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What to Do About Ingrown Hairs in Your Beard

Written By Twiz 22 Jun 2021
Bearded man with gray suit coat

Ingrown hairs happen when a hair changes direction and begins to burrow back into the skin rather than growing outward. This situation creates a painful bump that can result in infection and redness around the hair follicle. Most men will experience ingrown facial hair at some point in his life. So, it’s essential to know the next steps to take when one of these incidences occurs. 

However, even more important is to develop a strategy for preventing ingrown hairs in the first place. With the proper maintenance regimen, it’s possible to avoid most, if not all, occurrences of ingrown hairs. So, to tackle this topic, we’ll be covering both prevention and treatment. 

 

Related: Haircare Basics Every Man Should Know

 

Causes of Ingrown Hairs

While ingrown hairs are an occasional natural occurrence, a few things increase the likelihood that one will appear on your face. Avoid these behaviors, and you’ll eliminate the majority of the causes of ingrown facial hairs. 

 

Pulling Skin While Shaving

A huge culprit for ingrown hairs is anything that creates a situation where the tip of a hair does not extend above the follicle. Pulling your skin with shaving may allow you to get a closer shave, but it will also result in some hairs being too short. This shortness, in turn, may create a situation where the hair turns backward or grows sideways and penetrates the skin. 

 

Dead Skin Cells

Leaving excess oil and dead skin cells on the surface of the skin can result in blocked pores. When pores become blocked, it prevents hair from growing outward. This blockage can cause it to reverse course or grow sideways, extending back into the skin. Cleaning away refuse is vital to preventing ingrown hairs. 

 

Shaving Too Close

Shaving too close is another critical culprit for ingrown hairs. While we all want to have smooth faces or tidy beards, pushing too hard with the razor, using a multi-bladed razor, or other strategies for maximizing smoothness can result in cutting hairs too short. When this happens, they don’t always grow in the right direction and grow back into the skin. 

 

Man in blue t-shirt washing his face

 

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Preventing Ingrown Hairs

The best treatment for ingrown hairs is prevention. If you take care of your face and beard effectively, to begin with, it’s possible to avoid most, if not all, ingrown facial hair. Here are some keys to proper prevention. 

 

Use Shaving Cream

Using a shaving lotion of some kind is an essential method of protecting your face. When you don’t use any sort of barrier or lubricant, the result is that you pull on the dry hair, which can result in removal or breakage beneath the skin. When this happens, it increases the likelihood of ingrown hairs. Aside from the risk of ingrown hairs, going without shaving cream creates other types of skin irritation, such as razor burn. 

 

Wash Your Face

Clean skin is critical for good health in general. However, removing excess substances such as oil, dirt, and dead skin prevents your pores from clogging. Clean pores create minimal resistance for new hair trying to emerge. In turn, this means that there’s very little to push them in another direction, forcing them back into the skin. 

 

Improve Your Shaving Technique

 

As mentioned above, shaving too close and shaving dry can contribute to ingrown hairs on your face. As a result, it’s a good idea to use the best shaving techniques available. Luckily, several good tips will help you maximize the health of the hair on your face. The first two tips are relatively basic. Don’t pull your skin tight while shaving, and always shave in the direction the hair is growing. If you do nothing else for your technique, these two tips will save you a world of trouble. 

In addition, there are a few other things you can do to capitalize on your shaving style. One key is to replace or sharpen your razor frequently. They can become dull rapidly, which results in pulling at the hair rather than cutting it. You may also want to switch to a single-edge razor because double-edged razors tend to cut the hair too deep. Hold electric razors slightly away from your face. Finally, don’t repeatedly run over the same area with the razor. Try to limit each location to a single stroke. 

 

Use Moisturizer

Moisturizing is essential because it keeps the skin and beard hair soft. This prevents painful penetration on the part of errant hairs. It’s also a good idea to apply witch hazel or another astringent after shaving because it tightens pores, reduces irritation, and helps with ingrown hairs. 

 

Related: Why Men Shouldn’t Overlook Their Skin Health

 

Treating Ingrown Hairs

Sometimes no matter what you do, an ingrown hair gets through. In these cases, it’s essential to know what to do to treat the hair and prevent the pain and irritation that goes along with it. 

 

Leave it Alone

While it may be painful while it’s still there, the fact is that most ingrown hairs will resolve themselves over time. So, if the hair isn’t badly irritating you, you might consider just leaving it until it grows out on its own. Leaving it alone may mean cultivating a beard for a time while the issue resolves itself. However, it is also one of the most effective methods for resolving this problem. 

 

Exfoliation

Exfoliation is a great way to loosen the hair from the skin and remove any obstacles that may be holding it in place. Use a brush or loofah with an exfoliating soap twice per day and carefully scrub your face. This process relaxes the skin and removes excess debris, which both help to extricate a buried hair. 

 

Tweezers and Needles

Using a tweezer or needle is a common way to tackle ingrown hairs. Be aware that this can still leave redness or swelling, even once you remove the hair. It’s also important not to dig into the skin to remove the hair. Try to use this method when the hair is close to the surface of the skin. Digging into the skin runs the risk of infection and scarring. 

 

Laser

One extreme method for removing ingrown hairs is laser removal. It has several disadvantages, including cost, pain, potential scarring, and repeated treatments. It is probably best as an option for someone suffering from extreme levels of chronic ingrown hairs. 

 

Man in apron getting a haircut 

 

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Conclusion

Ingrown hairs can range from being a nuisance to recurring pain. The best option is to prevent the formation of ingrown hairs in the first place. This process involves establishing a healthful routine of hygiene and maintenance practices that include proper shaving techniques. Even under the best circumstances, ingrown hair will occasionally form. When this happens, it’s essential to have an appropriate toolkit for dealing with it. The general rule for working out ingrown hair is to be as gentle as possible to prevent damage to the skin. 

 

Related: Grooming and the Laws of Attraction