The Best Exfoliators For Ingrown Hairs, According To An Expert

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Though ingrown hairs are typically experienced on the neck and bikini areas, ingrowns can pop up anywhere hair grows, says Anya Stassiy, PA-C, a dermatology physician assistant, and owner of High Point Medspa. She says the best exfoliators for ingrown hairs contain skin-safe chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid and glycolic acid. Deciding whether to go with a leave-on treatment, a scrub, or pads mostly comes down to personal preference. Similarly, Stassiy suggests treating any red, inflamed bumps with topical ointments containing benzoyl peroxide or retinoids.

What causes ingrown hairs?

According to Stassiy, "People get ingrown hairs because the skin heals faster over the growing hair than the hair itself. When the hair meets resistance from the overlaying skin, it continues to grow but instead curls inward. The body produces an inflammatory response, which causes a bump and redness trying to push the hair out to the surface.” So if you're prone to ingrown hairs, exfoliating products will help with both prevention and management.

How do you prevent ingrown hair?

To prevent ingrown hairs, you should shave skin when it's moist, and if you can, shave daily, because shaving itself is a form of exfoliation, which will help prevent ingrown hairs from popping up. Take care of your razor to avoid a dull blade, and don't use a razor with any more than three blades: "More blades in your razor will give a closer shave, but also more ingrown hairs," Stassiy says. Finally, she says switching to an electric razor (for your face) may help, too.

With that in mind, scroll on to shop six of the best products for ingrown hairs, from toners to scrubs to spot treatments and beyond.

Shop The Best Exfoliators For Ingrown Hairs

In a hurry? Here are five of the best exfoliators for ingrown hairs on Amazon.

  1. The Overall Best: Jack Black Bump Fix Razor Bump & Ingrown Hair Solution
  2. The Most Affordable: InstaNatural 7% Glycolic AHA Toner
  3. The Best Body Scrub: First Aid Beauty KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub
  4. The Best Facial Pads: QRxLabs Glycolic Acid 20% Resurfacing Pads
  5. The Best Oil: fur oil
  6. The Best Spot Treatment: Differin Acne Treatment Gel

The Expert

Anya Stassiy, PA-C is a dermatology physician's assistant, owner of High Point Medspa, and a dermatology physician assistant practicing in New Jersey.

1. The Overall Best Exfoliating Toner

— Also available on Kohls, $28

This Jack Black toner contains two key chemical exfoliants — salicylic acid and lactic acid — as well as skin-soothing ingredients like aloe, chamomile, and allantoin. It's fragrance-free, oil-free, and gentle (thanks to the addition of hydrating hyaluronic acid), so it shouldn't irritate sensitive skin. Apply it with a cotton pad anywhere from one to three times a day to keep your skin smooth and bump-free.

A Glowing Review: “It really does work. [...] It takes a week or two but it will dramatically reduce the incidence of ingrown hair/razor burns. Added bonus is that it will reduce the incidence of acne too. It's most noticeable when I stop using this product for a week or two. The razor burn returns.”

2. A More Affordable Alternative

— Also available on iHerb, $15

Here's another great leave-on exfoliant, but it's almost $10 cheaper. The exfoliating ingredients in here are glycolic and lactic acids, while hyaluronic acid helps restore hydration, vitamin C promotes a brighter complexion, and witch hazel, a natural astringent, provides more skin-tightening benefits. InstaNatural's toner is made almost entirely of natural ingredients and is Leaping Bunny-certified cruelty-free, too.

A Glowing Review: “I shave my head, and like a lot of people, I can get razor burn or bumps. I use this after I shave, two squirts, and no more razor burn, no more bumps. Saw a difference in 4-5 days.”

3. The Best Exfoliating Body Scrub

— Also available on Sephora, $30

Before shaving or waxing, use an exfoliating scrub to lift up the hairs and remove any layers of dead skin so the hairs can grow out and not in. You can also use your scrub a few days after shaving to keep ingrowns at bay. First Aid Beauty's KP Bump Eraser Body Scrub harnesses the power of physical (pumice buffing beads) and chemical exfoliants (lactic acid and glycolic acid), while skin-conditioners and antioxidants help keep skin feeling smooth and soft. It's fragrance-free, vegan, and cruelty-free, too.

A Glowing Review: “This stuff is gold in a bottle honestly, it’s the only scrub I’ve ever used that’s successfully kept away any ingrowns or bumps. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND!”

4. The Best Exfoliating Facial Pads

— Also available on Walmart, $25

These resurfacing pads from QRxLabs are a convenient, fuss-free way to exfoliate your skin. Infused with 20% pure glycolic acid, these pads are effective at eliminate ingrown hairs as well as reduce the appearance of scars and bumps. The pads are also packed with antioxidants such as vitamins B5, C, and E. While you can use them on your body, they're technically designed for use on your face. Be sure to always layer on the SPF, as your skin will become more sensitive to UV rays when using this product.

A Glowing Review: “I am using this product for a spot on my jawline that has a chronic problem with ingrown hairs. It has really helped the problem and is beginning to help smooth over the spot of chronic inflammation. Recommend for ingrown hair problems.”

5. The Best Exfoliating Oil

— Also available on Dermstore, $52

A bit thicker in consistency than the toners on this list, this exfoliating oil from fur is suitable for all of the body to treat and prevent stubborn ingrown hairs. Apply one drop a day to any area such as your armpits, chest, legs, or bikini area using the convenient dropper. Additionally, jojoba and grapeseed oils are infused in this vegan formula to help also hydrate and moisturize your skin.

A Glowing Review: “I used to have the worst ingrown hairs on my bikini line and after using this product, they have substantially decreased (even my waxer said so too). I bought a little exfoliating brush to go along with it too.”

6. The Best Spot Treatment To Heal Existing Ingrowns

— Also available on Ulta, $18

"Differin gel (which used to be a prescription medication and is now available over the counter) is a retinoid that will help to exfoliate the skin," explains Stassiy, who suggests using it on any bumps or ingrowns that have become red, irritated, or inflamed. Since it's primarily designed to fight acne, you'll get a ton of use out of this little tube — use it to clear breakouts and clogged pores, too!

A Glowing Review: “Used this on an ingrown hair that I had. Went away in about under a week. The description of the product did not exaggerate its purpose. Great buy!!!”

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