How to treat and prevent ingrown leg hairs

Use the following methods to help prevent ingrown hairs:


Dirt, oils, and dead skin cells can clog the hair follicles. Removing these can treat and help prevent ingrown hairs.

Exfoliation before shaving can help. Scrub the legs with an exfoliating body wash or use a loofah to help remove dirt and unclog pores.

Exfoliation also gently scrapes away the dead skin cells that accumulate on top of the skin. This layer of dead cells can trap new hairs inside the follicles, causing them to grow inward.

Also, gentle exfoliation is sometimes enough to pull ingrown hairs up and outside the skin, where they can grow correctly.

Try a dry brush

Dry brushing is a way to get rid of dead skin cells. Brushing the skin with a firm, long-bristled brush in a circular motion can gently scrape away the outer layer of dead skin cells, revealing softer skin underneath.

Removing this layer can also keep the pores and follicles clear and prevent hairs from growing inward.

Use shaving cream or gel

Share on PinterestUsing shaving cream or gel can help to prevent ingrown hairs.

Shaving cream adds moisture and reduces friction when the razor glides over the skin.

Too much friction can result in irritation and inflammation. It may also cause razor burn, in which the skin becomes bumpy, red, and sometimes painful. By reducing friction, shaving cream reduces the risk of irritation.

The type of shaving cream can also make a difference. Sensitive skin may react to ingredients in some creams.

Chemicals and fragrances in shaving creams can irritate and inflame the skin, leading to skin issues, such as ingrown hairs.

People with sensitive skin may benefit from using natural or hypoallergenic products on their legs.

Choose the right razor

Ingrown hairs on the legs can signal that a person is using the wrong type of razor.

A good razor should glide gently across the skin, leaving behind no missed or half-shaven hairs. Replace razors regularly to avoid dullness, which can add friction.

Razors that do not glide smoothly can catch and pull hairs, and ingrown hairs can result. A razor that catches can also cause small nicks and cuts, which can become infected.

In the past, some dermatologists believed that single-blade razors reduced risk to the skin. However, a 2013 study showed no difference between single- and multiple-blade varieties.

Shave in the direction of growth

Hairs in an area tend to grow in the same direction. Shaving in the opposite direction can cause the hairs to have very sharp tips. This makes it easier for them to penetrate the skin and grow inward.

Practice good shaving techniques

Some other tips for preventing ingrown hairs due to shaving include:

  • Always use a sharp, clean razor, avoiding razors with any signs of rust or wear.
  • Rinse the blade after every stroke.
  • Shave less often, allowing the hair to grow.
  • Clean the blade with rubbing alcohol after each use.
  • Do not overuse disposable razors.

Ingrown hairs appear when a strand of hair curls into the skin and grows in the wrong direction after waxing or shaving. Unfortunately, there is no way to determine why some people experience more trouble with ingrown hairs than others.

The number and growth direction of a person’s hair follicles is genetically determined. Everyone is born with a certain number of follicles. But there is something you can do to train your hair follicles and strands in order to not experience the pain and embarrassment of ingrown hairs.

4 Ways to Prevent Ingrown Hairs:

  • Apply exfoliating scrub, like our Grumari Body Exfoliant, in the shower 24 hours after completing your professional bikini or Brazilian wax service. It is critical that you wait at least 24 hours before you begin exfoliating your recently waxed skin because your skin is highly sensitive within this time frame.
  • Rub your skin vigorously with a towel or exfoliating sponge EVERY time you shower or bathe. It’s easy to remember to scrub your face or torso, but keep in mind that your genital area is just as sensitive as these areas if not more. Pubic hair naturally tends to be curlier than facial hair, so ingrown hair troubles are more frequent and persistent in these areas. Adopt a daily exfoliating regime to remove dead skins cells as they grow.
  • Use our Ipanema Ingrown Hair Serum to fight and prevent future ingrown hairs from waxing or shaving. The serum also brightens dark spots and blemishes left behind from old ingrown hairs.
  • Finally apply suitable amount of moisturizer to avoid dry and itchy skin. Don’t over do the moisturizer in your genital area, because that area is naturally moist. Consider purchasing a natural product, such as our Copacabana Body & Bath Oil. It’s a unique Brazilian formula made from natural oil that locks up to ten times more moisture on wet skin than an ordinary lotion can on dry skin.

