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How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Smiling woman shaving leg in the bathtub

Itchy, irritating and sometimes painful, ingrown hairs can be so frustrating to deal with. 

Why do ingrown hairs occur? 

Well, normally when a hair grows, it stays relatively straight, growing forward. However, sometimes, that hair can end up curling backwards, causing them to start growing back into the skin. 

Infographic on ingrown hair

They usually appear on areas of the skin that have had hair removed, whether this may have been by shaving, waxing or anything else. However, they can appear just about anywhere on your body where hair follicles can be found, even if you haven’t ever removed any hair from that area. 

Treating ingrown hairs can be tough, and it can sometimes take months for an ingrown hair to naturally release itself. 

This is why, when it comes to ingrown hairs, prevention is always best…

Regular Exfoliation

If you often experience ingrown hairs, then this is a sign that you need to up your exfoliation. 

How does exfoliation help? 

It clears away the dead skin cells from the surface of your skin, as well as from within your pores and hair follicles. If you don’t exfoliate, those dead skin cells end up building up on your skin, clogging up your hair follicles. This then causes the hair within to start growing sideways rather than straight forward, which can then lead to it curling back around and growing into the skin. 

Wondering what the best way to exfoliate is? 

You have two main options: 

  • Physical – this makes use of an abrasive substance, such as a scrub, to slough away dead skin cells. It is a quick and easy method that also boosts blood circulation. However, make sure that the abrasives you use are not too harsh, as that will only lead to micro-tears in the skin 
  • Chemical – this makes use of specific acids that dissolve away the bond that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin. It is actually more gentle than physical exfoliation, as you don’t need to scrub at the skin

While chemical exfoliation may be more gentle than most methods of physical exfoliation, there is an exception to this…

Have you heard of dry brushing before? 

It’s an ancient technique that makes use of a special brush with soft bristles, designed to be rubbed over the body in circular motions, in the direction of the heart. 

This not only gentle exfoliates the skin (it’s gentle enough that you should be doing it every day before you step into the shower), but also wakes up the lymphatic system and boosts blood flow, giving the skin a natural, healthy glow. It is a method that has been proven to significantly help in preventing ingrown hairs, making this something well worth trying. 

Whichever method of exfoliation you choose, make sure that you are exfoliating about twice a week. For tougher areas of the body, such as your legs, you may want to increase this to three times a week. 

Be Smart When Shaving

While many people are guilty of sometimes hurriedly running a blunt razor over dry hairs when they are in a rush, this isn’t going to do you any favors when it comes to ingrown hairs. Plus, it probably leaves your skin quite sore and tender afterwards too! 

No matter how short on time you may be when shaving, it is important that you be smart about this. 

Shaving may be a quick and easy hair removal method, but it does leave you more susceptible to ingrown hairs. 

The first thing that you should do is make sure that you are using a sharp and high quality blade. 

As soon as you feel that your razor blade is beginning to dull, switch it out for a new one. If not, you will end up running your razor over the same part of your skin multiple times, which not only increases your chances of developing ingrown hairs, but also leaves you susceptible to razor burn, cuts and infections.

Next, make sure that you are always using some sort of lubrication on your skin before shaving. 

This will coat each one of your hairs, while reducing the amount of friction placed on your skin. This is important, because shaving away dry hairs will leave the remaining part of your hair with a sharp edge, making it far more likely to grow back inwards into your skin. 

Whether you choose a shaving cream, a gel, or even an oil, make sure that you give this a few minutes to properly soak into your skin and soften your hairs before you actually begin shaving. 

Woman shaving legs, using shaving cream

When it comes to actually shaving…

Make sure that you are shaving in the same direction of hair growth, rather than against it. 


Because going against the grain will make your hair much more likely to curl back. 

Yes, going with the grain means that you probably won’t achieve quite as close a shave, but this will really help to prevent ingrown hairs, and will also be much less irritating to your skin.

It is also important to not stretch your skin too taut and tight while shaving. This may make it easier to reach some of those smaller and finer hairs, but it can also lead to the tips of the hairs that are remaining to turn back into the skin once your skin has been released. 

Be Careful When Tweezing

If you usually experience ingrown hairs on the parts of your skin that you tweeze, then this could be a sign that your tweezing technique is to blame. 

How does tweezing lead to ingrown hairs? 

They occur if your tweezers cause a hair to break right at, or just underneath, the skin’s surface, instead of pulling it directly out from its root. 

That tip of hair that is left behind underneath the skin will sometimes spring backwards and grow in the wrong direction, resulting in an ingrown hair. 

What can you do about this? 

For starters, make sure that you are using a quality pair of tweezers. 

