Ingrown hairs. For some people, these are an occasional inconvenience. For others, ingrown hairs seem to happen every time they shave or wax, and they can be incredibly frustrating.
What is an ingrown hair?
Normally, hair grows out of a follicle (just below the surface of the skin), then goes through a tiny hole in the skin and continues to grow unless you shave or remove the hair.
But sometimes, the hair is instead trapped below the skin. It continues to grow below the skin, causing irritation, pain, and unsightly bumps. This is an ingrown hair.
The main culprit is hair removal. When we remove hair (through shaving or waxing), the hair is shortened so it is below the surface of the skin. Shaving also causes the hair to have a sharper point, which actually allows the hair to penetrate back into the skin.
Ingrown hairs tend to be more common with curly hair, since it’s more likely to curl back toward the skin.
But there are some things you can do! We’re going to take a look at a few products that will help you get rid of ingrown hairs, and also help prevent them from occurring again.
Ingrown hair products:
1. Tend Skin
Tend Skin can help condition your skin to prevent ingrown hairs, and it also helps with existing ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
To use it, you can simply apply it before shaving or waxing, then again after (where it acts a bit like an aftershave).
For existing ingrown hairs, Tend Skin recommends applying twice a day to help moisturize the skin. It continues to work even if you are not currently shaving or removing hair.
2. Kerah Lane Razor Bump & Ingrown Hair Formula
Containing witch hazel, Aloe Vera, lavender, and lemon essential oils, this serum can be used by women and men on any part of the body.
The Kerah Lane formula does not contain alcohol, making it ideal for sensitive skin.
Some customers have claimed that after only a few days of using this product, their ingrown hairs had gone away.
3. Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment
This product is a little pricey, but the reviews speak for themselves – many people swear by it and say it’s the best ingrown hair treatment they’ve used.
It has willowherb and lavender to help soothe the skin, as well as salicylic acid to exfoliate dead skin, kill germs, and help the hairs work their way out.
You can also apply a moisturizer after using Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment (after it has been absorbed by your skin). This may help the treatment work more effectively, as dry skin often contributes to ingrown hairs.
4. PFB Vanish Razor Bump Stopper
This is hands down one of the most popular ingrown hair products on Amazon.
Unlike cream-based serums, this is a roll-on product. You can simply roll it on after shaving, waxing, or tweezing.
There are two versions of PFB Vanish: Regular and Chromabright. The Chromabright version has the same ingrown-hair-fighting formula plus Dimethylmethoxy Chromanyl Palmitate to help lighten dark spots caused by ingrown hairs (called “hyperpigmentation”).
5. Exfoliating Brush Set with Tweezers and Silicon Face Scrubber
Whether or not you use one of the products above, regular exfoliation is a good way to stave off ingrown hairs. One method is to use an exfoliating brush in the shower before shaving.
Just about any exfoliating brush will do, but we like that this one includes tweezers and a silicon face scrubber.
The tweezers can come in handy if you need to remove a stubborn ingrown hair or just pluck a few eyebrow hairs.
The silicon face scrubber is much gentler than the exfoliating brush, which makes it better for facial use. The exfoliating brush is designed to be used on the legs, armpits, or bikini area, and it’s a bit too harsh for your face – so you’ll be glad you have the face scrubber as well.
Ingrown hairs frequently asked questions:
What does an ingrown hair look like?
Ingrown hairs can vary. Sometimes they are red bumps, similar to pimples.
They can also create dark spots on your skin (called “hyperpigmentation”), which can look like a blackhead.
In some cases, they may become infected, in which case there may be some pus below the skin.
How do I get rid of ingrown hair?
There are two main steps to getting rid of ingrown hairs:
- Temporarily stop removing hair from that area (since hair removal tends to cause more ingrown hairs).
- Start treating the skin around the ingrown hair using products like Tend Skin, Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment, exfoliating brushes, etc. With more serious ingrown hairs, you might need to remove them with tweezers or even talk to your doctor.
Are ingrown hairs and razor bumps the same thing?
Razor bumps are a specific type of ingrown hair. Basically, there are two types of ingrown hairs:
- Extrafollicular (razor bumps): This is also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB). The hair exits the follicle and then curls back and penetrates the skin.
- Transfollicular: This is where the hair is unable to exit the skin, so it continues growing just beneath the surface.
Is it an ingrown hair or herpes?
Since ingrown hairs can cause red, irritated bumps, many people mistake them for signs of herpes. This is partly due to the fact that many people remove hair from genital areas, which may cause ingrown hairs in the same places where herpes might appear.
The most common rule is: If it’s a single, isolated bump, there’s a good chance it’s an ingrown hair. If it’s a cluster of bumps, it could be herpes. Of course, you should talk to your doctor to make sure!
Also, if it’s an ingrown hair, you can sometimes see an outline of the hair just below the surface.
Since both ingrown hairs and herpes can have a varied appearance, they can sometimes look extremely similar or even identical. Often the only way to know for sure is to have your doctor do a screening test.