If you've ever had ingrown hairs (hello, bikini season), you already know that the tiny bumps are zero fun; they hurt and they're not pretty to look at either.
"Ingrown hairs happen when a hair grows and rather than coming through the skin, it folds backwards or sideways and gets trapped under the skin," Kat James, esthetician and Founder of Shine Beauty Collective in Malibu, tells Lively.
To help us learn how to best treat and, better yet, prevent ingrown hairs, we tapped James as well as Gregory Dylan, esthetician at Gregory Dylan Skincare & Beauty in West Hollywood, to share their pro tips.
If you're prone to ingrown hairs, you're probably wondering what the best way to treat them — and fast— is. Both James and Dylan agree that the best way to treat ingrown hairs is to actually prevent them from happening in the first place.
"Proper exfoliating of the skin is key to remove the dead skin blocking the hair from breaking through the surface," says James. Dylan suggests using a shower poof to exfoliate once or twice a week especially right before you shave. Not only will it prevent ingrown hairs, but you'll also get a smoother shave.
2. Use Topical Products
Okay, but what do you do if you already have an ingrown hair? James and Dylan recommend using a topical product like an ingrown hair cream that contains glycolic acid and salicylic acid, which will help remove the dead cells and release the hair.
However, Dylan advises against applying these products post-shave. Since these acids are strong, it's best to wait at least 24 hours to apply them. You can also apply them a couple of days after to help keep the ingrown hairs at bay.
3. Don't Irritate the Area
You might be wondering if you can pop an ingrown hair to treat the problem. While it's tempting, Dylan recommends resisting the temptation to pick at the ingrown hair as it can irritate the area even more.
Also, be cautious about the things you wear, James adds. Tight clothing, especially around the bikini area, can cause red, irritated skin.
4. See a Professional
If not treated properly, an ingrown hair can get infected, in which case it's best to go see a professional such as an esthetician or dermatologist to help you remove it, recommends Dylan.
But again, this is for cases when it gets really bad. Most ingrown hairs can be treated at home with exfoliation and topical products.