You’ve finally managed to grow a glorious beard, but that also means you’ve been initiated into the pesky world of ingrown hairs. We’ve put together this comprehensive list of frequently asked questions so you’ll know how to deal with each and every annoying ingrown hair once and for all.
The Ultimate Guide to Dealing with Ingrown Beard Hair
What Is an Ingrown Hair?
Ingrown hairs are regular hairs which find their growth compromised in some way. Normal hair growth involves hair growing straight up, free, unhindered, and pretty much normal. Ingrown hairs are different: they find ways to burrow back into your skin, grow sideways, or make a complete u-turn back towards your hair follicle. This usually results in itchy, painful, and highly annoying red bumps on the skin, totally taking away from the majesty of your beard.
Why Do Beards Get So Many Ingrown Hairs?
The reason beards get so many ingrown hairs is mostly the texture of facial hair itself. Facial hair tends to grow thicker and coarser compared to the rest of your body hair, leaving your face a lot more prone to getting those pesky bumps. Added skin friction also encourages them to curl in more. Without proper beard exfoliation, dead skin cells gather in pores and block normal hair growth, giving birth to ingrown beard hair.
Does Shaving Worsen Ingrown Hairs?
ingrown beard hair
A close and improperly executed shave sets the stage for many ingrown beard hairs to develop. They occur shortly after shaving, when the sharply cut hair gets trapped under the skin thanks to both the direction it grows and an obstruction of dead skin cells. This is why exfoliation is crucial (more on that in a minute).
What Do I Do With an Ingrown Hair?
It may be tempting to fish it out with a needle, but unless it’s really shallow or already poking out of your skin, don’t just poke at it with a sharp tool (no matter how tempted you are by those satisfyingly gross ingrown-hair videos online). If it’s a deep ingrown hair, it will most likely cause irritation which will worsen if you pick at it. However, since most of us can be impulsive, use caution when trying to extract an ingrown hair. First, apply a warm compresses to the area, carefully plucking out the hair when it surfaces. Use sterile equipment to avoid infection. Don’t come crying if it all goes south—the risk of your little bump transforming into a nasty infection is pretty real, so it’s not worth it.
How Do I Prevent Ingrown Beard Hair?
You can greatly reduce the number of ingrown hairs you get by following a strict skincare regime. While you may still get one or two ingrown hairs from time to time—it’s a necessary evil in exchange for a glorious beard—proper care will prevent a massive outbreak. Here are some handy tips to follow for ingrown beard hair prevention:
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Exfoliate – This involves gentle scrubbing in order to remove dead skin cells that block pores and cause breakouts. Try to exfoliate your face, as well as the skin under your beard, a couple of times a week. This is easier done while you’re in the shower.
Stay Moisturized – Another easy way to keep dead skin away from your pores is to minimize dead skin cells in the first place. Along with exfoliation, moisturizing will keep your skin prepped and un-flaky. It will also deal with beard dandruff, which is a big factor for the development of ingrown hairs.
Don’t go against the grain – While you think shaving against the grain guarantees you a closer shave, it also guarantees ingrown hairs and irritate your skin. It’s best to shave in whatever direction your hair is growing to keep irritation and the risk of ingrown hairs to a minimum.
Open Up the Pores – Rinse your skin with warm water before shaving to open up your pores, and to clear away any dirt or dead skin. After shaving, rinse with cold water to tighten your pores up again.
Lubricate Before Shaving – Make sure your skin is lubricated before shaving. This will help your razor to glide better, and safeguards against any snags.
Reduce Strokes – Try not to shave over the same area more than twice. This will cause irritation and razor burn, leading to the development of ingrown hairs.
Replace Razors Often – Once you’ve used a disposable razor a few times, replace it (or the razor cartridge, if possible). Dull blades cause snagging that irritates the skin, swelling, and those pesky ingrown hairs to come knocking.
Are There Products That Help Against Ingrown Hair?
There aren’t any products that absolutely guarantee protection against ingrown hairs unless you’ve managed to secure a very specific potion from a beard wizard (they sadly don’t exist). However, there are some products that will make beard care easier and help control the growth of those ingrown hairs.
Beard Oil – This is probably among the holy grail of beard products. It has conditioning properties that keep skin moisturized and pores unclogged. Proper skin moisture prevents dryness and flaking. But try to avoid silicone-based beard oils as they will actually make the ingrown hair situation even worse.
Utility Balm – This is a waxy substance that sits on your skin much longer than beard oil. It extends the conditioning effects of the balm on the skin. This is great for those who have naturally dry skin types.
Boar’s Hair Brush – This brush should be the only brush you own for your beard. The tough bristles give you a strong brush-through and collect any dirt and grime that has collected in your beard. The less crap you have sitting in your beard, the less you’ll have in your pores.
Check out this video by Science Insider for a quick intro about ingrown hairs:
Ingrown hairs are a fact of life, and you’ll always find one of them hiding under your beard somewhere. However, with proper skin care, you can minimize the growth of any more ingrown hairs and keep their numbers down. Remember to regularly moisturize, exfoliate, and use the correct all-natural products to avoid ingrown hairs. And on the plus side, this regimen will also give you healthy skin, which is a great environment to grow a magnificent beard.
Do you have any tips on keeping ingrown hairs at bay? Share with your fellow beard bros in the comment section below!