7 Best Exfoliators To Stop Pesky Ingrown Hairs in Their Tracks

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If you've been a victim of ingrown hairs recently, the culprit could be a lack of proper exfoliation for your skin. Ingrown hairs often form when a hair follicle becomes clogged with excess dead skin cells. This, in turn, causes the new hair to curl back into the skin as it grows, which can make it look like a (painful) pimple with hair. But by exfoliating regularly, your skin's pores become clean pathways for your hair to grow upright.

"Exfoliating the legs removes dead cells on the skin's surface that may play a role in blocking the hair from exiting the follicle," says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. 

Experts In This Article
  • Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital

Exfoliating products are bucketed into two types: chemical and physical exfoliators. When looking for a chemical exfoliator, you'll want to seek out ingredients' lists that include hydroxy acids like salicylic acid or glycolic acid. These are two powerful chemical compounds that are known for their ability to break down dead skin cells, clear out pores, reduce inflammation, and even help balance skin tone. Physical exfoliants (also sometimes called manual exfoliants) like body scrubs or pumice stones, meanwhile, use friction to manually strip away the dead cells on your skin's surface.

For a look at some of the best exfoliating products to help guard against ingrown hairs, check out the list below.

Best exfoliators for ingrown hairs on your legs

Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash — $6.00

Originally $8, now $6

While some chemical exfoliants may be harsh on the skin if you overuse them, this Dove cleanser is the gentle opposite. Not only does it help remove dead skin cells, but it also deeply moisturizes your skin in the process. “The Dove exfoliating body wash uses ultra gentle manual exfoliators that won’t disrupt the skin barrier. It also contains the same types of hydrating ingredients found in traditional moisturizers,” Dr. Zeichner says.

Paula's Choice Weightless Body Treatment 2% BHA — $28.00

As far as chemical exfoliants go, Paula’s Choice continues to be a gold mine for products that both skin-care-lovers and derms trust. And the Weightless Body Treatment is no exception. It’s a lotion-like solution that you can slather onto your arms and legs or use as a spot treatment before or after your shave. The key ingredient is a high dose of salicylic acid, which helps to unclog pores and soften rough skin. Just apply a small amount onto your skin, let it sit, and you’re good to go.

Bliss Lemon and Sage Satin Body Scrub — $22.00

What makes the Bliss Lemon and Sage Satin Body Scrub so unique and derm-approved is that it uses fine sugar crystals to unclog your skin’s pores. Additionally, it helps to soften your skin and strengthen your skin’s moisture barrier thanks to super-hydrating ingredients like coconut oil, jojoba oil, and honey. “The Bliss Lemon and Sage Satin Body Scrub softens the skin with coconut oil and shea butter and exfoliates dead cells with gentle manual exfoliators,” says Dr. Zeichner.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peel — $58.00

If you’re looking for a non-messy way to help target ingrown hairs and exfoliate your skin like a pro, Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Exfoliating Body Treatment Peels are the way to go. Although a bit of an investment at $58, these wipes go a long way in terms of their exfoliating powers. Not only do they help with the appearance of ingrown hairs, but they also help target the effects of keratosis pilaris, a skin condition that causes rough skin patches and tiny bumps to form as a result of too much keratin production.

Malin+Goetz Ingrown Hair Cream — $34.00

If your skin is looking angrily red after your latest bout of hair removal, you may want to try applying some of this Malin+Goetz Ingrown Hair Cream to calm your skin. This formula is designed to reduce redness and bumps on your body through the help of both glycolic and salicylic acid. It also includes allantoin, a type of moisturizing ingredient that’s commonly used to help improve the appearance of minor cuts, scrapes, rashes, and scars.

SweetSpot Labs Buff & Brighten AHA/BHA Body Exfoliating Pads — $30.00

When it comes to reducing razor burn and bumps, these SweetSpot Labs Buff & Brighten pads are here to help save the day. They’re dermatologist-tested and formulated with 98-percent naturally-derived ingredients. The formula includes willow bark extract (a type of hydroxy acid that helps to unclog pores and brighten dark spots on your skin) and aloe vera, (a moisturizing ingredient known for its has anti-inflammatory powers and ability to calm irritated skin). Keep in mind, you should only use these pads on dry and clean skin.

Fur Ingrown Eliminator — $22.00

If your ingrown hair isn’t budging, the Fur Ingrown Eliminator is designed to help remove it. Its formula includes a combination of lactic acid (a type of alpha-hydroxy acid, or AHA, that helps to reduce the amount of dead skin cells and promote cell turnover) and aloe. One package includes 12 mitts that come pre-dipped with the formula. You can use them to buff your legs or anywhere you sense irritation, redness, or ingrown hairs forming.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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