Much like wearing SPF and drinking more water, keeping the skin hair-free is always more of a priority during the summer. Whether it’s on your face, legs or underarms, every shave comes with the chance of an ingrown hair showing up uninvited, but there are ways to prevent these annoying red bumps from appearing.
What to do before…
When it comes to shaving, the smoothest finish is all in the preparation. Start by gently exfoliating the skin using either a mild scrub or a low percentage AHA to remove the top layer of dead skin cells. With these gone, your razor has a much better chance of gliding evenly over the skin and there is less chance of pulling or tugging at the hairs, which can cause irritation. Next, make sure your skin is warm so that it is soft, supple and ready for shaving.
Although it might feel strange, most experts recommend shaving in the direction of the hair growth not against it for the cleanest and smoothest shave. That applies to any area of the body where you are removing the hair and always remember to apply a cream, balm or oil to give the razor extra slip over the skin. This extra moisture will also prevent any nasty nicks or snags.
What to do after…
Once you’re happy with the way your skin feels, it’s time for a little after-care. If all has gone well, simply apply a light moisturiser to the skin to hydrate and soothe it after going through the trauma of shaving. You could also apply some Aloe Vera-based gel to further calm the area. If things haven’t gone as planned and you are faced with a series of red, angry bumps covering the skin post-shave, here’s what you can do. Gently cool the area using a cold washcloth and apply lots of the aforementioned Aloe Vera gel; this will help reduce any swelling and visible redness. If the skin is still bumpy, apply a targeted spot treatment – the same one you would apply to a painful pimple on your face – to the affected area. Salicylic Acid can help to clear out the affected hair follicle and shrink the inflammation that can restrict the affected hair’s growth which, if left untreated, will make matters worse.
If you can see the ingrown hair clearly and it’s close to the surface, you can try and pull it out using sterilised tweezers, but don’t force it. Digging deep into the follicle will aggravate the condition further and cause more harm than good so it’s best to leave it to the professionals once it reaches this stage. If the ingrown hair continues to worsen and still hurts after a few days, visit your doctor for more advice.