Ingrown hairs: a beardsman’s worst nightmare. Unfortunately they happen from time to time and when they do, we just have to deal with them. But is there a way to prevent them from happening or at least make them less frequent? What’s the best way to treat them when they do happen? Why do they happen? We’re answering all of these questions today in our guide to ingrown beard hairs.
What is an Ingrown Hair?
An ingrown hair is simply a hair that grows in on itself to form a painful potentially infected pore that should be treated with care. There are 3 forms of ingrown hairs with their own distinctive causes. When you recognize yours you’ll learn how to handle and prevent them.
The first type of ingrown hair is what we call the out-n-in.
The out-n-in ingrown hair grows completely out of the pore, turns around and re enters your skin through another pore. This can happen after it is freshly shaved since the hair is sharper or it tends to happen on the crease of your neck where the fold in your skin might force it to grow back into the skin.
The next one we like to call the sidewinder. The sidewinder turns sideways and begins to grow to the side before ever leaving the pore. This happens when the pore is blocked by a build-up of sebum or dead skin cells.
The third type of ingrown hair is caused by the same problem as the Sidewinder. We call this one the U-Turn. The U-Turn hair grows right up the edge of its pore, gets blocked by dead skin cells or sebum build up, and turns right back around and grows back in on itself before exiting the pore.
All three of these can result in a painful red potentially infected pore, but can be easily treated and even prevented.
5 Ways to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Keep It Clean
Keeping your beard and skin clean will go a long way in fighting ingrown hairs. The Sidewinder and U-Turn ingrowns are caused by pores being blocked. These blockages can be a result of a build up of dirt, sebum or dead skin cells, or even some other nasty clogs. Keeping your beard and skin clean will wash away these blockages and help your hairs grow out more easily. Use a natural wash designed for your beard to protect the natural oils and keep from stripping your skin dry, and be sure to apply beard oil afterwards.
Keep It Moisturized
Keeping your beard moisturized with a quality natural beard oil or beard butter will keep your skin from shedding off dead skin cells as frequently, which will help prevent that build up that we discussed before.
Open the Pores
When you shave your neckline and cheek lines, make sure the pores are open. This will ensure that the pores shed any dirt, excess oil and dead skin cells. Once you finish shaving splash with cold water to close those pores back up and keep them clean.
You should be exfoliating your beard regularly to keep that build up of dirt, debris and skin cells away from your skin. The easiest way to do this daily is using a boar’s bristle beard brush. Once a week you can also use an exfoliating wash to get in there and really tackle some of that build up.
When shaving take extra care that your blade is clean and sharp, and that you’re using proper technique. Using a shavette or double edged safety razor not only gives you a closer shave and easy line-ups with one blade, but they also have very affordable blades which means you won’t feel bad tossing yours after every couple of uses. If you use a cartridge razor keep it dry and use rubbing alcohol to disinfect it prior to use. As for technique shave with the grain to prevent irritation and clean the skin before and after doing so.
How to Treat Ingrown Hairs
Ingrowns are inevitable. With all the precautions being taken above, you can still get them and when you do you should know how to treat them. There are some at-home remedies that can get pretty extreme but we don’t advocate people performing procedures on themselves. We’ll go over some simple at home remedies you can do to take care of a small ingrown, and how to recognize when to go see a professional.
Treating Ingrown Hairs at Home
The best way to treat an ingrown beard hair at home is using a warm water compress for 2-5 minutes 3 times a day for 3-5 days. Simply run a hand towel under hot but tolerable water, move aside the hair to expose your ingrown pores, and place the towel on the skin for a few minutes. If you have the time, re-wet the towel and repeat a few times. This will open the pores and help push that hair out. After a few days of doing this the hair should expose itself enough to be plucked out with a pair of tweezers. Make sure you sanitize the tweezers before and after treatment to keep infection from spreading.
Professionally Treating Ingrown Hairs
If you’ve tried this simple at home remedy for 5-7 days and the ingrown hair is not releasing itself or is getting worse, it may be time to see a medical professional. A dermatologist or your general physician can help you extract the hair in a way that won’t lead to a worsening infection.
Products to Help You
A natural beard oil or beard butter will keep the beard and skin healthy and moisturized. This will soften the hairs to lessen the likelihood that they grow back into the skin, and prevent flaking to keep your pores clear and free of blockages.
A natural beard wash or soap bar will go a long way in keeping your beard free of dirt and debris to keep those pores clear and let the hairs grow free. Use something natural and designed for beard hair for best results, and remember to always follow up with a beard oil.
A boar’s bristle beard brush will exfoliate your skin and keep your pores free of build ups and debris. Daily use will help you put up a strong fight against ingrown hairs.
While ingrowns are a part of life for a bearded man, there are some measure you can take to defend yourself. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to fight the ingrown hairs and handle them with ease when you do get them.