If you have ingrown hairs in a certain area, be sure to exfoliate that area on a daily basis. Every time you do, you are scrubbing away the build-up of dead skin cells and remove pore blockage.


Your ingrown hairs, infected or otherwise, will diminish and significantly decrease over time. If you wax on a consistent basis, your hair growth WILL diminish also over time which results in less pain during your professional bikini wax service and longer-lasting results. Remember, your skin is a delicate matter and even the skin “down below” needs special treatment.


There are few things more intensely irritating than going from stroking your freshly shaved, super smooth pubic area/legs/underarms to looking the next day and seeing a bunch of angry red bumps.

They’re sore. They can’t be satisfyingly popped. You know that if you dig around with a pair of tweezers, you might be able to get rid of the bugger, but you’ll be left with a scar.

The curse of ingrown hairs is infuriating.

Doing Januhairy is sexy and empowering

But why do they happen? And is there anything we can do to not only prevent them, but to get rid of those pesky curled up hairs when they pop up?

‘Ingrown hairs are caused by the hair not being able to push through the skin’s surface,’ explains Maria-Louise Featherstone, one of the founders of Strip Wax Bar.

‘This mainly happens with shaving as when you shave the hair, the top of the hair is blunt, as opposed to a natural forming hair that will have a thin tip from the start.’

(Picture: )

Maria-Louise adds that if you have particularly tough skin or weak hair, you’re more likely to be susceptible to ingrown hairs. Damn it.

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Naturally, the owner of a wax bar is going to recommend waxing as the best solution to ingrown hairs, but, actually, she is correct.

Pulling out the hairs from the root is your best bet to preventing ingrown hairs, as you don’t get the blunt, chopped off end you get with shaving – which causes irritation under the skin.

Shaving also makes hair tougher. Not a good thing if you’re prone to the ingrowns.

So waxing is the best option if you want to be smooth and sans bumpy ingrowns. Your other option is letting your body hair grow wild, which will allow your hairs to grow freely – meaning fewer ingrown ones.

(Picture: Myles Goode/

You can also try epilation if you don’t fancy spending cash on a monthly wax, or if you want to get really fancy, you can invest in a laser hair removal system.

Whether you go for waxing, letting your hairs roam free, or epilating, you’ll be reducing the likelihood of ingrown hairs – but there’s still more you can do to make sure they don’t happen.

Try not to wear tight clothing all the time – especially after a shave. Essentially, clothes that press up against the skin push the hair back inwards, leaving you sore and stubbly.

Immediately after hair removal, try going for something more loose and flowy, preferably made from natural fabrics rather than synthetic materials that can bother your skin.

(Picture: Getty)

Oh, and make sure to exfoliate. It’s a good habit to get into regardless, but if you’re fed up of the bane of ingrown hairs, exfoliating is key. It buffs away dead skin cells which could be preventing hairs from easily growing through.

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If you do all of this (or you forget, whatever) and still notice ingrown hairs making an appearance, do not – we repeat, do not – go digging around with your fingers, tweezers, or whatever other sharp implement you can find.

‘We advise against digging, squeezing, or picking ingrown hairs, as this can cause permanent scarring,’ Maria-Louise tells

Instead, she recommends using a product such as Lycon Ingrown-X-It Solution, which has salicylic acid to break down dead skin cells and encourage ingrown hairs to grow to the surface. That’ll make your ingrown hairs come out of their cosy shell, allowing you to remove them without giving yourself a tiny scar.

So, to recap: ingrown hairs are preventable and treatable – they just require a little bit of work.*

*Which is probably worth it to avoid the pain and frustration of giant bumps on your bikini line.

Exfoliate regularly, go for waxing or growing rather than shaving, and don’t pick. Enjoy your smooth skin forevermore.

This article is part of Hair Care, our month-long investigation and exploration into our relationships with hair and the cultural implications that come with it.

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Preventing Ingrown Hairs

Preventing Ingrown Hairs

by mbw

An ingrown hair after waxing happens when the hair never breaks the skin’s surface as it grows or does come out of skin first and then grows back into the skin. Most commonly it occurs in areas where the hair is thin or especially where it’s both thin and curly, like in the bikini line. However, it can happen in any place where the hair is waxed.

