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Help Me, Rio: I Have Ingrowns All Over

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I’m no stranger to beauty mishaps — I once ripped half of my eyelashes out with a drugstore lash curler. After such an incident, it’s easy to take to the internet to look for advice. The trouble is, there is simply too much out there. Which is why, when I have a beauty dilemma, I prefer to go to trusted friends — people who’ve been there before, know their stuff, and can give me helpful, tailored advice. I’d like to be that friend for you, so I created the email Send me your strange, specific beauty problems, and I’ll respond with tips, tricks, and remedies to get you through your predicament.

Hi Rio, 
Lately I’ve been getting the worst ingrown hairs. In the past, I would occasionally get them along my bikini line, but for some reason, in the past month or so, they’ve been popping up constantly on my armpits and even on my calves. How do I fix this?

I am no stranger to ingrowns. I’ve actually dealt with them my whole life, and have discovered that, just as with acne breakouts, creating a diligent routine is key to keeping them at bay. As far as what’s triggering your ingrowns, I have a few suspicions: Have you been swapping out your razor blades frequently enough? I would recommend changing your blade every two shaves to ensure it’s sharp enough. A second, oft-overlooked culprit is tight clothing — sometimes elastic in tight underwear or leggings can suffocate your skin, which traps hairs, triggering ingrowns. In other words: lounging around the house in leggings all day long could be causing the calf ingrowns.

It’s easy to only think about ingrowns when they sprout up. But in reality, preventive treatment is the best course of action when it comes to keeping them permanently at bay. Below, I’ve written up a routine that includes both exfoliating and healing products, so you can buff away the dead skin that traps hairs, while simultaneously soothing and reducing the inflammation around any preexisting ingrowns.

As far as ingrown treatments go, this kit from Fur is probably the thing that’s most dramatically helped me. Each of these packets come with 12 mini-mitts, soaked in serum that’s rich in lactic acid (an AHA that helps buff away dead skin cells and brighten up dark marks), witch hazel (which helps control excess oil production that can lead to ingrowns), aloe vera (for calming and healing the skin), and willow bark (a BHA that goes deeper into the pores to help prevent buildup and inflammation). Massage the mitt in circular motions on any areas where you’re prone to ingrowns (or over areas where they already exist) — you could even use this on your face if you happen to get ingrowns there as well. Once you’re down, throw the mitt away (it’s biodegradable!) and just leave the products to soak. You can use this as often as once a day or as little as once a week — within just two or three times of trying this product I noticed that inflamed areas were calmer, smoother, and less irritated. I always keep this in my medicine cabinet, and have noticed that my ingrowns have subsided about 60 percent.

$10 for 5

I adore my Fur Ingrown Eliminator, but it should be noted that there are only 12 packets in the kit — and you should be exfoliating your skin at least weekly if ingrowns are a consistent problem for you. When I run out, I use these exfoliating towels to buff away dead skin cells without triggering irritation (I have eczema, and a too strong physical exfoliator can be painful for me). I just use this towel with my standard bodywash (which at the moment is this wonderful Rosemary and Lemongrass one from Plant Apothecary) and afterward, my skin always feels insanely smooth. This isn’t as intensely game-changing as the Fur kit, but it’s the perfect thing to use in the interim as maintenance to ensure your skin isn’t building up a ton of dead skin cells.

If you’ve already picked and prodded at your ingrowns and created chaos, these calming masks from Oui the People are the best for calming things down. They use honey, which helps moisturize and deeply heal skin, as well as rose and niacinamide to brighten up the area. If the razor bumps or ingrowns are making your skin feel hot, itchy, or uncomfortable, throw these cooling and nourishing sheet masks on (they can be applied anywhere from your legs to your bikini to your underarms to your face). You’ll immediately feel relief, and when you remove them (you can let them sit as long as you’d like), you’ll notice that your skin looks far less irritated and inflamed.

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Help Me, Rio: I Have Ingrowns All Over