AUGUST 2023 | 5 Minute Read
Ingrown hairs on the armpits are incredibly common and chances are you’ve either experienced this at some point in the past (perhaps poorly timed with a beachside vacation), or this is a recurring issue you always struggle with.
Not only can armpit ingrown hair be very itchy, painful and sometimes lead to infection, but they can quickly take down a sleeveless outfit and leave you with what I like to call “t-rex arms” especially in the summer months… which if you are picturing a t-rex, you can imagine the visual of keeping your arms down at chest level throughout the day so you don’t expose the angry and inflamed spots on the underarms.
If you read that so far, nodding along, then I’m happy to share that I’ve put together a comprehensive guide on dealing with ingrown hairs on the underarms, and how to bid them farewell, forever.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to explain what an ingrown hair is as oftentimes it can be confused with other types of irritation in the underarms such as razor burn, contact dermatitis (irritation from products), cysts, boils or pimples.
Ingrown hairs happen when a hair grows back into the skin, getting trapped and potentially causing irritation and inflammation. Ingrown hairs and razor bumps are the same thing.
They are most common on the armpits, face, legs and of course the bikini/pubic region.
The #1 cause of armpit ingrown hairs is hair removal – especially shaving but it can also happen as hair grows back after waxing or tweezing/plucking.
Shaving it the most notorious as hair doesn’t get removed from the follicle and poor shaving techniques make it much more susceptible for the hair to grow into the skin instead of out.
Another major culprit for ingrown hairs in the armpits are tight clothing that stick to the underarm skin. When hair is growing out of the skin, it needs space to grow outwards, but if you always wear tight fitting shirts you are trapping the hair as it grows out so oftentimes it curls back in and grows into the skin instead of out.
This is also why ingrown hairs are very common in the bikini area as the skin is often confined by tight undergarments or leggings.
Hair on the body that tends to be curly and coarse is more prone to causing ingrown hairs. This is because curly hair doesn’t grow straight out of the skin, it tends to want to go back into the skin. Unfortunately, this means the armpits, pubic hair and men’s facial beard hair is all very prone to ingrown hair.
Additionally, if you tend to have curlier hair, you can experience them more severely or frequently than others.
Accumulation of dead skin cells in the hair follicle or using armpit products with comedogenic ingredients such as aluminum or coconut oil (very popular in natural deodorants) will clog the hair follicle and lead to ingrown hairs as they also prevent the hair from growing out straight, forcing it back into the skin.
Now to the reason why we’re all here: this is where I tell you how to get rid of armpit ingrown hair once and for all. Since there are numerous reasons for ingrown hairs as I’ve outlined below, you’re going to have to tackle the issue from multiple angles to get the best results.
First, starting with the easiest change, wear clothing that fits more loosely in the underarm region, and anywhere else you experience ingrowns. Also opt for breathable materials such as cotton, linen and bamboo as this will also help with odor issues in these dark, moist areas of the body (underarms and bikini area).
I said it three times to emphasize its importance, however don’t mistake this to mean exfoliate aggressively or over-exfoliate the area.
Armpits are oftentimes neglected in the beauty routine, aside from deodorant and shaving, however it’s incredibly important to take care of the delicate underarm skin as it can cause a lot of trouble if it’s neglected. This means incorporating a regular exfoliation of 1 to 2 times per week AND before shaving, using something that is gentle.
I recommend my all natural ingrown bar – it has salicylic acid and microexfoliating volcanic sand to provide both a chemical and physical exfoliation. This is the gentlest way of getting rid of clogged hair follicles and removing surface dead skin cells.
One of the biggest reasons ingrown hairs occur on the underarms after shaving is the skin was not properly exfoliated AND disinfected. This makes the issue worse as surface level bacteria and impurities easily make their way into the open hair follicle after shaving causing not only ingrown hair issues but also inflammation, irritation and infection!
Use something with a naturally disinfecting ingredient like tea tree oil as a pre-shave exfoliation and cleansing. I added this to the ingrown bar so it offers exfoliation and disinfection.
I know I’ve said the last two points were important, however this is equally important as the way you shave has everything to do with how severe your ingrown hairs may be. It determines how the hair is shaved, how far under the skin it gets cut and whether you will end up with trapped hair or not. I’ve put together a comprehensive shave guide that I encourage you to check out:
First thing’s first – never apply anything directly on the skin after shaving as this can cause endless irritation. This also includes your deodorant – you should always wait a few hours until your skin is less irritated and calmed down before applying your deodorant or antiperspirant. Failing to do so will lead to underarm hyperpigmentation issues.
To help manage ingrown hairs, it’s best to use a product with ingredients that are made to combat ingrown hairs and irritation. One I recommend would be azelaic acid, as it was shown to not only brighten the skin but also manage folliculitis (inflamed hair follicles).
A study found that azelaic acid reduced overall folliculitis by 78% and itching and redness by 60% and 51% respectfully. It is such an underrated ingredient, but so effective and wonderful for the underarms and any ingrown prone area of the body.
You can find it in my bikini bright milk – don’t be fooled by the name as it can be used all over, not just in the bikini area.
It also contains Canadian Willowherb™, an ingredient traditionally used by Native American communities to heal cuts and wounds. It has been proven to help with inflammation and irritation.
Just be sure to wait 4 hours after shaving to apply.
If you’ve been suffering from ingrown hairs for a long time, changes are you have dark spots that might be very difficult to get rid of. Preventing ingrown hairs is the best way to manage this issue, but for those lingering ingrown hair scars that could not be prevented, the bikini bright milk will also work to brighten the pigmentation issues.
Having armpit ingrown hair is much more common than you may think. If this is something you’ve been suffering with, or you just want to make sure your underarms are beautiful and smooth for your next beachside vacation, I’m here to tell you it’s possible.
Using better hair removal techniques, exfoliating and disinfecting the skin with the ingrown bar, and minimizing friction will go a long way to help you get rid of ingrown hairs forever.
Following up with the bikini bright milk will help treat the area of ingrowns, irritation and dark spots post-shaving.
Just remember, patience and consistency is key with treating a condition like armpit ingrown hair.
All content found on this website is created for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.
Clean beauty industry maven and product developer Madame Sweat (Mary Futher) founded kaia naturals after spending 20 years working for global beauty companies. She now shares advice on modern hygiene etiquette for grooming, hosting, home and travel on Instagram, TikTok and her popular blog called The House of Hygiene.