Ingrown hairs are the curse of the depilating classes. They're equal-opportunity offenders, affecting men and women alike -- not that their gender equality-loving ways are much comfort to anyone affected by the little blighters.
We'd all love Angelina Jolie's smooth skin, so it's good news there are remedies for the lump's ingrown hairs...
At best, ingrown hairs mean annoying, unsightly bumps; at worst, they can be flipping painful and may lead to inflammation, infection, and scarring of the skin.
The curly of hair are more likely to suffer with ingrown hairs than their straight-haired counterparts, which explains why the short 'n' curlies area is usually worst affected, but the root cause is temporary hair removal.
Since epilating, tweezing, and waxing all remove hair from the root, it's weaker when it grows back. This fine new hair can have difficulty working its way through the skin's surface, so it's inclined to curl back and remain embedded underneath the skin.
Shaving is another culprit -- there's a reason ingrown hairs are also called razor bumps -- and the smoother your shave, the more likely you'll suffer from ingrown hairs. The regrowth will be closer to the skin, and the hair can grow askew into the skin rather than straight out.
Multi-blade razors may give an amazing result but, unfortunately, they're the worst offenders. Regrowth can occur below the skin's surface with a multi-blade razor, as it lifts hair out of the skin slightly before cutting it, and the shaved hair sinks back into the follicle.
You can prevent ingrown hairs with good shaving habits. Use a hot wet facecloth beforehand to soften skin and hair; massage your shaving unction into the skin; shave with rather than against the direction of hair growth; opt for a single blade razor and replace blades regularly.
Exfoliate and moisturise. Give skin a break from hair removal when possible.
To minimise the risk of infection and scarring if an ingrown hair does pop up, don't scratch or squeeze the area. Instead, break out that hot wet facecloth again to soften the skin, and exfoliate to release the hair.
You should then be able to carefully and gently lift the tip of the hair free of the skin with a sterilised needle-tipped tweezer -- I'm a fan of Tweezerman's Ingrown Hair Tweezer, €17.50 from www.feelunique.com.