We’re not going to lie, there’s something absolutely freeing about going bare and hairless. But trying to achieve that smooth, clean-shaven skin can also have its drawbacks—some of the most common? Ingrown hair, chicken skin, and razor burn. If you’re dealing with any of the three, then the frustration is a feeling you know all too well. So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, we’ve done the research and the answer is: a lot, actually! With that, we’ve put together a list of 12 body hair care tips that’ll keep your skin in check. Ready? Let’s break it down.

INGROWN HAIR

Ever notice that as your body hair grows out, sometimes it can bend into a hoop-like shape? Or even lie underneath a thin layer of skin? Well, that’s exactly what it is.This usually happens when the strands are very short—like after you’ve shaved, tweezed, or waxed. The tips of the regrowing hair tend to be sharp, so it’s easier for them to re-enter and curl back into the skin or grow to the side of the follicle, instead of straight through the opening.

It’s a total pain, we know, but even more so when it becomes infected. Once the area is inflamed, you can get red bumps or pimple-like wounds that are itchy, painful, and potentially scarring. Sound familiar? Here are some tips that’ll nip this sitch at the bud.

1. EXFOLIATE REGULARLY.

Just like your face, your body needs to be exfoliated too. Otherwise, dead skin cells can build up on the surface and block the opening of hair follicles, keeping the strands from growing out. To save your skin the trouble, go for either a physical scrub or a chemical exfoliant with lactic acid. Just make sure to limit it to 2-3 times a week and use circular motions. This will help tease out any stubborn ingrown hair without forcing them out.

2. MOISTURIZE BEFORE AND AFTER.

As the golden rule goes, always prep and treat the area by moisturizing first. Our reco? Lubricating with a safe, alcohol-free formula. This way, the skin and hair cuticles are gently softened so you get a much cleaner, even shave without hurting your skin. Once you’re done, top it off with a post-shave cream that contains lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid. These types of acids will keep your skin free from ingrown hair by dissolving any dead cell buildup that could clog your skin.

3. TRY OTHER HAIR REMOVAL OPTIONS.

There, we said it. Shaving might be the most convenient, but it’s definitely not the best option when avoiding ingrown hair. So, if your razor is something you rely on to get hairless day to day, it might be better to explore your options. Waxing and hair removal creams are a couple things you could look into, as they don’t leave the hair tips fine and sharp. As the hair shaft is either pulled out or dissolved, your hair should grow back easy without much trouble.

4. TWEAK YOUR SHAVING HABITS.

But, if you must shave, there is an optimal way to do it. For starters, shaving towards the direction of your hair growth, going over the area with fewer strokes, and not stretching your skin to get the closest shave, all help to keep your hair from easily penetrating back into the skin. Apart from that, we heard that shaving after a shower also helps to soften and hydrate the hair shaft for a smoother shave. Best for keeping your skin away from any trauma or skin discomfort!

WHAT TO TRY:

CHICKEN SKIN

When you’ve plucked and waxed for years, it’s possible for the area to end up with a rough, bumpy texture. This condition, often found on the underarms, is referred to as chicken skin. Not to be mistaken with keratosis pilaris, another chicken skin-like condition, this one is primarily caused by body hair that’s pulled outwards, like when you tweeze and wax. And since plucking can cause irritation, eventually the skin can start to look bumpy and the pores enlarged. (Double trouble if you add a strong antiperspirant to the mix!) So if any of this hits close to home, here are some pointers on how to achieve smoother skin.

1. AVOID PLUCKING OR WAXING.

To keep your pits bump-free, it’s best to skip out on plucking and waxing your underarms. The rough texture is caused by the upward motion of removing hair, so try going for hair removal creams or a laser treatment instead. Without the constant pulling and tugging, and with proper care, the delicate skin should go back to its original state over time.

2. USE GENTLE PRODUCTS.

By now, many have been paying special care to their underarms by choosing natural and fragrance-free deodorants. But don’t just limit it at deos, the same goes for soaps and washes, too! When you stray away from harsh ingredients, there are less chances for skin to dry out and clog up the sensitive area every single day. Remember, the more gentle the formula, the less prone to irritation your pits will be.

3. EXFOLIATE UNDERARMS.

Clear away clogged hair follicles by exfoliating your underarms 2-3 times a week. Whether you use a loofah, wash cloth, or solutions with exfoliating acids, the choice is yours. All in all, these should ultimately help improve the skin’s bumpy texture. Just remember to be gentle as the area is quite sensitive and delicate. You don’t want to go overboard!

4. KEEP YOUR PITS DRY.

Once hair is stripped or removed, let your underarms breathe right after. Don’t apply any antiperspirants or deodorants and try not to shower or swim for the next 4-7 hours. This will allow the hair follicles to rest, keeping the area free from irritation and being infected by contaminated water or bacteria.

WHAT TO TRY:

RAZOR BURN

And for the avid shavers out there, this one’s for you. The uncomfortable red skin that follows after a shaving session. The swelling and burning sensation after running the final strokes of that blade against your skin. Yes, indeed, it is a razor burn. Caused by the scraping action of a razor blade hard on the skin, this can twist and pull at the hair follicle, making the area appear red and tender to the touch. It’s probably the last thing you need when all you want is smooth, hairless skin, but don’t worry! While it is a bit painful and kiiinda irritating, it is relatively easy to treat and heals with time. Here are some ways on how to go about it!

1. KEEP SKIN CLEAN.

Start off by washing and exfoliating your skin so the surface is fresh and clean right before shaving. (Even better if you shave right after a shower, when your hair is softest!) Make sure to double check your razor as well to see if it’s free from any past hair or buildup to avoid any infection.

2. PREP WITH A SHAVING FORMULA.

Glide on an even layer of shaving gel, cream, or oil to minimize the friction between your skin and the razor. This will help create that needed barrier, so your razor doesn’t snag on any dry, patchy skin and hair.

3. TREAT WITH A LOTION.

Once you’ve done the deed, apply a gentle lotion, gel, or moisturizer after shaving. Preferably, the ingredients should stray away from colors, fragrances, alcohol, and other kinds of skin irritants that would cause the area to burn or itch. If you can find a moisturizer with niacinamide, this will especially help with any redness, chapping, moisture loss, and other razor burn symptoms for calmer skin.

4. SHAVE MINDFULLY.

Being gentle and careful really goes a long way! The simplest step? Use short and light strokes. Really, there’s no need to go hard on the razor just to get that close shave. And on that note—don’t try to get the closest shave. (No matter how tempting!) Doing so will make it highly likely for your skin to feel easily irritated once you’re done snipping at the area. Lastly, shave less and only use as many strokes as necessary. Ideally, you shouldn’t run over the same area more than twice to keep yourself from razor burn. How’s that for a challenge?

WHAT TO TRY:

And there you have it, the ins and outs of properly tending to your skin and body hair. It might seem a little tiresome, but we promise it’s worth it. In any case, if you’re still having trouble understanding the skin concerns you might have, we suggest checking with your doctor for a more precise diagnosis.

Also, if you have any other skin concerns you think we should explore and research on, leave us your suggestion in the comments below and we’ll see what we can do!

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