Does an Epilator Cause Ingrown Hairs? Epilators and Ingrown Hair

Hair removal and ingrown hairs go hand in hand, unfortunately. One of the biggest drawbacks of using an epilator is the possibility of getting ingrown hairs. Since this is such an important topic for epilator users, I researched the topic thoroughly to get a good understanding of the problem and the best ways we can address it. This post breaks down the causes of ingrown hairs and how to prevent ingrown hairs when epilating.

What is an Ingrown Hair?

An ingrown hair is a hair that gets trapped under the skin when it is growing out. These usually look like a breakout of pimples or you may see hair bumps with black dots under the skin. Obviously, you are epilating because you care about your appearance so you want to avoid these.

The Causes of Ingrown Hairs

Does an epilator cause ingrown hairs? Unfortunately, an epilator can potentially cause ingrown hair. All hair removal methods may cause ingrown hairs. This can happen when a hair follicle becomes damaged and the hair starts growing sideways or curls and grows back toward the bottom of the follicle. This is most likely in people with curly hair and happens pretty infrequently, fortunately.

The most common cause of ingrown hairs, however, is dead skin cells getting in the way. With epilation, the main issue is that the tips of the new hairs growing back are finer and therefore can have more difficulty getting through the skin, especially if there is a build up of dead skin inside or on top of the follicle.

Tactics for Preventing Ingrown Hairs

To prevent ingrown hairs from epilating, you need to make sure that dead skin cells are thoroughly sloughed off on a regular basis. You can do this with either physical or chemical exfoliation methods.

Physical methods of exfoliation include facial scrubs or microdermabrasion. They work by using friction to rub off the dead skin cells.

Or you can use chemical exfoliation products such as peels or lotions. These remove dead skins cells by speeding up cell turnover. Beta hydroxy acids are a great choice for preventing ingrown hairs from epilating because they reach deep into the skin and follicle.  They also have antibacterial properties, can reduce inflammation, and have anti-aging effects.

You may want to try both to see which gives your skin the best results. I prefer using physical exfoliation right before epilating, but use chemical lotions between epilating to prevent ingrown hairs.

Are You Prone to Ingrown Hairs?

Some people are just more prone to ingrown hairs in general than other people. And some people are just prone to ingrown hairs with certain types of hair removal. And some body parts in some people are more prone to ingrown hairs.

And this is particularly a challenge when epilating more noticable areas like arms or the face because no one wants to wake up one day with a chin full of ingrown hairs. And you just can’t know if you have a tendency to have ingrown hairs from epilating until you try it.

So if you’ve never epilated before, I highly recommend trying out a small patch of hair on your leg and waiting a few days to see how it goes before epilating a large area of skin.

If you get an ingrown hair, experiment with some different exfoliation methods and routines. Try epilating a tiny patch again to see if your exfoliation method worked. If you don’t see good results, epilation may not be the best method for you, unfortunately.

Treating Ingrown Hairs

If you are cursed with an ingrown hair from epilating, here re some treatment recommendations from the National Health Service in the UK:

  • Leave it alone for a few days to see if it goes away on its own.
  • If it’s near the surface, use a sterile needle or tweezers to remove it.
  • Don’t dig into the skin to try to remove a hair. Don’t pick, scratch, or squeeze your skin as this can cause infection and wounds. That could mean scars and skin discoloration that you don’t want.
  • If there is inflammation, try applying a mild antiseptic like tea tree oil.
  • If these steps don’t help resolve the problem and the ingrown hair doesn’t go away, contact your health care provider for advice. They may have to remove the hair for you or prescribe you antibiotics for an infection.

Have more questions about epilation? Check out the Epilator FAQ and Beginner’s Guide!

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National Health Service: Ingrown Hairs

Heather McClure

I've been a freelance writer for over a decade, specializing in the spa, wellness, and beauty niches. I've also worked professionally for years in a brick and mortar business in the spa industry. I geek out on researching wellness and beauty topics and love sharing this knowledge with other women.

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