Exfoliating your pubic area is high up on the list of things that people don't usually talk about, but it's an important pubic hair care step to avoid ingrown hairs in the sensitive bikini area. According to the Cleveland Clinic, pesky ingrown hairs are more likely to occur in this area, and because of how thin the skin is, they are also more noticeable. If you're looking to avoid the bumps, exfoliate with an ingrown hair scrub before you shave.
How to Make an At-Home Ingrown Hair Scrub
Although there are plenty of commercial exfoliation products available for purchase, it's easy and inexpensive to make your own at-home ingrown hair scrub with pantry ingredients such as sugar. The sweet stuff works better than other abrasive ingredients (such as salt) because its granules are small and less damaging to the skin. Sugar is also a natural humectant, so it attracts and retains moisture in the skin.
For the bikini area, you'll want to use a gentle exfoliant like brown sugar. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of olive or coconut oil. Add essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint, for fragrance. Store the scrub in an airtight container for about four weeks.
How to Exfoliate the Bikini Area
Your skin naturally sloughs off old cells and generates new ones, but sometimes your body needs a little help in speeding up the turnover process. Exfoliating does just that. Without proper exfoliation, the older skin cells, as well as the debris that comes with them, can trap in bacteria by blocking the pores.
To exfoliate the bikini area, scoop a bit of your homemade scrub out of the container into your hands. Use your hands or a soft washcloth to gently scrub along your bikini line and then let the mixture sit on your skin for 3 to 4 minutes. Rinse well before you start to shave.
The area is naturally sensitive, so make sure to not over-exfoliate by scrubbing the mixture too hard on your skin. This could leave the skin red and painful, as well as vulnerable to sun damage if you're shaving your bikini line for a day at the beach or pool.
Read more: Homemade Exfoliating Face Scrub
How to Shave the Bikini Area Without Getting Ingrown Hairs
The first step in proper pubic hair care is knowing when you're ready for another shave or wax session. Wait until the hair down there is longer than 1/4 of an inch, which gives the razor blade or wax something to grip onto—without it, the hairs will break in half, which increases the likelihood of an ingrown hair.
When your hair is long enough to shave, start by gently exfoliating the area with an ingrown hair scrub and then slather the skin with a creamy, alcohol-free shaving cream. Grab hold of the razor and move it in the direction of the hair growth, not against it—that's a surefire way to get the smaller hairs trapped under your skin when they start to grow back in, creating that painful ingrown hair.
How to Prevent Ingrown Hairs After Waxing
Shaving and waxing make your skin extra-sensitive for about 24 hours, and your open pores get infected much more easily during this time. To avoid ugly, painful ingrown hairs, follow these do's and don'ts:
- Don't swim in an ocean or pool, as it increases that risk of infection.
- Do soothe the skin with an ingrown hair cream, which contains special ingredients such as salicylic acid, to prevent nasty bumps.
- Don't pull out an ingrown hair with tweezers, as you risk spreading the infection. Keep the area clean and dry until it clears.
- Do exfoliate again about four days later, as it keeps the hairs growing in the right direction.
Ingrown hairs are, literally and figuratively, a pain to deal with. Using an ingrown hair scrub will ensure that you're taking matter into your own hands — before they start getting under your skin.
- Westlake Dermatology: Exfoliation Basics: Why Exfoliate + How to Do It Better
- Birchbox: How To Treat Ingrown Hairs
- Medical News Today: How to treat and prevent ingrown leg hairs
- Cleveland Clinic: Q&A: Expert Explains Best Way to Handle Your Ingrown Hair
- Iowa State University: Sugar: Not Just for Sweets
Kelsey Casselbury is a freelance writer and editor based in central Maryland. Her clients have included Livestrong, School Nutrition magazine, What's Up? Media, American Academy of Clinical Chemistry, SmartBrief and more. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the Pennsylvania State University.