The other day I met with a childhood friend for the first time in years. But when she came to lunch in a dress (this was also the first time I’ve seen her in a dress), she was a different person. More confident and happier!
“What’s your secret?”
“I know this isn’t really something to discuss over lunch… but I finally got rid of them.”
I knew exactly what she meant. For as long as I can remember, she’s struggled with ingrown hairs on her legs. Ingrown hairs may not be serious, but they can definitely be a great source of embarrassment for both men and women. In this article, we’ll go through what causes ingrown hairs and the simple at-home remedies you can make to treat and prevent ingrown hairs.
What Causes Ingrown Hairs?
Ingrown hairs are non-serious bumps that appear on the surface of the skin. While they may appear red, they aren’t pimples. Ingrown hairs are caused by hairs which grow sideways beneath the skin. This sort of unusual growth is typically caused by improper shaving, waxing, and tweezing techniques. Other causes include:
- Curly hair
- Coarse hair
- Shaving too closely to the skin
- Hair follicles clogged with dead skin
The inflammation caused by ingrown hairs can contain pus. Similar to pimples, they can become infected by bacteria before and after popping or tweezing. So aside from tweezing and shaving gently, what else can we do to treat ingrown hairs?
Home Remedies for Ingrown Hairs
Surprisingly, there’s a lot of different and simple at home remedies which get to the root (pardon my pun) of the issue.
One of the best ways to get rid of your ingrown hairs is to exfoliate. Exfoliating involves scrubbing dead skin cells off of your skin using a grainy solution. In the process of doing so, you also help push the ingrown hairs out of your skin.
These three homemade exfoliating treatments make use of household staples making them easy to make.
1. Sugar Scrub
Sugar is one of my favorite ingredients to have on hand for scrubs. It’s gentle on the skin and helps remove dead cells that can cause ingrown hairs.
- Mix one cup of white sugar with a half-cup of olive oil.
- Add 10 drops each of lavender essential oil and tea tree essential oil to this scrub and store in an airtight container.
- When using the scrub, take a small amount and scrub the affected area using a circular motion for a few minutes.
- Rinse the scrub off with warm water. Do this once or twice a week for as long as you experience ingrown hairs.
2. Baking Soda Scrub
Baking soda is one of the household staples you can use for just about anything! Baking soda is known for its anti-inflammatory effects. It helps ease the swelling and redness that’s often linked to ingrown hairs.
- To make an exfoliating scrub mix one teaspoon of baking soda, one teaspoon of ground oatmeal and one tablespoon of water.
- Apply this to the skin and leave it on for about three to five minutes then rinse off with warm water. Use this twice daily as needed.
3. Spot Treatment Alternative
- Alternatively, you can make a spot-treatment using baking soda by mixing one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water.
- Using a cotton ball, moisten it with the solution and apply it to the affected area. Let this sit for five minutes before washing with cold water. Repeat as needed throughout the day.
4. Salt Scrub
Salt is an effective exfoliant which reduces swelling and promotes healthy circulation. When choosing salt for exfoliation, make sure to choose fine grain salts as coarse salts can irritate and damage the skin if not fully dissolved. While I prefer pink Himalayan sea salt, if you’ve got table salt on hand feel free to use that (just don’t go putting it into your food!). If your skin gets irritated stop using this treatment.
- Combine 1 ½ teaspoons of salt in one cup of lukewarm water.
- Using a cotton ball, moisten it with the solution and apply it to the affected area. Let sit for a few minutes and then rinse off. Do this twice daily for as long as you experience ingrown hairs.
Like the scrubs, these spot treatments are simple to prepare and use ingredients you’re likely to have at home. If your skin is sensitive, these spot treatments may be softer on the skin than the scrubs.
5. Tea Tree Oil
When it comes to preventing and treating ingrown hairs, tea tree oil is a personal favorite. I like to add tea tree oil to my moisturizer and apply that generously after shaving. This helps to prevent ingrown hairs from occurring. But when you’ve already got ingrown hairs, tea tree oil can be made into a potent spot treatment that prevents infection and reduces inflammation.
- Mix five drops of tea tree oil with two tablespoons of distilled water.
- Apply to cleansed skin.
- Let sit for 10 minutes and rinse. Do this twice daily until your ingrown hairs clear up.
6. Black Tea Bags
Some of my favorite teas to drink are black teas. Black tea contains tannic acid, a form of tannin that acts to protect the skin from inflammation. This black tea bag spot-treatment relies on those tannins to soothe the areas affected by ingrown hairs.
- Soak a tea bag in warm water.
- Apply the bag to the areas affected by ingrown hairs for about three minutes.
- Repeat as needed to soothe the skin.
7. Aloe Vera
I can’t express enough how useful it is to grow your own aloe vera plants at home. As a potent anti-inflammatory, aloe vera is great for treating burns and itchiness. It provides instant cooling relief!
- If working with an aloe plant, follow these directions to harvest the gel from the aloe leaves.
- Apply the gel to irritated skin.
- Let dry for about half an hour before rinsing off.
- Repeat two to three times a day for relief.
8. Raw Honey
Studies have looked at the antibacterial effects of raw honey. Not only is it a great antibacterial, it moisturizes skin and reduces inflammation. For these reasons, honey features in many cosmetics.
- Rub a layer of raw honey onto the inflamed skin.
- Let sit for about 10 minutes or until mostly dry before rinsing with cold water.
- Repeat three or four times a day as needed for the swelling.
9. Apple Cider Vinegar
If you’ve been following Healthy Holistic Living, you’d know that apple cider vinegar is one of our favorite home remedies. For ingrown hairs, ACV kills infection-causing bacteria and soothes the skin.
- Moisten a cotton ball and apply to the areas where ingrown hairs are present.
- Let this absorb into the skin before rinsing with lukewarm water. Repeat twice daily.
If you’ve ever used cucumbers to treat puffy eye bags, using them to treat ingrown hairs is the same idea. Cucumbers are hydrating and are great for soothing itchiness.
- Chill cucumber slices in the fridge for half an hour.
- Rub the cucumber slices on the areas where ingrown hairs grow. Repeat as needed to treat irritation and itchiness.
The next time you’ve got ingrown hairs, try these simple home remedies that actually work!