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We all know the symptoms: the itchiness, the redness, those unsightly bumps. If you’re experiencing any one or a combination of these issues, there’s a pretty good chance you’re dealing with ingrown hair, or razor bumps, as they’re commonly known. It’s an annoying condition, to say the least, but the good news is that it’s fairly easy to treat at home, without breaking the bank. All you need are the right tools for the job and a little know-how, and that’s where we come in.
What causes ingrown hair?
Pesky ingrown hairs can happen to anyone, but as Mayo Clinic explains, your chances of getting them are higher if you shave, tweeze, or wax your body hair. Commonly found on the arms, legs, and pubic region, ingrowns occur when hair “grows back into the skin.” This is more likely to happen if you have curly or coarse hair, which is more prone to curlicue back onto itself and re-enter the epidermis.
Other factors can also contribute to this unpleasant condition. A hormone imbalance, for instance, can be a contributing factor, as it may cause an increase in hair growth.
In addition, an excess of dead skin can be a major reason behind ingrowns. Such a buildup can be caused by bad exfoliation habits, but also due to age. As we get older, our glands begin to produce less oil and our skin becomes increasingly dry. When that dry, flaky skin builds up on the surface, it can block hair follicles, thus forcing the hair to grow back into the skin.
How can you treat ingrown hair?
First things first: Do not pick at or try to remove an ingrown hair on your own. Doing so can cause additional irritation or, in the most severe cases, infection. Instead, it’s a good idea to revamp your shaving routine. Start with some warm water and use a lubricating shaving product. You’ll then want to use a sharp razor with a single or double blade, as opposed to a triple blade, since they won’t cut hair too close to the skin.
You should also refrain from pulling your skin taut while shaving, always shave in the direction your hair grows, and rinse yourr blade after each pass, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Alternatively, you can stop shaving, tweezing, and waxing altogether. Before taking such drastic measures, however, we recommend trying some of these at-home remedies.
The Best Products for Ingrown Hair
To get the best results for nixing ingrown hair, you’ll want to use the best tools, and these products are it. They’ve all been specifically designed to combat the problem before, during, or after hair removal. Keep reading for FIRST for Women’s picks for the best products for ingrown hair.
Best Ingrown Hair Gel
Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment
Where to buy: $34, Sephora
Two key ingredients for fighting ingrowns are glycolic and salicylic acids, as they penetrate deep into your pores to “break down the mixture of sebum and dead skin cells that cause obstructions to hairs.” Salicylic acid's anti-inflammatory properties also work to banish redness and itching. This Ingrown Hair Treatment from Anthony makes use of both types to deliver a powerful formula (you might feel a mild tingling sensation) that exfoliates, moisturizes, and prevents ingrown hair from coming back. Potent-yet-delicate enough for all skin types, this treatment can be used daily until your skin clears up, then every other day to prevent new ingrowns from forming.
Best Cream for Ingrown Hair
Malin + Goetz Ingrown Hair Cream
Where to Buy: $22, Amazon
Malin + Goetz is known for crafting “uncomplicated luxury skincare” that’s sensitive enough for all skin types but is also extremely effective. The brand's Ingrown Hair Cream, which can be used on your face or your body, is no exception. Its chamomile extract and chemical compound allantoin quell irritation caused by hair removal as glycolic and salicylic acid work to gently exfoliate your skin, preventing future ingrown hairs. Vitamins E and B5, meanwhile, offer antioxidant and hydrating benefits. Made right in New York, this cream is also 100 percent cruelty-free and suitable for use after shaving, waxing, electrolysis, or epilation.
Top-Rated Ingrown Hair Treatment
Tend Skin Solution
Where to Buy: $22.96, Amazon
With a 4.5-star rating and an "Amazons’ Choice" seal of approval, Tend Skin Solution is one of the best-rated ingrown hair products on the market. Made in the USA, it’s crafted to combat razor bumps, burns, and redness as it simultaneously keeps ingrowns at bay. Designed for sensitive skin, it can be safely used on any part of your body — just be sure to clean and thoroughly dry your skin before application. Tend Skin recommends applying this solution right before shaving, as well post-shave to keep skin smooth and moisturized. As they put it, applying it “religiously twice a day (even when you are not shaving) will give you the best results.”
Gushed one happy buyer: “Finally, something that works!”
