Sporting a rugged beard is nothing short of awesome. It’s your pride and joy and you’re rocking it to the rafters. But… (why must there always be a but?!)… with it comes the likelihood of developing something not so awesome – ingrown beard hairs.
These little buggers are an occasional, but annoying, fact of life for many beardsmen. Most times they’re just irritating, but sometimes they can be painful and even hazardous. We’ve seen the extreme situations where they’ve become infected and needed medical help. Not pretty!
In order to truly be a fully-fledged beard bro, you need to know about ingrown hairs and what to do. Rugged also means wise!
It’s pretty simple… prevention is better than cure. If you don’t have a proper daily care routine for your face and beard, your chances of developing ingrown beard hairs go way up. On the flipside, some simple regular maintenance will save you a buttload of hassle, while keeping your beard and face fresh. But should problems arise, we’ll show you what to do to gain some relief.
There are three kinds of ingrown beard hairs. All of them cause small bumps on your face that become inflamed and painful. In each case, dead skin cells block up a pore, trapping the hair and enabling bacteria to thrive.
First, there’s the hair that grows out and achieves some length before curling around and trying to bury its tip back into your skin. You may well ask, “Why must ingrown hairs happen on the face?” It’s because facial hair is usually coarser and curlier than head hair and body hair. This makes them more prone to do an about-face and attack.
There are two more kinds, both of which occur under the skin before the hair emerges after shaving. We’ll address those later in this blog.
First, let’s deal with the longer beard hairs that try to curl back again. Because there are ways to reduce your risks of developing ingrown problems.
An ingrown beard hair problem is not just because of the hair itself. It’s also caused by what’s happening with your skin.
Proper regular washing and exfoliating of all your facial skin – the skin under your beard as well as the exposed/shaved areas – will clear away dead skin cells that can clog up pores. (It’s also the first step in preventing itchy beardruff.) So get yourself a beard conditioning shampoo that can be used to wash your entire face and neck. Use it three times a week. Rub it deeply into your beard and really massage the skin beneath. On the exposed, hairless skin, use an exfoliator in combo with the shampoo.
Regular soap will not do the job. It will have the opposite effect by making your skin dry and flaky.
Allowing dead skin flakes to sit on your face is a surefire way to develop ingrown hairs. Using a sumptuous beard oil will help prevent such dryness, while also conditioning your beard and giving it a sexy gleam. Don’t get a cheaper product with synthetic ingredients in it, like silicone, because that can make problems with ingrown hairs worse. Instead, a beard oil rich in antioxidants and organic oils will condition your cleansed face to moisturize it and keep pores clear.
Plus, if you use a beard oil with a light manly scent, you get the bonus of smelling irresistible all day long.
Every true beardmeister knows he must brush his whiskers to avoid tangles/knots, to tame any excessive wildness, and to remove dust and other particles. But before you brush, be sure you’ve used conditioning shampoo and beard oil first, otherwise you’ll be tugging on coarse, dry, tangled hairs, which really sucks.
Notice we said brush instead of comb? A plastic comb is a beard killer! It causes static electricity, cranks up the frizz factor, and snags in the hairs too easily. While a wooden comb avoids the first two issues, it still pulls in an unpleasant way. Instead, use a beard brush with wild boar hair. The naturally tough bristles assist in exfoliating your skin and sweeping particles away. It also feels amazing while distributing your beard oil evenly.
If you have particularly curly and unruly whiskers, you’re going to be more prone to ingrown beard hairs. Applying a beard balm can tame that wildness and shape your beard better to prevent hairs from curling back towards your face. Just be sure it’s a quality beard balm, made with pure oils and butters along with a touch of natural bees wax. Such a balm will further complement your moisturizing and conditioning work while taking your beard styling to the next level.
Ingrown beard hairs happen most frequently where there are looser skin folds, like the neck. Regular daily movements and also sleeping positions can create pressure and friction in those folds, causing beard hairs to rub and jostle around and encouraging them to curl.
Okay, if you do develop an ingrown beard hair, here’s what to do:
The hair should eventually work itself out. After that, cleanse and exfoliate as we described earlier.
If that annoying little sucker stubbornly resists all these efforts for a week or so, talk to a dermatologist or medical expert. Extracting a persistent ingrown hair is not a DIY project.
We mentioned these earlier, where hairs refuse to emerge from your skin. There are two kinds. One grows sideways under the skin instead of springing straight up and out. The other bends around on itself under the surface and reverses course straight back down again.
The biggest culprits for these internal ingrown hairs are (1) not exfoliating the face regularly (which we’ve discussed extensively) and (2) poor shaving habits. Remember that many bearded bros still shave some parts of their face, like the neck and cheeks. Shaving gives a hair a coarse, abrupt end that can snag on dead skin cells when trying to emerge.
If you do suffer from an internal kind of ingrown facial hair, use the hot compress approach mentioned above. Wash your face each day and exfoliate it a few times a week. Then adjust your shaving habits. Most importantly, don’t reuse blades/cartridges too many times. Choose the appropriately sharp razor for you so you don’t have to keep scraping any spot multiple times, because excessive strokes will push the hair back inside the skin, especially if the blade is dull.
There you have it, my man. Follow these tips and you should be able to steer well clear of one of bearding’s most irritating problems. Look after your face forest and it will look after you.
Keep rocking that beard, bro!