They’re pesky. They’re painful. And most of us guys have dealt with them before.
That’s right. We’re talking about ingrown hairs—those little red bumps that show up on your skin after shaving. They’re unpleasant, unsightly, and often quite painful to deal with.
But how do they happen?
Ingrown hairs happen when a hair curls back on itself and gets trapped under your skin. And that causes inflammation, which leads to the red bumps. They usually happen after shaving, which is why you might also hear someone refer to ingrown hairs as “razor bumps.”
No matter what you call them—ingrown hairs or razor bumps—none of us like them. And, while some of us might be more prone to ingrown hairs than others, we don’t have to accept them.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
So, how can we prevent ingrown hairs? Easier than you might think. It’s all about having the right process, and using the right techniques while shaving. Consider some of the following tips that tell us how to prevent ingrown hairs.
Prevention Tip #1: Exfoliate and cleanse before shaving.
Did you know your skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to make room for new ones? Pretty neat. But sometimes, dead skin cells don’t shed completely. So they can clog your razor while shaving, preventing you from making smooth strokes. That’s where exfoliation comes in.
Exfoliating is the process of removing dead skin cells from the surface of your skin. This can be done using an exfoliation tool, or a face wash that exfoliates your skin.
It’s important to note that not all face washes exfoliate. So, if you don’t have an exfoliation tool, we recommend using an exfoliating face wash before shaving—especially if you’re prone to ingrown hairs.
Taking it a step further, it’s not a bad idea to simply rub the skin on your face, in a circular motion, on a daily basis. This can help push your whiskers back outwards if they’re starting to curl in.
Prevention Tip #2: Shave when your skin is warm.
Shaving when your skin is warm is key to avoiding ingrown hairs. Why? When your face is warm, your pores open up. This allows your razor glide more smoothly, which helps reduce irritation that can often lead to ingrown hairs.
There are two easy ways you can warm up your skin. You can take a hot shower before shaving, or pat your face with a hot, damp towel. That’s all it takes.
Prevention Tip #3: Keep your supplies sharp and clean.
Shaving with a dirty razor can lead to ingrown hairs, so it’s important to keep your razor clean. This goes for both manual and electric shavers.
If you’re using a manual razor, it’s good to rinse your razor between each stroke. And you should swap out your blade cartridge for a new one on a regular basis. The frequency will vary between shavers, but if you’re prone to ingrown hairs, it’s not a bad idea to swap more frequently.
If you’re using an electric razor, you should be clearing all hairs after each use. And we recommend reading through the instruction manual of your razor to get more information on cleaning and replacing certain parts.
Prevention Tip #4: Lather up before shaving.
As noted in our first two tips, the condition of your skin matters. A lot. Using a lubricant, like shave gel or cream, primes the skin on your face for a smooth shave.
Here’s how it works.
Shave gels and creams hydrate your face. This helps maintain moisture in your beard hairs while shaving. And that makes your beard softer, so your razor is able to cut through more easily. What’s more, your shave is a lot more comfortable.
And we don’t call shave gels and creams “lubricants” for no reason. They both lubricate your face, providing a thin, cushiony layer of protection between the blades and your skin. That means far less friction and reduced risk of ingrown hairs.
Prevention Tip #5: Shave with the grain.
Shaving against the grain of your facial hair makes for a closer shave. But this minuscule fraction of a closer shave can actually be to your detriment. When you go against the grain, your razor cuts below the skin line, which ultimately invites ingrown hairs.
As a best practice, always shave with the grain of your facial hair. Doing so helps to avoid unnecessary friction.
Prevention Tip #6: Don’t shave too close.
Notice the problem with shaving against the grain? It makes your razor cut too closely. So it’s worth noting a couple more tips to avoid going too close to your skin.
The first one’s simple: don’t press too hard while shaving. Let your razor do the work.
You can also get ingrown hairs from pulling your skin tightly with your non-shaving hand, in order to get closer strokes with your razor. Don’t do this. It allows your whiskers to draw back and re-enter your skin.
Prevention Tip #7: Hydrate your face after shaving.
What you put on your face after shaving is important, too. You can prevent ingrown hairs by applying a post-shave balm or another type of moisturizer. This helps keep your pores from getting blocked from dry skin.
You’re all set for a better shave.
You’re not alone. We know how it feels to deal with ingrown hairs. But you don’t have to grow a beard to avoid the annoying aftermath (though it’s technically a viable strategy). Preventing ingrown hairs is all about shaving better. And with these 7 tips, we can do just that.