A hair caught in your skin is an ingrown hair. Which is bad enough but when these individual ingrown hairs band together, they form razor bumps.
Whether a loner or a part of an ensemble, the ingrown hair occurred because the hair didn't grow out of your skin. The skin's immune system reacts as it would to any foreign object, and now your skin is inflamed with multiple small red or dark bumps that can be painful and itchy.
Razor bumps may go away in a few days. Or they may not. But why risk infection? Why endure the irritation and unsightliness? Especially when you can try any of these remedies to free your skin of those hairs and clear up those bumps and all the angst they bring with them.
Here are the best ways to get rid of razor bumps. Asap.
Heat + Ingrown Hair Tweezers
The simplest way to immediately deal with razor bumps is to get rid of the ingrown hairs that are causing them to begin with. So grab a pair of very fine tip tweezers - TweezerGuru's Precision Tweezers are perfect for this - and get ready to gently but firmly coax that ingrown hair out! Pointed tweezers are the absolute best for ingrown hairs since they'll let you accurately grab the hair without pinching the surrounding skin.
To start, soak a washcloth in hot water, squeeze it out, and press it onto the razor bumps for 5-10 minutes to soften the skin, open up pores and draw the trapped hairs to the surface. If the cloth cools, repeat until you can see the hair. Once you do, victory is near. You just have to remove the hairs with the tweezers, specially designed with thin, pointy tips to work the hair out of your skin, grasp it and ease it out without damaging the surrounding skin and possibly causing scars.
Before you go to town with the tweezers, sterilize them with rubbing alcohol and work the pointy tips so you can grasp the hair curled beneath the skin and lift its tip out. Then carefully grasp the hair as close to the skin as you safely can and pull slowly and smoothly. You don't want it to break off, because then you will have another ingrown hair in the making.
Wash and rinse the area to keep away dirt and bacteria that aggravate the inflammation. To protect, soothe and heal the area, apply coconut oil or a product with bacitracin (e.g., Neosporin).
Note: If you don't have tweezers - or don't remember where you placed yours, it can be tempting to go digging around with your fingernails. Resist the urge. Fingernails are far from sterile and aren't precise enough to squeeze or pull out an embedded ingrown hair. Wait until you get or find tweezers to perform the ingrown extraction or you're setting yourself up for further irritation and possible infection.
And trust us when we say - if you though an ingrown hair was bad, you haven't experienced the fury of an infected ingrown hair. Just don't go there.
The first thing you should know about using witch hazel for razor bumps is that it's not going to get rid of them. What witch hazel does do is help you weather the razor bump storm until the traitorous little hairs become ripe for picking.
That's 'cause witch hazel is a cool and refreshing antiseptic that helps to reduce inflammation and fight infection. It's also great at hydrating and healing your skin. It reduces redness and inflammation, and until the bumps are cleared up, they won't be screaming, “Look at me!”
Wash the affected area with warm water and soap. Rinse and pat dry. Use a saturated cotton ball to apply the witch hazel directly to the razor bumps until they are well moistened. Repeat the process daily as necessary.
Exfoliate with Scrubs
When you're dealing with a posse of razor bumps, one of the best things you can do for them is to exfoliate. A simple scrub can slough off the top, dead skin cell layer of skin and help to free the trapped hairs so they can find their way to the surface.
An easy way to do this is with a manual scrub that clears away the dead skin cells blocking the ingrown hair. Here are some great scrubs you can get or whip up yourself...
Burt's Bees Sugar Scrub
Burt's Bees Sugar Scrub is 100% natural with sugar crystals and cranberry seeds that gently exfoliate, while pomegranate oil and shea butter soothe and moisturize your skin.
It's the perfect body scrub to soothe, coax out, and prevent ingrown hairs and of course it doesn't hurt that it smells ridiculously yummy. Overall, perfect for dry skin as it's richly hydrating. Also very suitable for sensitive skin.
