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6 Tricks for How to Shave Your Bikini Area

We all know that waxing is the quickest way to eliminate hair down there. But for many women, putting up with the pain—not to mention forking over $60 to $75 at every appointment—just isn’t worth the end result. Luckily for your lady parts, shaving can be just as effective when it comes to tackling hair below the belt. Just follow these simple steps for before, during, and after your shaving routine and you’ll never feel the need to hit up the waxing salon again. (Committed to waxing but hate the appointments? Try it at home: 7 Pro Tips for DIY Bikini Waxing.)

Don’t Skip Pre-Shave Prep
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If you haven’t shaved in a while—or perhaps this is your first time—it will be easier on your razor if you trim your pubic hair with scissors first (shoot for a quarter inch long). But whether you’re new to the hair removal game or you shave everyday, soaking your skin before hand is the best way to prevent razor burn along your bikini line. “Shaving toward the end of your shower or bath allows hair to soften,” says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. And softer hair helps the chances of a closer, smoother, less irritating shave.

Invest in the Right Razor
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Avoid using a razor with too many blades because that can be too harsh on your vulva—especially if you shave daily, says Nazarian. A good rule of thumb: use two different razors, one for your lady parts and a separate one for your legs and underarms. The one for your bikini area should have just two blades for the bikini area.

Additionally, don’t wait for the razor to rust to replace it. “Since blades tend to dull after a few uses, toss them out by the fourth shave—or even earlier if you see buildup of dirt or dead skin on your razor,” says Nazarian. This is where disposables razors come in handy, since two blade throwaways are just as effective at offering a close shave.

Make Exfoliating a Priority
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While shaving is its own form of exfoliation, dead skin and dirt can build up on the blades of your razor as you shave, which wears them out and increases the chances of nicking. “Exfoliating with a soft scrub or cloth is a great way to gently clean the skin before shaving, and will extend the life of your blades,” says Nazarian. Just make sure to limit exfoliation to once a week because over doing it can irritate sensitive skin, particularly in the winter months. (Make your own exfoliator with 10 Surprising Ways to Use Sugar (Without Eating It).)

Apply A Delicate Moisturizer Pre-Shave
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“Using heavily perfumed shaving creams can irritate your sensitive areas,” says Nazarian. So it’s best to substitute those products for unscented, moisturizing cleansers like a CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($13, ulta.com) or Cetaphil Hydrating Cleanser ($8.50, walmart.com) Unlike popular shaving products (think: Skintimate Shave Gels), these won’t foam. “But they do offer a smooth, easy surface for the razor, as well as prevent over-drying or irritation,” says Nazarian.

Avoid Unnecessary Friction
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While shaving against the direction of hair growth gives a closer shave, it can also cause sensitive skin to flare up. “Ideally, to avoid tugging on the hair, the razor should follow the direction of hair growth while trying to minimize the number of strokes,” says Nazarian. By shaving down with the hair growth, you prevent razor burn as well as ingrown hairs, she explains. Another major cause of razor burn is pressing too hard with the razor. Your blade should glide over the hairs, so if you feel a lot of resistance and pulling, you’re pressing too hard. (Didn’t know that? Read these 7 Things You May Not Know about Hair Removal But Should.)

Follow Up with a Soothing Moisturizer
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“Applying a light, perfume-free, alcohol-free moisturizer immediately after showering can help soothe skin and hair follicles that might be inflamed from the shaving process,” says Nazarian. And since lotions and topical creams are absorbed more effectively after bathing, it’s best to use lotion that contains colloidal oatmeal, which naturally calms irritated skin. Nazarian recommends trying Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($7, target.com). (Check out the Best Body Lotion for Your Skin.)

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