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How To Spot Ingrown Beard Hairs and Tips for Prevention

How To Spot Ingrown Beard Hairs and Tips for Prevention

Growing a beard can help you achieve physical perfection, giving you even more confidence than ever before. But growing a beard can also cause you some discomfort if those hair follicles don’t allow for hair growth in the proper way.

They say no pain, no gain — but we like to think that there’s a way for you to gain a perfect head of hair without needing to pay a price. Read our essential info on ingrown hairs, what to do about them, and how to prevent them from occurring, to begin with.

What Are Ingrown Hairs?

Usually, when we talk about outgrowing something, it comes with a negative connotation. But in the case of your beard hair, we always want hair to grow out of your skin. After all, what good is a beard that you can’t see in the first place?

And usually, hair is pretty good at this. Normal hair grows out of the follicle and protrudes from the skin’s surface, helping you look and feel your absolute best. However, there are times when the hair grows back into the skin after shaving, waxing, or tweezing: This is called an ingrown hair.

What Causes Ingrown Hair?

The structure and direction of a hair follicle play a significant role in how hair eventually grows out of the surface. A curved hair follicle (which produces curled hair) usually encourages hair to re-enter the skin once the hair is cut and starts to grow back.

This happens because shaving or plucking can create a sharp edge on the hair, making it much easier to pierce the skin. If your tweezing or shaving technique is a bit sub-par, it can increase the risk of ingrown hairs. Additionally, pulling the skin when you shave can draw hair back into your skin, increasing the risk of ingrown hair.

Individuals with curly and darker hair tend to be most affected, with those with darker skin tones being most affected. In fact, razor bumps occur in up to 60% of African American men.

Ingrown hairs don’t only pop up on the beard area. You might see them on the armpits, legs, and the public area.

Symptoms of Ingrown Hair

How To Spot Ingrown Beard Hairs and Tips for Prevention

You can usually tell when you have ingrown hair with a few symptoms, including:

  • Small, sometimes painful bumps that are filled with pus.
  • Tiny, swollen bumps where you shave or wax, like on your beard.
  • Itching, burning, or stinging.
  • Small bumps that are darker than the surrounding skin (hyperpigmentation).
  • Hair in the shape of a loop due to the tip of the hair curving back into the skin.

Ingrown hairs tend to look like tiny pimples on your skin, and you’ll usually see them in areas where you shave, like your neck, chin, or upper lip.

Are Ingrown Hairs Dangerous?

Ingrown hairs usually aren’t too big of a deal. They often heal themselves within just about a week or two with minor irritation, and they’ll release from the skin as they start to get even longer. Sometimes, bacterial infections can occur from picking or scratching at the ingrown hair with dirty hands or tools.

But all in all, they tend to make you feel a bit insecure because of their zit-like appearance. The good news is that you can remove them fairly easily without much trouble.

How To Remove an Ingrown Hair

Removing ingrown hairs can be done safely and effectively as long as you know what to do. The best way to remove one is through exfoliation.

Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin. It helps release ingrown hairs while smoothing out your skin’s surface and making it more smooth and supple.

To exfoliate properly, use warm (not hot) water along with small circular motions to wash affected areas with a washcloth. Better yet, use an exfoliating brush or exfoliating scrub to make its effects even better. A warm compress can help too. 

If the ingrown hair is looping back into the skin, you can remove it by gently pulling on it with a pair of sterile tweezers. Gently lift the hair until one end of the loop releases from your skin to prevent the hair from continuing to grow inward. Note: Only pull on the hair and not your skin itself.

While you can use depilatory creams for hair removal, these are harsh on many skin types. Use these sparingly, and only use ingrown hairs that are not yet infected. Other hair removal methods, like shaving, tend to be a better idea.

What if I Have Severe Ingrown Hairs?

In rare cases, you might have an ingrown facial hair that is so deep beneath the skin that it’s causing significant pain and discomfort. If that’s the case, your provider might be able to provide medication that improves infection and inflammation. This includes acne medications (retinoids), steroid pills for inflammation, or antibiotic ointments to fight infection.

A dermatologist might also give you some cream to calm the skin or decrease hair growth, which might be important if you are prone to frequent bouts of severe ingrown hair.

Your provider might also recommend electrolysis, which is a technique in which a tiny, sterile needle and a mild electrical charge destroy the hair roots. Each follicle requires its own treatment, so you’d really only use this for a few instances of ingrown hairs.

Laser hair removal can also be used, which is when the heat from a laser destroys cells that have a lot of color. It works best on dark hair (sorry, blondes). 

How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Preventing ingrown hairs entirely isn’t possible, sadly. But you can make these far less likely to pop up (pun intended). 

If you stop shaving, that can likely help: If your hair continues to grow, it won’t be able to curve back into the skin and turn into an ingrown hair in the first place. Let’s face it; you’ll need to tame that mane at some point, so let’s make sure you do it right.

First, thoroughly wet your skin with warm water before shaving. Shaving dry skin is a terrible idea — beard area, legs, everything — don’t do it. Take this opportunity to wash your face with a high-quality cleanser. 

Then, apply a shaving gel or Beard Cream to your skin. This softens the hair and makes it less likely for the sharp edges of the hair to grow back inward.

When shaving, shave in the direction of hair growth so you don’t force the hair into the skin at an unnatural angle, Don’t pull on the skin, and be sure to rinse the blade after each stroke. Finally, use a soothing after-shave product to help remove dead skin cells that might otherwise block hair growth.

The Best Shaving Tools: What To Know

How To Spot Ingrown Beard Hairs and Tips for Prevention

If you’re able to, avoid close shaves. The closer you shave, the more likely it is for short, sharp hairs to grow back inward into your skin. Instead, go for Electric Trimmers that keep the hair a smidge longer and reduce the risk of razor burn. 

If you do need to get a close shave, use a high-quality shaver in the first place. Our Straight Edge Razor is perfectly balanced for superior control for all your routine shaving needs. With its single derby blade that folds neatly into its handle for stowing purposes, this blade will slice through the hair like butter without pulling or tugging. 

Top off your skincare routine with a Cedar Beard Oil or moisturizer to keep your skin soft between shaves.

In Conclusion

Ingrown hairs can be painful, uncomfortable, and unsightly. They’re caused by a close shave that gives hair a sharp edge and makes it more likely for the hair to loop around back into the skin itself. This can lead to inflamed and infected pus-filled bumps that itch or feel painful.

You can prevent ingrown hair by avoiding close shaves in the first place. But when you do need to shave, moisturize and use shaving gels to soften the hair, making it easier to trim. Also, consider using an electric trimmer to keep hair a little bit longer in the first place.

The products you use are just as important as the way you shave, and The Beard Club has you covered if you don’t even know where to start. 

Try one of our Beard and Hair Trimmer Kits to get everything you need in one fell swoop to trim and shave without the pain and suffering of ingrown hairs.


Ingrown Hair | Mayo Clinic


A Deep Dive on Depilatory Creams | Cleveland Clinic

Electrolysis: Definition & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic