The ingrown hair battle rages on. For years, many have argued the cause of these painful little guys. Some say hair that’s plucked in the bikini area comes back with a new wiry twin. Others claim that the more you wax, the less hair will grow back over time. And many swear that ingrown hairs are just a fact of this cruel, cruel world if you wax your bikini area.
We talked to two experts, and the news—much like an ingrown hair—isn’t pretty. Brace yourselves, ladies: According to New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD, while it’s possible to get ingrown hairs with any hair-removal method, waxing is one of the worst culprits for causing them.
Ingrown Info: Why Does Waxing Make it Worse?
The hair follicle has a bulb that it grows from, and attached to the bulb going up into the skin, is a tube. Inside the tube there is a lining that properly guides the hair up to the surface of the skin and out a hole that allows the hair to actually exit the body. “When you wax, you pull the hair out very rapidly and that rapid pulling actually disrupts this very important lining,” says Dr. Schultz. Then, when the hair starts to regrow, it doesn’t have that lining to guide it and it no longer has a way to get out of the skin.
While ingrown hairs don’t appear every time someone waxes, they remain a painful waxing reality. But, to soothe the sting, we reached out to waxing guru Noemi Grupenmager, founder of Uni K Wax Center, for all the hairy details.
She explains that waxing over long periods can actually slow hair growth, which means less waxing, and in turn, fewer new ingrown hairs. “If you wax consistently, you can change the growth cycle of your hair follicle. Continued waxing will also cause hair growth to diminish over time, weakening the hair follicle with repeated sessions. Even though the hair doesn’t stop growing completely, hair regrowth reduces considerably, allowing you to wax less frequently.”
Tips and Tricks
Grupenmager offered up her to-do list to help lessen the chances of walking away from your next wax with an ingrown hair.
Exfoliate: Regularly exfoliating the areas you’re having waxed is important to buff away dead skin cells and avoid clogged pores and ingrown hair. Your last exfoliation should be at least two days before the wax service.
Hydrate: Moisturize the skin until the day before your wax to keep the area hydrated. Dry skin will cause the hair to break at the surface level rather than be removed from the follicle.
Investigate: Find a wax that is all-natural, which is made for sensitive skin. This moisturizing type of wax is applied at body temperature so it won’t irritate your skin as it gently removes hair.
Medicate: If you do experience ingrown hairs, try Uni K Wax Roll-On ($22). Apply it to the affected area twice a day to buff your bikini line and gently exfoliate the ingrown hair.