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Whether you're partial to wax, lasers, epilators, razors, or plucking, hair removal can be a tricky feat. And even when you're past the discomfort (or wincing pain), the battle might not be over quite yet. For many, saying goodbye to peach fuzz and stubble means saying hello to ingrown hairs.
So, is there anything you can do about it, or are bumps and irritation just the name of the game? We chatted with some estheticians to find out. "To prevent ingrown hairs, I recommend exfoliating three to four times a week," offers Orange County-based esthetician and wax specialist Beka Hussong. According to Bay Area esthetician Draci Gomez, exfoliation can also help treat the ones that have already popped up.
With these pointers in mind, here are the best ingrown hair treatments for banishing bumps.
Best Overall: Fur Ingrown Concentrate
Fur Ingrown Concentrate comes with a little dropper bottle containing a blend of soothing oils, like castor, grape seed, coconut, lavender, and jojoba, plus a textured cloth mitt. This genius combo allows you to control the pressure as you exfoliate while targeting your irritated skin with gentle yet effective ingredients.
Best Budget: GiGi No Bump Solution
Gigi No Bump is a great option for babes on a budget. This topical solution uses salicylic acid and sea buckthorn oil to address existing bumps, ingrown hairs, and razor burn while preventing more from forming.
Best Drugstore: Gillette Venus Skin Smoothing Exfoliant
If there's one drugstore brand you can trust on your journey to smooth skin, it's Gillette. Since the 2001 launch of its Venus line, our legs have been ever-silkier, so it's no surprise this gentle exfoliant is one of the best options for preventing ingrown hairs. We like that it kicks dead skin to the curb and is pH-balanced for your most delicate areas.
Best Splurge: Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel
If you want to pull out the big guns, you might consider springing for a box of Dr. Gross's Exfoliating Body Treatment. Part of the cult-loved Alpha Beta line, these peel pads call on AHA and BHA exfoliants to improve the look of ingrown hairs and help to prevent future pustules, according to the brand.
Best for Face: Skin Buttr Exfoliatr
For those dealing with ingrown hairs on their face or neck, we suggest Skin Buttr Exfoliatr, a natural and ultra-gentle solution that claims to soothe while keeping bumps at bay. Standout ingredients include aloe vera, shea butter, avocado oil, green tea extract, vitamin E, and jojoba oil.
Best for Body: Anne's Apothecary Turmeric Body Scrub
Anne's Apothecary Turmeric Body Scrub is ideal for treating skin from the shoulders down, though it's gentle enough for your face, too. It contains organic sugar, which works as a physical exfoliant to slough off dead skin and fend off ingrown hairs.
Best Post-Shave: Jack Black Bump Fix Razor Bump & Ingrown Hair Solution
After shaving, apply a thin layer of Jack Black Bump Fix with a cotton pad, and continue using it as often as every day to prevent razor burn and bumps. This AHA-BHA combo claims to remove dead skin cells to expose trapped hairs before they have a chance to grow inward.
Best for Razor Bumps: Tend Skin Solution
You'll want Tend Skin Solution on your side in the battle against razor bumps. This toner-style product uses topical aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid or ASA) to soothe the skin, unclog hair follicles, and calm inflammation.
Best for Bikini: Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster Ingrown Hair & Bikini Bump Eliminator
Removing hair around your bikini area is supposed to make your skin more presentable, and ingrowns really throw a wrench in things. To tackle the issue, try these pre-moistened pads from Completely Bare. Glycolic acid and salicylic acid exfoliate, while, according to the brand, green tea extract helps to soothe your delicate nether region.
Best Preventative: Sweet & True Botanicals Body Polish
"My go-to product would be from Sweet & True Sugaring Co. I am obsessed with their body polish," Gomez tells Byrdie. "The natural body scrub is made with coconut oil and shea butter as the main ingredients. It leaves my skin feeling amazing and definitely helps ingrown hairs stay away."
Best Natural: Glam Body Pink Grapefruit Coffee Scrub
If you prefer au naturale treatments, Glam Body's Pink Grapefruit Coffee Scrub has your name on it. The earth-sourced blend exfoliates with Arabica coffee grounds and sugar and nourishes stressed skin with grapefruit, sweet orange, and jojoba oils.
