The problem of ingrown hair

Not all women and men can look clean-shaven. Some individuals, especially with heavy, curly hairs may develop ingrown hairs and need an effective ingrown hair treatment. Shaving can cause ingrown hairs by “sharpening” the free hair end. Tender pimples then arise when closely cut hairs grow out and pierce the hair follicle or curl back and re-enter the skin, causing infection.

Ingrown hairs are known as Psuedofolliculitis Barbae (PFB), razor bumps, razor burn, hair bumps, shaving bumps, ingrowns. Psuedofolliculitis Barbae refers to ingrown hair which has been cut or broken off below the skin level which then begins to grow through surrounding tissue rather than out of the follicle. In other ingrown hair cases, hair curls round and starts growing back into the skin causing irritation and inflammation around the ingrown hair.

• For ingrown pubic hair along the bikini line, use a treatment lotion 2-3 times a day to soften the skin and help the hairs work their way out by exfoliating and anti bacterial soothing action.

• Wear loose-fitting underwear and clothing until the ingrown hairs are gone. To avoid friction, apply treatment lotion through the day to ingrown hairs.

• Some find it helpful to exfoliate the area before waxing to prevent the environment that can cause ingrown hair. This removes some of the dead skin cells in the top layer of skin cells that often contribute to ingrown hair. Using treatment lotion three days before waxing will bring a dramatic improvement and less ingrown hair after waxing.

• When waxing, be sure to pull the hair out by the roots. Do not allow the hair to break below the skin surface which will cause ingrown hair.

Brazilian waxing

Brazilian waxing is a type of waxing involving the bikini area. This procedure involves the complete removal of hair from the buttocks and adjacent to the anus, perineum and vulva (labia majora and mons pubis). It can be thought of as a more thorough form of bikini waxing. Most forms of Brazilian waxing leave a small line of pubic hair above the vulva, commonly known as the “G-Wax” or just “Brazilian”. Waxes that completely remove the pubic hair are either termed ‘Full-Brazilian’ or ‘Sphynx’ depending on the salon visited. Sometimes the term Full Bikini Wax or FBW is used. While mainly associated with females, the practice is engaged in by males as well. This type of waxing originated in the carnivals of Brazil, hence its name.

Waxing of the genital areas has been prevalent in many societies around the world for centuries, in Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt but especially in arid or desert, predominantly Muslim and Arab countries. Arab, Turkish, and Persian women as well as women from the Albanian culture and Mediterranean regions have for centuries been waxing the genital areas. The waxes used were often sugar-based and made with lemon; however present variations include oils and scents to lessen the discomfort. The reason for genital waxing is not necessarily cosmetic, as it is in the case of North and South America as well as Europe, but instead these cultures have for centuries generally practiced waxing for personal hygiene and/or religion. As a result, in many of these cultures, body hair of any sort on women is considered socially unacceptable. However, waxing the genital area completely is relatively new to western cultures, developing mostly in the 20th century. In the United States, for example, the habit of waxing or even shaving the pubic area did not become commonplace until the late 1990s. However, as of 2006, this habit has become popular with a new generation of American women.

The wax originated in Brazil for women wanting to wear the then-new thong bikinis, which was not widely popular inside the United States at the time. Waxing gained in popularity through the 1990s, with several celebrities, such as Paula Yates and Gwyneth Paltrow, extolling its virtues. In 1999 it shot to international prominence with the airing of a Sex and The City episode, where one of the characters is the unsuspecting victim of a Brazilian waxing and finds the experience surprisingly pleasant. In the 2006 movie, “The Break Up,” as part of Jennifer Aniston’s post-breakup makeover, Jen’s character Brooke goes to a salon for a Brazilian wax and requests “the full Telly Savalas.”

Full body waxing, including genital waxing, has been popular in the gay community for some time, and is becoming popular with heterosexual males as well. In the male version of the Brazilian wax, men will sometimes leave a triangle-shaped patch above the penis untouched (since this area can be exceptionally sensitive to irritation) and will sometimes also leave the hair surrounding the anus intact (while removing that found on the buttocks).

Brazilian Waxing Process

The client is asked to disrobe. Occasionally, for females, a paper g-string is provided to protect the client’s modesty. The procedure starts with baby powder, talcum powder, or oil being spread liberally over the area to be waxed. This prevents the hot wax from sticking to the skin. Then, as in other forms of waxing, hot wax is spread over the area from which hair is to be removed. The wax is allowed to harden briefly, then one edge of the wax strip is pulled up and used as a ‘tab’ to pull off the rest of the wax, usually in the direction opposite of hair growth. The waxer then works his or her way around the body systematically removing the hair from the genital area, buttocks, and anus. This procedure removes the wax, hair, and any dead skin cells lying on the skin surface. The person performing the wax will then finish with tweezers to remove any stray hairs that the waxing missed. Finally, the remaining pubic hair is either trimmed with scissors, or waxed off if the client requests it. The remaining hair may even be in a particular pattern (hearts are a popular option), or dyed.

The wax used is often a mixture of natural beeswax and tall oil rather than the more common synthetic ‘waxes’ used for regular leg waxing. It is felt that beeswax is stronger, and more effective at removing the thicker, coarser pubic hairs.

The pain involved in Brazilian waxing can be slight or acute and can continue for quite some time (from several seconds to minutes). Most of those willing to endure the procedure feel that the result is worth the discomfort. Furthermore, most feel that Brazilian waxing becomes less painful with subsequent treatments. Many products are available to lessen the pain, in particular PFB Vanish which should be applied for three days after the Brazilian as the effect is ruined if you get ingrown hairs and bumps.

Razor Rash

Red bumps around the neck area are usually razor rash (known as pseudofolliculitis barbae when facial hairs are involved and psuedofolliculitis pubis when pubic hairs are involved). Women, too, can get razor rash. However, these shaving problems are most common among men of African-Caribbean descent in particular or in people with curly hair.

Razor rash is caused when hair curls and grows back into the skin. The body’s immune system recognizes the hair as an intruder and attacks it, creating red, inflamed areas. These red bumps are susceptible to infection and can easily turn into razor rash.

Razor rash is caused by a bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus that infects the hair follicle. This can lead to redness, itching, and even small, pus-filled blisters. The bacteria normally resides in our nasal passages without our realizing it. Shaving can introduce the bacteria to hair follicles on the face, where it is not as harmless a guest.

Treating razor rash involves using treatment lotion before and after shaving, ideally re-applying a few times throughout the day. Once the ingrown hairs are out, simply use after shaving to prevent further ingrown hairs.

People can also help prevent razor rash by:

• using warm water to soften the skin and hairs before shaving; shaving right after a shower

• applying shaving cream, foam or soap in the opposite direction of hair growth (usually upward), moisturising your skin as well as hair

• shaving the easier areas first: the jawline, cheeks, and neck.

• shaving in the direction of hair growth (usually downward)

• not stretching your skin taut

• rinsing your razor thoroughly after each use and replacing your blades every week or more often if necessary

• Shaving in the opposite direction of hair growth and stretching the skin taut are two methods of getting the closest shave, which unfortunately increase the likelihood of razor bumps and barber’s rash.

These techniques, as well as using razors with two or three blades, attempt to cut the hair underneath the actual skin line, inadvertently making it easier for those hairs to then poke back into the skin. Using an electric razor gently against the skin is another option to help prevent razor rash.

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