Among common skin problems, ingrown hair is a common occurrence. Ingrown hair is found among men and women. Ingrown hair is more likely to develop on skin surface that is repeatedly shaved. However, ingrown hair can happen in any surface that has hair follicles. Ingrown hair represents a condition where hair grows inwards, towards the hair-root, rather than extending outwards. Exfoliation is often recommended as a solution to prevent the occurrence of ingrown hair. Below are reasons why exfoliating might help this condition.
Removes Outer Layer of Dead Skin Cells
The human body is in a continuous process of replenishment of the skin cells. This means that the new cells are always pushing against the outer layer of skin. The outer layer consists of dead and weathered cells that are further fortified by keratin (a thick protein). However, keratin causes hardening of the outer skin cells, making them immune to the natural process of replenishment. This is how the outer layer of dead skin cells gains strength and begins to choke the underlying layer of newer skin cells.
One of easiest ways to prevent an ingrown hair is to ensure that the dead skin cells aren’t allowed to form a settled layer. Exfoliation is essentially a process of rubbing the skin’s surface with a mild abrasive agent. All exfoliating agents or creams contain mildly-abrasive components that rub against the skin’s surface, loosening the layer of dead skin cells. Once the outer layer of weathered skin cells is removed, there is a greater chance of the embedded or ingrown hair taking the normal route of growing towards the surface of the skin rather than inwards.
Makes Shaving Easier
A common form of ingrown hair is razor bumps. A razor bump is formed when the shaving is too intensive or conducted in a wrongful manner. Due to this, the hair is either pulled-out from its root or directed towards an adjoining hair follicle. In either case, the chances of an ingrown hair are raised exponentially.
It is recommended that if the skin is slightly exfoliated before shaving, the hair roots are loosened. Intertwined hair extensions are freed and the skin becomes suppler, easing the hair-removal. This also eradicates the need to shave too close to the surface or against the grain. The exfoliated skin promises a better shave without having to press hard against the skin.
During exfoliation, a gentle massaging action is necessary to ensure that the exfoliation agent is even and thoroughly rubbed over the skin’s surface. This massaging action induces gradual loosening of the grime or the skin cell debris that is cemented along the pores of the skin. These impacted materials are the source of bacterial infections associated with ingrown hairs. Thus, exfoliation reduces chances of an ingrown hair becoming infected—mostly, the infected ingrown hair follicles assume the typical, acne-like form.
Additional Advantages of Exfoliation
The exfoliating action helps to establish a lighter skin tone by uncovering the underlying layer of skin. Further, the massaging action of exfoliation acts as a natural rejuvenating agent for the skin by increasing the overall blood flow within the tissues. The resulting, fresher layer of skin is more likely to camouflage the presence of an ingrown hair. This is because the rejuvenated skin is more adept at disguising the presence of the slight swelling associated with an ingrown hair, reducing the overall impact of the problem.