1. The Right Razor Matters
Make sure the blades on yours are fresh and sharp, then replace monthly. "Dull razors catch the skin, causing nicks, and old razors are more likely to spread bacteria," explains Dr. Heidi Waldorf, director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at the Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC. She recommends a multi-blade razor with a flexible head so that it glides smoothly along irregular surfaces like the bikini line. (Try Gillete Venus Swirl Razor, $11.49, which has five blades and a rotating head)
2. Timing Is Everything
Don't go at it right away – take a shower or bath, then start shaving for the very end. That's when the skin and hair are at their softest, explains Dr. Ava Shamban, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at UCLA. "The warmth of the steam opens up the hair follicles and makes hair more pliable."
3. Pamper Your Bikini Area
To prevent ingrown hairs and skin irritation, give your skin a lil' TLC first. Shamban favors this trick: "Before shaving, exfoliate your bikini line with a loofah and a creamy body wash (like Dove Deep Moisture Nourishing Body Wash with NutriumMoisture, $5.47) for about 20 seconds. Rinse, then use your regular hair conditioner on the hair to soften it right before shaving." Waldorf tells clients to brush the hairs with a stiff toothbrush or Clarisonic brush (this should be done pre-shower, on dry skin) in the direction of growth "to keep the tips of the hair up and out of the skin so the follicle stays clear," she says.
4. Create A Barrier
Apply a hydrating shave cream or oil (we like EOS Ultra Moisturizing Shave Cream, $3.99, and The Honest Company Organic Shave Oil, $15.95), a creamy body wash like the Dove one above, or hair conditioner–just be sure to use something! "The key is to use a product that lubricates and provides slip for your razor," Waldorf explains.
5. Have Some Direction
First thing's first: If the hair down there is extra long, "Make sure to trim it with nail scissors so that the hair won't clog your blade," instructs Shamban. Then, note these instructions: "Shaving against the pattern of hair growth will give a smoother shave, but if your skin is sensitive, stick with shaving in the direction of growth," says Waldorf who suggests using a combination of long and short strokes to reach every hair.
6. The Follow Up
You're done with the hard part –yay! But you're not off the hook just yet. Directly after shaving, apply a moisturizing lotion free of dyes or fragrances like SkinFix Daily Lotion, $19.99, and dab polysporin on any nicks or cuts to prevent infection, says Shamban. She also recommends wearing loose clothing for a few hours afterward to avoid chaffing or irritation. If you find ingrown hairs popping up, Waldorf advises smoothing on a topical exfoliator like Tend Skin Liquid Skin Care Solution, $15.19, onto the ingrowns. If you're really irritated, a 1% hydrocortisone cream will soothe touchy skin.
Follow Marie Claire on Instagram for the latest celeb news, pretty pics, funny stuff, and an insider POV.