Prepping to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

  • Exfoliate – 24/48hrs before waxing, it’s good to get rid of dead skin cells. It helps remove dirt and oil which otherwise could cause the hair follicle to become irritated after waxing and to prevent ingrown hairs.
  • Cleanse – Use a pre-wax cleanser on the skin with anti-microbial properties to remove dirt, oil, lotions and make-up, which prepares skin for waxing.

Post Care after Waxing

  • Exfoliate – When the hair starts to grow back, exfoliate 2/3 times a week; this will help to smooth the top layer of the skin, which will enable the hair to break through! Gently exfoliate the area that has been waxed between 3 -5 days after (if the area isn’t red or irritated). After 5 days, carry out a deep exfoliation. Continue to exfoliate about 2 times a week.
  • Stay away from tight clothes – Stay clear of constricting clothing where you had the waxing for the next few days to avoid rubbing, irritation and to allow the skin to ‘breathe’.
  • Don’t touch – Don’t touch or try to pick the ingrown – bacteria may cause an infection.
  • No Swimming (pool or Beach).

5. Don’t tweeze: It can be tempting to reach for the tweezers when you spot a stray pubic hair on your bikini line, but take a pass. This can leave a fragment of hair under the skin surface and cause inflammation.

6. Don’t yank your skin for a closer shave: Stretching your skin tight during shaving can allow the tips of the remaining hair to shrink back into your skin and grow there, the Mayo Clinic explains.

7. Consider using an electric razor or clipper. Since the entire point of standard manual razors is to get a really close shave, they’re not ideal if you have a history with ingrowns, Samantha B. Conrad, M.D., clinical practice director at Northwestern Memorial Hospital Group, Department of Dermatology, tells SELF. Instead, it might make more sense to use an electric razor or clipper on a setting that gives you a good shave, but not the absolute closest one possible.

8. Moisturize after you shave. Moisturizing helps keep your skin less prone to dryness and irritation, and can sometimes aid with exfoliation to prevent a buildup of dead skin on top of a follicle, which increases the odds the hair will get trapped, Dr. Conrad explains. Moisturizers that contain a chemical exfoliant like lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid can help dissolve dead skin cells that can more easily trap ingrowns, Dr. Conrad says.

Keep in mind that the skin in this area can be delicate and sensitive, so it might make sense to try the gentlest possible moisturizer first before graduating to anything meant to exfoliate.

9. Trim what you can instead of full-on removing the hair. When you trim, the hair remains long enough that it doesn’t have as much of a chance of growing back into your skin, Dr. Conrad says.

10. Think about waxing instead of shaving. Since you’re not shaving the hair, waxing doesn’t result in those extra-sharp tips that are more likely to curl back into your skin. However, ingrowns are still possible with waxing as the hair grows back, so you shouldn’t completely ignore the applicable items on this list, like keeping the area moisturized post-hair removal.

Here’s more about what you can expect from the waxing experience, plus how to achieve a great wax at home. If you’re really prone to ingrowns, even with waxing, you may want to seek out a product specifically formulated to help. That brings us to…

11. Try out a serum meant to prevent ingrown hairs. There are a bunch of serums on the market that promise to help prevent ingrown hairs from forming. Though these products don’t necessarily have Serious Scientific Research to back them up, they may contain certain ingredients that could help. Many ingrown hair serums have chemical exfoliants like salicylic acid to slough off dead skin cells so hair can grow out normally, Dr. Goldenberg says. Some also have soothing ingredients like aloe to help prevent irritation and antibacterial ingredients like tea tree oil to possibly help reduce your risk of infection, Dr. Goldenberg says.

12. Or try removing your hair with a cream, instead. Like waxing, hair removal creams don’t cut the hair. Instead, they dissolve the hair shaft. Without that structural integrity, the hair doesn’t stay rooted in your skin, so out it comes. These creams can cause irritation or allergic reactions, the Cleveland Clinic warns, so patch test any new product on part of your body first before going all in. And make sure to read the packaging—many hair removal creams are only formulated for the bikini line, so if you’re looking to remove most of your pubic hair, you might not be able to go bare with this.

How To Eliminate Ingrown Hairs


It’s a well-known and unavoidable fact – men get ingrown hairs. They’re unsightly, painful and take days to get rid of. An ingrown hair occurs when an ordinary facial or body hair takes an unexpected turn… literally. This often happens after shaving, when hairs grow back into the skin instead of out toward the light — creating a nasty red bump.
While there’s no sure way to 100% avoid ingrown hairs, there are plenty of ways to fight the good fight against shaving’s Achilles’ Heel.


