SUN SPOTLIGHT ON: ZODI’S HAIR DESIGN
Owner: Ron Gray, Master Barber
6509 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19119
Appts: 11:00 AM-7:00 PM, Tuesday through Thursday; 11:00 AM-8:00 PM, Friday; 7:00 AM-7:00 PM Saturday
Styling, grooming and overall hair care for men, women and children, including natural hair, dreadlocks and twists, detailed hair braiding and straight razor shaves and trims
By Leah Fletcher
Most men have suffered from ingrown hairs or razor bumps, at one time, and a large percentage of them deal with the condition on a fairly routine basis. This is especially true especially true for African American men, according to Ron Gray, master barber and owner of Zodi’s Hair Design.
“Because black men have body hairs that are predominantly curly and wiry, shaved hair follicles tend to cure back and re-enter the skin as they grow, causing irritation and razor bums” explained Gray. Ingrown hair may also occur when hair coils beneath the skin surface and doesn’t fully emerge to the skin’s surface, possibly leading to bumps and possible infection.
This condition, which may be reoccurring, causes major discomfort in the beard and neck areas and can affect black men for years, says Gray, who operates his shop in the Mt Airy section of Philadelphia. While the condition might prompt some men to give up shaving altogether, the rationale being that by not having the hair, it doesn’t have a chance to grow back and cause razor bumps.
But in a society that prizes a clean shaven appearance, this is not the option for most black men. Instead, Gray, who specializes in straight razor shaves and trims, advises men to follow these simple grooming tips to keep skin smooth and refreshed, and correctly treat ingrown hairs.
- Always use a sharp razor blade and discard old blades after 3-4 uses. “You might think this is excessive, but dull razors force black men to go over the same area of skin again and again, increasing the chances of irritation and improperly cutting hair” noted Gray. This also goes for electric razors too, replace the blades every few months of use.
- Reduce the number of times you shave by shaving every other day. Giving the skin time to heal will allow hairs to grow straight through the skin’s surface, without forcing too-short hairs back into the skin. Frequent shaving too close to the skin will trap hairs inside the follicles.
- Exfoliate! Exfoliating with a gentle scrub to remove the top layer of dead skin cells and allow hairs to grow out more easily. “Exfoliating will also help soften skin, clear pores and even out patchy skin tones” said Gray, who has observed more men engaging in intensive skin care regimens.
- Many African American men benefit from using a single-blade razor. Gray discourages those suffering from razor bumps form using triple or quadruple razor systems. The closer the shave, the worse the razor bumps.
- Always shave in the direction of the hair growth, which reduces irritation and the likelihood of hair growing back into the skin. Don’t pull skin taut when shaving since this can also cause ingrown hair to form.
- Soften hairs before shaving by massaging warm water into the beard area and then applying a professional-grade, highly-lubricating shave cream. Allow it to sit on the face for a minute or two to completely coat the hairs before shaving.
- Follow a shave with an after shave lotion that contains hydrating ingredients like allow, witch hazel and tea tree extract to cut down on redness and discomfort. Stay away from products that contain alcohol since they can dry skin out and create an ashy appearance on black skin.
- Resist the urge to simply pluck ingrown hairs out. A new hair will just grow again and, and you will be facing the same exact problem.
- Most importantly, take your time shaving. Shaving slowly and with care can dramatically reduce nicks, cuts and abrasions that can aggravate razor bumps.
- If you are suffering from severe cases of inflammation or razor bumps, Gray advises that you talk to your doctor or dermatologist. They might offer treatments that might make you a candidate for electrolysis (a low –level current used to destroy follicles) or skin depilatories (chemical creams that soften and minimize hair growth).