13 Down-There Grooming Questions, Answered
Bikini season doesn't just have us cramming in extra workouts. It also brings up extra worries about achieving a smooth bikini area for last minute trips to the beach. To get to the root of lasting smoothness, we've put our top questions past some top experts to see what's normal, what's preventable, and what's the best way to maintain a smooth bikini line all summer long. So the next time your guy wants to go for a spontaneous swim, the only thing you'll need to worry about is how quickly you can throw on your bikini.
What Is an Ingrown Hair?
Imagine the surface of the skin with hair follicles poking through. With shaving, you trim the hair to be flush with the skin, says Alicia Barba, a Miami dermatologist from Barba Skin Clinic. Waxing pulls the hair by the root, which increases the chances of an ingrown hair developing if the hair bends out of shape. "When hairs are waxed or tweezed, the hair is longer and the chances of the hair whipping out and crawling in are much higher than if you just shave it," Barba says. The catch? Waxing delivers longer-lasting results.
What's the Best Way to Prevent Ingrown Hairs?
Shun the wax and stick with shaving with a brand-new razor, Barba says. Also, before undertaking any kind of hair removal, use a skin softening exfoliant like La Roche-Posay Physiological Ultra-Fine Scrub that's suitable for sensitive skin ($17.99; laroche-pousay.us). It will soften the skin to make it easier for the hair to penetrate through for a smoother finish.
How Long Should You Really Wait to Have Sex After Waxing?
Wait 24 hours after waxing before intense exercise, says Natalia Romanenko, a senior specialist at Strip Ministry of Waxing in New York City. That includes sex. The extra time helps the pores of your skin return to their normal size, she says.
How Long Should You Go in Between Brazilians?
"The hair growth cycle is 30 days," Romanenko says. If you're a fan of the Brazilian, stick with the cycle and set up an appointment on the same day every month for an easy way to remember when you're due for a clean up.
How Long Does Hair Need to Be Before Shaving or Waxing?
"We suggest eyelash length," Romanenko says. Any longer will require extra trimming, and any shorter may lead to extra irritation.
Do You Need Sunscreen Down There?
Just because your bikini bottoms cover the area while you're standing, it's still smart to apply sunscreen to the area before heading to the beach. "It's a good idea to wear sunblock pretty much everywhere as you never know how articles of clothing-including bikinis-may shift and leave skin exposed," says Amy Wechsler, a New York City-based dermatologist. If the bottoms move around while you're swimming, you could be left with a burn on the sensitive spots-ouch!
Which Removal Method Lasts the Longest?
When it comes to long-lasting hair-free areas, laser hair removal takes the cake. "But when it comes to waxing versus shaving, waxing is the only way to get the hair from the root resulting in the smoothest, longer-lasting result," Romanenko says.
Exfoliation: Good or Bad?
Good. Exfoliation helps to scrub away the dead skin cells that can trap hair and lead to annoying, interfering ingrowns, Wechsler says. Choose a gentle cleanser and only a light pressure on the delicate skin, she says. Anything more will cause further irritation.
How Can You Minimize the Pain of Waxing?
Pop an Advil before heading to your appointment. You can also apply a numbing cream like BareEASE ($9.50; bare ease.com) before the waxing, Romanenko says. A recent study found that when applied topically, a treatment with five percent lidocaine reduced the presence of pain. This cream contains four percent lidocaine.
Are Certain Shaving Creams Better Than Others?
Yes. Find one with added moisturizer to promote smoothness, Wechsler says. Eos Shave Cream, Ultra Moisturizing, Lavender Jasmine has natural aloe, oats, and shea butter to do just that. ($3.50; drugstore.com)
Is There a Magic Number to Razor Blades?
For most other body parts, more blades typically indicate a smoother, stubble-free finish. But, when you're dealing with the ultra-sensitive bikini area, more blades can actually be worse, Wechsler says. "Try sticking to a razor that has one or two blades for a smooth and irritation-free shave."
What's the Best Way to Get Rid of Bumps Quickly Before Heading to the Beach?
To fight razor burn, rinse the area with cool water, Wechsler suggests. When it comes to ingrowns, "applying a warm compress to ingrown hairs may help loosen the skin and allow you to pluck with tweezers," she says. If you're in a hurry, proceed with caution or skip the beach altogether. "You can get postinflammatory hyperpigmentation where you can actually tattoo that friction burn into the skin," Barba says. Instead of risking permanent discoloration, the safest bet is keeping the bikini area out of the sun.
How Can You Make the Smoothness Last?
Extend the ultra smoothness by exfoliating with a gentle body scrub a week after your waxing appointment, suggests Romanenko. After shaving or waxing, apply moisturizer to help combat skin irritation. Choose one that says "fragrance free" on the bottle, Wechsler says, like Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion ($6.99; aveeno.com).