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Easy DIY Remedies for Your Pesky Ingrown Hairs

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Ingrown hairs—these two little words conjure up so much dread. In our quest for smooth, stubble-free skin, ingrown hairs are an annoyance at best and cause for concern at worst (trust us—you don't want to see what they look like when they get infected). Whether they're springing up as bumps on your legs or wreaking havoc on your bikini line, ingrown hairs are an unwelcome guest that can lead to serious discomfort, inflammation, and even scarring.

Ingrown Hair

An ingrown hair is a common condition that occurs when hair grows back into the skin and becomes trapped.

The cause of ingrown hairs isn't complicated. Simply put, when your hair starts to grow, sometimes it curls inward and gets trapped back under the surface of your skin. This can happen because dead skin cells clog up your hair follicle (so always, always exfoliate), but ingrowns also exist just because of your hair's natural growth pattern—so, unfortunately, those with curly hair may suffer the most.

Keep reading to learn how a few simple steps, DIY remedies, and easy fixes that banish bumps and keep ingrown hairs at bay.

how to treat ingrown hair
Sunny Eckerle/Byrdie 
01 of 08

Aspirin-Honey Treatment

This recipe is a double whammy. Not only does aspirin naturally contain salicylic acid, but honey also has antibacterial properties, which can help reduce the possibility of inflammation and infection, says Kautilya Shaurya, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York. So the two of them will definitely help ward off infection and reduce swelling when applied to your skin. Here's how to make the treatment.

Ingredients:

  • 3 uncoated aspirin tablets
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. water or oil

Directions:

  • Add warm water or oil to a bowl
  • Add honey
  • Crush aspirin tablets
  • Mix together
  • Leave mask on for 10 minutes
  • Wipe off entirely with warm water
02 of 08

Coconut Oil Sugar Scrub

Coconut and coconut oil

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You can use an exfoliant or other mild granular ingredients (like sea salt or granulated sugar) and mix it with a carrier (like avocado or coconut oil—something that won’t immediately dissolve the granules) and make any DIY scrub. Ali Tobia is an aesthetician at Just Ageless in New York, and she says this combination of ingredients keeps follicles clear of any blockages and gently massages ingrown hairs out before they become inflamed or infected.

Coconut oil, for example, is hydrating, keeps skin moisturized, and reduces inflammation. It's basically our winter skin savior. Mix it with raw sugar and you've got a winner. You can use this scrub daily until you see an improvement, and then you can switch to two to three times a week. Just be careful that the scrub isn't too abrasive.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup of coconut oil
  • 10 drops of tea tree oil, or your preferred essential oil

Directions:

  • Combine sugar and coconut oil in a bowl
  • Add in essential oil
  • Mix together
  • Apply and then rinse using warm water
  • Dry with a clean towel
03 of 08

Baking Soda and Oatmeal Treatment

Here's a great combo: Baking soda, which is a great exfoliator, helps reduce and prevent ingrown hairs. Oatmeal has a soothing effect, reducing redness and irritation caused by exfoliation. Blair Murphy-Rose MD, FAAD, a dermatologist at MDCS: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery, mentions DIY ingredients like oatmeal are a great way to reduce inflammation after ingrown hairs occur.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp. ground oatmeal

Directions:

  • Mix baking soda and oatmeal together
  • Add water to the bowl
  • Stir until it has a paste-like texture
  • Using a cotton pad, scoop up the mixture
  • Apply to the affected area and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Rinse with warm water
04 of 08

Tea Tree Oil Soak

Tea Tree Oil bottles and leaf

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Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory, and it has antibacterial and antiseptic properties, which is why it's found in so many acne products.

Ingredients:

  • Warm water
  • Tea tree oil

Directions:

  • Warm eight ounces of water in a bowl
  • Add about 20 drops of tea tree oil
  • Use a clean washcloth to apply the mixture to the affected area

Use a warm washcloth to gently exfoliate and loosen dead skin. Murphy-Rose recommends doing this toward the end of your shower or bath when the skin is saturated with water. Make sure the temperature isn't too hot, and let the warm water do its thing.

05 of 08

Black Tea Bag Treatment

Tea is known to have many natural healing properties, and black tea, in particular, contains anti-inflammatory properties to soothe skin and reduce redness. It also contains antioxidants like caffeine, which, aside from being part of our morning routine, also has great anti-aging and preventative acne benefits.

Ingredients:

  • 1 black tea bag
  • Warm water

Directions:

  • Heat water
  • Dip tea bag to moisten
  • Apply tea bag to the affected area
  • Let sit for two to three minutes
06 of 08

Oil-Based Serum

Woman holding glass bottle

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FYI, if you're particularly sensitive, it's best to avoid overly harsh scrubs. Abrasive scrubs like sugar and salt scrubs do exfoliate the skin but often at the expense of causing excess skin irritation, Murphy-Rose says. She generally prefers the use of gentle chemical (acid) exfoliation, but if you're not into chemical exfoliants and want something to soothe skin post-shave, your best DIY option might be an oil-based recipe like this one.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp. castor oil
  • 1 tbsp. hemp oil (optional)
  • 10 drops tea tree oil

Directions:

  • Find a reusable glass bottle
  • Combine castor oil and hemp oil
  • Add tea tree oil to mix
  • Apply combination after shaving to prevent irritation
07 of 08

Tea Tree Oil and Witch Hazel

Tobia tells us tea tree oil combined with warm water is a great antiseptic to use in the affected area. Just add 10 drops of oil to one cup of warm water. It helps loosen hair and clears out the follicles, she says. After, witch hazel — a natural plant that has antibacterial and antiseptic benefits that help prevent inflammation — can be applied as a toner immediately following hair removal/shaving.

Ingredients:

  • 10 drops of tea tree oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • Tea tree oil

Directions:

  • Warm 1 cup of water in bowl
  • Add tea tree oil to warm water
  • Apply to skin
  • Dab with witch hazel as a toner afterward
08 of 08

Aloe Vera Baking Soda Treatment

Aloe Vera Gel

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Look for products or natural ingredients (like aloe vera) that contain salicylic acid. It's known to help prevent infection, reduce bacteria, aid proper skin turnover, and prevent blockage of hair follicles.

"Salicylic acid is one of my favorite ingredients for at-home ingrown hair prevention because it is one of the few acids that can travel into the pore, working deep within the epidermis to keep your pores clear."

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. aloe vera
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda

Directions:

  • Combine aloe vera and baking soda
  • Let sit for two to three minutes
  • Store the rest in a jar to use for later
  • Keep in the fridge

Other at-home options range widely and include cleansers like CeraVe's SA Body Wash ($13), saturated peel pads like Cane + Austin's Miracle Peel Pads ($78), a range of different exfoliants, and chemical peels.

"I recommend the use of alpha- and beta-hydroxy acids to exfoliate your skin followed by a light non-comedogenic oil-free moisturizer," Murphy-Rose says.

While anti-inflammatory treatments like soaks, scrubs, and serums can help to reduce inflammation after ingrown hairs occur, don't forget the importance of treating their root cause. The best method is gentle daily exfoliation and moisturizing. Use these DIY mixes to exfoliate, prevent, and soothe any irritations.

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