Our top pick to battle ingrowns & bumps is our Barber-approved The Shavior.

Tip #1: Separation is in the Preparation.

A well-rounded pre-shave routine is the best way to prevent ingrown hairs from digging in. Start with a hot shower to soften up face and whiskers. Once warm, use a facial cleanser (and a scrub 1-2 times per week) to prime the skin’s surface. Next, check your shave equipment. If your blade is gnarly or rusty, ingrown hairs will be the least of your worries. Changing up the blades may be costly, but they’re worth it for your skin’s health.
After the face is prepped and equipment checked, get started by applying a shave oil and shaving cream. Work them in aggressively and allow them to tenderize the skin before shaving to improve razor glide and skin protection. Get all your pre and post shave products in one handy kit with Grooming Lounge’s Greatest Shave Ever Kit.

Tip #2: Tweeze It.

Grab a pair of tweezers and search around for bumps and ingrown hairs. Gently pull ingrowns loose – but not all the way out. Just lift to the surface so the razor can cleanly take them off. Pulling ingrowns out with tweezers can lead to infection. And… nobody likes infection.

Tip #3: Exfoliate. Exfoliate. And Exfoliate Some More.

Exfoliation or scrubbing is just a fancy word for ‘dead skin removal.’ Removing old, dead skin cells allows newer, healthier skin to surface and thrive. Dead skin build up can block hair follicles on the face and lead to – you guessed it – ingrown hairs. Exfoliators can also help unearth ingrown hairs, making that whole “tweezer thing” we spoke about moot.
There are several effective ways to exfoliate, so try a few to see what works. The most popular form of exfoliation is the Facial Scrub. These are facial cleansers designed with some grit that provide a super deep cleanse and slough dead skin, impurities and blackheads down the drain. There’s many other ways to exfoliate including pads,wipes, tools or even volcanic stones.

Tip #4: Use an Ingrown Hair Treatment

Traditional aftershaves are great at targeting dryness by moisturizing and nourishing the skin. However, they don’t take responsibility when it comes to battling ingrown hairs. That’s why there are solutions specifically targeting post-shave complications/ingrowns. Find a product that works and be consistent with use as it might take the skin some getting used to before nirvana is reached.

Tip #5: Don’t Go Against the Grain

A fair amount of ingrown hairs are caused by going against the grain while shaving. This is easily avoidable so don’t do it if irritation and ingrowns are a challenge. It’s important to note that “with the grain of hair growth” does not always mean straight up and down. Some hair grows a bit diagonally — so it’s important to cautiously follow the hair route.


In order to achieve a closer shave without suffering irritation and ingrowns, follow the steps and tips listed above. Ingrowns will never go away completely, but there’s plenty a gent can do so that he doesn’t ever have an ingrown like this (might be tough to watch).

Like being summoned for jury duty or having to do taxes, getting ingrown hair is one of those sad, unavoidable nuisances in life. As it turns out, anyone who has any body hair (on their face, their armpits, their legs, their, um, private parts) is susceptible to ingrowns. That essentially means everybody.

To understand how to remedy an ingrown or prevent it from happening in the first place, you have to know how it’s formed. Basically what happens is, instead of growing upward and outward, an ingrown hair will curl back onto itself, creating a loop and becoming trapped below the skin’s surface.

There are a few things that can trigger the problem: hair removal methods (shaving, waxing, applying depilatory creams) and environmental factors (sweating, oil secretion, and friction from wearing too-tight pants or working out). The chance of it occurring increases when the hair is naturally curly, coarse, and wiry. So, when an ingrown pops up, what do you do?

Resist popping an ingrown or self-extracting the hair

The worst thing you can do is try to open it up or use tweezers to remove the embedded hair. “That can lead to infection,” says dermatologist Shasa Hu, MD, FAAD, and co-founder of BIA Life. “A lot of times, if you pick an ingrown or try to do a self-extraction, the scarring is worse.”

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Instead, start topical treatments

Hu recommends a regimen of AHA/BHA exfoliating cleansers with salicylic or glycolic acid, an over-the-counter retinol (every two or three days), and benzoyl peroxide cream to target the spot and kill bacteria. But Hu warns not to treat all ingrown hairs the same: “The skin on our armpits and the groin area are a little more sensitive than anywhere else, so we can’t be as aggressive with the treatment—use a lower concentration or a milder formula.”

