We’ve made a national pastime out of complaining about
bikini shopping. But if you ask us, far more excruciating (and less discussed) is what it takes to prepare your body for bikini shopping — and for wearing a bikini every single time thereafter.
No, we're definitely not talking about rigorous fitness routines; after all, the first and only step to getting a beach body is to have a body. This is about the measures we take to clear the hairs that insist on cropping up just outside the bikini line. Whether you
shave, wax, or sugar, none of it is pleasant — and nearly all methodologies can spur redness, bumps, and irritation (which, frankly, we’re not convinced looks any better than exposed pubes).
As New York-based dermatologist and dermatopathologist
Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, MD, explains, "Bikini rash, also known as folliculitis, happens because of inflammation around the hair follicle that occurs after shaving or waxing. Because the hair is generally coarser in the bikini area relative to other parts of the body, irritation from shaving or waxing is more common."
It’s a raw deal, but our quest for smooth skin prevails. So this swim season, why not circumvent the whole masochistic cycle by preventing bikini rash before it sets in? Two dermatologists help us formulate a game plan, ahead.
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New York City-based dermatologist
Hadley King, MD, says to make sure the skin is soft and gently exfoliated before attempting any kind of hair removal in the area. "Spend about 10 minutes in warm water to help soften the outer layer of skin, making it easier to remove hair and decreasing the risk of razor burn," she says. "It's also helpful to gently and lightly exfoliate with a warm wet washcloth or a gentle moisturizing scrub, like Dove's Exfoliating Body Polish with crushed macadamia and rice milk, which helps to release any ingrown hairs stuck under the surface of dead skin prior to shaving." Dove
Exfoliating Body Polish Body Scrub, $5.94, available at
Amazon More Oui Shave The Rose Gold Single-Blade Razor
At-home hair removal can include waxing, but if you'd like to skip irritation from the very first step, then we suggest going with a razor — a safety razor, to be exact. You may have resigned yourself to the fact that razor burn and ingrown hairs are a part of your past, present, and future, but this single-blade tool will change all of that. Thanks to the double-edge design, the razor cuts off the hair at a blunt angle, without pulling or dragging on the skin, so it won't cause irritation or razor bumps, ever. Oui Shave
The Rose Gold Single-Blade Razor, $75, available at
Oui Shave More Gillette Venus Platinum Extra Smooth Metal Handle Women's Razor
Dr. King prefers this particular razor for the bikini area because of its thoughtful design. "Look for a razor with multiple blades to disperse the pressure, a pivoting head that will adjust to all of your body's curves, soothing strips to help protect the skin, and an ergonomic handle that fits your hand," she says.
Venus Platinum Extra Smooth Metal Handle Women's Razor, $9.97, available at
Amazon More Kneipp Almond Blossom Shower Foam
For those who shave the bikini area, Dr. Mudgil suggests a few in-shower tweaks to help cut down on bikini rash. To start, use a new,
sharp razor (whether you prefer the drugstore multi-blade options or a single blade) and a generous dose of shaving cream, like this foam, which turns into a cream-like consistency upon contact with skin. Then, try giving your bikini area a contrast shower. “Shaving while taking a hot or warm shower helps relax the muscles under the skin, open pores, and soften hair, which makes shaving easier and less traumatic,” he says. “Rinsing with cold water after shaving helps soothe the skin and close pores, which reduces post-shaving irritation.” Kneipp
White Hibiscus & Shea Butter Shower Foam, $16, available at
Kneipp More Dove Body Wash Mousse with Rose Oil
For a more budget-friendly option, Dr. King likes this mousse that doubles as both a body wash and a shaving cream. "With glycerin to hydrate and stearic acid as an emollient, it's able to moisturize and protect the skin," she says. "Stearic acid has been shown to protect the skin's surface against water loss and support the skin's protective barrier, and the rose oil provides a light, fresh fragrance."
Body Wash Mousse with Rose Oil , $5.99, available at
Target More The Perfect V VV Cream
This soothing cream, made with the bikini area in mind, includes
salicylic acid to help prevent ingrown hairs and bumps. The Perfect V
VV Cream - Very V Intensive, $48, available at
The Perfect V More S.W. Basics Aloe Vera Powder
Dr. Mudgil often gives patients who suffer from bikini rash a mild hydrocortisone lotion to apply right after shaving. “Aloe gels and creams are also helpful,” he says. This genius aloe-leaf powder can be mixed with water to create a gel, or stirred in with chilled chamomile tea to make a soothing mask.
Aloe Vera Powder Packet, $7.99, available at
S.W. Basics More Fur Skincare Fur Oil
For some people, plant extracts and
essential oils can cause allergic reactions, says Dr. Mudgil. But for us, the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial jojoba, grapeseed, clary sage, and tea-tree oils in this blend proved to be soothing to skin. (As always, YMMV.) Fur Skincare
Fur Oil, $46, available at
Nordstrom More Carter + Jane The Everything Oil
Packed with prickly pear seed oil, slathering on a few drops of this multi-use oil will not only ensure that this delicate area of skin doesn't get inflamed, but also get rid of bumps and prevent any scarring or irritation after shaving.
Carter + Jane
The Everything Oil, $128, available at
Carter + Jane More Silk'N Silk'n Flash&Go Infinity Hair Removal Device
If bumps, inflammation, and rashes persist even after taking Dr. Mudgil’s precautions, he offers one last solution: “Laser
hair removal is magical and what I recommend to all my patients who suffer from razor bumps,” he says. Though in-office treatments require multiple sessions and thousands of dollars, this new at-home device (already a best-seller in international markets) promises to stymie hair growth for less, using galvanic energy to widen the pore and light pulses to zap new hair growth. Silk'N
Silk'n Flash&Go Infinity Hair Removal Device, $399, available at
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