We all know the feeling of ingrown hairs burrowing their way deep into our skin. It’s painful, uncomfortable, and just downright annoying. Essentially, the hair is curling back into the skin instead of coming through, so really the way to treat the hair is to treat the skin. Here are our favorite ways of dealing with ingrown hairs so that you can get you back to feeling silky smooth and focused on the important things in life!
If you have a really painful ingrown hair, the best thing you can do is leave it be. Often times we think we should dig it out with tweezers and try to mine it out. But that is the worst thing you can do. Not only is it painful, it breaks the skin and can cause infection and scarring. Give your ingrown hair some space, nine times out of ten it will find its way out on its own.
To alleviate the pain of an ingrown hair, press a warm compress against up it. Simply get a small towel, wet it, wring it out a bit, and warm it up in the microwave for one minute. The warmth will soothe the skin and pain, and start to open up the pores a little bit. This will leave your skin more receptive to our next and most important step: exfoliation!
Since ingrown hairs are hairs trapped under the skin, you can help to welcome them out by making your skin a place that’s easy for them to grow out of. The best way you can do this is by exfoliating, which will scrub away all the dead hairs and particles. By leaving your skin as clean and clear as it can be, not only will your pores be opened and invigorated, but the ingrown hairs themselves will have less to battle as they get up to the surface.
You can buy an exfoliating scrub, but we love this easy DIY version which is simply mixing sugar and coconut oil in a jar. You can also add coffee grounds if you want, which gives your scrub extra grit and an absolutely delicious smell. Who doesn’t love their legs smelling like a latte?
You can rub your exfoliant on by hand or with an exfoliating knit cloth. These cloths are made to give your skin an extra scrub, which we love (and feels so good). We love this 100% hand knit, organic cotton exfoliating cloth.
First, it should be said though that hair removal is not essential to maintaining ingrown hairs, and if you like growing out your body hair, power be to you! Because so many people do hair removal though, we want to make sure that if you’re doing so you have all the tools and knowledge to help you as it so directly influences your hair/skin health in relation to ingrown hairs.
There are so many methods of hair removal today, and ultimately the right way for you is the one you can afford and feel the most comfortable with.
A lot of people like to do laser on their most ingrown hair prone areas. Laser hair treatment is the best long term treatment, though you need at least 3-4 sessions for it to really last. While it can be expensive, there are some fabulous Groupon deals for laser treatment that make it no more expensive than a casual Sunday brunch.
I can say first hand I did this in my armpits, and it made a world of a difference. Laser treatment essentially vaporizes the hair follicle, and while this sounds scary it really feels like nothing more than a tiny prick (this was after the clinic used a light topical numbing medicine and ice pack on my skin for 30 mins). Laser greatly reduces the amount of hair, and makes the remaining hairs ultra thin and light. I still shave, but I only do so about every week and even then the hair is barely visible. Also, I haven’t had a single ingrown hair in that area since.
Another hair removal option is sugaring or waxing. The pros are: both of these options literally remove every single hair, greatly reduce ingrown hairs, keep you nearly 100% hair free for three to four weeks, and make your skin silkier than it has ever felt. The cons are: they are expensive, require consistent treatments, and are painful to many.
I was always too scared to wax, but I sugared consistently for a short time. Again, I found a great Groupon deal and was curious about it. I heard sugaring was much less painful than waxing, and that the sugaring process was better for the skin itself because it exfoliates the skin as it removes the hair (thanks to the sugar literally in the goop).
After trying it out, I found it was definitely still painful, but nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be. My skin was very pink for a day, but by the next evening it was back to its regular tone and was so silky smooth that I couldn’t help but flaunt around the house naked (my roommates weren’t home). It took care of all of my ingrowns, and my skin health felt fabulous while I continued treatments. Ultimately, my Groupon deal ran out and continuing to sugar was out of my budget. But if you can afford it and don’t find the process too painful, it’s a great option.
And finally, shaving. This is definitely the cheapest and easiest version of hair removal, but if you plan on shaving, definitely exfoliate first. This prepares your skin by making sure your pores are open and your skin is scrubbed clean of all dead hair and skin follicles, ensuring the best shave possible. That means those short little hairs have the least opportunity possible to curl back under!
A few shaving tips: Go with the grain, not against the grain. This probably seems antithetical to how you have always shaved. But doing this decreases the risk of skin irritation and razor bumps/burn. Again, skin health is everything when it comes to ingrown hairs. You might have to go over the same area twice in some places, but it’s worth it if that means your skin is in the best condition it can be. Also, men’s razors tend to give the best shave! Many women’s razors only have two blades, while men’s razors consistently have three blades (yes, there is sexism even in razor blade construction). Three blades ensure a closer cut and finer shave, and as you’re shaving with the grain this only helps to get every hair. Finally, before you shave make sure you’re using a fabulous shaving cream. We love Eos Shea Butter Lavendar Jasmine Shave Cream, which dispenses a luscious foam and is so ultra hydrating for the skin that it can be used on wet or dry skin. It’s packed with vitamins E & C, smells divine, and is very affordable.
After you exfoliate (and shave, if you’ve shaved), encourage your skin’s health with an ingrown hair concentrate serum.
Our favorite one is “Fur”. This oil buffs the skin post exfoliation, and helps to keep your skin smooth while encouraging those little hairs to be free. You can use this oil in the shower or after you dry off, and it can even be used on your face. It’s gynecologist test, plant-based, cruelty-free, and feels oh, so good. It’s also residue free and quick drying, so you don’t have to wait to get dressed like you might a thicker serum.
Another product we love for post exfoliating care is Jack Black Bump Fix Razor Rump & Ingrown Hair Solution. This product is incredibly smoothing and calming, and battles razor bumps and ingrowns while keeping your skin feeling ultra silky. It also continues to gently exfoliate your skin while preventing new ingrowns. It’s oil free which also makes it an excellent astringent for oily and acne-prone skin. Simply moisten a cotton pad to apply this concentrate and feel your skin turn silky smooth in seconds.
For daily skin maintenance, there are a couple of other skin serums you can use to keep those pesky ingrowns at bay.
The first is Nature’s Cure, which is meant for body acne but also does a wonderful job of cleaning the skin and drying out any and all oils. The salicylic acid helps to clear out the pores, which helps to maintain skin health and keep the roads clear for ingrown hairs to get out. I personally spray this on all ingrown hair-prone areas right after a shower.
Another option is pouring a little bit of water and tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Tea tree oil has marvelous anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties, which helps to reduce any swelling, redness, and inflammation you are experiencing. It’s the perfect way to help keep your skin calm and happy every day!
Ingrown hairs happen to all of us, so just be patient with those little trapped hairs and keep loving on your skin to help encourage them out! Some are gone in a day, some take much longer. If you suspect an infection or are in a lot of pain, call your doctor immediately. Otherwise, just keep on with the warm compresses, exfoliation, hair removal if that’s your thing, post exfoliation care, and daily maintenance treatment. As tedious as all of this might seem, keep it in a lense of self love. The better you treat your skin- the thing your whole body is literally wrapped up in- the more love you are giving to yourself. You’ll feel better, look better, and your silky smooth existence will keep you comfortable and smiling as you’re able to focus on the more important things in life!