While removing bikini-line hair has never exactly been a walk in the park, the pandemic and subsequent salon and spa closures of the last year have truly made it more difficult than ever. Just thinking about at-home waxing immediately brings back (literally) painful memories of teenage experiments gone bad, so it’s no wonder so many of us have turned to the experts when it comes to getting rid of hair down there. But if our split-end-ridden hair and overgrown cuticles have taught us anything in recent months, it’s that we sometimes must take beauty matters into our own hands. Lucky for us, at-home hair removal solutions have come a long way since our middle-school days, and whether you’re after a full Brazilian or are just in need of a little maintenance, there are more options than ever.
Even with a number of new trimmers, electric razors, and devices to choose from, though, the hair and skin on our bikini area is different from that on the rest of the body, and it’s important that we treat it accordingly. When it comes to shaving, Dendy Engelman, MD, a dermatologist in NYC, says the most important (and often overlooked) part of doing bikini hair removal right is how you prep your skin, as well as how you care for it afterwards. With the help of Dr. Engelman’s tips, we break down the do’s and don’t’s of at-home bikini hair removal and the best tools for the job depending on your specific needs and goals.
Never dry shave.
Always use a shaving cream, gel, or “at least water,” Dr. Engelman says, adding that doing so “greatly reduces the chances of razor burn and irritation.” Find a cream-based shaving cream that, when applied to the skin, softens the hair and follicles so that when a razor goes across the skin, there is less irritation. (This one from Fur is a great option.)
If you’re prone to razor bumps and irritation, exfoliate first.
Though it’s true that shaving exfoliates, those prone to irritation will benefit from exfoliating before shaving, too. “It ensures that the hair can cleanly come out, and will smooth skin texture, buffing away dirt that may be clogging your pores and causing inflammation” Dr. Engelman explains. While it might sound a bit odd, using your facial products—be it a cleanser, toner, or peel—on your bikini region before shaving can be a great help, but there are also slightly more site-specific solutions (like this body scrub from LATHER).
Shave in one direction.
“Shaving in all directions increases the chance of razor bumps, irritation, and even ingrown hairs,” Dr. Engelman explains. Her advice? “Shave in the direction of which your hair grows. Shaving against hair growth gives you a closer shave but the blunt-tipped end of hairs can grow back into the skin rather than up and out.” Don’t use a dull razor either. “A dull razor is actually more likely to cut you than a new, sharper razor,” Dr. Engelman says. If you shave every day, the general rule of thumb is to change your razor every two weeks, and if you shave every other day, you should change your blade every three weeks.
Remember to moisturize after.
“It softens the hair and hair follicle, as well as the skin, reducing the chances of ingrown hairs,” Dr. Engelman notes. Your usual body moisturizer will do the trick, but if you feel like treating your bikini line to a little extra something special, try an after-shave balm (like this one from DeoDoc). If you do cut yourself or have post-shave irritation, Dr. Engelman recommends a standard facial toner (like this Thayer’s Witch Hazel Facial Toner with Aloe Vera classic). “Look for formulas with ingredients that have anti-inflammatory and soothing properties like aloe, witch hazel, allantoin, or willow bark,” Dr. Engelman recommends.
Best For Precision Work: Philips Bikini Perfect Women's Rechargeable Electric Trimmer
This hypoallergenic micro-shaver/trimmer has customizable length settings so you can groom your bikini area to your exact specifications. It can also be used in or out of the shower.
Best Electric Razor: Luminess Air Silk & Smooth Hair Remover Device
This battery-operated electric shaver gives close, precise results with zero pain by way of rotating twin blades. And contrary to Dr. Engelman's tip above, this one requires no water or shaving cream.
Best If You're Going TOTALLY Bare: Sugared + Bronzed Medium Sugar Paste
An ancient Egyptian method of hair removal—now doable at home. Basically, sugar paste (which is literally just sugar, lemon, and water) is used to pull hair from the root.
Best Multitasking Razor: Schick HydroSilk TrimStyle
This dual-ended shower must-have is both your standard razor (with skin-hydrating properties) and a bikini trimmer in one. The bikini trimmer has four settings so you can customize your results. This one is perfect for packing too, as you’ll only need one tool instead of two!
Best Wax Strips: Flamingo Pubic Hair Wax Kit
With no heat required, these wax strips come in three different shapes and sizes so you can remove as much or as little as you’d like. As the first brand to bring its unique soft gel-wax blend to the US, Flamingo’s kit is designed to remove even the finest of hairs, and the natural yellow tint makes it easy to see the wax against your skin and shape as you see fit. Even the best of wax strips leave skin exposed, though, so the Flamingo kit comes with post-wax cloths to remove residue, calm skin, and help prevent ingrowns.
Best Razor For Sensitive Skin: The Art of Shaving Rose Gold Safety Razor
In order to combat the all-too-common problem of pressing too hard while shaving, causing razor burn and bumps, The Art of Shaving created a gilded razor that’s already weighted. With just the right amount of pressure needed for silky smooth results, this razor will do all the heavy-lifting, and all you need do is hold it lightly.
Best Razor Subscription: Athena Club The Razor Kit
While finding the right razor using it safely is half the battle, changing it frequently is the rest. With The Best Shave Ever from Athena Club, you’ll not only get an innovative, curve-loving razor with patented blades and a water-activated serum for smoothness, but you’ll also get a regular replacement. Choose a subscription plan that fits your needs, and you’ll get a new set of blades every two, four, or six months, all of which can simply be switched out for the current one on your handle.
Best Drugstore Razor: Venus Extra Smooth Sensitive Razor
If you want a classic shave but need to keep it gentle, try the Venus Extra Smooth sensitive razor, which is designed especially for women with sensitive skin. It features a “SkinElixir” Lubrastrip that helps it glide smoother—and prevents nicks and cuts.
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