How to Treat and Prevent Ingrown Facial Hair for Men

Naturally, anyone who experiences the agony of an ingrown hair will do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening again—and especially if that sucker is planted squarely on the face. That’s enough for a man to stop shaving his face altogether, in particular if he’s prone to consistent ingrowns. But instead of giving up the razor, there is an effective routine to prevent ingrown hairs in the first place (along with a regimen to treat and heal them quickly, whenever they do arise).

And while every person is susceptible to ingrown hairs—often the result of improper or hasty shaving—it’s men who are most prone, says board-certified dermatologist James Collyer, MD, of Modern Dermatology in Seattle. “Thicker, denser hair is more prone to becoming ingrown, and men generally have thicker ‘terminal’ hairs than women,” Collyer notes. Terminal hairs are those that start growing in puberty—anything on the body that sprouts up thick and dense, like on the legs, face, chest, back, feet, and so forth.

So, what are the best ways to prevent and treat ingrown hairs? Read on to get Collyer’s advice, alongside that of board-certified dermatologist Karan Lal, MD, of UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester, MA (and a member of the Society for Pediatric Dermatology). 

How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Anything you pluck, wax, or shave creates an opportunity for an ingrown hair, Collyer notes, since the new or freshly shorn hair will have to make its way out of the skin untrapped.

Use a Disinfecting Cleanser

“Always wash your face with antibacterial wash—with sulfur or benzoyl peroxide—prior to shaving if you are prone to ingrown hairs,” Lal says. This will neutralize any bacteria, which can proliferate inside the skin along with those trapped hairs. This will also help prevent overall irritation and shaving bumps, too.


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Shave Slowly

The safest shave regimen is one that carefully goes through every step of the shave and makes no haste, both doctors agree. The regimen should include a skin-conditioning and hair-softening pre-shave oil, a sensitive shave gel, and a soothing/toning post-shave recovery balm, not to mention steady strokes throughout the shave, with frequent warm rinses to clear away debris from the razor. By taking your time, you also turn the regimen into more of a therapeutic process.

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