We all want a smooth, clear, healthy looking face after shaving.
But all too often your clean-shaven look is ruined by ingrown hairs or razor bumps.
They’re red, unsightly and painful. And when these bumps get infected, they can make your life a misery!
Read on for simple tips for calming and treating any ingrown hairs that you have. And, more importantly, the steps you should be taking to stop any new ones from appearing.
We want to make sure you get the clean shave that you deserve.
The goal - a smooth, clear, post-shave complexion
What is an ingrown hair?
Sometimes when you cut hairs very short (like when you shave) instead of growing back out of the skin normally the hair does a U-turn. It starts curling back into your skin and growing beneath the surface.
This ingrowing hair creates a swollen bump on your skin.
Your body can interpret the trapped hair as a ‘foreign intruder’, sending white blood cells to fight it off. That’s where the swelling comes from. This inflammation causes the bump to become red, tender and very painful!
Which is made even worse when you have to shave over the bump again the next day.
What causes razor bumps and ingrown hairs?
Ingrown hairs are almost always the result of shaving, when the hair has been cut to below the surface level of the skin.
If the hair follicle is clogged up by dead skin cells this blocks the hair from growing out normally, and it grows back into the skin, or under the surface, instead.
Most affected skin types
Whilst anyone can get ingrown hairs black-skinned and Hispanic guys tend to have thicker, stronger, curlier hair. This is more likely to curl back on itself (making you guys more prone to ingrown hairs).
Where do ingrown hairs appear?
As they’re usually caused by shaving they can appear pretty much wherever you’ve shaved! But your neck is particularly susceptible because the hair tends to be coarser there and the skin less well exfoliated.
If ingrown hairs are causing you problems, don’t worry.
There’s a lot you can be doing to treat the ones you have… and stopping any new ones from appearing.
Treating existing ingrown hairs
AT HOME TREATMENTS
Here are some simple things you can be doing at home to help speed up the healing process:
- Gently exfoliating the area around the ingrown hair: this will remove any dead skin cells that are blocking the hair from breaking through the skin’s surface.
- Applying a warm, damp compress: this will soften the skin and help to tease out the ingrown hair.
- Avoiding shaving for a few days: just until your skin has had a chance to heal.
- Using a light, non-greasy moisturizer: this will soften your skin, soothe the inflamed area and improve the texture and tone of your skin.
- Tweezing out any visible hair: if you can see a hair near the surface try to gently pull it out with a pair of sterile tweezers.
WHAT TO DO IF THE INGROWN HAIR IS INFECTED
If a white pustule has developed around the hair then the hair follicle has probably become infected, and it’s better to deal with it now or it could get worse. If you don’t remove it the infected hair may continue to grow and cause further irritation and inflammation.
At this stage it’s best to treat the pustule first - and then remove the hair.
Treat the bump with acne medication or a topical hydrocortisone cream. This will reduce the swelling and expose the ingrowing hair so that you can easily extract it with a clean pair of tweezers.
WHEN TO CALL THE DERMATOLOGIST
Not all ingrown hairs get this bad but if the bump won’t heal, and it’s becoming more and more painful, then it’s worth calling a dermatologist.
A medical professional can give you a cortisone injection to quieten down the redness and inflammation caused by the infected ingrown hair under your skin.
But the best treatment is prevention…
ACTION PLAN: Preventing ingrown hairs and razor bumps
GENTLY. EXFOLIATE. EVERY. DAY.
It seems so easy, but really...
...the best way of preventing ingrown hairs from appearing is exfoliating your skin regularly.
This minimizes the amount of dead skin cells clogging up your hair follicles and pores, which cause the hairs to grow back into the skin.
So if you want to avoid razor bumps altogether then gently exfoliating regularly will keep your skin nice and clear.
But this doesn’t mean using a rough facial scrub!
Instead choose a gently exfoliating face wash that includes a natural alpha-hydroxy acid.
This combines two tasks into one – cleaning and exfoliating at the same time.
Washing with our exfoliating Daily Face Wash keeps your face fresh and clean - and dead skin cells never have the chance to build up and block your hair follicles and pores.
Plus it's gentle enough to use twice a day (even if you have sensitive skin).
We’ve got more info about exfoliating your skin here: “A Man's Guide to Exfoliation: FAQ's".
Along with exfoliating, there’s other steps you should be taking to stop ingrown hairs and razor bumps from developing. These steps also reduce razor burn and irritation...
