Sure, you’ve been shaving and waxing since you can remember, but as soon as the warm weather hits and you unpack your swimsuits, the idea can be daunting. Whether it be razor bumps, redness and rawness, or the dreaded rips of waxing, hair removal often hurts – no matter how skilled your landscaping method has become. Yet, you do it anyway. So, here, we rounded up pro tips for painless hair removal, just in time for swimsuit season.
For a smoother shave
Razor burn and bumps can happen no matter where you shave (though it’s more common on areas where hair is coarse, like the bikini line), but taking certain precautions can reduce your risk of irritation. For the most comfortable shave, start with shaving cream, like Skintimate Lotionized Cream Shave ($4), and let it sit on skin for a few minutes before reaching for your razor. “You really need to lube up the follicle, otherwise it can become irritated and get a bump,” says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine.
Also key? A fresh razor. That’s because old and dull blades drag against the skin, causing friction. Using short strokes and medium pressure, go with the grain of the hair, advises Dr. Gohara. For your legs, use vertical strokes; however, if you are shaving your bikini line, keep in mind that hair there grows in different directions — up, down, and sideways. Try trimming your pubic hair with a bikini trimmer first, then running warm water over the area for a less painful session. “Warm water opens up the pore and softens the cuticle, so shaving is less traumatic,” says Dr. Gohara.
For an ouch-less wax
For best results, go to a professional technician that specializes in waxing. Do not attempt to do it yourself, especially if it’s your first time waxing a sensitive area such as your bikini line. Look for salons that use hard wax to minimize discomfort and irritation, says Jeanette Haylock, gotoBrazils Waxing Center Education Manager. “Hard wax will adhere to only the hair, pulling out the entire root without tearing the skin, whereas soft wax adheres to the exposed hair shaft and the skin,” she explains.
Before your appointment, it’s important to let the hair grow out; it should be at least a quarter of an inch long to ensure the hair is removed from the root, requiring less rips for a smooth finish. To lessen pain, also avoid alcohol, caffeine, and exercise, which boost the circulation of blood. Finally, avoid waxing within two days of the beginning and end of your period, says Haylock. “If you wax when you are on your period, not only are you more tender, but hormones make your hair coarser, causing the wax to break the hairs rather than pull them out.”
For effective laser hair removal
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, laser hair removal may be your best bet. A concentrated, pulsating beam targets pigment in the hair follicles, killing the hair at its root so it doesn’t grow back as thick or at all. But because it targets the pigment in the hair — not the hair itself — the lighter the hair or the darker the skin, the harder the treatment. Avoid the sun five weeks before and two weeks after each laser treatments, says Nelly Howe, head aesthetician at Cosmed Laser Spa. The darkened pigment can attract energy from the laser and you can run the risk of burning, scarring, and seriously damaging the skin, she explains.
Some redness and swelling is common in the days following a treatment. Use a cool compress to soothe skin if irritation persists.