Best Razor for Ingrown Hair
Oui Rose Gold Single-Blade Razor
Where to Buy: Oui the People, $75
Address ingrown hairs before they even happen by splurging on the right type of razor. Oui the People's luxe rose gold shaver is “designed to glide gently over your skin” to remove hair without tugging or pulling. That means you'll get a close shave with a smaller chance of trapped hairs. Its single-blade style may admittedly take some getting used to, but once you’ve figured out the right amount of pressure (minimal) and angle (the razor should be at a 30-degree angle to your skin), you’ll never turn back. It can be used on any part of your body and is also suitable for sensitive skin.
Best Shaving Cream for Ingrown Hair
Fur Shave Cream
Where to Buy: $28, Revolve
A good shave requires a good lubricating cream, and Fur's new Shave Cream is exactly that. Fur was launched in 2016 with a mission to create natural products that keep skin perfectly smooth and hair-free. Its latest buy has a light, whipped texture, is dermatologically- and gynecologically- tested, and is gentle enough for all skin types. The key ingredients here include aloe that will allow your razor to glide smoothly, olive oil to hydrate and protect your skin from razor burn, and marshmallow root extract, which has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe. That equates to “maximum glide" and minimal — actually, make that nonexistent — razor burn.
Best Ingrown Hair Spot Treatment
Fur Ingrown Concentrate
Where to Buy: $28, ULTA
This all-natural oil is one of Fur’s best-selling items, and with good reason! It's the ultimate spot treatment, banishing irritating ingrown hairs and bumps with its coconut oil, which softens ingrowns to help them exit the skin, and chamomile extract, a soothing antioxidant. Simply use the provided exfoliating finger mitt on problem areas while in the shower, then apply a few drops of the oil. It can also be used daily as a preventative measure.
Best Exfoliating Gloves for Ingrown Hair
Earth Therapeutics Charcoal Exfoliating Gloves
Where to Buy: $9, ULTA
Seeing as exfoliating is one of the most powerful tools in your ingrown-fighting arsenal, a good exfoliation glove should be at the top of your shopping list. Earth Therapeutics' charcoal exfoliating gloves are a great buy that ring in under $10 and promise to “gently scrub away the outer layers of dead skin to unclog pores." In doing so, they'll also be helping to prevent ingrown hairs. Infused with medicinal charcoal, they'll cleanse your skin of impurities and stimulate good circulation. Simply wet them prior to use with your regular shower gel.
As one happy customer noted, “My skin is clear and smooth and getting better and better each day! AlI will love these purifying gloves!”
Best Ingrown Hair Treatment Pads
Bliss Bump Attendant Pads
Where to Buy: $22, ULTA
Creams and oils aren’t your only option when it comes to fighting ingrown hair: These Bliss Bump Attendant pads are a great, mess-free alternative. This professional-grade, single-use treatment is the same one used in Bliss Spas around the country to gently exfoliate skin and prevent bumps and ingrowns. It incorporates both salicylic and glycolic acids — two key ingredients for fighting hairs that grow under the skin — to keep your epidermis smooth, hydrated, and itch-free. These pads are also gentle enough to use every day, though bliss does recommend waiting for 12 hours after shaving (or 24 hours after waxing) before using them on problem areas.
Best Body Scrub for Ingrown Hair
Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish Exfoliator
Where to Buy: $39, Sephora
A great way to exfoliate skin and banish dead cell buildup is to add a good body scrub to your shower routine. Fresh's Brown Sugar Body Polish Exfoliator is an award-winning option that uses real brown sugar crystals (which won’t dry you out) to help remove dead, dull skin. Not only will it make your skin feel ultra-soft and moisturized, the deep exfoliation will open up your pores, so hair will be less likely to become stuck underneath its surface. Simply apply a dollop to wet skin and massage gently. Note that it can make your shower floor slippery, however, as it contains a number of oils.
"It makes skin feel so soft and pampered, it’s worth it," assured one reviewer.
Best Dry Brush for Ingrown Hair
Where to Buy: $20, Mio Skincare
Dry body brushing comes with a long list of benefits. As Mio skincare expert Katie Neal explained to Elle, “As we grow older, our skin becomes less efficient at shedding layers of dead skin cells, but dry body brushing is fantastic at exfoliating these dead skin cells away.” Mio's body brush, which is made of all-natural boar bristles, can also unclog pores, help combat ingrown hairs, fight cellulite, and leave your skin feeling ultra-soft. And that’s not all! As Legology founder Kate Shapland noted to the publication, dry body brushing also helps “promote your lymph, helping your body metabolize toxins more efficiently, discourage fluid retention and cellulite, and soften and tone your skin. The benefits are immediate and lasting.”
All of that for just $20? Sold.