How to fix ingrown hairs

Updated: May 7, 2020

Let’s face it: ingrown hairs are a common and embarrassing problem. It is unknown exactly how many of us suffer with them, only that most of us do.

Despite their frequent occurrence, there are a few routes we can take to prevent them from happening, and treat the troublesome ones that are already there.


What are ingrown hairs and why do they happen? This post takes a look at why we have them and the easiest way to treat the outbreak when it occurs.

What are they? 

These are hairs that have curled, and grown back into the skin.

Ingrown hairs commonly appear as a raised, red bump and can be painful and often itchy.

Some can be puss-filled and in very rare cases, infection can happen.

Diagram of ingrown hair


Why do they happen?

An example of an ingrown hair. Image: Flickr

If the hair is thick and/or curly it is more likely to grow back into the skin.

It is more likely to occur when the hairs are removed through waxing, shaving and threading methods. The follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells, which then causes the hair to grow sideways.

Ingrown hairs are more common in pubic areas, legs and beards that are shaved regularly.

I see cases of ingrown hairs every day as an aesthetician, and find it a regular problem in the majority of people I treat.


Despite their regular occurrence, ingrown hairs are pretty easy to treat. Most of them when left alone, will go away on their own but if you want to speed up the process, there are a few things you can do.

Stop removing the hair

A great tip is to stop removing the hair altogether in the area, until the ingrown hairs have gone away completely. To continue shaving and waxing methods, it is only going to irritate and worsen the condition.

You got this GIF

GIF: Giphy

Use salicylic acid

One of the best ingredients to use on ingrown hairs, is salicylic acid.

This BHA (beta-hydroxy acid) is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and is known for reducing redness and gently breaking down dead skin cells.

You can find salicylic acid in creams, spot treatments, cleansers and ointments; it simply depends on what formula you prefer to use. You also use salicylic acid to treat acne, oily skin and insect bites and stings.

I recommend to use Obagi Clenziderm Foaming Cleanser from the Obagi Clenziderm range. It also works great for oiliness and acne on the face and body.  


Leave them alone

It may sound obvious, but try not to scratch, pick or squeeze the ingrown hair, it will only lead to further irritation and there will also be a higher chance of scarring (even though it is SO satisfying to do).

Use tea-tree oil

If you prefer to use natural remedies, tea-tree is the perfect essential oil to break down ingrown hairs and reduce irritation.

Tea-tree is known for its antiseptic, antibacterial and inflammatory properties and treat inflamed conditions like ingrown hairs quite effectively.

Simply apply a drop of tea-tree oil directly onto the area, until it disappears. Discover the best essential oils to use here.

Wear loose-fitting clothing

Sensitive areas like the underarm and bikini, will feel even more irritated if you are wearing tight-fitted clothing and underwear. Simply speed up the healing process and eliminate itchiness by keeping clothes loose.

Clothes on a rail

Use retinoids

If you suffer with post-inflammatory pigment or any type of scarring, retinoids will help to improve this appearance. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A and is used for treating the face and body as it stimulates cell renewal and collagen production. It is also great for de-clogging deep-rooted congestion and pesky ingrown hairs.

Only once the area has fully healed, apply a retinol-based cream to the area once an evening, after showering, and every night until the curled hair eventually surfaces.

Skinceuitcals O.3 Retinol


I recommend Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 to use on sensitive areas.


Prevention is always better than cure. Here are two fool-proof methods you can follow to say goodbye to ingrown hairs forever.

Use chemical exfoliants’

Image: dermaquestinc

Chemical exfoliants’ use active ingredients to break down a build-up of dead skin cells and are great to use if you want to avoid reoccurring ingrown hairs.

I recommend to use a gentle, enzyme-based cleanser like the Dermaquest Essential Daily Cleanser as it’s safe enough to use on the most sensitive of areas.

Chemical exfoliants’ are useful to use after, and between hair removal sessions.

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is the best thing you will ever do if you are removing your hair regularly.

Laser hair removal works reduces and thins hair growth, you can have it anywhere on the body and it stops any further chance of ingrown hairs occurring.

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is a great preventative method for ingrown hairs.

I have been performing laser hair treatment for over five years and have put together a useful post for anyone who is interested in finding more about it.

Ingrown hairs are annoying, and can sometimes be tough to tackle but with these simple tips, you will be ingrown-free for life. Do you suffer with ingrown hairs? If so, how do you treat them, I would love to hear from you in the comments section.

Marilyn monroe gif

GIF: Giphy

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