How to: deal with ingrown hairs

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


39 Responses

  1. 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.

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

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