Okay, Real Talk: Which Direction Should We Be Shaving In?

Women face a ton of challenges on a daily basis, and although body hair maintenance isn't the biggest problem to have, it's still an annoying one. Shaving so many types of body hair is a chore in and of itself, made even more tedious by the fact that it has to happen over and over again, basically forever. In fact, poor shaving technique often results in razor burn and ingrown hairs, to the point that a lot of people avoid it altogether in favor of laser hair removal or waxing. 

For people who lack the dollars or pain threshold for those options, however, there is some good news — there are tips and tricks to getting the closest possible shave, but they are body part-specific. In fact, shaving success actually boils down to one main thing that a lot of people are doing wrong, and that's the direction they shave in. Once the technique is honed it makes it much easier for women to step out by the lake, pool, or beach with confidence that they're not sporting any unsightly red bumps or missed patches of hair.

Shave direction depends on the body part in question

Most people learn to shave their legs moving up the leg, against the grain of the hair. So it only makes sense that one would handle other types of body hair in the same manner. However, that's not the case for the bikini line, which should be shaved with the same direction of the hair, says shaving tools company Hanni. That's at least for the first pass over each hair. If anything is left it's fine to go back over and do touchups using only short strokes of the razor to avoid unnecessary irritation. 

The reason for this directional methodology is that the bikini area's skin is far more delicate than the legs or armpits. Plus, the hair itself is thicker, so shaving against the grain is likely to cause significant irritation. Don't just shave through a lot of long hair, either. Instead, trim pubic hair closer to the skin for a more effective, closer shave. This will reduce the amount of razor swipes needed, which should cut down on bumps. You can do this with a pair of hair scissors, or by using a bikini trimmer or even an electric shaver. However, it's absolutely on point to shave the legs against the growth of the hair, as the skin in this area can handle it, plus it will lead to a closer, longer-lasting shave. Your underarms can be handled with a combination of both downward and upward strokes.

Follow these steps for the perfect, bump-free shave

For the best possible shave, Gillette Venus says to follow some basic rules. First, never address the area with a dull razor, as that'll just add insult to injury. A dull blade can cause significantly more irritation, so replace it every five to 10 shaves. Next, the shaving giant says to prep the skin by soaking in a bath or shower for about five minutes. Remember that exfoliation is key for getting the closest shave. Use a gentle exfoliant to get rid of any hairs or dead skin cells that are primed to fall off anyway. 

Lather up with a shaving gel — for the bikini line, legs, and underarms, too — and reapply as needed. Gillette says this will protect the bikini area's delicate skin, in particular, but the legs really require it, as well. Then shave in the appropriate direction for the area and rinse with cool water. One step that many people skip is applying an alcohol-free moisturizer to keep the area hydrated and hopefully prevent any after-the-fact irritation. All of these steps should become second nature over time, and will hopefully produce a smooth, close shave worthy of a short skirt or swimsuit.