Natural Radiance—Treating: Ingrown Hairs

By Hollis Brooks

Women seem to face beauty crises night and day; men, on the other hand, rarely need emergency interventions. But while men tend to fall naturally on the low-maintenance end of the vanity continuum, an ingrown hair (pseudofolliculitis barbae) can quickly turn into a real pain in the neck for them—literally. 

Sometimes called “razor bumps,” these annoyances occur when the end of the hair shaft curls back into the follicle from whence it came, resulting in a red, itchy bump. Particularly common among men with coarse or curly hair, most ingrown hairs sprout in the beard and neck area. 
• Under my skin. If you can easily see the small hair hiding beneath the skin, break out some sharp tweezers, suggests dermatologist Rodney Basler, MD. “Apply a clean, warm, damp compress against the skin for a couple of minutes. Then, with a sterilized needle or tweezers, gently pluck the hair out. Follow with an application of hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol.” If you can’t see the hair, then avoid digging for it, Basler warns. Instead, treat the bump with the warm compress until you do see the hair; then follow the course above. Usually, the hair grows out by itself, but if the inflammation progresses to the point of serious infection, consult your dermatologist. 
• Don’t wait: exfoliate. Routine exfoliation, or gentle scrubbing, helps maintain healthy skin, so make it a practice to scrub every couple of days. Cleansing grains and face scrub will do the trick. Three gentle scrubs to consider are Zia’s ActiClean Face Scrub for Men ($11), Collective Wellbeing’s Honey Buff ($11), and Lemon Cream Scrub by Sanitas ($26). In his book, Age-Less (William Morrow & Co., 2002), Los Angeles, California, skincare expert Frederic Brandt, MD, suggests making your own scrub, combining a small handful of brown sugar with warm milk to form a paste. When it cools to room temperature, apply the paste to your face in circular motions. 
• Razor rites. Slather on the richest, foamiest shaving cream you can find—MyChelle, Burt’s Bees, Jason’s, and Tom’s of Maine offer natural shaving potions in a variety of formulas. Use a sharp blade, and make your strokes in the direction of the hair growth. Shaving “with the grain” helps train the hair to grow out straight rather than curling back into the skin. Avoid repeating strokes in the same area; one sweep with a sharp razor should suffice. A single-track blade works best for those prone to ingrown hairs. Some men find that using an electric razor minimizes razor bumps because it comes less close to the follicle. (As counter-intuitive as it seems, men plagued with ingrown hairs should avoid shaving too closely.)
• The bump stops here. Tea tree oil helps unplug razor bumps and treats infection. Squirt a few drops on a Q-tip, and apply to the ingrown hair. It’s also useful if you nick yourself shaving.