The Great Ingrown Hair Conspiracy

Uh, why don’t celebrities have them?!

07.20.16
IngrownHair Man Repeller Feature

If someone told me that Beyoncé’s song “***FLAWLESS” was actually a four-minute long description of her bikini line, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash.

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Just look at an un-retouched picture of Beyoncé in a leotard–or any female celebrity in a swimsuit, for that matter–and you’ll see what I mean. Study your subject’s inner thigh and pelvic region. Go ahead! Don’t be shy. Look closely and tell me what you see.

Oh, just some skin. Just some skin?!

Well, cue the alarm bells, pervy Nancy Drew, because “just some skin” is not a universally applicable description for a woman’s bikini line.

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My bikini line looks more like…stucco walls. It doesn’t matter if I’m 48 hours post-wax or two weeks out. I’m plagued with an unrelenting colony of ingrown hairs and scars from the ghosts of ingrowns past, resulting in a motley constellation of pinkish dots that decorate the borders of all my bikini bottoms like sad notebook doodles.

I seem to be particularly ingrown-prone, but I’m certainly not the only sufferer. Any time I bring up the topic of bikini ingrowns to a group of female friends, family members or coworkers, I’m greeted with groans of empathy (a.k.a. in-groans of empathy! Ba-dum-chh.)

Given the apparent ubiquity of this affliction, ingrowns should be a non-issue–just another aesthetically uninviting yet logistically unavoidable physical characteristic. Like heel calluses or belly button lint.

Except…what about Beyoncé? Miley Cyrus? Lady Gaga? Rihanna? Helen effing Mirren? We’ve all seen pictures of these women’s bikini lines, whether in high-definition concert screen close-ups or creepily voyeuristic beach vacation shots in The Daily Mail. The angles aren’t always flattering–but the bikini lines? Totally ***FLAWLESS.

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 30: Miley Cyrus speaks onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MTV1415/WireImage)

The way I see it, there are two plausible explanations for this clear discrepancy between the bikini lines of famous people and those of the masses. Either celebrities are commissioning celestial creatures to come pluck their pubic hairs out one by one and massage each freshly emptied pore with a thimble of unicorn saliva, or…there is a Great Ingrown Hair Conspiracy afoot.

Since unicorn saliva is super hard to come by these days, I’m banking on explanation #2.

I know what you’re thinking right now: these celebrities have perfect bikini lines because they did laser hair removal. They paid thousands of dollars for a professional to direct a concentrated beam of light at each of their hair follicles, thus killing them and permanently eliminating the problem of ingrown hairs forever and ever amen.

Well, I’m calling B.S. on that assumption. Based on conversations with women who have paid for this very service, I know for a fact that laser hair removal doesn’t always permanently eliminate hair growth. And if the hair is still growing, ingrowns are still a factor.

It’s possible that every time a woman reaches high-profile celeb status, she receives a Paperless Post from her country’s leader inviting her to a classified convention at which the secret to eliminating ingrown hairs is finally revealed. But just in case the secret lurks among us commoners, I decided to do some crowdsourcing.

To start, I investigated a juicy bikini line maintenance rumor overheard at Man Repeller HQ: Apparently strippers don’t wax–they shave. I hate bikini waxes with a fanatical passion, so the prospect of solving my ingrown woes by ditching this medieval practice in favor of a pain-free razor blade infused my entire being with unadulterated joy. But I was a little nervous about negating the benefits from my consistent waxing routine (e.g. sparser hair). As a precaution, I vetted this concern with Kavita Rawat, an esthetician at Eve Salon in NYC with over 12 years of waxing experience. Alas, she confirmed my fears: “With shaving, you get razor bumps and ingrowns and sometimes get cut. With waxing you avoid most of these while also reducing hair growth and having your hair grow back softer.” Does waxer trump stripper? I’m not sure. But I decided to stick with my regular waxing routine for the time being.

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If you’re curious where waxing ranks from 1-10 on my Ingrown Prevention Success Scale (patent pending), I’d give it a solid 4. Definitely room for improvement.

Smooth bikini lines seem like a part of the ballerina aesthetic, too, so I asked for advice from former New York City Ballet dance and founder of NYC’s Refine Method, Brynn Putnam. Instead of shaving, Putnam recommended tackling my post-waxing ingrowns with regular exfoliation–specifically Dr Lancer’s “The Method: Body Polish” or Stridex pads, which many of her dancer friends use. I went out and bought both of these items immediately. She also divulged that her friend who is a Vegas showgirl swears by stick deodorant post waxing or shaving. I already own deodorant. Eureka.

I’ve been using all three of these products in tandem for the past few weeks, and I do think they’ve helped. Ingrown Prevention Success Scale ranking: 6.

But “helped” isn’t what I’m going for here. I want my bikini line to look perfect. Like the skin of an airbrushed baby, you know? I decided to get down to business and glean wisdom from someone with legitimate medical expertise in the epidermal arena: a dermatologist, Dr. Melinda Longaker.

“Exfoliants (physical and chemical) only help a little by roofing the hairs as they grow in. Once a hair is ingrown and snaking under the surface of the skin, only laser or tweezing will help,” said Dr. Longaker. “Laser hair removal is the only way to look like Beyoncé and you can bet that every celebrity is virtually hairless due to laser.”

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Despite my former misgivings, I was mentally Yelping laser hair removal places near my apartment when she added, “One caveat is that sometimes laser doesn’t seem to work. In that case, if the technician is experienced, it may be due to a hormonal imbalance–often Spironolactone can help in these cases.”

And there you have it. Dr. Longaker basically confirmed what the entire universe has always assumed: Queen Bey is blessed. She’s one of the Chosen People with perfect hormones for whom laser hair removal works like a charm, and I? I am simply a plebeian ingrown sufferer with as-yet undetermined hormone (im)balance in search of concrete answers, preferably ones that don’t involve spending thousands of dollars on an uncertainty.

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But now it’s your turn to talk. How do you deal with ingrown hairs? Are you pro-laser? Pro-unicorn saliva? Pro-conspiracy theory? I think this one goes higher up than the moon landing hoax.

Feature collage by Lily Ross.

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