Improving your shaving routine
4 key tips when shaving which prevent ingrown hairs, razor bumps and razor burn
#1: Prepare your skin
- Open your pores first – try to shave after your shower. The hot and humid atmosphere will open up your pores and leave your skin nice and relaxed. Alternatively apply a hot towel to your beard area first, like a professional barber would.
Massage in a nourishing, protective shave cream – this will create a protective barrier between your skin and the blade.
The cream will also soften the hair so that the razor will cut them on the first pass.
Our PROTECTIVE SHAVE CREAM includes Shea Butter and Glycerin , so it's nourishing and protecting your face throughout your shave. And it includes Apricot Stone Oil to soften the hair for a smoother, easier shave.
Shaving cream also helps the hairs to stand up slightly making them easier to cut.
DON'T use an alcohol based shave gel though. This will dry out your skin, creating more dead skin cells and encouraging ingrown hairs.
So now with your pores relaxed and open, your skin nourished and protected, and the hairs standing up, your razor will glide easily over your face – with no irritation.
#2: Choose the right razor
Stop using multi-blade razors. They cut too effectively and cut the hairs below the surface of the skin. As the hair grows back there’s more chance it will curl back on itself because the tip of the hairs can’t break through the surface.
Use a traditional single blade razor instead.
A razor like this will cut the hair level with your skin’s surface – and not below it. So the hair can grow back normally.
It’s also easier to change the blade regularly on a single blade razor, and therefore make sure that it’s always super sharp.
#3: Shave Direction
Always shave WITH the grain.
Shaving against the grain not only aggravates your skin causing irritation but it also distorts the hair follicles making ingrown hairs more likely.
#4: Moisturize afterwards
This will keep your skin hydrated and looking clear and healthy. By storing your moisturizer in the refrigerator, you can get an immediate cooling and soothing effect.
This will effectively, and gently, close your pores much better than a toner or aftershave.
In fact, do NOT use an astringent toner or alcohol based aftershave. Not only will these really sting - but they’ll also make your skin feel unbearably dry!
On the other hand, using our HYDRATING DAILY MOISTURIZER will instantly calm and smooth your skin. It's incredibly hydrating, but it's also very light so it won't leave your face looking greasy at all.
And it's packed full of the best anti aging ingredients!
For more on achieving the perfect, painless shaving experience see our article here: “SHAVE: 9 tips to give you a pain-free shave".
OTIS Protective Shave Cream stops ingrown hairs developing
Skincare ingredients to look for that can help with ingrown hairs
- Lactic Acid: Lactic Acid is the most gentle of the natural Alpha-Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) and great for exfoliating away the dead skin cells that cause razor bumps and ingrown hairs.
Our exfoliating Daily Face Wash includes Lactic Acid and is gentle enough to use every day (even if you have sensitive skin).
- Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera is the best at soothing any type of irritated skin.
And Aloe Vera is perfect for calming razor burn and reducing inflamed ingrown hairs. It’s even more soothing if you keep the gel nice and cold by storing it in the refrigerator.
You can use aloe in gel form, or straight from the plant.
But the easiest way is by using our prestige men's skincare products, which all include Aloe Vera.
For more on the excellent skin benefits of Aloe Vera see “Why Aloe Vera is So Great For a Man's Skin".
- Tea Tree Oil: Tea Tree Oil not only leaves your skin feeling cool and refreshed post-shave, it also helps calm redness and irritation.
In addition, it has antiseptic and purifying properties, as well as being anti-inflammatory. So its excellent at helping to treat razor bumps, and really effective against acne too.
Follow these tips to keep your clean-shaven face looking smooth and blemish-free.
How to treat existing ingrown hairs:
At home -
- Gently exfoliate the area around the ingrown hair
- Apply a warm, damp compress to help tease out the trapped hair
- Avoid shaving for a few days to let the skin heal
- Use a light, non-greasy moisturiser to soften your skin
- Tweeze out visible hair with clean tweezers
If the ingrown hair is infected:
- Treat the bump with acne medication or a steroid cream
- When the swelling has reduced, extract the hair with sterile tweezers
If the razor bump won’t heal:
- See a dermatologist for a cortisone injection
But the best treatment is prevention, so …
- Gently exfoliate your skin regularly
Improve your shaving routine
- Prep your skin well
- Opt for a single blade razor
- Shave WITH the grain
- Always moisturize afterwards
And finally, some skincare ingredients to look for:
- Lactic Acid – to gently exfoliate your skin
- Aloe Vera – to soothe and heal
- Tea Tree Oil – to calm redness and irritation. This also purifies and acts as an anti-inflammatory.
You don’t have to let an ingrown hair or razor bump ruin your day!
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