The Real Reason You Keep Getting Ingrown Hairs

If you're dreading slipping on your swimsuit this summer due to unsightly bumps on your bikini line, you're not alone. Nearly all of us, whether we shave, wax, or even pluck, have experienced the ingrown hairs that lead to these angry, red bumps (called papules or pustules if pus-filled), which look a bit like pimples. They can pop up anywhere (yes, underarms, too), but are common on your bikini line due to pubic hair being so tightly curled, per Healthline. The follicles that produce these extra-curly hairs are curved, a shape that lends itself to the hair growing right back into your skin after it's cut, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Another cause of the bumps that make you bashful about your bikini line? Not only are your follicles foiling you, but if you pluck, you can end up leaving a bit of hair under the surface of your skin, which your body treats as an outside invader, and the area becomes inflamed as a result. And if you dry shave, which pulls your skin taught while you aim for that silky, smooth feel, the hair may retract, encouraging it to grow back into your skin, instead of out. 

So what to do?

The best ways to minimize ingrown hairs

While there's no way to completely avoid ingrown hairs, unless you want to go au naturel, there are a few ways to minimize the problem, aesthetician Christina Smith told the Cleveland Clinic. She suggested steaming up your body in the shower before shaving to allow your hair follicles to open up. This will soften your skin and hair, allowing you to shave with less pulling and tugging. Plus, you can use a moisturizer pre-shaving for the same reason. And be sure to lead your razor in the direction your hair grows — going against the grain can cause short strands to become trapped under your skin. 

Also smart: Swap out your razor blades as soon as you feel them tugging on your skin, as this can trigger the bumps and irritation. And try rinsing the blade after each stroke to eliminate any residue buildup, which makes your razor less effective and forces you to make more passes over your skin (via Self).  What's more, electric razors and hair removal creams may also go some way in preventing ingrown hair from happening.