Just about everyone strives for smooth, fuzz-free skin from the waist down (especially come summer) but shaving, waxing and other depilation methods often come at a price: Ingrown hairs. According to Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey board-certified dermatologist Naana Boakye, M.D., the root cause (no pun intended) of this common problem is the body’s natural reaction to a foreign object. “When shaving, hair is cut on an angle, which creates a sharp tip that often penetrates into the dermis and causes inflammation.” To this end, Dr. Boakye’s top hair-removal recommendations are lasers and threading (she’s not a fan of waxing due to the risk of heat-induced discoloration), but if you just can’t break the shaving habit, she has a few pointers:
Do not pull the skin taut when shaving.
Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against the grain.
Do not shave over the same area more than once.
Trim hairs to a stubble and wash the area with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser before shaving.
Use short, even strokes.
After shaving, rinse with water and apply a soothing product.
Dr. Boakye also suggests exfoliating regularly to minimize symptoms of ingrown hairs, and in the event of an inflamed, painful ingrown, “Avoid picking at all costs because this can damage the skin and lead to discoloration and scarring.”
Since hair removal is as much a part of summer as fresh watermelon, lemonade and Rosé all day, here are a few products that can help keep ingrowns to a minimum.
ZO Medical Glycogent Exfoliaton Accelerator ($70)
Exfoliation is key for preventing ingrowns, and this hydrating lotion features a complex of 10% glycolic and lactic acids to gently sweep away dead cells that can trap hairs beneath the skin. Formulated with soothing ingredients that help quell irritation due to any method of hair removal, this antioxidant-rich skin-resurfacing product is also enriched with antioxidants to help shield skin from long-term damage.
Whish Shave Savour Hair Inhibiting Gel Swipes ($8 for 8)
Reducing hair growth is a sure-fire way to minimize ingrown hairs, and these all-natural wipes make it easy. With organic aloe, shea butter, hyaluronic acid and a gentle form of retinol, these individually-wrapped wipes are great for refreshing and hydrating skin when you’re on the go (like after the gym or a spa treatment). Packed with naturally derived, antioxidant-rich Chapparal extract that’s been shown to slow hair growth, they can help you stretch the time between shaving or waxing.
Anthony Ingrown Hair Treatment ($32)
Made for men but beloved by ladies, this post-shave gel contains willowherb and lavender to soothe irritation and inflammation as it gently exfoliates with a blend of glycolic, salicylic and phytic acids. This unique blend of ingredients helps fight bacteria that can lead to breakouts and inflamed ingrowns while freeing hairs trapped by dead skin cells.
Glytone Body Lotion ($43)
With a whopping 17.5% glycolic acid, this retexturizing body lotion helps exfoliate dead cells that can cause clogged pores and hold hairs hostage while leaving skin soft and silky. Perfect for anyone who wants to skip the in-shower scrubbing, this two-in-one product keeps both ingrown hairs and dry, scaly skin at bay—and it’s also great for improving keratosis pilaris (those chicken skin-like bumps on the backs of the arms).
Dollar Shave Club (starting at $3/month)
If breaking up with your razor isn’t an option, a sharp blade is key for minimizing ingrowns—and avoiding inflated retail prices helps, too. Enter this subscription-based service, and if weren’t already aware that you can have razor cartridges delivered directly to your door as often as you need them, you should be. Whether you opt just for the razors or any of the many grooming, skincare or haircare offerings available, this is a must for men and women alike so you’re never without a fresh razor again.
Sciton Forever Bare BLL
There are too many laser hair-removal options to count, and you’re often at the mercy of your doctor—and the devices they carry in their office. But if there’s ever a specific device to ask for by name, it’s Sciton’s Forever Bare BBL. Why? Because this unique technology sends lower doses of energy into the skin at a high rate so your provider can keep the handpiece moving—and keep discomfort to a minimum—while reducing the chances of missing spots (which translates to the need for additional treatments).
NOTE: All products were purchased or sampled in store. Opinions are my own.