If you’ve ever had an ingrown hair, you’re well aware of how painful it can be. While you’re probably more concerned about them during swimsuit season, ingrown hairs can happen year-round. Some people are more susceptible to developing them—people with tightly coiled, curly hair are especially vulnerable—but even if your locks are pin straight, give these ingrown hair remedies a try so you can enjoy clear, beautiful skin.
What Is Ingrown Hair, Exactly?
You’ve all seen it before: a growing hair curls back or sideways and then gets trapped under your skin. It might look like a small red bump or pimple, but it’s an ingrown hair. They’re nasty little red bumps that can occur after shaving, waxing, and tweezing in the area where the hair has been removed. They can become infected and, if not properly treated, can also cause scarring, skin discoloration, and be quite painful.
According to the Mayo Clinic, shaving can make you more susceptible to ingrown hairs because your razor creates sharp edges on the hairs it shaves. You can reduce your risk by letting the warm water from your shower soften your hair first. The softer the hair, the easier it will be to pull from the root. Plucking and waxing can also lead to fragments of hair getting stuck under your skin. You might pull the hair too harshly or too high on the strand, breaking it and leaving a sharp edge. Instead, try pulling your hair gently and close to the root—you’ll have more control and a better chance of removing it directly from the follicle.
Ingrown Hair Remedies
Clean the Area Properly
Treat an ingrown hair as you would a pimple, by using over-the-counter products that contain benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. Don’t pick at or pop the ingrown hair—that can lead to scarring or a nasty infection. If you’ve already started picking at it and it has become irritated, apply a warm compress. The heat can help to ease pain and irritation, as well as soften the hair; then coat the area with an antibiotic cream. When the hair is soft, it’s less likely to irritate the surrounding skin. If your ingrown hair is especially stubborn, consult your doctor for the best course of action.
Scrub, Scrub, Scrub
Exfoliation removes dead skin cells that can clog your hair follicles, so doing it regularly (especially prior to hair removal) can decrease your chances of hair growing incorrectly. To exfoliate your skin, use a scrub that has microbeads, salt, or sugar, as the rougher texture helps slough away dead skin cells. Alternatively, if you have more sensitive skin, an exfoliant with willow bark extract can help remove dead skin without the abrasive texture, according to research published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. Apply the scrub with your hands or a clean washcloth in circular motions, taking care not to use too much pressure.
If you’re worried about the area becoming infected, opt for an exfoliant that contains eucalyptus essential oil, which has potential antibacterial properties, according to research from the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine.
Perfect Your Shaving Technique
Even if you’ve been shaving forever, you may still be doing it wrong. First, don’t store your razor in your shower or bath. The damp conditions can lead to rust on the razor, which can cause infections. Use shaving cream to minimize drag on your skin, and always shave in the same direction. Don’t attempt a crazy crisscross pattern, even if you think that it will help you get every hair. Shaving in several directions like that will actually increase your chances of developing an ingrown hair by irritating your skin.
Consider a Long-Term Solution
If these ingrown hair remedies haven’t worked and you’re still experiencing irritation, you may need to try a more permanent solution, like laser hair removal. The Elite+™ dual wavelength system inhibits hair growth by damaging the hair follicle, leading to permanent hair reduction. Plus, it can work on light or dark skin types! This is a stress-free way of dealing with unsightly ingrown hairs. Not only will you benefit from a long-term hair removal solution, but you also won’t have to worry so much about ingrown hairs!
Ingrown hairs affect everyone at some point, but armed with these tools, you can make sure you never have to deal with the unsightly red bumps ever again. Use these ingrown hair remedies and enjoy flaunting your beautiful skin.