It happens like clockwork every time you decide to break out the razor: your skin starts to itch and become inflamed.

It looks like you’re either suffering from a rash or breaking out in acne. That fresh, clean look you were hoping for instead morphs into an alarmingly bright, spotty, flaky and swollen look, accompanied by an antagonizing sensation that causes you to pick at your skin and the hairs underneath.

Every single bump you itch and poke at after shaving is a dreaded ingrown hair. In some cases, just one or two hairs will be ingrown, but in other cases, entire swaths of skin break out.

And when the worst of it dies down after a few days, you’re still left with a few raised bumps here and there.

If you pick at these “zits,” you’ll be surprised to see a large hair unfold from seemingly nowhere. This is the best type of ingrown hair, if you can imagine such a thing. The worst hairs are those that continue to grow under a few layers of skin, visible upon close scrutiny and absolutely maddening since digging them out seems to be the only option.

But that’s why you’re here, isn’t it? Let’s take a look at ways to prevent ingrown hairs and how to deal with them once they’ve occurred.

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

· Up your hygiene game. Wash your skin every day if you’re not already in the habit of doing so. This helps remove dead skin cells that can trap hairs. If you already shower every day, consider any lifestyle factors that may mean you need to wash the affected area more often: for example, sweating at the gym or getting dusty and grimy at an outdoor job can both clog your pores. Make sure exfoliate in addition to cleansing!

· Consider your clothes. Tight-fitting clothes can exacerbate an ingrown hair problem by putting undue pressure on the skin. If you like to wear high socks, for example, you’re more likely to experience ingrown hairs on your ankles and lower legs. Ill-fitting underwear can cause problems along the bikini line, and form-fitting jeans can irritate the inner thighs.

· Trim instead of shave. Fellas, if your chin and cheeks tend to suffer from ingrown hairs, avoid the clean-shaven look altogether. You can still “clean up” your appearance by using the best electric shavers to shape and trim your beard with precision, creating clean lines and an even hair length.

· Shave with a fresh safety blade. Dull blades are believed to increase the likelihood of ingrown hairs, as are those four- or five-bladed razors that are marketed to us so strongly. Instead, use a single safety blade that is still nice and sharp for the best effect.

· Remove hair after a hot shower. Whether you shave, wax or epilate, removing hair once the pores are opened is recommended. This eases removal and, in the case of shaving, makes it less likely that the hair will be pushed back into the skin.

Getting Rid of Ingrown Hairs

Sure, you’ll try to prevent ingrown hairs from happening again, but what should you do about the current batch of aggravating hairs trapped under your skin?

Whatever you do, resist the urge to squeeze out the hair! You will scar your skin.

The hair will naturally try to grow up and out. By exfoliating regularly, you can create an easier path for the hair. Once a little bit is within reach, it’s tempting to grab it with tweezers and be done with it. But if the hair follicle itself is still covered with skin, the next hair will also be ingrown. Try to exfoliate and use a softening lotion such as shea butter, or a product specifically designed to aid in the removal of ingrown hairs, until the hair follicle has been uncovered, and then remove the hair.

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