Ingrown hairs

March 18, 2021 4 min read

What are ingrown hairs?

An ingrown hair grows under the skin and doesn't surface as it normally should. This occurs when the hair follicle has become clogged with dead skin cells. When the hair is cut very short (when shaving for example or if the hair breaks during waxing), the hair curls back on itself into the follicle or it may grow sideways underneath the surface of the skin.

Ingrown hairs can appear on areas such as the face, legs, underarms or pubic area and can affect people with all types of hair, not just coarse, curly hair.

They can be incredibly itchy and uncomfortable. It's common for the hair follicle to become infected, causing inflamed red spots that often become painful pustules. These can leave scarring or pigmentation visible on the skin.

Causes of ingrown hairs

  • Wearing tight lingerie or tights.
  • Improper post-hair removal care.
  • Removal of hair against its growth.
  • Follicle damage (therapist's technique errors).
  • Physiological features (curly hair, dense skin).
  • Hyperkeratosis - abnormal thickening of the outer layer of the skin.

Types of ingrown hair

Ingrown hairs can look different:

  • Hair lies parallel just under the skins thin layer.Cause:a build up of dead skin on the surface which is preventing the hair from breaking through the skin.Solution:exfoliate regularly using a scrub 2-3 times a week or daily dry skin brushing. Moisturise daily as it's harder for the hair to break through a dry and dense epidermis.
  • Hair is twisted.Cause:curly hair, hairs growing in different directions or removal against the hair growth.Solution: shave in the direction of hair growth or use sugaring rather than waxing. Treat as in 1 above.
  • Hair lies deep but no inflammation.Cause:skin is too dense.Solution:exfoliate and moisturise as in 1 above and wait for the hair to disappear.
  • Hair lies deep, with inflammation.Cause: hair removal technique error - the hair broke off at the root, these ingrowns can leave scarring.Solution:treat with antiseptic lotion (or Exfoliating Tonic), carefully remove (using the technique on the next page) and once healed, exfoliate and moisturise as in 1 above.

Should you pluck them out?

This is a commonly asked question, they can be so painful it's hard not to pick at them. Ingrowns are more common when the hair has been removed by the root leaving space for the hair to grow under the skin. Our body reacts to this and produces histamine to fight this invader and the follicle can become infected.

How to remove an ingrown

Using a sterile pin or tweezers and, without piercing the skin, try to lift the hair so that it can grow freely. If this isn't possible to do without breaking the surface, hold a warm flannel to the area to help the pores open. Gently rub in a circular motion to help release the trapped hair. 

Treat the area with a mild antiseptic to prevent infection. Emergency Fix treats ingrown hairs in two ways.

  • Exfoliating Tonic has antiseptic properties to prevent infection and also unclogs the hair follicle, helping the hair to grow freely.
  • Intensive Care soothes inflammation and helps the skin to repair.


  • Remove hair in the direction of hair growth.
  • Exfoliate 2-3 times a week to release any trapped hairs. Use Emergency Fix on ingrowns.
  • Moisturise daily and use a product to soothe inflammation after hair removal, such as Daily Treatment Oil.
  • Try different hair removal methods or take a break to allow the skin to heal.

How to prevent ingrown hairs


Regular exfoliation to remove the dead skin cells that clog the hair follicle is key to preventing ingrown hairs. We recommend using a body scrub 2 to 3 times a week or daily dry skin brushing which carries fantastic health benefits too! Exfoliating before hair removal to clear the pores and dead skin is also recommended.

Correct shaving technique

If you shave, it's important to protect the skin with an appropriate shaving product. Use a fresh, sharp, single-edge razor and shave lightly in the direction of the hair growth, not against it. Use minimal strokes and rinse the blade after each stroke. Further details can be found later in this guide.

Keep skin hydrated

Dry skin results in a greater amount of dead skin cells that can block up the hair follicle, preventing the hair from surfacing so it's important to moisturise daily.

Use a dedicated skincare treatment

Daily Treatment Oil is a light-textured yet deeply penetrating oil that calms redness, prevents infected follicles, exfoliates dead skin cells and hydrates and nourishes the skin. Used as part of your daily skincare regime, it helps to prevent ingrown hairs.

Avoid tight clothing

Tight clothing and synthetic fabrics like nylon leggings, tights, skinny jeans and polyester underwear can exacerbate ingrown hairs.

When skin is constantly rubbing against your jeans, it can become irritated, inflaming the ingrown hair more. It's best to stick to easy cotton clothing that's breathable and won't rub against your skin until any bumps or irritation has completely healed.