Ingrown hairs are the bane of every man’s existence, especially if he has thick or curly facial hair.

Some men are prone to a condition known as pseudo-folliculitis, which involves hair curling back and growing underneath the skin’s surface immediately after shaving.

Any man can get this condition. However, there are ways to avoid ingrown hairs altogether. Here are a few key tips on how to properly care for your hair and skin to help avoid ingrown hairs.

1. Exfoliate.

Exfoliation is one of many critical steps in shaving preparation. Exfoliation is twofold: physical and chemical.

Physical exfoliation is easy. All you have to do is buy a nice loofah or microfiber face cloth, and gently scrub the skin on your face during your daily skincare routine. For best results, scrub in small circles, and avoid using too much pressure. Let the texture of the loofah or cloth do most of the work. (And, yes, loofahs are still cool even for guys to use…)

Chemical exfoliation involves using a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) to encourage your skin cells to “turn over” faster so your skin looks more radiant and fresh. Stridex is the most common product for this, and it costs less than $5 at the grocery store.

You can do this at night before bed, or as part of your morning routine. However, do avoid exfoliating right after you shave as this can cause further irritate the skin. As long as you exfoliate daily, you will be in good shape.

2. Shave With the Grain

Shaving with the grain is fairly self-explanatory. When you shave, drag the razor blade in the same direction as hair growth, rather than the opposite. This means less “catching” and pulling at your skin and hair.

Irritation is a big factor that causes ingrown hairs. Shaving with the grain is the least irritating way to shave.

3. Spread Out Your Shaving Sessions

The more often you shave, the more often you are subjecting your skin to irritation and inflammation associated with shaving.

Even the most careful and gentle shave still inflicts micro-traumas to the skin, which can lead to swelling, redness, and yeah, you guessed it—ingrown hairs.

Try going a day between shaves instead of shaving daily, if your job allows it.

4. Try a Straight Razor or a Safety Razor

Have you ever tried shaving with a safety razor or a straight razor? The single blade may look intimidating at first, but it’s actually the best way to get a high-quality shave without shaving AGAINST the grain.

The key is using a high-quality, sharp blade. A single, sharp blade means less trauma to the skin, unlike typical disposable razors that may use between two and up to six different blades.

5. Don’t (Necessarily) Aim for a Perfect Shave

While a perfect shave is always the goal, sometimes avoiding ingrown hairs means you need to avoid trying to get the closest, most perfect shave ever. The closer the shave, the more likely that hairs will get trapped under the surface as they regrow. Therefore, aim to leave the slightest amount of length. This probably means shaving with less pressure, with the grain, and restricting your strokes to one per area.

6. Rinse Your Razor (and Skin) Constantly

Water is your best friend here! When you shave, remnants of dead skin cells and hair get trapped in your razor blades, especially if you use a disposable, multi-blade safety razor.

Keep a bowl of warm water close by and rinse your razor after every stroke. If necessary, rinse your skin, too. Be sure to re-lubricate every time you do!

7. See Your Dermatologist

If you aren’t able to get your ingrown hairs under control by making changes to your shaving routine, then you should consider making an appointment with your dermatologist. Some common treatments for ingrown hairs include topical steroids and retinoids, but they are prescription-only and require the supervision of a doctor while you use them.

Fighting Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs can be incredibly painful and embarrassing, especially when they become incredibly red, irritated, and resemble large pimples. They can also leave unsightly scars over time.

If you are prone to ingrown hairs more than others, you no longer have to suffer with them. By adjusting your shaving routine, or getting a topic prescription, you can combat ingrown hairs with brute force!

Oh, and for your disgusting viewing pleasure, here’s something to keep you totally en-“gross”ed. Enjoy!

What have you found works for preventing ingrown hairs? 

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