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Waxing and Ingrown Hairs

Waxing Actually Does Cause Ingrown Hairs

Waxing Actually Does Cause Ingrown Hairs

by Anna Jimenez, Senior Interactive Editor

There is a lot of misinformation out there regarding hair removal. 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’ve heard it all. But after recently visiting an aesthetician that swore waxing didn't contribute to the formation of red, painful and unsightly bumps (she says it's just hair removal in general that can cause new hairs to get trapped beneath the skin), we wanted to get the facts straight.

While it's definitely true that some people get ingrown hairs with any hair removal method they use, waxing is one of the worst culprits for causing them, says New York dermatologist Neal Schultz, MD.

That's because the hair follicle has a bulb that it grows from, and attached to the bulb, going up the skin, is a tube. Inside the tube there is a lining that is very important for properly guiding the hair up to the surface of the skin and out of a hole that allows the hair to actually exit the body. "When you wax, you pull the hair out very rapidly and that very rapid pulling actually disrupts this very important lining," he says. 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 this doesn’t happen every time someone waxes, it does happen often. So if you notice more ingrown hairs the more you wax, this is likely the cause. And to continue with the bad news, Dr. Schultz says once a hair becomes an ingrown, it will always be. Even after your ingrown hair pops out and the bumps goes away, three months later when that hair starts to grow again, it’s going to be ingrown again, even if you stop waxing.

The best and most precise way to get rid of unwanted hair is with a laser, says Miami dermatologist Janice Lima-Maribona. "Three treatments get rid of 20 to 30 percent of hair. The remaining hair is thinner and lighter, and the hair will grow slower," she says. The laser will also kill that root so that it can no longer produce a misguided hair that continues to be ingrown.

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