Learn how to prevent bikini bumps, razor burn, and more with these shaving, waxing, and laser hair removal tips.

By Melissa Matthews Brown
Photo by Trunk Archive

Pre-Shave Practices

Don’t be impatient—let hair grow to be at least 1/8 of an inch before you shave. For the smoothest results, first gently exfoliate the area with a damp washcloth; you want to slough away dead skin cells that can clog hair follicles—creating red, inflamed, ingrown hairs. 


Wax This Way

Always wax before showering, since warm water softens skin. If you tug or pull at soft, delicate skin, that’s when irritation happens. You’ll also want to avoid body creams or washes with retinol for at least seven days before waxing—they make skin more sensitive and prone to redness, Palm says. She is a believer in cold wax instead of hot to prevent flare-ups, especially for sensitive skin types. One to try is Nad’s Natural Hair Removal Sugar Wax ($13).

Shave Smarter

Repeat after us: I will not dry shave. Ever. Instead, shave at the very end of your shower, since exposure to steam and warm water makes hair easier to remove, says Austin-based dermatologist Ted Lain, MD. Avoid multi-blade razors, he says: They might be great for legs, but they shave too close for your bikini line and can trigger ingrowns. Instead, try a single-blade razor, like Sphynx All-In-One Portable Razor ($15), and a soothing cream, like Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel ($5). Hold skin taut by using one hand to press down on your upper thigh (or, for top-line grooming, pull up on your lower stomach). With very light pressure, shave in the direction of hair growth, says San Diego dermatologist Melanie Palm, MD. One pass should be enough; going over a spot several times can cause razor burn or ingrown hairs. 

Repeat Offender

If your skin flares up every time you shave, ask your derm for a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory cream, such as Elidel or Eucrisa. These products were originally formulated for eczema and have been found to soothe irritated bikini lines.

Laser Hair Removal

You can permanently groom your bikini line with the zap of a laser. Try the Motus AX laser (pricing starts at $375 per treatment) to remove hairs and discoloration, says NYC cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, MD.

Smooth Follow-Up

Once you’re out of the shower, apply a thin layer of 1% hydrocortisone cream to quickly minimize redness and prevent itching. To stave off ingrowns, use a salicylic acid product, like European Wax Center Smooth Me Ingrown Hair Wipes ($28.50). The salicylic acid fights bacteria and removes dead skin that can clog follicles, Palm says. Be sure to keep this sensitive area protected from the sun with a sunscreen containing zinc oxide—a natural anti-inflammatory—like Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 ($9).