How to: deal with ingrown hairs

Monday, 4 March 2013

How to: deal with ingrown hairsThere’s nothing like a clean shave or that smooth post-wax feeling, until red spots and bumps – yes, pesky ingrown hairs – start appearing. Here’s how to get rid of them – and even better, prevent them.

How to get rid of them

When a hair starts growing, it sometimes fails to break the skin, causing it to curl inwards and grow underneath the surface. Before you start picking at it with tweezers, make sure it’s long enough to be pulled out. Place a warm, damp cloth over the affected area for about five minutes to soften the skin. Then using sterilised tweezers, gently pull the tip of the hair away from the skin, being careful not to pluck it out completely (or the hair that replaces it may also end up being ingrown). Use nail scissors to trim the curl.

Gentle exfoliation will help to free the hair. Chemical exfoliants typically contain glycolic or salicylic acid, like Folisan by Depileve, R210, as recommended by my go-to threader. It can also be used for razor burns.

Moisturise after treating and before you go to bed every night. This will keep your skin soft and supple so your ingrown hairs can grow out and heal. I love L’Occitane’s En Provence Pure Shea Butter, R460 – it’s their bestseller.

If you have a stubborn hair that keeps getting worse or just doesn’t seem to be getting better, ask your dermatologist to extract it. And wait until your hair grows longer and skin calms down before you attempt another hair removal session.

One sure way to get rid of ingrown hairs once and for all? Laser – no hair, no unwanted ingrowns.

How to prevent them

Exfoliate and moisturise – and not just after shaving or waxing, but beforehand too. Wait four days before and a day after waxing before exfoliating. Use a loofah or salt-based scrub like Charlotte Rhys’ Salt Scrub, R83. If you’re in a pinch, mix sugar into your gel-type cleanser. Then follow up with a non-irritating moisturiser like Nivea Essential Body Cream, from R15.99. You can also roll Vaya Smooth For Her, R14.99 on the previously affected areas for a few days prior to waxing and daily thereafter.

In the battle against ingrowns, skinny jeans don’t help the situation. Hairs that have to fight against tight-fitting clothes tend to curl back instead of breaking through the skin, so slip on a dress when you’re done and twirl with confidence.

Image: Valua Vitaly/

Other articles you may be interested in:
Laser hair removal
DIY de-fuzzing
Shaving and thicker hair growth
On a thread

Written by

Jessica is still trying to forgive Benefit for leaving the country, but delighted at the arrival of Lush. When she’s not dreaming of California, she’s living it up in Cape Town, the glorious city this girly farm girl from Natal has come to call home. Beauty, fashion and foodie things are her loves.

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  1. ayeshaB

    thank you! hope this helps my terrible ingrowns

    2 years ago •

  1. Mark Parr

    I use a exfoliation sponge from Sh’zen. It is rough on the one side for the legs and the other side softer for the face. Works wonders.

    4 years ago •

  1. ProMakeupMe

    Ah! Thank you for the tips! I wax my legs, underarms and bikini line and ingrown hairs are the pits! (pardon the pun.. lol)

    5 years ago •

  1. mashigoane

    Regular exfoliation…thanks for the advise.

    5 years ago •

  1. Lumkwana

    Wow this was so useful, i am gonna help myself here

    5 years ago •

  1. Safz

    Exfoliation is they key to no ingrowns. I use Dermaplex Blemish Perfection gel, it contains salicylic acid and has anti bacterial properties, using it after waxing or shaving helps and it’s very gentle so even for those very sensitive areas.

    5 years ago •

  1. Nancy Katy

    Nothing worse than ingrown hairs,it hurts…
    love your tips,im going to give it a try..
    Vaya smooth really helps alot..

    5 years ago •

  1. Hess

    I used to suffer from incredible ingrown hairs, but since switching over to laser treatment it’s been a breeze! But for those ingrown hairs, the best that worked was Environ Dermalac!

    5 years ago •

  1. may-may 22

    I have got to try this as my in grown hairs bother me i pick then till they out and leave scares …

    5 years ago •

  1. Pseudo_kate

    I find that Fino (Dischem stocks them) works really well on bikini areas. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t irritate the skin in the least. Use it daily.

    5 years ago •

  1. CindyR

    Its a very interesting article. well needed for me. the Vaya smooth is very nice.

    5 years ago •

  1. Nettie

    helpful tips – i would like to go for the laser

    5 years ago •

  1. Anni*

    Think I’m going to do laser as well!

    5 years ago •

  1. renusha laikram

    isnt laser painful…and wont it damage you skin in the long run

    5 years ago •

  1. Livvy

    good to know, as i do have ingrown hair.

    5 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    Lucky for me, I have done laser… No more shaving or ingrowns… :)

    5 years ago •

  1. GoldenShimmeringCloud

    I really don’t like ingrown hairs.. I went from shaving to waxing and that helps, but my wish is to get my legs lasered one day.

    5 years ago •

  1. Leana

    Luckily I am not prone to ingrown hairs but…. my boyfriend is. I feel so sorry for him when he gets them. Looks ouch.

    5 years ago •

  1. Amoré Sameera Jooste

    I wish I could laser my entire body!

    5 years ago •

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