8 Ways to Avoid Ingrown Hairs

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Temperatures rise and bathing suits and shorts come out from hibernation. Yay! That also means that you’re probably shaving a lot more often, which can create ingrown hairs. Boo! Those pesky little bumps can create anxiety for you and irritation for your skin.

So what causes ingrown hairs in the first place? Think of it this way: The hair is sitting in the follicle, minding its own business, and then comes along a big bad razor. The sharp blade causes inflammation, causing the hair to grow inward, and a bump is formed. The coarse nature of pubic and underarm hair can make them particularly susceptible to this kind of irritation, called folliculitis. Did you also know that the same type of irritation can come from the friction of your favorite slim-fit skinny jeans or shorts? Yes, it can even happen on your booty. Ingrown hairs can also happen if hair is naturally curly, as it curves toward the skin instead of straight out.

So how can you stop irritated and ingrown hair in its tracks? Here are eight tactics to reduce the likelihood and help you get smooth skin all summer long.

1. Leave shaving for toward the end of your shower. The warm, moist air loosens and softens the hair follicles, making the whole process much less traumatic.

2. Use shaving cream and lots of it. Lubricating softens the hair and provides some cushioning between the razor and your top layer of skin.

3. If a razor is your tool of choice, use a razor head with only one or two blades. Using fewer blades decreases the likelihood of ingrown hairs.

4. Go with the grain of the hair instead of against it. It may seem counterintuitive, but you’ll get the same results without all the bumps.

5. A doctor can prescribe a topical cortisone cream, which can decrease bumps and ingrown hairs if you just can’t seem to get rid of them.

6. If you can deal with it, grow out your hair a little longer before coming at it again with the razor. Shaving every day just increases your chance for a problem.

7. Wear loose-fitting clothes during the day and during your workout. Flowy clothes give hair follicles room to breathe (and dry out after a sweaty workout).

8. For a longer-term option, laser hair removal can destroy up to 70 percent of hair growth in a given area. The technology has evolved so you can even find a system you can use at home. Here’s how it works: A diode laser beam is scanned through the skin, selectively inducing thermal damage in the hair follicles without injuring the surrounding epidermis.

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