DIY Sugar Scrub
The thing about sugar scrubs is that they're fun to buy but you never really need to since you can also whip up your own DIY sugar scrub with ingredients you've got right there in your own home.
Here are some super simple recipes you can use right away to exfoliate away those razor bumps!
- Mix one cup of sugar (raw, if you have it on hand) and half a cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Add about 20 drops of tea tree oil to fight infection.
- Mix two cups of sugar with one-quarter cup to one cup of coconut oil (depending on how thick or thin you want the scrub) with two-three teaspoons of vanilla extract.
- Mix 1½ cups of sugar (brown, organic, or white) with ¼ cup of oil (olive, coconut, grape seed or almond) and 5-8 drops of skin-soothing lavender essential oil.
DIY Rice Scrub
Sugar scrubs are great but they usually consist of larger granules.
And if you have sensitive skin or a cluster of red, irritated razor bumps - you already know that can feel a bit too rough.
In which case, you can simply opt for a gentler rice scrub.
To make one, you can either buy rice powder or use any type of bagged rice (brown, jasmine, etc.) and grind the rice into smaller grains in a blender. Add honey until a thick paste forms. Cut a lemon in half and dip the inside of one half into the rice mixture and use to scrub the mixture gently into your skin. If a lemon is not available, your fingers will work just as well.
Exfoliating Brushes and Gloves
It's not just scrubs you can use to quickly whisk away dead skin cells that are blocking ingrown hairs - if you hate the mess that scrubs leave behind and/or you just don't have the time or patience to be mixing up DIY recipes, you still have other exfoliating options, like...
Ingrown Hair Brush
Ingrown hair brushes exfoliate razor bumps safely, and they are invigorating.
For best results, brushes should have a couple hundred micro-bristles with rounded tips that help work those hairs out of the skin.
Dry brush before you shower, working in long upward strokes toward the heart. Do not use on broken skin or on areas that are very sensitive. Be sure to clean the brush well after using. You don't want bacteria trapped in the bristles so that it will be redeposited the next time you use it.
You can use exfoliating gloves on dry skin or on wet skin with a gel or scrub.
They can be used on any part of the body, but they definitely are best for large areas, such as your legs and back.
Using a small sponge to exfoliate those areas can get real tedious. Gloves are made of nylon, rayon, bamboo fiber or jute - it's your choice. Just make sure that they fit well and aren't too rough for your skin.
Use the gloves to massage your skin using small, circular motions. Do not use on sensitive areas, particularly in the area of your eyes.
As great as manual exfoliators like sugar scrubs and gloves are, they're only capable of removing the most outer layer of dead skin cells. That may be enough for some razor bumps but others are more deeply embedded.
That's where chemical exfoliators come in. Chemical exfoliants like alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are actually natural - they're derived from acids that are naturally found in fruits and plants - and they are brilliant at penetrating deeper into your skin to "unglue" the bonds that hold dead skin cells together.
By quickening the turnover of dead skin cell, these chemical exfoliants allow the layers of your skin to shed more quickly. Of course, you can't expect AHAs and BHAs to expose the ingrown hair that's causing your razor bumps immediately, but they will definitely help speed up the process.
So what are best ways to use these chemical exfoliants on your razor bumps? Here are our top picks...
Tend Skin Skin Care Solution
This is a pretty awesome product and it's clear why it's become a cult favorite for those who are prone to ingrown hairs.
Instead of using stronger - and harsher - AHAs and BHAs to speed up exfoliation, Tend Skin has a unique formula using acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) to reduce the swelling and redness of razor bumps.
And not only does it quickly help get rid of existing ingrown hairs and razor bumps - it helps prevent future ones from forming. The only downside to this is that yes, it does contain alcohol which can be drying especially for sensitive skin.
Kerah Lane Solution
The Kerah Lane Razor Bump & Ingrown Hair Solution is the best, natural and alcohol-free razor bump treatment you can get your hands on.
It goes on cool, soothing and contains all-natural, organic ingredients that eliminate painful razor bumps while disinfecting and moisturizing your skin.