Best Spot Treatment: Alleyoop Spot Me All-In-One Blemish Treatment
With one or two ingrown hairs, you don't necessarily have to exfoliate the entire area. Instead, reach for Alleyoop Spot Me, a brilliant formula that delivers a concentrated dose of AHAs and BHAs to the bump in question.
Best Polish: The London Grant Co. Honey Coco Body Polish
This brilliant body polish physically exfoliates with Brazillian cane and coconut palm sugars. Then it calls on plant-derived oils and a dose of raw honey to moisturize.
Best Scrub: Nubian Heritage Patchouli & Buriti Infused Shea Butter
Give yourself a good rubdown with this body scrub from Nubian Heritage. Exfoliating sugar addresses ingrown hairs and prevents more from popping up while natural oils, butters, and extracts moisturize the skin.
Best Pads: 3BWaxing Acne & Ingrown Pads
"I recommend the 3BWaxing Acne & Ingrown Pads I created for my clients," says Hussong. "They are a jar of pads that gently exfoliate the skin and have no alcohol in them, so they aren't drying. They have glycolic, lactic, salicylic, and mandelic acid, which are really good for removing dead skin so ingrown hairs can come out, as well as preventing future ingrowns."
Best Scent: The Luxxstrous Dulce Cafecito Whipped Body Polish
"I would also recommend body scrubs from The Luxxstrous—coffee flavor is my go-to," says Gomez. This scrumptious-smelling body polish contains a foaming base of plant oils and exfoliates with ground coffee and brown sugar.
Best Tweezers: Tweezerman G.E.A.R. Ingrown Hair Splinter-Tweeze Stainless Steel Tweezer
To remove existing ingrown hairs, reach for Splinter-Tweeze tweezers. The sharp tip is designed to grab those pesky little offenders with precision and pull them out from the root.
The best ingrown hair treatment overall is Fur Ingrown Concentrate (view at Ulta), which combines oils and a cloth mitt for excellent exfoliation and moisturizing benefits. However, if you can swing the price tag, you really can't go wrong with Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment (view at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying an Ingrown Hair Treatment
When buying an ingrown hair treatment, you'll want to look for exfoliating ingredients, which can be in the form of physical exfoliants or chemical exfoliants. Physical exfoliants physically slough off dead skin cells, either with grainy particles like coffee grounds or sugar or textured cloth.
Chemical exfoliants include AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids) and BHAs (beta-hydroxy acids), which essentially dissolve dead skin cells. AHAs include glycolic acid, lactic acid, and mandelic acid, and salicylic acid is the most common BHA.
Some ingrown hair treatments are intended for specific body parts, such as the face, bikini area, or neck. If you typically get bumps in one place, you might want to look for an option formulated for that area. However, many options can be used on your entire body, and you'll find some that can be used from head to toe.
You'll also want to consider the application. Ingrown hair solutions come in the form of pre-moistened pads, toners, creams, concentrates, scrubs, polishes, and spot treatments. Whichever format you prefer, get something easy to use between hair removal sessions, and be sure to follow the directions carefully to avoid further irritation.
How do you treat an ingrown hair?
According to Gomez, the best way to treat ingrown hairs is to exfoliate two to three times a week as this keeps irritation, dead skin buildup, and pustules at bay. Additionally, she recommends switching to waxing or sugaring instead of shaving. "With these methods, the hairs are pulled from the root and can clear the follicle better than with shaving since it just cuts the hair on top of the skin and doesn't allow a new hair to grow out," she explains.
What topical ingredients can help ingrown hair heal?
To help existing ingrown hairs heal, you want something powerful enough to be effective but also gentle enough that it won't cause further irritation. Your best bet is plant-derived oils, like jojoba, tea tree, coconut, castor, avocado, lavender, and sea buckthorn. Additionally, ingredients like niacinamide, witch hazel, aloe vera, green tea extract, acetylsalicylic acid, and colloidal oatmeal can help to soothe.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Theresa Holland has been writing for Byrdie since 2020, where she covers makeup, haircare, wellness, and skincare. As an aficionado of the latter, she's tried many exfoliating treatments and is a big fan of Dr. Dennis Gross and Bliss—and always keeps a pair of Tweezerman tweezers nearby. You can read more stories by Theresa on MyDomaine.