Take a break from shaving

The biggest misconception is to keep shaving, but “that’s what leads to ingrown hairs in the first place,” Hu says. Lay off all types of hair removal until the ingrown heals.

Think about the aftermath

Once the bump heals, an ingrown usually leaves behind a brown mark, which is “what usually gets people to make an appointment with the doctor,” says Hu, who has found that most of her patients don’t mind the ingrown itself, but are bothered by the pigmentation. She recommends mild lightening agents with soy, licorice root extract, kojic or azelaic acid, or other naturally derived ingredients that should be applied once an ingrown is formed in order to reduce the chance or prevent discoloration from occurring.

“You don’t want to use anything too harsh because an ingrown is already sensitive otherwise it could make it worse by inducing inflammation,” she says. “If you start with something gentler right away at targeting pigmentation, you’ll get a better result.”

Use a warm compress to speed up the process

An ingrown starts off as a hard and painful bump, but during the healing process, it becomes softer and redder until the shaft of the hair is visible. By applying a warm compress (not too hot, cautions Hu), it can promote circulation and speed everything up by a day or two.

If the pain becomes too unbearable, see your doctor

Your dermatologist will prescribe a brief course of antibiotics to treat the infection and to decrease inflammation. For severe cases, Hu says a cortisone shot (the same one that’s used for acne) will be administered.

To prevent ingrown hairs, consider laser hair removal

“The most effective way of preventing an ingrown hair is to get rid of the follicle entirely, which is through laser hair removal,” Hu says.

If not, then resist a close shave or shave not as frequently

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But if laser hair removal is not an option, Hu advises using a single-blade razor instead of one with multiple blades that promise a close shave, spacing out when you shave, and shaving with the direction of the hair rather than against it. “Preventing ingrown hairs is actually counterintuitive—recurring ingrown hair stems from shaving or waxing,” she says. “We think hair comes out of the skin vertically, but it’s not true—it’s actually about 45 to 60 degrees, so when you’re slicing the hair shaft at an oblique angle, the end becomes a blade rather a stump, which can irritate the skin and form an ingrown.”

Waxing is different since you’re removing the hair from the base, which won’t create a blade. But, because you’re removing a large area of hair at once, it disrupts the natural growth cycle. And then it becomes a numbers game. “The more hair you have growing at once, the likelihood of getting an ingrown is higher,” Hu says.

Shop Products for Ingrown Hair

Exfoliating Cleanser Senté $46.00

Laced with glycolic acid, this cleanser exfoliates without causing irritation. “This is great for the face and sensitive areas,” Hu says. “And there’s no fragrance.”

Oil-Free Acne Fighting Facial Cleanser with Salicylic Acid Neutrogena $18.90

“For a lower-price cleanser, I recommend Neutrogena’s Acne Wash because it’s formulated with salicylic acid and it’s available at your local drugstore,” Hu says.

Renewal Retinol Alastin $130.00

Look for retinol creams with low concentration (one or two percent might be too harsh). “Applying a topical retinol will help prevent an ingrown,” Hu says. “But only two or three times a week.”

Adapalene Gel 0.1% Acne Treatment Differin $31.49

“Use Differin, which is made with a retinoid, to prevent your ingrown from flaring up,” Hu says.

Antibacterial Hand Soap Dial $7.50

“For people who are sensitive to AHA/BHA formulas or if they’re pregnant or nursing and are worried about potential harm to the baby, a topical antibacterial soap like Dial is a safe substitution,” Hu says.

Acne Cream PCA Skin $32.00

Benzoyl peroxide in cream form can exfoliate and kill bacteria. This one is also formulated with lactic acid to not only slough off dead skin cells, but to also inject moisture to prevent flakiness.

10% Azelaic Acid Booster Paula’s Choice $36.00

A multipurpose fighter with a potent blend of azelaic acid and salicylic acid to target bumps, along with licorice root extract, this tube is a safe plant-derived ingredient that works to lighten and brighten the complexion.

Phyto Plus SkinCeuticals $87.00

Try a dark-spot corrector that harnesses the power of vitamin C, kojic acid, and hyaluronic acid to reduce discoloration while evening out your skin tone.

Andrea Cheng Andrea Cheng is a New York-based writer who writes about fashion and beauty.

Ingrown hairs after waxing

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