Most people who shave or wax will, at some time, suffer the ‘pain and shame’ of an ingrown hair or two, but most won’t seek help. Lilianne Caron, the owner of Caronlab Australia, answers the questions you and your clients are afraid to ask.

What exactly is an ingrown hair?
To put it simply, an ingrown hair is a hair that does not emerge from the follicle but remains embedded in the skin, usually causing inflammation. Ingrown hairs can occur after hair removal when dead skin cells accumulate and form a papule which prevents hair growing underneath it from exiting the skin. The hairs can occur on any part of the body however are most common under the arms, bikini line, legs, chest and on the face/neck for men.

How common are ingrown hairs?
Anyone who has ever shaved or waxed will no doubt be familiar with ingrown hairs and well aware of the pain, irritation and embarrassment they cause. As a therapist, I’ve seen many ingrown hairs and the most memorable ones are the ones that have been squeezed, picked, plucked, dug out and cut at by frustrated clients looking for a solution.

Why do you think it is important for beauty therapists to discuss ingrown hairs with their clients?
No one wants to have ingrown hairs! They’re unsightly and often painful and itchy too. Why put a client through of all of this when solutions exist?

I have the feeling most therapists are scared of offending or embarrassing clients when they have ingrown hairs and therefore the client is left to figure out this pesky problem on their own. The truth of it is that ingrown hairs are just as important to talk about with clients as any other skin concern. Clients come to us for a professional/expert service and I believe that it is just as important to ensure their skin is as smooth, as it is hair-free.

Why do you think so many therapists avoid discussing the subject with their clients?
We always recommend treatments for common skin issues within a facial treatment (cleansers, toners or moisturisers) so why are we ignoring the obvious when it comes to ingrown hairs? From my experience, it comes down to the fear of pushing retail sales by the therapist – even though offering a solution to a common problem will make the client happier and more confident in your services. When it comes to a waxing treatment, some therapists feel that clients don’t want to be asked about buying any further products; however I feel we are here to offer a complete service to our clients no matter what the salon treatment, and that includes suggesting a solution to the treatment and/or prevention of ingrown hairs.

What is the best way to start a discussion about ingrown hairs with a client?
The first step is to ensure you retail some sort of ingrown hair treatment. It’s also a good idea to have some posters or information about the range you stock in the waiting area and treatment room as these can help start the conversation and/or make clients feel more at ease about the topic.

Secondly, chat to your client during their treatment. Sometimes it is easy to extract an ingrown hair safely. Talk through this process with them, explain what you are doing and perhaps inform them then of products you have available to prevent and treat ingrown hairs.

I always make a point of talking about treatment and prevention products to my clients and often they come back thanking me for getting them onto a product that has relieved them from their battles with ingrown hairs! It’s this client appreciation that makes me think that there are so many more lives that could gain a little relief if so many therapists were not so scared to broach the subject with their clients!

What are your best tips for therapists and their clients who want to avoid ingrown hairs? 

  1. Exfoliate daily. The removal of dead skin cells will aid the prevention of ingrown hairs as there will be less chance of the hair getting trapped under the skin.
  2. Do not touch. If the hair cannot easily be lifted with a pair of clean tweezers (without breaking the skin), leave it alone!
  3. Find the right product for your particular concern. Different products will give different results. If you’re a stickler for routine buy a product that will help in the prevention and elimination of ingrown hairs. If you’re someone who forgets to use a product daily, go for a treatment-only product designed to be used once an ingrown appears. Go for products in packaging that suit the area being treated – eg, if the ingrown hairs are on a small area of the body, a spot treatment is best but if they’re on a large area like the arms, legs, chest or back, a lotion, spray or serum is far better and more economical.
  4. Don’t be fooled by price. The most expensive treatments for ingrown hairs are not always the best (or at least any better). Always look for product reviews and testimonials and if possible ask for a sample first.
  5. Consider multi-tasking products. If you’re also suffering from other bumps, pustules and pimples a lot of ingrown hair treatments will often aid these concerns too. There are even some treatments out there that retard hair growth and there’s even some which ease the discomfort of waxing!

Caronlab Australia has been supplying beauty salons in Australia and around the world with superior salon waxes and accessories since 1979.  For more information visit www.caronlab.com.au


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