I’ve been doing some form of hair removal for as long as I can remember. Since I hit puberty, I was always told that shaving would leave me with darker and thicker hair (spoiler alert: it’s a myth), so at some point I turned to waxing. I got so close with my waxer that she knew (and saw) more about me than some of my closest friends. She would tell me that the dozens of ingrown hairs I had were from years of shaving, and waxing would help eliminate those. Her advice went along with what I was told as a pubescent 12-year-old, so I kept going back to her. But finally, after calculating how much I spent on waxing every damn month, I decided to switch to a more permanent hair removal method—laser hair removal. There, the Esthetician told me that waxing is what was causing all my ingrown hairs, and the laser would help eliminate them since I was only allowed to shave from then on.
So now I’m f*cking confused. Does shaving cause ingrown hairs or not? Why was I still getting ingrown hairs when I waxed? This article will break down the truth of whether waxing or shaving is better for you, and for getting rid of those pesky ingrown hairs.
To start things off, no matter what form of hair removal you use, you are susceptible to ingrown hairs. But some people (like me) are more prone to them than others. When you shave, you are cutting the hair at the base of your skin (which is the thickest part), which is why it can appear that it is growing back thicker and darker. While this tends to be a less expensive option, you can be left with the dreaded razor bump that is v itchy. (Don’t lie that you haven’t tried to scratch your recently shaved bikini line in public and been scared someone thinks you have crabs.) On the other hand, waxing uses hot wax that is pulled away from your skin and removes the hair from the root. Because of this, results can last longer and you don’t have that 5 o’clock shadow some get from shaving.
The Pros & Cons
There are many upsides to waxing and shaving. They both remove the hair and can leave you with super soft skin. While shaving is cheaper, it does not last as long. And if you have dark hair like moi, you can still see the shadow of the hair follicle immediately after shaving. Shaving tends to last 2-3 days, whereas waxing can last 3-6 weeks. So while waxing is more expensive, you don’t need to do it as frequently. Finally, the pain. Before my first wax, I was sacred from that scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin. I’m not going to lie, waxing can be painful, but (for me at least) the more you do it, the less painful it is. However, shaving is no walk in the park, either. Like, I still have a cut on my ankle from when I shaved my legs in the sink in college…
Now, for the reason you’re all here. Those stupid little red bumps that call out to you, “pick me! pick me!” but when you do, you’re left with even more unattractive red bumps. So what is causing them? An ingrown hair is when a hair starts to grow underneath the skin. It can happen with any hair removal technique on any part of your body. Grool. But remember, places with thicker, curlier hair (aka your bikini line) are the most at risk. When you shave, you create sharp edges at the end of the hair strand that makes it more likely to curl into the skin. However, while waxing completely removes the hair from the follicle, you cannot guarantee that it will not curl back under the skin when it grows back.
Waxing vs. Shaving: The Verdict
So when it comes to preventing ingrown hairs, should you wax or shave? Honestly, neither. The best treatment plan is to let everything grow, but if that isn’t your style, it isn’t hopeless. Laser hair removal is a permanent way to remove hair. Since, in the long run, it will eliminate your need for waxing or shaving altogether. However, it’s pricy. So as long as you take the proper precautions when you’re waxing vs. shaving, you’ll be fine. Make sure to exfoliate before whatever hair removal you use and moisturizer after. And whatever you do, do NOT pick at your skin.
Images: Taylor Hernandez / Unsplash; Giphy (2)