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How Can I Shave My Beard Without Getting Ingrown Hairs?

Exfoliating with a wet sponge or loofah may help prevent ingrown hairs.
One way to avoid ingrown hairs is by investing in a good razor with a sharp blade.
Ingrown hair bumps can be removed by plucking the ingrown hair with a clean pair of tweezers.
A man growing a beard.
Products containing witch hazel can help reduce redness from ingrown hairs.
Ingrown hairs can be caused by improper shaving techniques.
Shave in the direction of hair growth to avoid getting ingrown hairs.
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 September 2014
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For anyone who has gone through the experience of shaving, ingrown hairs are some of the most annoying obstacles to smooth, hair-free skin. Both men and women shave, either for hygiene or for cosmetic reasons, and any part of the body that grows hair can be shaved and is susceptible to this problem. For men, however, shaving the beard requires extra care because the hairs grow on the face. Hair in the beard area can often become ingrown, and make it harder for the man to shave the next time. Although the face can be a more problematic area, it is possible to reduce ingrown hairs.

An ingrown hair is a hair that curls back and grows into the skin, causing inflammation at the point of penetration. Dead skin cells may then accumulate around the irritated area, forming a papule. A papule, also known as a razor bump, is a small, raised abnormality that marks the site of the hair.

An ingrown hair may be caused either by the beard hairs themselves or improper shaving technique. Stiff and curly beard hair is more likely to grow into the skin. In addition, shaving too close to the skin with a blade may irritate it. Genetics may dictate how easily shaving causes ingrown hairs. Men with pores that easily trap dirt and oil, and men with sensitive hair follicles are more likely to get them as well.

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From the outside, the beard area of a man with many ingrown hairs simply looks like very lumpy skin. It is actually lumpy skin that is tender, painful, and itchy, however. Pustules have the potential of becoming infected, resulting in rupture and bleeding. In chronic cases, many ruptures may leave the skin with hard, irregular scar tissue.

One of the most popular pieces of advice for avoiding ingrown hairs is to gently exfoliate the skin, which eliminates dead skin cells, loosens the tips of the hair, and clears out the hair follicles. First, wet a sponge or loofah with some warm water, then squeeze the excess water out and gently massage the skin in a circular motion with it.

You may also choose to treat razor bumps. Salicylic acid is an active component of skincare formulas proven to visibly improve razor bumps. Try to avoid products with alcohol, which dries the skin and closes the pores, increasing the possibility of trapped hairs. If you already have hairs that are ingrown, cautiously lift the ends out with tweezers without plucking the hair. Then reduce any redness on the skin surface with products that contain witch hazel, azulene, and allantoin.

Once your skin has been introduced to a healthier regimen, help prevent future problems by buying a quality razor and keeping its blade sharp. Then adjust your shaving technique. Avoid pulling at the skin or applying too much pressure to the blade. Shave along the direction of beard growth. By maintaining this approach over time, you are much less likely to have problems with ingrown hair.

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Discuss this Article

backdraft
Post 8

I use disposable razors and I get ingrown hairs all the time. Would I get them less often if I used a more expensive razor?

ZsaZsa56
Post 7

Two tips for avoiding ingrown hairs

1) Shave in the shower. There is something about the heat and the steam and all the water that opens your pores up so much more than shaving at a sink. I always get a much closer, less painful shave in the shower.

2) Use lotion on your face after you shave. I use basic hand lotion, nothing fancy. It soothes the skin and helps avoid irritation post shave.

Izzy78
Post 6

@JimmyT - I am with you. I use an electric razor, so I didn't even know that it was possible to get ingrown hairs from shaving until one of my friends was complaining about being itchy from shaving.

After he started telling me about getting razor bumps, I started looking around, and a lot of men have them. It's usually hard to tell they are there until you get right up on them, though. I don't think they are much of a cosmetic problem.

My friend has some sort of product that is designed to get rid of ingrown hairs. I guess he puts it on either before or after he shaves, and it is supposed to open up the pores or hair follicles or something. Once they are opened, the hairs should pop back out and be normal. It all sounds like a bother as far as I am concerned. I think I'll just stick with the electric razor.

JimmyT
Post 5

I never even knew what razor bumps were. I have heard girls talk about them in reference to shaving their legs, but I have never heard a guy talk about it. I have never had a problem with razor bumps as far as I know. I think a lot of it probably has to do with the fact that I use an electric razor instead of a regular disposable razor.

I think it's kind of a give and take situation. My electric razor probably doesn't cause ingrown hairs, because it doesn't cut quite as close as a regular razor. Since the hair is a shade longer, it is harder for it to get ingrown.

I can understand why some people would still prefer using a disposable razor instead of electric, though. In my job, it's good to be clean shaven, but if there is a little stubble isn't not going to cause a lot of problems. I have known of some men who worked in jobs where absolutely no facial hair was allowed. The only way you can get that is by risking some ingrown hair bumps.

stl156
Post 4

@titans62 - You are right. Badger hair brushes just look like they're made of badger hair, although I'm sure maybe they really were at one time. If you have ever been to a real barber, the short, stubby, rounded brush they used to put shaving cream on is called a badger hair brush. I have never heard of them being able to stop ingrown hairs, but maybe that is their whole purpose. I guess you could try getting one of those and seeing if it helps.

One of the suggestions I have is sort of related to what was mentioned in the article. Just shave after you have showered or else rest a warm towel on your face before shaving. The water will do a lot of good. It will soften the hairs and make them easier to cut. Since they are soft, they should be less likely to get turn around and caught under the skin and cause bumps.

titans62
Post 3

@istria - What exactly is a badger hair brush? I have never heard of this before. I am willing to go out on a limb and say the bristles aren't really made out of badger hair, though.

I am pretty young and just started having to shave regularly, and I am noticing a lot of razor bumps. I did not know that the bumps were actually ingrown hairs, but that is good to know.

I do have kind of curly hair, so I guess it makes sense that I would get them. They are really itchy, though, and I want to make them stop. Does anyone have additional suggestions for ingrown hair treatment?

GiraffeEars
Post 2

Should you remove ingrown hairs or just pull them out from under the skin? I have been told conflicting things. The article says do not remove them, my barber says to pull them out, my fiancée says to leave them in. What do I do?

istria
Post 1

I used to get ingrown hairs all the time, but ever since I bought a badger hair brush, the number of ingrown hairs has gone way down. I bought a shaving kit that contained a pre-shave oil, shave cream, a badger hair brush, and alcohol-free aftershave. I find that using the badger hair brush is the best way to prevent ingrown hairs. The badger hair brush curls slightly so it help to stand the hairs up and pull the ingrown hairs out of the skin. Within two weeks of adding the badger hair brush to my arsenal almost all my ingrown hairs disappeared.

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