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Shaving's Version of "The Chicken or the Egg?"

Apr 26, 2008
Which comes first, the bump or the ingrown hair?

Like the chicken or the egg question that has two schools of thought, some men believe it's the bump that starts it all, and others blame the ingrown hair for their nasty razor bump problems.

To help set the record straight and convince you that there is only one true answer, I'm going to clue you in to how ingrown hairs form. Once you realize how they occur, you'll start to take precautions that guarantee you a smoother game face in no time.

Lots of men think that ingrown hairs are caused by shaved hair curling and growing back into the skin. However, my position is that the ingrown hair in question actually never left the skin's surface once it was shaved. Trapped underneath, it could wreak havoc on a face or neck.

There's no question that shaving can cause skin irritation, particularly if you shave against the grain or if you needlessly shave over the same area. When this happens, your skin reacts to the irritation by swelling with white blood cells to defend it against the perceived injury. This inflammation is what causes a hair pore to close, trapping a hair inside with its tip embedded just under the surface with no means of escape.

Even though it is trapped, the hair continues to grow at the root, while the strand coils up, longer and longer, under the skin causing the bump itself to grow. Shaving over the bump is usually painful and causes further irritation to the area. Unless a man's shaving regime improves, the cycle continues.

Prevention is a lot easier once you recognize that shaving irritation is the real culprit.

To avoid the problem, and also to treat it, I always recommend a razor bump treatment. Even on easily irritated skin, where a treatment with no alcohol works best, I see results that can change a man's face and overall wellbeing within days. After all, razor bumps are more than a cosmetic problem for men. They affect his professional image, his health and his self-confidence.

So don't walk around with egg on your face because of ingrown hairs. To keep the bumps at bay:

- Tweeze individual ingrown hairs and spot-treat each bump that's left behind with a dab of bump treatment.

- Prep your beard with a shave gel that contains aloe or menthol to lubricate, lift the hair, and soothe the skin.

- Stop skin irritation right away with a post-shave treatment that reduces the chance of inflammation ever occurring. A swipe of the hand with bump treatment prevents infection and hydrates the skin.

As for the matter of the chicken and the egg, I'll go with the chicken.
About the Author
By Will Williams, Bump Patrol's Director of Education and Licensed Master Barber. Visit Bump Patrol resource site for more shaving tips at www.BumpPatrol.com, and to learn about Will's Directional Shaving Method.
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