If you choose to shave, ingrown hairs are common but can be prevented — or at least you can reduce the frequency of them showing up on your skin — by investing in a high-quality razor, practicing good shaving habits, and using specially designed shaving products, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Sheila Farhang tells Bustle. Those products include the best shaving creams for ingrown hairs, which you’ll find rounded up ahead.
There are different causes of ingrown hairs, Dr. Farhang explains. A main one is when dead skin clogs your pores, which can present as skin-colored bumps. “If clogged hair follicles are the issue, then an exfoliant would really help,” Dr. Farhang says. “[Using] a chemical exfoliant such as lactic acid also helps to smooth the skin’s surface.” She says if you think you’re getting ingrown hairs because of how you shave, don’t shave with anything except for a shaving cream or gel (such as conditioner or body lotion). If you’ve got dry skin, choose a moisturizing shaving cream that keeps ingredients like parabens, dyes, fragrance, or silicones to a minimum, Dr. Farhang suggests. Invest in a good razor, and always shave in the same direction as your hair growth, not against it. Finally, the dermatologist advises using pre- and post-shave skin care products to reduce clogged pores and irritation.
With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop the best shaving creams for skin that’s prone to ingrown hairs.
1. The Best Shaving Cream With Lactic Acid
As Dr. Farhang explains, using a shaving cream that contains the gentle exfoliant lactic acid can be helpful for reducing the frequency of ingrown hairs and promoting generally smoother skin. From the Italian brand Proraso, their Protective and Moisturizing Shaving Cream has been helping people achieve a close, bump-free shave for decades. It’s made with skin conditioners like aloe vera, vitamin E, coconut oil, and glycerin, has a slightly spicy fragrance, and is free of parabens, phthalates, silicones, and SLS. You only need a dime-sized amount of this highly concentrated cream to produce a thick, moisturizing lather, and at just $10, you can’t beat the price.
2. Runner Up
AHAVA’s Foam-Free Shaving Cream is a skin conditioner and shaving cream in one. It’s made with nutrient-rich Dead Sea water, soothing allantoin, panthenol (aka vitamin B5), and exfoliating lactic acid to soften your hair pre-shave and keep your skin moisturized once you’re done. And much like the Proraso shaving cream, a little bit of AHAVA’s shaving cream goes a long way: One Amazon reviewer reported that a dot “the size of a quarter” gives their face and head all the coverage they need for a close, smooth shave, and that one tube lasts them for about three to four months.
3. The Doctor’s Pick: Best Shaving Gel For The Bikini Line
The sensitive skin around the pubic area is one of the most common spots to experience ingrown hairs, says Dr. Farhang. If you choose to shave there and typically experience redness and bumps, Dr. Farhang recommends the Gillette Venus Intimate Grooming 2-In-1 Cleanser + Shave Gel, which she says “stays in place while you shave, but rinses off easily so there is no leftover residue feel, [and] the clear formula makes it easier to see what you’re doing.” The mild formula is free of soap, fragrance, silicones, and dye, so it shouldn’t provoke irritation. The line includes a pre-shave treatment to exfoliate your skin, and a soothing serum to comfort your skin post-shaving, as well.
4. The Best Shaving Cream For Travel
Bevel shaving cream isn’t messing around when it comes to caring for your skin. The formula is packed with comforting ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, shea butter, coconut, comfrey extract, and witch hazel, the latter of which offers gentle astringent benefits. At just 2 ounces, this small but mighty tube is great for travel, though it should still last you quite a while. The Black-founded brand was created to address specific shaving skin concerns for Black customers, including ingrown hairs, and the line includes a bump-preventing post-shave balm that’s worth trying as well.
5. The Best Shaving Cream For Allergy-Prone Skin
If you have very reactive skin that’s prone to dryness and irritation in addition to ingrown hairs, Vanicream shaving cream may be just what you need. It protects skin while you shave with a non-lathering blend of glycerin and silicone, and it’s made without common irritants such as alcohol, dyes, fragrance, and parabens, like all of the brand’s products. Follow up with Vanicream’s best-selling moisturizer to restore hydration to your freshly shaved skin.
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“If an ingrown hair follicle gets inflamed, I recommend using an antibacterial such as benzoyl peroxide,” says Dr. Farhang. You can spot treat with Solimo 10% Benzoyl Peroxide Acne Medication, which rings up at just $8 for a 1-ounce tube that should last you ages. Keep in mind that benzoyl peroxide can stain clothing, sheets, and towels, so use caution until the product is fully dry.
Dr. Sheila Farhang, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics