Getting the perfect shave is truly a task. Whether you have to maneuver through the jungle gym that’s a shower or carefully follow the progress of a facial trim in the mirror, ensuring that you reach every pesky hair is no easy feat.
Add the potential for ingrown hairs to the mix, and removing body hair can seem like an impossible adventure.
Thankfully, skin care experts including Dr. Shilesh Iyer, board-certified dermatologist at New York Dermatology Group and aesthetician Ashley White, have come to the rescue, offering their best tips and favorite products to both prevent and deal with ingrown hairs.
What causes ingrown hairs?
Before getting down to the art of a proper shave, Dr. Iyer explains what causes someone to get ingrown hairs.
They’re a result of hairs curling or getting trapped under the skin, he says. In some cases, a lack of exfoliation, a hormonal imbalance, or genetics — such as dense, coarse hair — can lead to or increase the risk of ingrown hairs.
However, just because you experience ingrown hairs doesn’t mean they have to stick around. Iyer suggests first changing up your shaving habits.
“Pre-cleanse with warm water and use a lubricating shave product,” he says. “Use a sharp razor with a single or double blade because they won’t cut the hairs as short.”
Along with checking whether your blade has gone dull, he recommends shaving in the direction of the hair and avoiding cutting the hair too close.
Add those tips to your shaving repertoire and then stock up on the products below to fight back against ingrown hairs.
1. Fur Ingrown Concentrate
Bid farewell to unwanted bumps with a few drops of this dermatologist- and gynecologist-tested concentrate.
Made of natural ingredients including coconut oil and tea tree oil, Fur’s Ingrown Concentrate moisturizes skin and reduces irritation caused by existing ingrown hairs. Applied before or after you bathe, the concentrate can be used daily or as needed.
Online reviewers said the product led to smoother skin in as little as one week, and many used the concentrate on multiple areas including their face, legs, and pubic area.
White noted the product’s gentle ingredients are specifically formulated for use on pubic hair and those with sensitive skin. However, some people may have an adverse reaction to certain ingredients, even if they’re natural, so always do a patch test on your arm first.
- coconut oil (listed 1st) for moisturizing and softening ingrown hairs
- tamanu oil (listed 11th) to soften skin and provide skin with healing antioxidants
- vegan and free of phthalates, parabens, silicones, and artificial fragrances and color
2. PFB Vanish + Chromabright
Add this double-duty beauty item to your shelf if you want to fight off ingrown hairs and brighten your skin.
PFB Vanish + Chromabright should be used after showering, and with ingredients including salicylic acid and glycolic acid, the roll-on product works to unclog pores and brighten areas of scarring caused by previous ingrown hairs or nicks from shaving.
Many online reviews commend the product for treating dark scarring, but some users did warn that it can take time to see any results. Some also reported noticing a decrease in skin bumps in a matter of weeks, but others said it took skin a few months to display any change.
White says this is the number one product she recommends to clients, as it’s safe enough for use on all skin types — as always, do a patch test and use caution when applying near your pubic area.
- salicylic acid (listed 10th) and glycolic acid (listed 11th) for clearer pores and exfoliated skin
3. Gurin GF-110 Face and Body Ultra Clean Brush
Treat yourself and your skin to the softness of the Gurin GF-110 Face and Body Brush.
As ingrown hairs can be caused by clogged follicles, this brush is perfect for clearing up skin pre-shave. Additionally, the microdermabrasion brush can be used to clear skin of scarring left behind from ingrown hairs.
Plus, ingrown hairs aren’t the only problem this brush can solve — it’s great for reducing pore size and wrinkles, too.
Be warned, some online reviewers felt the brush didn’t pack enough power, but others enjoyed the gentle speed and softness of the brush heads. Either way, you should feel exfoliated and refreshed after use.
- four brushes of various sizes for use on the face and body
- waterproof and cordless
4. Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment
Both men and women praised this product in online reviews, noting it was gentle enough to use for a facial shave and on the bikini area. Along with stopping ingrown hairs from returning, the treatment is infused with willowherb and lavender to soothe irritated skin.
The treatment can be used daily, but it may take up to four weeks to see results. It’s best applied after shaving and before bed to soothe dry skin. Make sure to do a patch test first and stop use if it causes any irritation. Use caution when applying near the bikini line or pubic area.
- glycolic acid (listed 4th) and salicylic acid (listed 8th) to remove dead skin and prevent future ingrown hairs
5. The Rose Gold Single-Blade Razor
The $75 price tag of this single-blade razor might seem excessive, but based on the feedback of online reviewers, it could be worth the splurge.
Fans of the razor said it gave them the “closest shave I’ve ever had,” and multiple customers praised the product for saving their skin from ingrown hairs.
On their website, OUI touts that the razor is specifically weighted and balanced to give you a close shave. And while some razors use multiple blades, OUI reports their single blade skims hair at the surface, which prevents ingrown hairs from occurring.
Oh, and it’s probably the prettiest razor we’ve ever seen.
- single-weighted blade prevents ingrown hairs from occurring
- touted for sensitive skin and curly hair
6. Earth Therapeutics Charcoal Exfoliating Gloves
Proper exfoliation of the skin is key in ingrown hair prevention.
Lather up these gloves with your favorite soap and then wash away dead skin and clear out pores before shaving. As White explains, “Keeping skin exfoliated prevents skin from growing over ingrown hairs. Exfoliating will help prevent hair from curling back or growing sideways into skin.”
The affordable price point is reason enough to add the gloves to your cart, but online reviewers also noted the durability of the gloves and said their skin felt softer after one use.
- infused with medical charcoal to clear out pores
- skin grows softer with repeat use
7. Jack Black Razor Bump and Ingrown Hair Solution
From preventing ingrown hairs to fighting acne, Jack Black Razor Bump and Ingrown Hair Solution was made to nearly do it all.
Along with the inclusion of salicylic acid, the product includes organic green tea extract, organic chamomile extract, and willowherb extract — all to soothe and moisturize skin irritated by shaving. It works best on the face, neck, and chest but may be too harsh for the bikini line or pubic area.
Online reviews are mostly positive with customers noting it worked after one use, and that it helped prevent ingrown hairs on the leg area. However, it may cause irritation for those with sensitive skin so always do a patch test first.
- salicylic acid (listed 4th) and lactic acid (listed 5th) exfoliate the skin, which reduces the appearance of ingrown hairs and razor bumps
- aloe vera (listed 10th) to soothe irritated skin
Try face acids If you use acids in your skin care routine (think: lactic, glycolic, salicylic, etc.), you can also use them to help surface ingrown hairs. After a shower or cleanse, apply the acid for 30 seconds to a minute to let it start working on unclogging those pores. Apply a non-comedogenic oil or moisturizer after.
Last but not least, don’t pick!
Don’t be discouraged if a change in your shaving routine doesn’t yield immediate results. In the meantime, White says it’s best to avoid picking, popping, or attempting to remove ingrown hairs yourself as they can spread bacteria, or cause scarring, infection, or irritation.
If ingrown hairs do become a frequent troublesome occurrence, she recommends making an appointment with a dermatologist.
As Iyer notes, a dermatologist could offer a variety of stronger solutions that prove more effective than over-the-counter skin care items.
“They may prescribe prescription products including topical or oral antibiotics, steroid creams, retinoids, or offer in-office treatments such as chemical peels or steroid injections,” he says. “Laser hair removal can be a great long-term solution.”
As always, talk to your dermatologist or another healthcare professional if you have any concerns about your skin or health.