Why Black Men Struggle With Ingrown Hairs?

Why Black Men Struggle With Ingrown Hairs?

Yes, it's hard to look at ingrown hairs without picking, pulling & poking at your face but getting rid of ingrown hairs this way can damage your skin.  Ingrown hairs are a constant struggle for black men. 

What Causes Ingrown Hairs? 

One of the leading causes of ingrown hairs is shaving against the grain of the hair.  Although this gives you a closer and smoother shave, the hair shaft grows beneath the skin instead of exiting out of the pores.  You must avoid shaving in the opposite direction of the hair growth pattern at all costs. For black men, because the hairs are coarse and coiled, they continue to grow beneath the skin without breaking, thus causing pseudofolliculitis.    

Shaving too often can put stress on the face causing damage to your skin.  When you shave 3-4 times a week, the skin becomes inflamed with symptoms of irritation with feelings of burning, tingling, and tightness making the skin sensitive and tingling, burning, or even redness.    Every time you shave, you compromise the integrity of the skin; therefore preparing the skin before shaving is non-negotiable.  The razor or blade should never touch your skin directly without applying products before you shave.   Properly preparing the skin can help save your skin and reduce the appearance of ingrown hair.  

Yes, shaving is a form of manual exfoliating, removing the top layer of dead skin, the epidermis, which regulates the skin's moisture.  Although shaving offers a method to remove dead skin cells, it does not unclog pores or remove dirt, oils, or debris.  Dead skin cells block the follicles leading to bumps and swollen skin.   Shaving should not take the place of using exfoliant products that are formulated to break down dead skin cells and encourage cell renewal.  

How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Knowing how to prevent ingrown hairs from forming is as important as getting rid of them. Ingrown hairs can appear anywhere hair grows, not just on the face. They are common in shaved areas such as the back, legs, groin, buttocks, and underarms. 

Shaving with the grain of the hair, preparing your skin for shaving,  and having resting time between shaves can help prevent pseudofolliculitis.   

To get ahead of pseudofolliculitis, implement a pre-shaving routine and post-shaving practices.  Having a grooming regimen that's inclusive of skincare is essential.  

Foams, gels, and oils are a good consistency to offer protection to the skin to lessen the friction of the blade or razor touching the face directly.  Following up with an aftershave, such as a hydrating gel or serum, is a must to soothe and rehydrate the skin.  Effective skincare that is reliable and formulated for black men is essential.  

Following up with a cold compress or ice cubes closes the pores after shaving to help alleviate redness and lock in moisture to protect the skin.   

These steps not only aid in preventing ingrown hairs but also guide in adequately reducing the occurrence. 

Knowing this issue doesn't have to be a permanent part of your image is essential.  There are various treatments available that can help black men get rid of ingrown hair. 

If you find it challenging to seek the assistance of a medical professional or licensed skin specialist, here is a guide to properly remove ingrown hairs without causing blemishes.  

Please don't dig at your skin before reading this. 

How to Properly Remove Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs can be painful and unsightly to look at however, removing ingrown hairs should be done correctly and with caution to prevent blemishing the skin.  While extracting ingrown hairs is a tedious process, there is a way to properly get rid of ingrown hairs without damaging the skin.  It's not an easy DIY task, but it should be easy to do yourself with patience.  Although I don't suggest this method if you must, here is a guide to properly remove ingrown hairs.  

One effective method for removing ingrown hairs is to use an activated charcoal sponge daily. The activated charcoal acts like a magnet, drawing out impurities and safely extracting the ingrown hairs from underneath the skin. To alleviate inflammation, applying a clay mask like bentonite or kaolin can help heal any swollen bumps.

Use a hot towel or face steamer to open the pores and soften the hair shaft.  The steam will open the pores, loosen dead skin cells, and hydrate the hair, thus preventing breakage.  To extract the ingrown hair, it is vital to ensure that the skin is damp and soft to the touch to bring the hair to the surface. Place your smallest finger on the opposite side of the infected area and firmly push up, being careful not to force it.  If the hair doesn't come out, you can repeat the steam or hot towel method, using Q-Tips on each side of the area.  Once the hair pops out, gently grip it with tweezers and pull it out as close to the skin as possible to avoid the hair from snapping. When the hair has been appropriately dislodged, you should see a bulb at the end, indicating you have successfully pulled out the shaft.  

If nothing happens after attempting to leave it, do not continue to try to force it out.  Wait another day and repeat the process.  Removing ingrown hairs can be more accessible using a cleanser containing chemical exfoliants. Ingrown hairs can become trapped because of the build-up of dead skin cells, causing them to grow inward. Consistent exfoliation can aid in removing ingrown hairs from beneath the skin's surface, allowing for proper extraction.  

The Reason Black Men Struggle Ingrown Hairs 

Not using the correct blade or razor is crucial in black men's struggle with ingrown hairs.   Although prepping the skin with a pre-shave is necessary to avoid hair becoming ingrown, using the right blade and razor is just as important.  I find not using skincare products causes trouble for the skin when shaving, and not using the right razor blade creates a problem for the hair.   Having the right edge and angle are ways to prevent ingrown hairs.  Investing in quality razors and blades will make a difference in reducing the chance of ingrown hairs. For black men, the straight razor would be my highest recommendation. However, safety razors are more practical for home use. 

Below find a few suggestions for luxury razor brands for men with coarse and thicker facial hair textures.   


Naked Armor Striagh_Razor


Genesis RazorOne_Blade_Razor

Bevel TrimmerBevel_Hair_Trimmer


Choosing a razor, blade, or trimmer best suited for your needs can be costly; however, getting advice before purchasing can save time and money.  Working with your barber and a licensed skincare professional is the first approach to getting you pointed in the right direction.  Ensure your barber and esthetician are open to working collectively with you as their client.  Keep in mind that barbers specialize in the hair of cutting, styling, trimming, and facial hair grooming.  Barbers are not licensed cosmetologists or estheticians unless they have additional schooling in these areas. 




1. International J Cosmetic Science, 2016 June
Pseudofolliculitis barbe:  understanding the conditions and roles of facial
grooming, J Gray, AJ McMichael https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27212468/







Share Tweet Pin it
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.