Proper Shaving Techniques: Avoid Ingrown Hairs

Everyone has individual preferences on the topic of facial and body hair. Some men and women like to embrace it while others loathe the appearance of hair and will go through any measure for removal. There are two primary methods of hair removal, which are depilation at the surface of the skin and epilation which is removal beneath the skin’s surface. Daily, I come across people that are simply afraid to experience waxing and laser methods. Although they typically last longer and result in smoother skin, many men and women favor the traditional shaving technique. With this technique, however, these men and women can encounter the dreaded effects of ingrown hairs. These little monsters are painful, irritating and honestly just ugly.

The best way to ward off ingrown hair is to first exfoliate the skin before shaving using an exfoliating topical product and a soft bristled brush. This helps loosen the skin and helps allow the hair to grow out of the follicle properly. This tool also helps point hair upward giving you a closer shave. Because of its powerful, yet gentle cleansing and exfoliation, it essential for targeting razor bumps/rash and ingrown hair. And when the skin can breathe, it treats you better.

How to Wet Shave…PROPERLY

Step 1: Collect materials

Sharp, clean razor with multiple blades

Shaving brush/ exfoliating scrub / loofah

Quality shaving cream shaving gel or oil

Hot towel

Aftershave balm/cream/oil


Step 2: Prep the skin

Before shaving exfoliate the skin to remove dead skin cells. This promotes a smoother surface. Apply exfoliating scrub in circular motions for about 1-2 minutes, then rinse. Be gentle and don’t scrub harshly.
Step 3: Soften the skin

Apply a warm towel on your face and allow the steam to soften the pores and the hair, making hair removal easier.
Step 4: Apply the shaving cream, evenly

Use preshave for coarse hair followed by shaving cream, which prevents chafing/rubbing that may be caused by applying the razor over your skin. It also moisturizes the skin and hair. If you are using a brush, apply a generous amount to the brush and use circular motions for at least a minute. Using a shaving brush, again, helps lift the hair which means easier removal and less ingrown hairs. For sideburns or goatees, use a clear gel or oil so that you can see where you are shaving.
Step 5: Use a sharp razor; do not rush

*Tip* invest in a men’s razor (such as a 2 or 3 blade) for those areas as they are designed to remove coarser hair…. suitable for men and women.

Never use a dull razor because it will drag along the skin and possibly leave you with a razor burn or rash…painful! Always shave in the same direction with the grain. Going one direction and then the other will cause the hair to make a sharp edge and promote irritation and ingrown. Hold the skin firmly and carefully use short, firm stokes. Be sure to rinse the razor after every 2-3 strokes.

The bikini line and some facial hair, especially around your chin, are usually coarser. Allow the cream to sit and soften before shaving. Consider shaving in the direction of hair growth; going opposite the grain may lead to ingrown hair and rash. For the lip area, curl your lip over your teeth and use short strokes in a downward motion.

Chest and underneath your arms: some people have hair growing in all directions. Examine your hair growth and shave in the direction of YOUR hair growth. Everyone’s hair does not grow downward.

Legs and arms: shave in the opposite direction of hair growth for maximal removal in these areas.

*TIP* shaving in the shower using a fog free mirror is great. The Steam will keep pores open and soften the hair, resulting in a smooth finish.

Step 6: Rinse and remove

Rinse with cool water to seal the pores and check for stray hairs, if you’ve missed a spot, remove with cream and the razor.

Step 7: Dry and Moisturize

Pat dry with a towel, rubbing causes friction and lint residue. After which, apply aftershave balm, oil or cream to calm the skin. Choose a product that minimizes redness, burns and irritation. Lastly, replenish the essential oils that were lost during shaving by applying a moisturizer and SPF to protect the freshly shaved skin.

Lastly, a day or two after shaving make sure you exfoliate again. Dead skin cells build up daily and it is important for us to keep the surface of the skin clear and smooth. If you happen to experience ingrown hairs, as more African Americans are more susceptible to experiencing, reevaluate your shaving technique and make adjustments. Secondly, consider purchasing an ingrown hair products such as pfb, tend skin or kity kity. If the problem persists, see your dermatologist or skincare therapist and think about other methods of hair removal.

Happy Shaving!


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