How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs

By: Logan Ritter

It was the summer before sixth grade when I attempted to shave my legs for the first time. At the age of ten, body hair was already a big insecurity for me. Going against my mom’s wishes, I went to the bathroom one afternoon and locked the door behind me. I rummaged through the cabinets and drawers until I found a used pink two blade razor. Foolishly, I wet my hands, rubbed some water on my legs and got to work. I had no idea what I was doing. I ended up with a cut on the back of my leg, several nicks, and skin that was itchy, irritated, and bumpy. I would soon realize that these bad shaving habits would also lead to what would become the bane of my existence - ingrown hairs. 

Ingrown hairs typically appear after shaving or waxing due to clogged hair follicles that force hair to grow sideways and back into the skin, rather than straight up. Unfortunately, for women like myself who have naturally thick and curly body hair, the hair may just do this on its own. My hair removal routines have certainly improved since my adolescence, but ingrown hairs and the subsequent skin discoloration have remained constant, especially in areas with particularly sensitive skin, such as the bikini area and underarms. Out of frustration, I decided to do some research on how to prevent them.

 

  1. 1. Use razors with at least 3 blades.

    Razors with only one or two blades require more passes over your skin to get a clean shave, which can cause irritation. They may be more expensive, but trust me - it’s worth it. Pro tip: men’s razors are often higher quality than women’s.

  2. 2. Shave at the end of your shower.

    Shaving is a form of exfoliation. When done on dry skin it can cause severe irritation, and even infection. Shaving should be the last thing you do in the shower because the warm water and steam softens the hair, resulting in a much closer shave. The water should be warm. Water that is too hot can dry out and irritate the skin. If it’s too cold, you may end up shaving over tight, goosebump covered skin.

  3. 3. Exfoliate before you shave.

    Exfoliation may be the most important addition to your hair removal routine. It removes dirt and skin cells from the surface of your skin to prevent clogged hair follicles. I personally use sugar scrubs by Tree Hut. They’re affordable, effective and they smell great. They have scents like Moroccan Rose, Tropical Mango, and Brown Sugar.

  4. 4. Use a good shaving cream.

    I use Eos shaving cream. I find that it is significantly more moisturizing than other shaving creams that I’ve tried, which is essential when it comes to combating ingrown hairs, razor burn, and irritation. It also softens skin for a great shave and is totally safe for sensitive skin.

  5. 5. Try Tend Skin.

    This has been a lifesaver for me. Tend Skin is a solution that you can apply with a cotton pad after shaving to prevent ingrowns and razor bumps. For already affected areas, apply twice a day every day until they’re gone. I purchased this product after reading dozens of glowing reviews online and I highly recommend it.

  6. 6. Replace your razors regularly.

    Dull blades can result in excess friction. Rather than gliding over skin smoothly and cutting hairs cleanly, dull blades catch and pull hairs, resulting in ingrowns. Old razor blades can also harbor bacteria, resulting in infection. 

Many women, especially those with curly hair, experience ingrown hairs. For a long time I thought they were inevitable. However, with better hair removal habits they can be minimized or eliminated all together.