Whether your preferred method of hair removal is shaving, waxing, tweezing, or even using depilatory creams, something they all have in common is the ability to cause ingrown hairs. While these trapped hairs are annoying at best, there are some ways to get rid of stubborn ingrown hairs so you don't have to deal with painful bumps. After all, it's no fun to go digging with a pair of tweezers, especially when it could cause scarring or even infection (yikes).
So to find out the best ways to remove ingrown hairs that refuse to budge, I emailed with a few skin experts. Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, founder and director of Capital Laser & Skin Care and Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Dermatology at the George Washington University Medical Center; Noemi Grupenmager, founder of Uni K Wax Center; and Dr. Marnie Nussbaum, board-certified dermatologist and chief medical ambassador for Sebamed, all let me in on how to not only remove those stubborn ingrowns but also how to help prevent them in the first place. Here are their seven tips for how to make sure any ingrown hair comes out with ease, plus how to keep them from coming back:
One of the most important things you can do to help remove and prevent ingrown hairs, according to all three experts, is exfoliate. Dr. Nussbaum explains, "Regular, gentle exfoliation can remove flaky skin covering the follicular openings which cause ingrown hairs." For a physical option, Grupenmager recommends using a gentle scrub such as this Exfo Cream. If you prefer a chemical exfoliator though, Dr. Tanzi suggests regularly using a product that contains glycolic acid.
2. Use A Warm Compress
According to Dr. Tanzi, "Warm compresses can help soften an ingrown hair and make it easier to remove." So for stubborn ingrowns, run a washcloth under warm water, wring it out, and hold it against the spot for a few minutes before trying to remove the hair.
3. Try A Topical Treatment
If you need an extra step to help prevent ingrowns from forming, Grupenmager suggests trying a treatment that you can apply immediately after hair removal. This one soothes irritation and even helps correct dark spots that commonly form with ingrowns.
4. Razors With More Blades Are Best
The way you shave could also be causing ingrown hairs, says Dr. Nussbaum. To reduce the risk of razor burn and ingrowns, she suggests using a razor with multiple blades, shaving in short strokes, and not using too much pressure.
5. Avoid Tight Clothing
Tight clothing like skinny jeans and leggings can actually make ingrown hairs more likely to happen. This is why Grupenmager advises against tight fits, especially if you're more prone to ingrowns.
6. Don't Shave Between Waxes
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If you regularly wax as your primary form of hair removal, Grupenmager warns against shaving between appointments. This will only exacerbate any problem you may already have with bumps or ingrown hairs, she says.
7. Opt For Laser Hair Removal
Dr. Tanzi's number-one recommendation for those who regularly suffer from ingrown hairs is to try laser hair removal. She explains the reason this option is so helpful is because it thins ingrowns and also reduces inflammation.
Of course, if ingrown hairs continue to be a problem, be sure to talk to your dermatologist to come up with a treatment that works best for you.