On the list of annoying beauty issues like sparse eyebrow hairs, enlarged pores, and smudged lipstick, there's one that clocks in above the rest: ingrown hairs. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, different hair removal methods can lead to these pesky bumps popping up along areas like your bikini line. But, as frustrating as they can be, there are ways to get rid of them and prevent new ones from forming. We consulted Dr. Sue Ann Wee of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City for general tips on how to remove ingrown hairs yourself - and prevent them from coming back.
Before picking at your skin, make sure you're actually dealing with an ingrown hair. "An ingrown hair is when the hair grows back into the skin, or never correctly grows out of the follicle but instead grows sideways into the skin," explained Dr. Wee. You may actually see the hair under the very top layer of your epidermis, or your ingrown could just look like a painful red bump. Consult with a dermatologist if you're not sure. "It is common for warts and other skin conditions to be mistaken for ingrown hairs," the doctor cautioned.
A surge in ingrown hairs is often a result of shaving and waxing away fuzz. Using a razor is especially problematic. "Shaving results in a very sharp edge to hair, which can then more easily poke back into the skin," Dr. Wee warned. Your hair's texture could also be to blame - curls are more prone to this issue, as they coil up and under your hide. The products you use can also make a difference. "Sticking with noncomedogenic moisturizers and sunscreens is recommended to avoid causing plugging up of hair follicles by products," Dr. Wee said. If you're not seeing symptoms like pain, pus, tingling, or warmth from your ingrown (which are signs of an infection), then you can attempt to dislodge the hair. Scroll through for Dr. Wee's tips and shop all the products you need for an at-home ingrown hair removal session.
- Additional reporting by Anvita Reddy