We can all agree that ingrown hairs feel impossible to manage. All at once itchy and painful, they can also have a major impact on confidence levels. Sadly, though, if you prefer a smooth and hairless surface, ingrown hairs can be unavoidable.
The good news is that ingrowns can be treated—and prevented—with an easy, DIY sugar scrub that is meant to exfoliate, moisturize, and soothe the area all at once. So we chatted with an expert about why we get ingrown hairs, how to prevent them, and one easy way to treat them.
Meet the Expert
- Dr. Michael Horn is a board-certified plastic surgeon based in Chicago.
Keep reading to learn more about the how a DIY scrub can fight ingrown hairs—and how you can make one. (You'll thank us later.)
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs may be the result of aggressive or incorrect hair removal, as shaving and waxing super-frequently may cause hairs to curl into the skin rather than growing back out. (This is why you can usually see a tiny hair follicle under or inside the lesion.) But at their root (pun intended), they're due to growth.
"Ingrown hairs can be caused by their structure and direction of growth," explains board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Horn. "A curved hair follicle can produce tightly curled hair, which can encourage it to re-enter the skin once it’s cut and starting to grow back. When you shave, you create sharp edges in this type of hair, especially if dry-shaved."
Clogged pores are another culprit, too, because if there's an excess of dead skin and debris, it may trap the hairs underneath the surface, causing them to grow sideways under the skin.
Ingrown hairs tend to be more common in coarse and curly hair types, though they can happen to anyone regardless of texture.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs
If you suffer from ingrown hairs frequently, you need to learn how to prevent them—and the best way is to change how to remove hair in the first place.
As Horn explains, you may get ingrown hairs if you "pull your skin tight during shaving, which allows the cut hair to draw back into the skin and re-enter the skin without growing out first." To prevent those, Horn says: "You should shave in the direction of your hair growth."
Exfoliating at least once per week—by using a DIY scrub like the one below—can also help prevent the formation of new ingrown hairs.
Click Play to Learn How to Make an Easy Homemade Sugar Scrub
How to Make a DIY Scrub to Treat Ingrown Hairs
Sure, you could hit up your local CVS or Target for a body scrub, but why not get a little crafty and make your own for a fraction of the cost? To make this simple-but-effective scrub, you just need a few basic ingredients you might have at home already: sugar, jojoba oil, and essential oil.
The hero ingredient in this scrub is obviously sugar, as it makes for an amazing gentle exfoliator that's safe for almost every skin type—even those prone to sensitivity. Jojoba oil is added to nourish the skin and make it more pliable, as this makes it easier for the ingrown hair to get released. And finally, adding an essential oil like tea tree oil is key because it has antiseptic properties that prevent and fight-off infected ingrown hairs while also calming inflammation and redness.
Actually making your scrub couldn't be easier. It's fairly self-explanatory, but you just need to mix the ingredients together until the concoction looks ready. Trust your eyes and your gut on this one, my friends. Typically, a half cup of sugar and oil will suffice, while 10 to 20 drops of your preferred essential oil is the way to go. That being said, you can also totally tailor this recipe depending on how you like your body scrubs to be.
How to Use Your DIY Scrub
Once you're happy with the state of your scrub, you can go right ahead and use it in the bath or shower. To target your ingrown hairs, you'll want to use the scrub daily on the infected area for one week (unless your skin gets red or irritated) for best results.
After you've seen an improvement, you can then use it two to three times a week to help ward off more hairs. Didn't notice a change? Definitely see your doctor to figure out an alternative solution together. Ingrown hairs are annoying, but they can be avoided—and treated—so don't give up.
Click Play for The Best Homemade Honey Sugar Scrub
Jasterzbski TJ, Schwartz RA. Pseudofolliculitis cutis: a vexing disorder of hair growth. Br J Dermatol. 2015;172(4):878-884. doi:10.1111/bjd.13427
Pazyar N, Yaghoobi R, Bagherani N, Kazerouni A. A review of applications of tea tree oil in dermatology. Int J Dermatol. 2013;52(7):784-790. doi:10.1111/j.1365-4632.2012.05654.x