June 23, 2020
Ingrown hair - two little words that conjure up dread and strike fear in the hearts of many (OK - maybe a little exaggeration - but nobody wants to deal with them). In our quest for smooth, gorgeous, stubble-free skin, ingrown hairs are a pain in the *$$ at best and cause for concern at worst (infection, anybody?).
Whether they're springing up as bumps on your legs or wreaking havoc on your bikini line, ingrown hairs are an unwelcome guest that can lead to serious discomfort, inflammation, and even scarring.
The cause of ingrown hairs isn't complicated. Simply, when your hair starts to grow, sometimes it curls inward and gets trapped back under the surface of your skin. This can happen because dead skin cells clog up your hair follicle (so always, always exfoliate), but they also exist just because of your hair's natural growth pattern—so, unfortunately, those with curly hair may suffer the most.
Keep reading to learn how a few simple steps, DIY remedies, and easy fixes that banish bumps and can keep ingrown hairs at bay.
This first recipe is a double whammy. Not only does aspirin naturally contain salicylic acid, honey has antibacterial properties, which, when combined, can help reduce the possibility of inflammation and infection, says Kautilya Shaurya, MD, a NYC dermatologist. This mask will definitely help ward off infection and reduce swelling when applied. Here's how to make it:
You know we love honey at Essentially Haitos - check out our best-selling honey mask here!
Use an exfoliant (like sea salt or granulated sugar) and mix it with a carrier oil (like avocado or coconut oil—something that won’t immediately dissolve the granules) to make a DIY scrub. Ali Tobia, an aesthetician in NYC, says this combination of ingredients keeps follicles clear of any blockages and gently massages ingrown hairs out before they become inflamed or infected.
Coconut oil, for example, is hydrating, keeps skin moisturized, and reduces inflammation. It's a simple skin savior that is truly multi-functional! Mix it with raw sugar and you've got a winner. You can use this scrub daily until you see an improvement, and then you can switch to two or three times a week. Just be careful that the scrub isn't too "scrubby".
Here's another great combo: Baking Soda and Oatmeal. Baking soda is a great exfoliator and helps reduce and prevent ingrown hairs. Oatmeal is naturally soothing and reduces the irritation and redness often caused by exfoliation. Blair Murphy-Rose MD, a dermatologist, notes that ingredients like oatmeal are a great way to reduce inflammation after ingrown hairs occur.
Tea Tree Oil is anti-inflammatory, and it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which is why it's found in so many acne products (we use Tea Tree in our Mean Green Detoxifying Clay Mask, Men's Mean Green Mask, and This Blem For Real!). You can typically find Tea Tree Oil at your local health food store and retail pharmacy.
Tea is known to have many natural healing properties, and black tea, in particular, contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe skin and reduce redness. It also contains antioxidants like caffeine, which has great anti-aging and preventative acne benefits.
If you're skin is particularly sensitive, it's best to avoid overly harsh scrubs. Abrasive scrubs like sugar and salt scrubs do exfoliate the skin but can irritate sensitive skin. So if you want something to soothe skin post-shave, your best DIY option might be an oil-based product like this one.
Tea tree oil combined with warm water is a great antiseptic to use on the affected area (see above). It helps loosen hair and clears out the follicles. After, witch hazel — a natural plant that has antibacterial and antiseptic benefits that help prevent inflammation — can be applied as a toner immediately following hair removal/shaving.
(We use a combination of witch hazel and tea tree in our Mean Green Detoxifying Mask and our Men's Mean Green Mask to help with inflammation and acne flare-ups on your face, chest and back.)
Look for products or natural ingredients (like aloe vera) that contain salicylic acid. It's known to help prevent infection, reduce bacteria, aid proper skin turnover, and prevent blockage of hair follicles.
"Salicylic acid is one of my favorite ingredients for at-home ingrown hair prevention because it is one of the few acids that can travel into the pore, working deep within the epidermis to keep your pores clear." says Murphy-Rose.
Apply to clean skin, gently rubbing in a circular motion. Allow to stand on the skin for 10 minutes before wiping off with a warm, wet wash cloth.
In Summary: While anti-inflammatory treatments like soaks, scrubs, and oil serums can help to reduce inflammation after ingrown hairs occur, don't forget the importance of treating their root cause - typically, clogged hair follicles. The best method to avoid ingrown hairs from the start is gentle daily exfoliation and moisturizing. Use our suggested DIY mixes to exfoliate, prevent, and soothe skin irritations.
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