Ingrown Hairs

It’s not a secret that among people who get waxed (and even people who shave), ingrown hairs are the number one most common complaint. They happen for a number of reasons that range from things that your waxer may have done incorrectly during the service, to things that you as a client may have done incorrectly either before or after your service.

First, let’s talk about what causes ingrown hairs. Put your nerd glasses on, everyone. This is about to get all science-y 🤓

The Science

When we wax, we are removing every hair from the follicle. That means that each follicle has to produce a brand new baby hair. Which is great! That’s why you’ll see thinner, softer, and finer regrowth after you wax – because brand new hairs are much thinner and less dense than old stubborn ones that have been there forever.

BUT! Humans naturally have a layer of dead, hardened skin cells that accumulate on the surface of your skin over time. If you’re not exfoliating those dead hard skin cells away, those tiny soft little baby hairs won’t be able to poke through that hard layer. But just because the hair can’t poke through doesn’t mean it will stop growing. Instead, it continues to grow under the surface of the skin, creating an ingrown hair.

Various types of ingrown hairs causing irritation after hair removal.

There are other things that can also cause hairs to become ingrown, like breakage or compression, but we’ll talk about those later.

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

The key to preventing ingrown hairs is keeping your skin happy, healthy, and hydrated between waxes.

There are two types of exfoliation we use in post-wax care to deal with ingrowns, bumps, redness, and irritation – physical exfoliation, and chemical exfoliation.

For most people who get waxed, physical exfoliation between appointments is sufficient. Physical exfoliation is anything that scrubs the surface of the skin, including exfoliating gloves, wash cloths, beaded body scrubs, etc. These remove built up dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.

However, many people who get waxed do require additional home care in the form of chemical exfoliation. This sounds scary, but it’s not. It’s just a product (usually a serum, toner pad, or spray) that contains an ingredient that is capable of going down into the pore and scrubbing out bacteria and dead skin from within the pore or follicle.

Chemical exfoliants are a great addition for anyone who sweats a lot, works out a lot, or has lots of rubbing/chafing that can cause ingrown hairs or irritation.

Other Helpful Info

Another type of ingrown hair I wanted to mention is the compression ingrown. These show up really frequently on people who live in their leggings (like me). If you wear tight fitting clothes often, when the soft little baby hairs are growing back in they have no space to grow up and away from the skin. This can cause them to grow just ever so slightly into to the top few layers of the epidermis – where you can see the hairs, but can’t feel them. Normally, adding an extra day or two of exfoliating per week, and sleeping naked from the waist down are things that can really help to prevent and eliminate compression ingrown hairs.

Keeping your skin moisturized and hydrated also plays a huge role in post-wax care, especially because we are exfoliating the area so regularly, which can lead to further dryness and general unhappiness if we’re constantly exfoliating and never moisturizing.

Soft skin means soft hair. And soft hair doesn’t break when we go to wax it. Breakage is one of the top three causes of ingrown hairs after a wax. So if you have soft hair that’s pulling out from the follicle instead of breaking off at the surface, you’re less likely to get ingrowns right off the bat.

I always recommend the full line of post-wax care products from Just The Strip, which you can purchase here.

I hope this has been helpful, and as always, happy waxing!

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