Whether from waxing, shaving, epilating, plucking or just misfortune, ingrown hairs are a real hassle to avoid and get rid of. To start to understand how to get rid of ingrown hairs on legs, you need to understand what causes them – and it’s fairly simple. Ingrown hairs anywhere on your body are caused by either the hair curling back into the follicle on top of itself, or hair never growing out through the follicle (i.e. resulting in a failure to break the skin).
There are many articles explaining the most venerable area (ladies…) or how to avoid and treat facial ingrown hairs. There are more techniques for the legs simply because you don’t need to be as cautious about using treatments on the skin there, because it obviously is not as sensitive as other areas. However there is much less literature on this subject than on facial/’private’ areas so here we present you with the ultimate top 10 ways to get rid of ingrown hairs on legs – in order of easiest fixes to the more involved ones. Our advice is work through the options on this list as they apply to you, as you may find not all of them will, or that a combination of these solutions will help.
10. Soften hair (and skin) before hair removal
This is number ten because surely as sensible new age women this will be common sense. Not only to keep the area clean and free of possible irritants (this my nice way to say this should fall under common personal hygiene), it will actually make the process less painful. If you soak in the bath (preferably) or shower (if pressed for time) before waxing or shaving your legs, the hair will be softened at the follicle and easier to work out of the skin (which will also be softer). This will prevent irritation from dirt as previously mentioned, as well as irritation to the skin which creates the environment for ingrown to form.
Again, this should already be part of your shower routine. Either every day (if using an exfoliating body wash/scrub) or a mere couple of times a week (with a proper exfoliating mitt or glove). This will help to keep the old skin out of the way of the hairs coming through, and without using language too vulgar, yank out any ingrown hairs which are forming or have formed close to the surface.
Another basic ladies! If you’re having to adjust your routine too much at this stage, my advice is to follow these first three for a good week or two and see what a difference it will make, not only in getting rid of ingrown hairs on your legs, but rejuvenating your skin all over! This is an easy one – no need for expensive moisturizers for your body unless you have hyper sensitive skin, just choose a brand which appeals to you in smell/colour/thickness or any of the above, and use it.
After showering is essential, but also any time you feel your skin getting dry. As the skin on your legs is often affected by many external factors such as the weather, rough materials, physical activity and many more, apply moisturizer any time you notice a dry or abnormal appearance of your skin. The more irritated or cracked your skin gets, the more likely ingrown hairs are to form. Prevention is the easiest thing to do, before you even have to think about how to get rid of ingrown hairs on your legs.
7. Don’t use a dull razor (if you shave)
This may be another hygiene issue, but could just be something you’ve never given a second thought to. If you shave your legs, and you’re using a disposable razor or razor with disposable heads, change them almost every time you shave. If you’re using a dull razor, chances are:
a) You’re irritating the skin by uneven shaving
b) You’re not shaving hairs evenly, resulting in a greater chance of them curling back in on themselves (i.e. a greater chance of ingrown hairs)
c) You’re allowing more dirt and possibly rust to touch your skin at it’s most vulnerable
The best test of whether it is time to throw out a razor is, would you be willing to use it in the hypothetical instance that you’d shave the other area below the belt? If the answer is no, bin immediately. (NB: if you would consider actually shaving said area in a non-hypothetical sense, you need to do a lot of further reading about why that is a terrible idea. Feel free to comment if an article is needed on the specifics, but if you’re of an age where hair removal there is needed you should know better than to shave!)
6. Painful hair removal? Don’t sweat it
This is oft ignored but very important, as how you treat your skin a few hours after hair removal will affect the entire hair cycle – especially if you allow sweat into the pores. A basic remedy however – don’t exercise for at least two to three hours after hair removal, and try to leave it longer. If you do have to exercise for whatever reason, make sure you shower afterwards, do not exfoliate or treat your skin with anything harsh, and pat dry.
5. Avoid wearing tight pants more often than necessary
This is a tricky one for winter, if you’re prone to wearing tights under skirts or dresses on the days you deviate from pants. If you have to dress in a corporate manner for work that’s fine, just be sure to change into something more comfortable and less constricting when you’re at home, at least for a couple of days after removing hair and preferably every day. This will prevent the constant rubbing and foreign material on top of your skin, which will stop the forming of ingrown hairs.
4. Use anti-bacterial soap
If none of the above are working out for you, try buying a specialty soap product. The best I’ve come across is a brand called Phisohex, which is inexpensive and definitely works. Usually meant for facial use, you can buy this in Australia although I’m not 100% on other countries – a quick Google should help you out. However really any product marketed as an anti-bacterial soap will do the trick – be sure to follow the instructions for your skin type, and don’t over use as they can be quite harsh on the skin.
3. Try a different method
Every girl chooses her hair removal method for a reason, be it convenience, cost, or a whole host of other factors. However if you have tried all of the above and are still getting more than one or two ingrown hairs on your legs per month, you may need to change the method that you use. Everyone has at least slightly different skin and while your best friend may swear by their harsh German waxing lady, and another may as well be using the vibration of her Gillette for something else she loves it so much, you may find neither of these methods work for you. The ultimate in hair removal is permanent hair removal by laser treatments, however this can get expensive depending on where you go. But it’s the fastest and easiest way to get rid of ingrown hair on your legs, and after a few sessions you will have little to no hair in the future. If you can’t afford that right now, and you’re constantly getting ingrown hairs or irritations on your legs, try each other method for a month or so and see if there is any improvement.
2. Only take out ingrown hairs when they are surfacing naturally
If you are constantly getting rid of ingrown hairs on your legs and have followed the above steps, you may have some nasty residual ingrown hairs even though on the whole you skin is improving. If this is the case, do NOT pick them out with your hands (try to avoid tweezers as well for that matter). I cannot stress enough how negatively your skin will react – not only is that method likely to irritate your skin more and cause further issues, you may leave scars on your legs.
So if you’re not keen to scar yourself, and realize that quite frankly picking at your own skin is best left to the addicts who converge around your local train station, be very careful at removing the already existing ingrown hairs on your legs. Your body is more resilient than you realize, and when treated with care the hair will work itself out gradually. If you can see an ingrown on the surface (it will appear as a thick hair, which is actually one hair doubled over on closer inspection), there are only two steps:
a) Apply a warm, damp cloth or facewasher, in order to draw the hair out and soften the skin. It’s imperative to do this for at least 10 minutes for it to have any affect on the skin and hair
b) As you can already see the loop of the hair, use a sterilized needle and insert it into the loop. Pull away from the skin and the end of the hair that isn’t meant to be there will be drawn out.
Again, if you can’t see the hair at the surface at all, do NOT try to pick it out.
1. Let your hair grow out
If none of the above are working for you at all, your best choice is just to leave your skin alone for a few weeks at least. Continue to exfoliate, moisturize, and use anti-bacterial soap if it is proving at least slightly effective; however leave all other hair removal options alone for a while. Let the hair grow to a length that is longer than the bare minimum required for waxing, and see if you find any change to your skin. If you are still exfoliating and treating your skin with care and you have what seems to be an abnormal number of residual razor bumps and ingrown hairs, it is best to see a dermatologist, as there may be specialized products available for your skin type.
The above are the safest and most universal ways to get rid of ingrown hairs on legs, which will actually work for the majority of people. If they aren’t working for you, try an anti-ingrown or post wax cream or balm for a couple of weeks, however do not use extensively if it doesn’t seem to help. If you get to the end of the list and have given your skin plenty of time to heal and it just isn’t working, it is best to see a dermatologist who will be qualified to help you with professional advice.
Good luck ladies.