If you’ve ever experienced an ingrown hair, you know firsthand how annoying (and sometimes painful) they can be. Ingrowns happen when a hair coils under the surface of the skin and doesn’t break through. It then gets trapped and forms a red or white bump.
We chatted with Lexi Miles, beauty entrepreneur and founder of , a waxbar with eight locations across Canada, who is basically the guru on waxing and ingrown hairs. She gave us some tips for how to prevent them and some advice on what to do if you get one.
Waxing is best
“All hair removal techniques can cause ingrown hairs, but waxing, especially when performed by an expert and done frequently, is your best bet to reduce the chance of getting ingrown hairs. This is because waxing removes the hair from the root,” says Miles. She recommends waxing frequently—every three to four weeks.
Know the causes of ingrowns
“Shaving is typically the leading cause of ingrown hairs as it cuts the hair at the surface of the skin, but does not remove the root [which can cause the hair to coil back under or not properly exit the skin],” says Miles. “Ingrown hairs can also be caused from poor quality waxing, if hairs have been broken or the skin was irritated while the hair was being removed.” Miles also says that wearing tight clothing or undergarments can irritate the skin and cause hair to not break through.
Exfoliation is key
Exfoliating prior to your waxing appointment is the most important step to prevent getting ingrown hairs. “[It] helps prep the skin and hair [by removing dead skin cells that can cause irritation]. Always exfoliate in the opposite direction of hair growth.”
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
“Smooth is always in style,” says Miles. “Use a lotion or body oil daily to make sure your skin is always healthy and happy. Hydrated skin is important pre-wax so that the wax adheres to the hairs and not dry skin.”
Make sure your hair is at ideal length
“If your hair is long, trim before your waxing service. This will help prevent pulling, which is more painful, and potential hair breaking, which in turn will help prevent ingrown hairs.” She also recommends letting your hair grow out to the length of a grain of rice before removing.
Leave the waxing to the professionals
“Go to a professional waxer and ensure your wax bar is 100 percent sanitary,” says Miles. A couple things to look out for include: using sterilized/disposable tools for each client, no double-dipping in the wax pot and hands are frequently sterilized or gloves are worn. “Ingrowns can be caused by waxers who aren’t properly trained to remove hair in the right direction or by using the wrong types of wax, and they can get infected when treated in an area that isn’t sterile.”
If you have an ingrown hair, seek help
Miles does not recommend at-home treatment for an ingrown hair. “If you do find yourself with one, a trained and experienced waxologist can use a sterilized disposable lancet to remove ingrown hairs safely.” Trying to remove one yourself can cause trauma to your skin which can lead to inflammation and scarring.
Post-wax care is a must
“Keep the area dry and clean for 24 hours, no tight-fitting clothing, working out, saunas, steam rooms, pools or sex,” says Miles. “It’s important to keep the area untouched as your hair follicles are still open. We also recommend using an ingrown hair serum [like Princereigns Ingrown Hair Serum] every day to fight them off before they begin.” In addition, Miles advises starting to exfoliate again 48-72 hours after your wax.
If you’re a picker, listen up
Picking at ingrown hairs is bad with a capitol B. If you get the urge to start going to town, Miles recommends applying a hot compress to the area to reduce swelling and covering the ingrown with serum or a soothing at-home remedy like toothpaste or baking soda. “Remember that you are going to make the situation so much worse by picking!”
Stock your bathroom
There are a couple key products Miles says are a must when stocking your bathroom for pre- and post-waxed skin. “Prince Reigns Ingrown Hair Serum is the best for fighting ingrown hairs.” She also says an all-natural exfoliant that contains ingredients like aloe, salicylic or glycolic acid is key to reducing inflammation, redness and to help soothe pain.
Lavender Chamomile Moisturizing Oil, $36,