If you’re one of the 77 percent of women who shave their bikini line, then you know the full pain of a shave gone wrong. Bumps, ingrown hair, and angry red skin seem like they’re just part of the package when it comes to shaving ~down there~. (TBH, it makes it almost not worth it.)
So is there even a good way to shave—or should you just splurge on a wax? Turns out, you can totally shave your pubic hair without getting all the bumps and irritation—you just have to be mindful of these seven expert tips.
1. Invest in a good bikini razor
Picking the right razor is the first step to ensuring your bikini line is smooth and bump-free. “If there are more blades, it dispenses more pressure, allowing each blade to cut with less force but more effect,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, of Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. In other words, you’ll get a better, closer shave without risking a cut or irritation.
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“Choosing a firm, sturdy razor with soothing strips will make a huge difference,” adds Eileen Bischoff, esthetician and hair-removal specialist at Eve Salon in New York City. While throwaways are great for use while traveling and can get the job done, they’re labeled “disposable” for a reason. “They’re not meant to be used for a month,” she says.
2. Prep to prevent ingrown hair on your bikini line
Before shaving your bikini area, spend about 10 minutes in warm water first. This will help soften the outer layer of your skin, making it easier to remove hair (and lessen your chances of getting razor burn), says Fumi Ozaki, an esthetician and electrologist in Redondo Beach, California. “After the 10 minutes is up, pat the skin dry to remove any excess water,” she says.
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Once your bikini line has been cleaned and dried, Engelman suggests lightly exfoliating with a wet washcloth or a scrub to remove dead skin cells, allowing the blade to get closer to the skin. “It teases out any stubborn ingrown hairs prior to shaving,” she says.
3. Don’t skip shaving cream
You might think this shaving accessory is just a feel- and smell-good component to the process, but it’s way more than that. “When you shave, you’re shaving your skin, too,” says Bischoff. “If you don’t use enough shaving cream to create enough slip, you’ll lightly abrade your skin, leaving it irritated.” Ouch.
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And similarly to that quality bikini shaver you’re supposed to buy, don’t just reach for a random, cheap shaving cream. “Use a good-quality shaving gel with a short list of moisturizing ingredients, like shea butter, olive oil, and coconut oil—these types of bases will give a proper buffer for your razor,” says Engelman.
Apply a very thin layer only to the area that needs to be shaved so you can see the skin and hair shaft underneath. “This is much safer, so there’s no need to move the blade back and forth on the skin,” says Ozaki.
4. Pay attention to your shaving direction
People have a lot of opinions about whether you should shave up or down on your bikini line, and the direction you shave does matter. “How you shave can be really, really important, especially for people who are prone to bumps,” says Bischoff. Going in a ton of different directions with your razor makes cuts and subsequent ingrown hairs more likely. Shave in one direction—with the hair growth. Going against the grain of your hair makes irritation much more likely.
While gliding your razor gently along the bikini line, keep the blade downward without adding too much pressure. “One pass should be fine, especially if you’re using a razor that has many blades,” says Ozaki. “The more blades used, the fewer times you should feel the need to re-shave over this sensitive area.”
5. Calm your skin after shaving the bikini area
Wash off as soon as you put your razor down, and hold a cold compress to the area for 10 minutes to prevent irritation, says Ozaki. Apply an anti-redness serum (preferably fragrance-free) to further reduce your chances of experiencing razor burn. “I recommend tea tree oil, both a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, which can help calm razor burn,” says Engelman. “If you’ve really caused some irritation, more intense creams, like topical steroids, can be prescribed to reduce redness, swelling, and pain.”
6. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
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It’s important to always hydrate and moisturize after shaving. “Apply an unscented, alcohol-free moisturizer to both sides of the bikini line to lock in the moisture and avoid over-drying, which leads to further irritation,” says Engelman. Bischoff suggests looking for products containing soothing aloe vera, as well as jojoba oil and vitamin E for hydration.
7. Clean your bikini razor
After every shave, make sure to sanitize your blades with rubbing alcohol and warm or hot water. If your razor looks rusty and you’ve been using it for a while, toss it out. “Replace old blades—ones you’ve used for more than five to seven shaves,” says Engelman.
You can also cut your losses (and avoid those red bumps) by storing blades in a clean, dry place so they don’t pick up bacteria sitting around in the shower.
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