How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs from Tweezing
It is not possible to completely avoid the risk of ingrown hairs from tweezing, but it is possible to substantially reduce the risk.
We have outlined below a number of steps you can take to keep ingrown hairs to a minimum, and some ideas of how to get rid of them, if needed.
In order to fully appreciate how to minimise the risk of ingrown hairs it is important to understand what they are, how they occur and why:
What is an Ingrown Hair
The answer to this is really in the name. Ingrown hairs (also known as razor bumps) are hairs that are growing back in on themselves or sideways into the skin, below its surface.
Although ingrown hairs are not dangerous, they can be unsightly, irritating and can grow very long if left unchecked.
They may occur anywhere, but most commonly occur on legs, face and bikini area.
How are Ingrown Hairs Caused
The main causes of ingrown hairs are hair removal methods which involve pulling the hair out at the root e.g. waxing, epilating and tweezing.
They can also be caused by shaving, hence the term "razor bumps".
Tweezing can cause an ingrown hair if the hair breaks very close to, or just below, the skin's surface rather than pulling it cleanly out at the root.
It may then, potentially, spring back and grow into itself or grow sideways under the skin's surface. And so your ingrown hair is born.
Another cause of ingrown hairs can be the build-up of dead skin cells on the skin's surface. If this happens, it can block the follicle making it difficult for the hair to break through and it therefore has no option but to coil back or sideways.
Tips to Minimize Risk when Tweezing
The first and most important thing to remember is that you need a good, well aligned pair of tweezers with sharp tips that you are comfortable with.
The alignment is key, as this ensures that the tips meet properly all the way along so that you are able to grasp the hair firmly.
The tips need to be sharp so that they have a good grip and the hair does not slip when pulled.
If your tweezers are substandard or old and dull with use, you are more at risk of hairs breaking off and causing problems.
Tweezerman are a well-known and well-respected Brand - for information about their award-winning slant tweezer see our recent review here: Tweezerman Slant Tweezer Review
Prior to tweezing, do make sure that you sterilize your tweezers with an antibac - we would recommend a rubbing alcohol.
Wash the area to be treated thoroughly and exfoliate to remove dead skin cells.
Shower or bathe in warm water (as warm as comfortably possible) to open the pores. This will soften the hair and skin, making it easier to pull the root of the hair cleanly from the follicle.
If you are not going to have a shower, you could press a warm flannel against the area for a few minutes for a similar effect.
It is important that you can see well, to be able to isolate individual hairs for tweezing, one at a time. Therefore, a magnifying mirror would be a good investment.
Make sure that you have sufficient light.
- Gently pull the skin taut with one hand, whilst holding tweezers comfortably in the other
- Isolate the hair to be tweezed, and grasp firmly with the tweezers, as close as possible to the skin, without pressing into it
- Pull firmly in the direction of the hair's growth - the hair should pull out smoothly in one go
- Check the hair to make sure that it has been pulled out cleanly from the root. If not try to find the hair to remove it completely
After tweezing, use a non-alcohol toner or astringent such as Witchhazel to close the pores. (You can use a cotton bud to apply carefully to brows)
Follow this with a soothing Aloe Gel if you find that your skin is red or irritated.
Allow at least 15 - 20 minutes before applying make- up.
Wipe tips of tweezers clean again with rubbing alcohol.
What to do if You Get an Ingrown Hair
Sometimes, no matter how careful you may be, an ingrown hair will develop.
It is possible that you may be able to deal with the problem by simply exfoliating the area regularly to remove any dead cells and debris that may be trapping the hair.
You will probably need to do this at least once, if not twice per day taking care not to be too vigorous so that you don't end up just making the area sore.
Try applying a hot flannel or suchlike to the area to draw the hair up to the surface.
There are chemical products available for the purpose of removing and/or preventing ingrown hairs, containing salicylic acids e.g. PFB Vanish + Chromabright or Art Naturals Smooth Touch Ingrown Hair Removal Serum.
Using Tweezers to Remove Ingrown Hairs
The best tweezers for removing ingrown hairs are those with sharp, pointed tips.
It is very important to sterilize the tips prior to removing ingrowns, or any work below the skin to help avoid infection.
You also need to make sure that the skin area is clean (wash with antibacterial soap) and exfoliated.
Use one tip of the tweezers to gently tease out the ingrown hair to the surface. If long enough, you can then grasp with the tweezers and remove in the direction of the hair's natural growth.
Finally, use an antibiotic cream (sparingly) such as Neosporin to help prevent infection.
For more information about point-tipped tweezers currently on the market, I recently carried out full reviews on the Tweezerman Ingrown Splintertweeze and the Tweez'em Precision Stainless Steel Tweezers
Words of Caution
Whatever you do, make sure you are gentle and do not just "dig around" with your tweezers, trying to get the hair. Quite apart from hurting yourself, you may easily cause scarring and increase risk of infection.
Ultimately, some hairs are just too deep to treat yourself and if none of the methods described work for you, you will need to seek professional advice.