Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Preventing ingrown hairs naturally

If you shave, wax or otherwise remove hair from your body and suffer from bumps, ingrown hairs and the like, it can be extremely annoying. Not to mention painful and very unsightly. There are a number of products on the market that purportedly help prevent or reduce skin irritation and ingrown hairs but they tend to be expensive. They work fairly well but the cost can be prohibitive. If you are African American or have very curly hair, ingrown hairs can be a considerable headache.

I've just started using Whish Flawless Ingrown Hair Serum, but at $22.50 for 1.1 ounces, unless it works miraculously I'm not sure it's a habit I can keep up. Another very popular product is called Tend Skin which is cheaper at $20 for 4 ounces, but many find it to be too harsh.

So, what's a bumpy girl (or boy) to do? Well, I found a recipe for making your own version of Tend Skin, which consists basically of Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, witch hazel, purified water and uncoated aspirin, which are similar to the main ingredients in Tend Skin. It sounds like you can skip the witch hazel and water in the mixture, if you want to keep it simple. The beauty of making it yourself is that if you find the original formula to be too harsh, you can dilute it by reducing the alcohol and/or aspirin and increasing the water.

Anyway, the cost is considerably less to make it yourself so it's definitely worth a try even if it doesn't work out for you. Here's the basic recipe:

5 oz Isopropyl alcohol
15 uncoated aspirin

Add the ingredients to a squeeze bottle and shake to mix. You'll need to shake before use as some settling may occur. Apply with a cotton pad or cloth after shaving or showering or however often is needed. And, remember to exfoliate several times a week and moisturize to help prevent ingrowns.

Related posts:
Sustainable hair removal
Homemade clay mask
Hand rescue cream


Michelle said...

I am trying this!!

Shana said...

Holy COW, is that mix going to be drying. Eesh. Methinks the simpler and greener thing would be manual exfoliation.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Shana - Yeah, the idea is to moisturize after applying it. And, to be used in addition to exfoliation.

Priscilla said...

So how does that work???

Little Miss Moneybags said...



I LOVE Tend Skin but I am just flat out unwilling to spend that much for a tiny bottle. The BikiniZone pads work well enough but I am definitely trying this out.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Priscilla - My understanding is that the combination of alcohol/aspirin will slough off dead skin cells, the ones that might trap hairs trying to grow out, causing bumps and, potentially, infection.

Also the aspirin (salicylic acid) essentially works as an acne like medicine (similar to the ingredients in Clearasil and the like).

Crunchy Chicken said...

I just looked it up on Wikipedia:

Salicylic acid causes "the cells of the epidermis to shed more readily, preventing pores from clogging up, and allowing room for new cell growth."

Aspirin is actually acetylsalicylic acid, but works similarly.

Evillesweeny said...

I wonder is this would work similarly to Clearsil for acne, then? I think I might give it a whirl - my skin always breaks out at the onset of humidity, so I'll have plenty of time to try it :)

Farmer's Daughter said...

I was just going to ask the chemical reasoning behind how this works, but see you've already covered it.

I dont' think I'll try it, since I have such dry skin anyway and not a huge problem with ingrown hairs, but it's good to make a mental note of another home remedy.

BTW- have you got a home remedy for razor burn or shaving cream? Should you just use soap, or conditioner or something? Just wondering since you're the green guru of hair removal. :)

Green Fundraising Ideas said...

I've never experienced this problem, but know others that have. I'll share your remedy.

Emerald Green said...

I don't usually comment here, but I thought I'd throw in my 2 cents. I've used tea tree oil with great luck. I once thought I'd have an ingrown hair on my upper lip for the rest of my life until I tried dipping a Q-tip in tea tree oil and applying it 2x a day. It was gone within 5 days. Now, it's my go-to. If it gets too drying, I'll use a little coconut oil afterwards!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Abbie - I've heard that if you're going to shave to use conditioner rather than soap to help prevent razor burn, nicks, etc. Plus I guess it does double duty as a moisturizer.

So far I'm loving this home-brewed Tend Skin!

Anonymous said...

I love Tend Skin but had to give it up because of the plastic bottle. Same problem with isopropyl alchohol. If you ever see it in a glass bottle, do let me know! (I wonder if vodka would work -- or Everclear.)

Michele said...

Do I crush the aspirin, or just let them dissolve?

Miss Sub said...

Oh Crunch! Every time I shave I swear I'm going to give it up because of ingrown hairs! I'm so going to try this!

Crunchy Chicken said...

Beth - Can you find witch hazel in glass? You might be able to substitute that out for the alcohol. Everclear might work just as well and the combination might be great for aches and pains - just don't start tippling from the bottle, mkay?

Michelle - If you get the uncoated aspirin, they dissolve really quickly in the solution, so I don't bother.

Anonymous said...

Something to remember... Your skin absorbs most of what it comes in contact with. keep this in mind when considering using that much aspirin on your skin.

Lisa said...

I don't think it's often that I see you write about something I have seen on other blogs. :)

JessTrev said...

This rocks. Thanks!

Chile said...

I haven't had a problem with ingrown hairs in, let's see, about two years.

Funny, that seems to be about the same time I decided to save resources (water, soap, razor blades) by not shaving any more. Stopped those ingrown hairs like a charm.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Well, as Ruchi would say (and something I'm trying hard to aspire to now):

"Living a sustainable life isn’t about trying to outdo one another in a bid to be the greenest of them all. It is, fundamentally, about trying to achieve balance. Balance in your life. Balance between you, society, and our environment. Balance between what you really need and what’s kind of superfluous.

After all, you can only be living sustainably if you can, in fact, sustain it."

Giving up hair removal is not for everyone.

ColleenJ said...

I had hair on my legs/bikini line that the waxers used to gasp over. It was awful, and so were the ingrown hairs. As soon as laser hair removal came available for the common man, I did it. Five sessions later, I shave strays about 3 times a year, and my legs are CLEAN and no ingrowns. It was the best money spent, ever.

Charlie said...

Cool. I wouldn't skimp on the witch hazel, though. It has a wonderful effect on skin issues, even by itself.

In water, the aspirin will hydrolize to salicylic acid and acetic acid (vinegar). Salicylic acid is still a good anti-inflammatory. But I wouldn't make a big batch and assume you can keep it forever. Just make what you need for a day or two.