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Here's How To Never Have Ingrown Hairs Ever Again

Do better, skin. Do better.

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First things first: This is how ingrown hairs happen.

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Hey, I get it. Sometimes I just stay wanna stay home and burrow myself in my safe, protective blanket too. But ingrown hairs are a huge pain. And they are definitely not paying any rent.

You might recognize the raised, sore bumps that sometimes also appear red depending your skin tone. They occur when a hair re-enters the skin as it's growing, instead of growing outward as it should.

People with tightly curled hair are more likely to experience ingrown hairs because their hair's follicles are curved, but anyone can get these inflamed bumps of pain and anguish. They can happen anywhere on the body, but most often show up in places that are frequently shaved — especially bikini lines, underarms, and necks.

1. Don't pick at them with your fingers. Ever.

It can be so tempting, but the easiest way to make an ingrown hair worse is to pick at it. Picking at ingrown hairs inflames the area, and sometimes drives hair further into its reclusive bat cave (aka your skin). Your hands carry outrageous amounts of bacteria, and exposing an ingrown hair to that can cause further swelling, pain, or even infections. Just look at the stuff that grows on your phone. Gross.

Picking at the skin around an ingrown hair often leads to permanent scarring. The momentary satisfaction of getting that sucker out will not be worth it 20 years from now, trust me. Your skin deserves better, and future you will be grateful.

2. Apply acne medication to the area several times a day for a few days.

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Your middle school BFFs — salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide — are the active ingredients in most over-the-counter acne medications. Applying either to the skin above an ingrown hair reduces swelling and inflammation, giving the hair more room to redirect its course and grow outward.

3. Gently exfoliate with salt or sugar scrubs.

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Exfoliating the skin around an ingrown hair removes dead skin cells and dirt, which helps reduce swelling and inflammation. Hair is freer to grow outward when it's not being blocked by barriers outside your skin. Use a soft-bristled brush or washcloth to gently massage a scrub into the area around an ingrown hair using small, circular motions. Stop exfoliating if your skin cracks or bleeds. Umm, ouch.

4. Use sterilized tweezers to gently remove the hair.

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In combination with gentle exfoliation and acne medication, a sterilized set of tweezers can help extract a troublesome ingrown hair. Don't try to extract a hair that isn't already near the surface of your skin. It needs to be ~ready~ to leave first.

To sterilize tweezers, first dampen clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe the tweezers. Then use a cotton ball to wipe your skin with a dab of rubbing alcohol. Lightly press the tweezers against your skin to check if you can see or feel the hair. If it is already visible and beginning to curve outward, slowly pull on the hair. Once you extract the hair, immediately wash the area with warm water and soap. Apply an antiseptic to protect from infections, and don't shave the area until it has healed.

5. Shave in the same direction that your hair grows.

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Always shave in the direction of your hair growth, moving slowly and using a moisturizing shave gel or cream. Make sure to rinse the blade after each stroke. Rinse your skin with cold or lukewarm water and soap afterward.

If your skin is particularly sensitive, consider investing in an electric razor. They're intimidating at first, but pretty easy to use with some practice.

6. Always exfoliate your skin immediately after shaving.

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Exfoliating with a salt or sugar scrub can help remove any dead skin, dirt, or other debris that may not be rinsed away after you shave. This lessens the likelihood of clogged pores, which can serve as a breeding ground for ingrown hairs. Don't give ingrown hairs the chance to get cozy in your skin!

You can try using an exfoliating glove, facial exfoliating brush, or any regular washcloth or hard loofah. Your shower can be your own personal mini-spa.

7. Use an ingrown hair serum after exfoliating your shaved skin.

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Ingrown hair serums help keep your raw skin hydrated. Shaving and exfoliating can take their toll and natural oils like lavender and tea tree oils replenish your skin's moisture, soothing post-shave irritation and keeping inflammation at bay. After-shave serums and anti-bump creams can also reduce the appearance of blemishes and bumps.

Stay away from products that contain alcohol — they'll dry out your skin. Shea Moisture makes a great after-shave elixir that can be used for face and body.

8. Pat your skin dry instead of rubbing it.

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Haphazardly rubbing a towel against your skin after shaving causes friction, which can lead to irritation and inflammation. Use a cotton towel on exfoliated, post-shave skin. Pat in gentle motions, being careful to not rub too harshly against your skin. This can cause chafing (ugh, even that word hurts).

And hey, don't bother shaving if you can.

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Regularly shaving newly grown hair often results in frequent ingrown hairs, especially if you don't replace your razor or blades as often as they should be.

Waxing and hair removal creams are better for your skin, but they come with their own frustrating drawbacks: Waxing is painful, and depilatories can irritate sensitive skin. Plus, getting waxed in a salon can be expensive.

Even if you are not shaving, exfoliating your skin and using after-shave serums is important. If your ingrown hairs are extremely frequent and painful, it may not be enough to try addressing them at home. If you find that they're interrupting your daily life, it may be time to consult a dermatologist.

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