The tips need to be well-aligned, meaning that they should fully meet to ensure that they can properly pull a hair out. Sharpness is important too, as this allows the tweezers to get a good grip on your hair, preventing the hair from sliding away. 

Exfoliating before tweezing can also help…

This will clear away any dead skin cells, preventing them from interfering with the tweezing process. 

You could also try a steam treatment, or even a warm shower, before tweezing. 

How does this help? 

The steam causes the pores to open up, which then softens both the hairs as well as the skin. This makes it so much easier to completely pull a hair out from its root, rather than having it break halfway. 

If you aren’t able to steam or shower before tweezing, simply placing a warm cloth over your skin can help to open your pores up. 

When it comes to your actual tweezing technique…

Grasp one hair at a time, firmly holding this close to the skin, but without actually placing any pressure on the skin at all. Pull this out in one swift motion, in the direction of hair growth.

What happens if you end up breaking the hair? 

Try to find the rest of it and pull it out, but only if you can do this in a safe way without damaging your skin. 

Try Out Some Other Hair Removal Methods

Shaving is one of the most common methods of hair removal out there, but it is also the one that is the biggest culprit when it comes to ingrown hairs. 

Fortunately, there are so many other options to choose from, making it worth experimenting with a few other hair removal methods:

  • Hair removal creams – rather than cutting the hair in the way that a razor does, a hair removal cream dissolves the hair away, meaning that there isn’t enough of a tip left for the remaining hair to grow inwards straight away 
  • Waxing – although waxing can still lead to ingrown hairs, it doesn’t do this in the same way that shaving does. This is because waxing doesn’t leave the tip of the hair extremely sharp, meaning that it is less likely to curl back towards the skin 
Unknown woman waxing legs at home
  • Laser hair removal – this semi-permanent form of hair removal causes damage to the hair follicles, preventing hairs from growing back. Since they aren’t able to grow back at all, you won’t need to worry about them curling inwards 

Leave Those Hairs Alone

If you’ve tried a variety of hair removal options and are still experiencing ingrown hairs with each one, then this could be a sign that you may just need to leave those hairs alone. 

Most methods of hair removal cause the hair to re-grow, which means that the chances of ingrown hairs developing are always going to be around. 

However, if you simply leave those hairs alone, they will be far less likely to curl back and grow into your skin. 

Can’t stand the thought of going without hair removal? 

You always have the option of bleaching…

There are many hair bleaching products out there to choose from. While these won’t remove your hairs and give you a smooth, hairless surface, they will lighten your hairs and make them so much less visible. 

Skin Care Products Designed to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

If ingrown hairs are something that you deal with on a regular basis, then you have probably already noticed a few skin care products out there that promise to prevent these. 

Wondering if they actually work? 

It all comes down to the ingredients used within them…

Quality products will contain ingredients that help to exfoliate the skin and unclog those pores, while also slowing down hair growth. 

These are available in multiple forms, from serums to wipes, making them so convenient to incorporate into your daily skin care routine.

When choosing a product, make sure that it does not contain any drying ingredients. 

You will find several products designed for ingrown hairs that contain isopropyl alcohol, as well as other ingredients that dry out the skin. 

Yes, they may help to treat ingrown hairs, but the way in which they dry out the skin will only make you even more susceptible to more ingrown hairs in the future. Dry skin usually contains a higher amount of dead skin cells. As you already know, this then leads to clogged hair follicles, preventing your hairs from growing properly. 

Avoid Tight Clothing

Do you love wearing tight clothing?

There is no denying that tight clothing can really accentuate and flatter the figure, whether this may be your new shapewear item or your favorite pair of skinny jeans. 

However, all of these tight clothes could actually be the cause of your ingrown hairs…

You already know that ingrown hairs are caused when your hair is not able to grow straight outwards, causing it to curl back in. 

Now, think of the way in which tight clothing is constantly pressing and rubbing against your skin. As you can imagine, this can really get in the way of normal hair growth, and can instead end up pushing your hairs backwards as they try to grow forwards, resulting in ingrown hairs. 

Of course, for those of you who have wardrobes full of tight clothing, avoiding these styles altogether is going to be near-impossible. 

Instead, try staying away from tight clothing after you have shaved, waxed, or gone for whichever form of hair removal you prefer. This is when your skin will be at its most delicate and sensitive, so give it a break and wear something loose and breathable for a while. 

Ingrown hairs can be difficult to treat, which is putting some effort into prevention will always pay off. From exfoliating the right amount, and in the right way, to trying out different hair removal techniques, these tips should hopefully help you to keep your skin smooth, clear and free of any ingrown hairs. 

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