Salicylic acid, a BHA, cleans out your pores, exfoliates the skin, fights off bacteria and curtails inflammation. Aloe vera also reduces inflammation as well as the swelling. Lavender oil heals the skin. Overall, perfect treatment that's ideal for all skin types.
Alba Botanica Acnedote
Want a combination of manual and chemical exfoliation?
Alba Botanica's Acnedote is great - this scrub exfoliates gently enough to use on your face and effectively enough for less sensitive places, such as your legs or back.
It contains willow bark extract to disinfect, salicylic acid for a deep exfoliation as well as powdered walnut shells to manually scrub away those dead cells off your skin and out of your pores to give the ingrown hairs room to grow out.
Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads
These wonderfully convenient and surprisingly effective single-use pads are soaked in ingredients that both get rid of and protect your skin from razor bumps.
For such small pads, they're quite potent since they contain a combination of both salicylic acid and glycolic acid.
But don't worry, they're just as soothing with oat extract, witch hazel and lavender oil.
The best part, of course, is that all you need to do is swipe a pad across the area where you are prone to razor bumps daily in between shaving or waxing sessions. No fuss, no muss...and no more razor bumps.
There are any number of essential oils that soothe and treat razor bumps. Here are the best ones!
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is antiseptic, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory. It eliminates the swelling of razor bumps and keeps them from getting infected. It immediately eases pain, itchiness and inflammation.
Mix 15 drops of tea tree oil to 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or any other carrier oil) and apply directly to the razor bumps with a cotton pad or swab.
Lavender oil is just about a “one-stop shopping” for remedying skin conditions. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial and astringent and cleanses and moisturizes too. Perfect for razor bumps.
You can use lavender oil “straight.” Rub a few drops between your palms and apply to the razor bumps.
Calendula oil is also excellent with its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and immunostimulant properties - everything needed to work against the inflammation, soreness and itchiness of those razor bumps. It is also vulnerary, which means it steps up the skin's natural ability to heal with the generation of new cells.
Mix three to six drops of calendula oil with two tablespoons of carrier oil and apply a thin layer to the bumps.
The above are the best ways to get rid of razor bumps...once they happen. But wouldn't it be even better if we could just avoid them in the first place? Here are some tried and true ways to prevent razor bumps.
Revise Your Shaving Technique
One of the smartest, easiest changes to add to your shaving routine to prevent razor bumps is to shave after a bath or shower. The heat and humidity from a warm shower before shaving will open the pores and loosen the hair so that it's more willing to leave its follicle and in less danger of getting stuck in your skin.
Other shaving practices that cut down on ingrown hairs?
- Use a thick lather of cream or gel to also help ease the hair out. Even coconut oil will do.
- Use a clean, sharp blade.
- Shave in the direction that the hair grows, using short even strokes.
Add Exfoliation Into Your Routine
If you're prone to forget to exfoliate regularly, why not just choose a system that adds it in for you? Braun's 3-in-1 Epilator and Exfoliation System is a convenient choice for this - the system comes with one head for epilating and two heads for exfoliating, allowing you to tailor your level of exfoliation for a damn thorough clearing away for dead skin to prevent ingrown hairs before they even have a chance to form.
Even better, this Epilator and Exfoliation System uses sonic technology that exfoliates at more than 3,000 micro-vibrations per minute. That means just the blue brush exfoliates six times better than you could ever do manually with a scrub. The mauve brush exfoliates four times better and is for use on smaller and more sensitive areas. The head pivots to glide over the contours of your body.
You can use it wet or dry - it's cordless. Overall, a convenient, effective way to cut down on the risk of razor bumps forever.
You're probably wondering if we've lost our minds! Suggesting that you go around hairy - really? Of course not. It's just that there are other ways to remove hair that don't result in razor bumps. Laser hair removal, for instance, either done professionally or at home. There's also electrolysis that removes the hair permanently. Can't get ingrown hairs when there is no hair to grow, either in or out.