Ingrown hairs plague many of us. They're those coarse hairs that disguise themselves as inflamed bumps after what we thought was a safe, close shave. They are painful, but the most annoying part is trying to figure out how to get rid of ingrown hairs. They're hard to get rid of, and sometimes it feels like that ingrown hair will be with us for the rest of our life. I've been plagued with ingrown hair since I started shaving. They used to keep me in slightly prudish bathing suits, prevent me from having sex with the lights on, and it's keep me up at night fighting the urge to hunt for hours to find the location of the trapped curl and tweeze the crap out of it. If you find yourself nodding your head, saying "Yes, child" or anything similar, than you've been in this situation before. It's time to treat ingrown hairs and provide some much needed relief... and confidence.
First step? Toss any dull razors that could cause chafing (and therefore ingrowns), and get into an exfoliating routine before you shave. That way dead skin cells that can be trapped in your pores are less likely to be present before you shave. Get in the habit of purchasing shaving creams that have rich emollients and moisturizing qualities. My favorite shaving creams always have coconut oil or mango butter — things that I know will keep my skin soft while shaving.
The best way to avoid ingrown hairs is to avoid shaving altogether. Dermatologists seem to be in agreement that you should only shave when absolutely necessary, but even if you limit shaving to once a week, you could still get the occasional bump. It's fairly easy to prevent an ingrown hair by changing small habits, such as avoiding shaving the area that's prone to ingrowns, but treating ingrown hairs requires diligence and some serious self restraint.
Don't worry: The best methods to treat ingrown hairs don't involve OTC treatments or scary lasers. Here's an all-natural, four step process for getting rid of those pesky little bumps.
1. Exfoliate the Area
Most likely, you want to get rid of your ingrown hair before it becomes an enormous, painful bump. Exfoliate the affected area twice daily with a mixture of baking soda, raw honey, and nutmeg powder. The combination of these ingredients will remove dead skin cells and decrease inflammation, plus the honey will keep the area from over drying. This helps bring the hair to the head.
2. Apply Heat
Once you see the tip of the hair, you can use a hot compress to make the skin soft and open up pores to help the hair come out smoother. Run a washcloth under hot water and press down on the location for about 10 minutes.
3. Free the Trapped Hair
Always make sure you use a clean, sharp tool to extract the ingrown hair. I use a pointed-tip pair of tweezers and always soak them in rubbing alcohol between uses to avoid causing irritation or infection from any bacteria that the blades can be exposed to. This part can be tricky, because you want to get the entire hair without breaking it off at the skin and having to go through the whole process again. The best way to avoid that is to wait until the hair has some length beyond the skin, and make sure you have strong tweezers.
4. Bring Down the Inflammation
The most important step is the final step: Bring down the inflammation and cool down the area. For an OTC aftershave treatment, try Shea Moisture's Tea Tree Herbal Bump Preventer — it's loaded with natural anti-inflammatory ingredients and vitamin E, so it will speed up the healing process. You can DIY the treatment as well: I use three parts rose water to one part aloe vera, plus equal parts tea tree oil and witch hazel. I keep my mixture in the refrigerator so that the cold liquid will also help bring down any inflammation caused by tweezing the ingrown hair. This has definitely saved me from having a simple removal of an ingrown hair become a week-long project. If you simply pluck out the hair, you irritate the skin and risk scarring.
These steps will definitely point you in the opposite direction of getting an infected ingrown hair and help extract the hair, but sadly for some of us, especially us curly-haired folks, ingrown hairs are an inevitable beauty crisis. Fortunately, natural prevention and treatments are painless and affordable!