Ingrown hairs form when you shave hair and it grows back into the skin. This leads to irritation, pain and inflammation. If shaving your armpits is a must – and if you’re a woman, it likely is – you’re not necessarily doomed to deal with ingrown hairs. Use the proper shaving technique and care for the skin after shaving to help prevent pesky ingrown hairs from forming.
Exfoliate your armpits prior to shaving by scrubbing them with an exfoliating sponge or glove, or use a washcloth and exfoliating shower gel to wash the skin. Dead skin makes it more difficult for the hair to grow straight, so removing the dead skin cells helps the hairs to grow correctly.
Shave your armpits at the end of your shower. The warm water from the shower softens the hair so it’s easier to remove and helps prevent ingrown hairs from forming.
Wet your armpits thoroughly and apply a thick layer of pre-shave oil. Let the oil sit on your skin for 10 minutes prior to shaving. The oil makes the armpit hairs pliable and softens the skin. You can use a moisturizing shave cream or gel instead of pre-shave oil, but it doesn’t soften the skin as well to help prevent ingrown hairs.
Use a single-blade razor that has a sharp blade to shave your armpits. Shave your armpits in the direction the hair is growing, and apply only mild pressure to the razor as you move it over the skin. Don’t run the razor over the same area of your armpits more than a couple of times, as this can lead to ingrown hairs and irritation. Rinse the razor blade under water after each stroke.
Rinse your armpits thoroughly to remove the shave oil, gel or cream. Pat them dry with a towel, then apply a cool rag to each armpit for a minute or two. Rub lotion, lavender oil or tea tree oil on the skin to help reduce irritation. Tea tree and lavender oil also kill bacteria, which can be a cause for ingrown hairs. Avoid using alcohol-based after shave products, as they can inflame and irritate the skin, leading to ingrown hairs.
- Change your razor often. Old razors can harbor bacteria that can cause ingrown hairs.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images