How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Two Methods:Prevent Ingrown Hairs Using Shaving TechniquesPrevent Ingrown Hairs with Other Techniques

If you're reading this article, you've probably experienced ingrown hairs, also known as pseudofolliculitis barbae or razor bumps. Ingrown hairs happen when the end of the hair shaft is shaved very low, curling back into the same hair follicle as it grows. This elicits an inflammatory response, which includes redness, itchiness, and/or raised infected area. A further understanding of what ingrown hairs are and how you can prevent them will help you avoid these pesky red bumps going forward.

Method 1
Prevent Ingrown Hairs Using Shaving Techniques

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    Prep your hair before you shave. Hair that is dry and brittle is harder to shave than hair that is wet and pliant. For this reason, it's helpful to wet shave every time you shave, and to use shaving cream to provide lubrication, which helps the razor slide over hairs easier.
    • Shave in the shower or after you've gotten out to moisturize your hair. If you're shaving your face, do it after you get out of the shower; the warm water will better soak into your hair, making it easier to shave after you've stepped out of the shower.
    • Always use a lubricant on your skin. If you're using a razor, never shave without a cream, lotion, or foam. These lubricants are specifically designed to make shaving easier and to prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs.
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    Shave with an electric razor.[1] Electric razors have a foil over them that effectively creates a barrier between your skin and the blade, making it very difficult to cut the hair under the follicle. This also means less close of a shave, but for many people who shave every day, it's worth it. If you do decide to shave with an electric razor, avoid the closest setting, and understand that it's still possible to cut yourself using an electric razor.
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    Shave with the grain. Shaving with the proper technique can go a long way toward reducing ingrown hairs. The grain is the direction your hair grows in. If your hair angles a certain way, shave in that direction. If you need to shave against the grain, make your first pass a shave with the grain, then go against the grain very lightly and carefully.
    • Of course, this will mean that you won't get as close of a shave. However, the closer the shave, the more likely you are to get ingrown hairs that present as angry, inflamed bumps on your skin.
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    Shave with the right blade, cleaning the blade regularly, using light pressure. Using the right blade and applying the right pressure is helpful in preventing razor burn. A couple of tips that you can use include:
    • Shave with a single blade. You don't need seventy blades on a single head in order to get a decent shave. In fact, many people believe that a single sharp blade is better than a multi-blade head because it cuts through hairs instead of tugging and cutting.[2][3]
    • Shave with a sharp blade. A dull blade won't cut hair easily, meaning you'll have to use several passes in order to cut what you might have with one or two passes. To keep your razor sharp:
      • Dip your razor in isopropyl alcohol right after you shave. This will help clean the blade and evaporate any moisture on the blade, which can contribute to rust.
      • Depending on your blades, change them out about every five uses. If you use double edged safety blades, or disposable razors, it shouldn't be hard financially throwing them away five uses.
    • Rinse the blade after each pass. More hair and skin caught in your razor blade means an increased likelihood that you'll cut yourself, resulting in ingrown hairs.
    • Use the lightest pressure. Let the razor glide over your skin. Don't tug or press down too much. Hold the razor deftly and feel the difference on your skin.
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    Treat your skin after you shave. You prep your skin before shaving, so pamper your skin afterwards. Rinse your skin with cool water to tighten the pores. If you shaved your face, treat it with a good-quality aftershave, but preferably one that doesn't have alcohol in it, as they can cause dryness, inflammation, and cellular damage. Aftershaves with witch hazel might be better suited for your skin.

Method 2
Prevent Ingrown Hairs with Other Techniques

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    Use glycolic acid or salicylic acid on your skin. Glycolic acid and salicylic both help exfoliate the skin and prevent ingrown hairs by keeping pores unclogged.[4] (Salicylic acid is a key ingredient in many acne medications.)
    • You can either look for a shaving cream that has these two ingredients in it, or use a moisturizer that has them. Choose one or the other; using both is probably overkill.
    • Salicylic acid works partly by sloughing off dead skin. If you've never used salicylic acid before, be prepared for a little bit of accompanying irritation. This irritation should grow manageable with continued use after a couple of weeks.
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    Exfoliate before you shave. Exfoliating is wiping off the dead layer of skin on the epidermis. While it's generally a great beauty practice, it's indispensable for a great shave, free of razor bumps. Use a light scrub or ingrown hair brush to exfoliate your skin for a minute or so before you plan on shaving that area. This will wipe away any dead skin that could block your pores, and moisturize the hairs that you'll soon be shaving off, making for a better shave.
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    If you have an ingrown hair, don't pluck the hair out completely. Doing so will only cause more irritation and make the hair grow back deeper down the follicle. Instead, take a tweezer and try to lift the ingrown hair out from underneath the skin, if possible. Let the hair grow, or trim it, taking care that it doesn't become infected and lead to folliculitis.
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    Use chemical hair removers instead of shaving or waxing. Chemical hair removers work by dissolving the shaft of the hair, breaking bonds in the keratin of the hair. If you decide to use a chemical hair remover, spot test it on a small area of your body before applying elsewhere; some creams and lotions can seriously irritate the skin or even cause painful reactions.
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    Use semi-permanent or permanent hair removal. You can't get ingrown hairs if you don't have hair, can you? While permanent hair removal may seem ingenious, it can be expensive and come with some side effects. You pretty much have two different options:
    • Use a cream such as Vaniqa for semi-permanent removal. These creams work by slowing the growth of hair, although they also need to be used in conjunction with other hair removal products. As of now, they are prescription-only.
    • Use a laser hair removal technique. Laser hair removal works by zapping dark target matter in hair follicles, ceasing the growth of hair. You can go to a specialty clinic to undergo a laser hair removal procedure, or you can purchase items for care at home.


  • If you prefer shaving to other hair methods then shave in the direction of the hair growth (on legs this means shaving down, not up)
  • Exfoliate well after, and buy a good shaver!
  • Double track razors that cut the hair closer to the skin cause more ingrown hairs
  • Those with naturally curly hair will get ingrown hairs more often
  • Never wash your face with a body soap.

Things You'll Need

  • Exfoliant with salicylic acid

Article Info

Categories: Hair Removal