. People often get them due to either hair removal methods like shaving, tweezing, or plucking or because of dead skin cells, which "can accumulate on the surface of the skin and block the hair follicle, preventing its normal growth up and out of the skin," as Dr. Maral Skelsey, the director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington, told Today.

With ingrown hairs pretty much an inevitable part of our lives, the only thing you can do is manage them or try dodging them altogether. As it turns out, the secret to preventing ingrown hairs is relatively simple. 

Exfoliation using acids is your best friend when it comes to ingrown hair

If you don't find exfoliation much of a help when it comes to getting rid of ingrown hairs, it may be because you're not using acids. According to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Geeta Yadav, acids do wonders in loosening the skin, making it easier to eliminate your ingrown hairs. "I particularly recommend glycolic and lactic acids, which are effective but can be quite gentle (especially ideal around the pubic area), and, of course, salicylic acid," she shared with The Cut. 

Meanwhile, Robin Parker, the technical director at beauty innovators Acheson & Acheson, explained to Elle that these acids break "down the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that cause obstructions to hairs, so that they can reach the surface much easier and without the area becoming inflamed." 

But you may want to be careful about accidentally over-exfoliating your skin, whether you're using acids or just soap, water, and a washcloth. Instead of doing it every single day, it's wise to only exfoliate three times a week tops. If you increase the frequency, you may inadvertently create micro-tears and cause further damage to your skin, leaving it more susceptible to germs and bacteria. 

Is it possible to completely prevent ingrown hairs from forming?

Unfortunately, ingrown hair is pretty much a given no matter what you do. People with curly hair are more susceptible, as their hair tends to grow inward. What you can control, however, is the way in which you remove hair. According to experts, shaving, tweezing, and waxing may be the most convenient and accessible methods, but they're also likely the reason why you keep getting ingrown hairs. Instead, consider laser hair removal.

As Lucy Dawe, a senior consultant at Pulse Light Clinic, clarified to Harper's Bazaar, "This method uses laser light pulses to selectively destroy hair follicles by targeting the melanin in them," which is generally safer than shaving, waxing, or tweezing. Dawe continued, "The pigment in the hair follicle absorbs the laser's light pulse, which damages the follicle enough to significantly reduce hair regrowth. The laser delivers an intense beam of light, which is absorbed by the hair follicle whilst the surrounding tissue remains unaffected." 

If you'd prefer to continue shaving, always use a quality blade and apply a post-shave lotion afterward. Also, drink more water! When your skin is hydrated, your hair will be stronger too. "Dry winter hair is more likely to break when removing it, which causes it to grow back faster and thicker, so you want to keep skin hydrated and healthy at all times," Noemi Grupenmager, founder and CEO of Uni K Wax, shared with Redbook magazine