We spend most of our time on NaturallyCurly talking about the naturally curly hair we love and embrace, but today we are talking about the naturally curly hair... that we don't want.While we can talk day in and day out about techniques and products when it comes to the hair on our heads, our Editors and our readers had questions about the hair on our bodies, so we brought in experts to answer them. Our Social Media Manager, Evelyn, hosted a Live Google Hangout with board certified dermatologist Dr. Michelle Henry and Cassidy Blackwell, who leads Brand Marketing at Bevel, to talk about our biggest body hair issues.
This is why you always get ingrown hairs
Curly and coily hair is actually different from other hair types, and that can make it more difficult when it comes to maintaining a close, smooth shave. Dr. Henry explained that curly or coarse hair is "more prone to bending or curling back into the skin, so if we cut the hairs improperly they can bend into the skin, and when they re-enter the skin it's almost like having a splinter. So that area becomes red, it becomes raised, and it becomes what we know classically as an ingrown hair... The curlier the coilier the hair, the more pronounced the arc, the angle of the curve. So the curlier the hair the more difficult it is and the more important it is to shave appropriately so we don't create an ingrown hair."
You're shaving the wrong way
Many of us have spent our adult lifetimes shaving one way: against the grain. We slide our razor from our ankles up towards our knees, and apparently we've been doing it wrong all along. Blackwell explains that "at Bevel we always say shave with the grain. Which means, shave in the direction that your hair grows in. I think there's a lot of education or even in commercials you see everybody going against the grain, so pulling up, and doing all of these things that go against the grain. But really shave in the direction the hair goes, which helps to keep that shave smoother and right against the skin."
What does shaving against the grain do?
Is this just a difference of opinion, or does shaving against the grain actually have negative effects? Many of us shave against the grain because we feel that it gives us a closer shave that will give us longer lasting results, but this may not work for our naturally curly hair. Dr. Henry says that when you shave against the grain, "you're lifting those hairs and cutting them below the surface of the skin, so when that happens, when the hair starts to grow and starts to curl as it does, it may even start to transept the follicle, or grow into the skin deep. That's when you get the deep, painful ingrown hairs. So it's really important to go with the grain and cut the hair right at the level of the skin."
If this goes against everything you have ever learned and believed in, you're not alone! "Honestly, it changed my life learning that. It really changed my life, because I did it wrong for years and that one shift was a profound revolution" said Blackwell.
Why do ingrown hairs matter?
Ingrown hairs can be annoying and even painful, but the effects can last far beyond that single hair. Dr. Henry told us that "in brown skin or in darker skin, what I see is that razor burn can also cause hyperpigmentation. Ingrown hairs can cause hyperpigmentation. This becomes a huge, not only a kind of painful, uncomfortable condition but also an un-aesthetically pleasing condition. So that's probably the biggest concern with dark skin is that when we get the ingrown hairs, the hairs will grow out and the bumps will go away but the hyperpigmentation will last for a long time."
If hyperpigmentation is an issue for you, Dr. Henry recommends using an after-shave - no, they're not just for men. She likes Bevel's post-shave Restoring Balm because it has salicylic acid and lactic acid in it. "What's great about that is it doesn't only feel good because it's kind of moisturizing, but it's also preventing ingrown hairs. So that salicylic acid and that lactic acid will help to lighten that hyperpigmentation just a touch."
Don't skip shaving cream
We know our community embodies the DIY spirit when it comes to caring for and even cutting our hair, and many of our community members like to use coconut oil or other oils to shave with. So does oil really work just as well as a store-bought product?
According to Dr. Henry, "It's nice to use an oil because it will provide a barrier, but what's really going to help your shave and to help you prevent ingrown hairs is using something that can lather and lift those hairs. So what the shaving cream does is lift those hairs, and in addition it's hydrating. What happens when we hydrate the hair is that it swells, and when it swells it's easier to cut. You're just not going to get that with an oil alone, so it's really important to use something that's hydrating and moisturizing and with a little bit of a foam to help lift those hairs."
Cassidy recommends using the Bevel Badger Brush, because she says "when you whip a lather with this it also works to do exactly what Dr. Henry says, which is to lift those hairs and really prepare them to shave."
Watch the full Hangout
We covered even more ground in the Hangout, like the best way to shave our bikini areas and why shaving every 2 weeks is not enough (I know, we were disappointed too). Watch the full Hangout for more surprising shaving tips.
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