Whether you're shaving, waxing, or tweezing, your hair is going to continue to grow back, and sometimes, that can lead to irritating ingrowns. But don't worry: there are products that can help with that. The best treatments for ingrown hairs work to gently exfoliate skin and/or calm inflammation, so look for products that contain AHAs or BHAs and soothing botanicals — but there are also things you can do to prevent future ingrowns from popping up in the first place. Keep reading to find out how.
According to Nad’s Brand Ambassador and beauty expert Natalie Ismiel, this is exactly what you should do to prevent future ingrown hairs: One, cleanse your skin with a mild, fragrance-free soap before waxing or shaving to ensure that your skin is free of any skin-clogging oils or moisturizers. Always exfoliate before hair removal. “It removes dead skin cells that block the hair follicle, the cause of undesirable ingrown hairs. Exfoliating also boosts circulation, encourages cell regeneration, and improves skin tone and appearance," Ismiel notes. After shaving or waxing, wait 24 hours before exfoliating your skin again, but do plan to exfoliate daily after that to keep hairs from getting trapped.
If you just waxed, wait a few hours before applying any fragranced products or makeup that may irritate your freshly waxed skin. Some fabrics can irritate newly waxed skin, too, so opt for light cotton, as opposed to lace or nylon, and skip too-tight clothing ("friction from wearing tight clothing restricts the hair from pushing out of the skin, causing it to grow internally," Ismiel explains). She also recommends that immediately after waxing, you avoid working out, soaking in a tub or jacuzzi, or sitting in high heat, such as a sauna, due to the area being sensitive.
As for what to do if you already have an ingrown hair? Your first step should be to wash with a gentle exfoliator to help release the trapped hair, but if the area has become red and irritated, make sure you apply a targeted topical solution, such as one with salicylic acid, to "loosen the buildup of dead skin to allow the new hair to grow through."
Whether you're looking to prevent ingrown hairs or heal one that's currently inflamed, scroll on for the best ingrown hair treatments you can buy over the counter.
1. Best Cleanser
Use a gentle cleanser on your skin, like this LDR by Baysyx Glycolic Exfoliating Cleanser, which contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, and salicylic acid to remove dead skin cells and keep hair follicles from getting blocked (which causes ingrown hairs). Though technically formulated for your face, you could use it anywhere on your body to help prevent ingrowns from popping up. It's great for treating acne and blackheads, too!
2. Best Oil
The cult-favorite Fur Oil counts Emma Watson among its fans — and though its uses are nearly endless, the brand touts it as a particular savior for preventing ingrowns and promoting soft hair and smooth skin when used on the pubic area (or anywhere else you choose to remove hair). You could also use it as a cuticle softener, split end treatment, and bath oil.
3. Best Ointment
The main ingredient in BikiniZone Medicated Creme is lidocaine, which is used as a topical treatment for minor pain and itching. The formula also contains aloe, camphor, salicylic acid, and lactic acid to provide some moisturizing and exfoliating benefits, too. Apply immediately after your hair removal session to reduce the risk of redness, irritation, and ingrown hairs.
4. Best Wipes
These handy, single-use pads contain an AHA (glycolic acid) and BHA (salicylic acid) to exfoliate skin and unclog pores, which, as you'll know by now, is the key to preventing ingrown hairs. They're also formulated with the natural astringent witch hazel, as well as soothing ingredients like niacinimide, oat extract, and green tea. Use them before shaving or waxing, then wait 12 to 24 hours after hair removal to start using them again to keep ingrowns at bay.
5. Best Serum
Dealing with red, irritated, ingrown hairs? Use the topical Nad’s Ingrow Solution with salicylic acid to loosen the buildup of dead skin. There's also soothing aloe vera and chamomile in the formula, which work to quickly reduce the appearance of redness, says Ismiel. You can use this on all areas of your body, including the sensitive bikini line, until your skin feels better.
6. Best Tweezers
Obviously, be very, very careful picking or tweezing your ingrown hairs, or you could wind up causing an infection or scar. But if you can easily and safely grab your ingrown hair, the precise, sharp shape of these Razor Bump Co. tweezers will help you more easily capture the hair and pull it from your skin. Use a warm compress first to soften your skin, and always work with clean hands and clean tools. If you have an ingrown hair that's become infected, see your doctor who can help you safely remove it without scarring.
7. The Best Treatment For Ingrown Hairs On Your Face
Specially formulated for the face, Jack Black's Bump Fix Razor Bump & Ingrown Hair Solution contains the exfoliants salicylic and lactic acids, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid, soothing chamomile, and anti-inflammatory allantoin. Use this toner after shaving to reduce redness and prevent ingrown hairs and blemishes. You can apply it up to three times daily, depending on your skin type, but wait 30 minutes after shaving before doing so.
Natalie Ismiel, Nad’s Brand Ambassador and beauty expert.