Spring means it's time to break out warm-weather wear like dresses and sleeveless tops. This also means that you may be shaving more frequently, which increases the chances of developing the dreaded ingrown hair. These little bumps can form wherever you shave, and they can be either harmlessly annoying or surprisingly painful. They develop when the blunt edge of an individual hair grows into the skin, curling up and causing inflammation. Keep reading to find out how to prevent ingrown hairs.
The best defense against ingrown hair is a proper shave. First, prepare your skin by exfoliating dry skin with a gentle scrub. Step into the shower, where the steam and warm water will help soften the hair. (Five minutes should do the trick.) When it's time to shave, use a razor with a sharp blade; dull blades are more likely to cut your skin, and they'll lead to a less-even shave. Storing your razor away from moisture will help extend the life of your blade.
Next, use a shaving cream or oil to help the razor glide smoothly. Shave with the grain. In other words, if you're shaving your legs and your hair grows downward, shave downward. The end result isn't nearly as smooth as what you'd get by shaving against the grain, but if you want to avoid ingrowns, that's the way to go. (I go against the grain on my legs, and with it everywhere else. I'm sure you were dying to know that.)
Finally, if you're prone to ingrown hairs — or you already have one, you lucky thing — treating the area with a salicylic acid product can help. "Salicylic acid helps to shed dead skin cells that can trap new hairs that emerge after shaving," explains dermatologist Dr. Hilary Reich. There's no need to spend a fortune on this sort of thing. Noxzema Triple Clean Anti-Blemish pads, with 2 percent salicylic acid, are $5 for a package of 90, which should last for months. Just wait a day or two after shaving to apply any salicylic acid treatment.
While you can't get rid of ingrowns overnight, you can start preventing them — just in time for swimsuit season.
Source: Flickr User pattycakee