Otherwise known as ingrowns, these unsightly clogged follicles can really make you see red. Not to worry. This dermatologist-approved plan will help you suit up with confidence all summer long.
Often dead skin blocks the opening of follicles, causing hair to curl under the skin and grow sideways, says New York City dermatologist Dendy Engelman. Before shaving or waxing, exfoliate with a wet washcloth or loofah. Then wet skin with warm water to open the follicles and apply a lubricating shave gel, like eos Shave Cream ($3.50, target.com), or warm wax. For coarse hair, change the razor every four to six shaves. Shave in the direction of hair growth (going against it increases irritation), and apply a soothing cool washcloth to skin post-shave or post-waxing. Between hair-removal sessions, use a daily treatment with glycolic acid, such as Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster Pads ($10, ulta.com), to keep follicles clear.
Topical hydrocortisone can reduce swelling, pain, and redness. Don't pick at bumps—doing so may result in scarring. Instead, apply a spot treatment containing 2 percent salicylic acid to open the follicles so the hairs can come to the surface.
If you still get bumps...
Try a different removal method, says Engelman. Depilatories, like Nair Glides Away Moroccan Argan Oil ($11, amazon.com), lessen the chance of ingrowns. If you have dark hair, laser hair removal, though pricey, offers results that are nearly permanent. If your hair is blond, electrolysis is more effective.