Ah, ingrown hairs—every summer those awful post-shave bumps that plague legs, armpits and bikini lines rear their ugly heads and prompt their own set of questions. How, exactly do you get rid of them without scarring, and even more importantly, how do you prevent them from happening in the first place? Our advice: Adhere to the simple guidelines below.
Exfoliate to Prevent
Failure to exfoliate skin is the culprit behind all ingrown hairs. If you're prone to them, exfoliate problem areas at least once a day—regardless of whether you currently have any. This will wipe away the dead skins cells, oils and dirt responsible for hairs becoming trapped beneath the skin in the first place.
The nylon bristles of Dermalogica's Exfoliating Face Brush ($18; ulta.com) scrub with a few quick swishes, while the ergonomic design of The Body Shop's Exfoliating Bath Gloves ($5; thebodyshop-usa.com) allows you to exfoliate easily as you wash. If post-bath treatment is more your speed, a swipe of the salicylic acid-infused Bliss Ingrown Hair Eliminating Pads ($38; lordandtaylor.com) prevents and treats ingrowns. Alternatively, apply European Wax Center's The Exfoliate ($38; waxcenter.com) once weekly. You'll know it's working when you start to see dead skin form in your hand (gross, but effective). Already have a trapped hair—and want to prevent more? Apply The Cool Fix by Shaveworks ($21; sephora.com) directly to the problem spot. Not only will this double-whammy gel help release it, but it will also stop more from popping up.
Once the trapped hair makes its way to the surface, the moment you've been anxiously waiting for has arrived: the removal. Tweezer choice is key. Opt for a tool with a pointed (rather than slanted) tip, which will reduce skin trauma, thus decreasing the risk of infection. Exfoliate the area first, and once the hair is visible, gently break the skin and pluck away.
For smooth and easy removal, we suggest using Tweezerman's SPA Splinter Tweeze ($17; drugstore.com), Sally Hansen's Beauty Tools Stray Hair Beware Needle Point Tip Tweezer ($6; target.com), Anastasia Beverly Hills's Tweezer ($28; ulta.com) or European Wax Center's Point Tweezer Kit ($32; waxcenter.com). One important note: Make sure your tweezer is sterilized before use. A swab of hydrogen peroxide will do the trick.
Try a Serum
Now that you've ever experienced the dreadful process of removing an ingrown hair, you know it's something that you never want to repeat. A serum can ensure smooth skin. We suggest a twice-daily application of European Wax Center's Ingrown Hair Serum ($25; waxcenter.com) or Whish's Flawless Post Wax Serum ($23; ulta.com). Both contain calming and hydrating agents that will become your secret weapon that inhibit ingrown hairs.
An often ignored cause of ingrown hairs is using a dull razor. Once the moisturizing strip starts to break away, switch out your razor for a new, sharper one, which will create a cleaner cut to the hair, minimizing the chance that it could become trapped.