hairless week

The Serum That Nuked My Bikini-Line Ingrown Hairs

Aaaaah. Photo: Courtesy MGM

Hair: It’s a natural part of being a human. But when the temperature climbs, and skin is exposed, it’s one of those things that a good many of us want to control. This week, we’re tackling hairlessness, not just the process of hair removal (electric shavers and ingrown-hair treatments and such) but also what to buy when you’re losing your hair, and even how to take care of a Sphynx cat.

Anyone who has shaved or waxed literally anywhere — the bikini line, legs, arms, underarms, etc — knows the pain of ingrown hairs. They occur post–hair removal when the hair grows back into the skin instead of up and out like it should and tend to occur because there’s too much dead skin at the surface preventing the hair from coming out correctly. With my superthick Indian hair (yes, this is ordinarily a blessing, though not in this instance), the resulting cyst-like bumps can be painfully impossible to ignore. For extra sensitive regions like the bikini area, ingrown hairs can be jaw-clenching (not to mention unsightly) hell.

In the summertime, I get Brazilians monthly — my skin is too dark for laser hair removal — and anyone will tell you that the best way to prevent ingrown hairs when the little whiskers head toward the surface is to exfoliate that dead skin away. Alas, I’ve failed to master that step (who has the time?). Instead, I have a different MO, one that relies entirely on European Wax Center’s Smooth Me Ingrown Hair Serum.

Here’s how it works — the serum uses Amazonian berry extracts (it smells like Crunch Berry) plus antioxidants to soften and nourish the skin. It’s infused with alpha and beta hydroxy acids to promote cell turnover (something like a mild chemical peel), and there’s also a proprietary Comfort Blend® (there’s actually a registered symbol there) that works some kind of bump-preventing magic. Do I know what’s in it? Does anyone? All I know is that I’ve I’ve been applying the berry-smelling, alcohol-free concoction via a drenched cotton ball post-shower since last summer, and all of my irritating wax bumps have disappeared. I used to be a fan of the Bliss Bump Attendant pads but found the salicylic acid a little harsh for my skin. Now, my skin is moisturized and smoother than ever before, and adding in this step after my shower is the easiest step I’ve ever taken (I just do it while my hair is drying). It works best as prevention, but it’ll help treat bumps you already have, too.

I even take it with me when I’m on the go — on vacation or to the gym — in the form of single-use Smooth Me Ingrown Hair Wipes. Brazilian waxes aren’t cheap (at least $50 bucks a pop), so what’s an extra few bucks to keep it looking the way my waxer, if not nature, intended?

Rao may not be great at doing it, but dermatologists we spoke to really do recommend exfoliating for preventing ingrown hairs (it’s much cheaper, too). Says aesthetician Lara Kaiser: “That leaves less of a chance for the hairs to curl in on themselves, and exfoliates the area so there is nothing to clog pores, making them vulnerable to bacteria and inflammation.”