Let's start with one big caveat: Whether or not you choose to remove the hair around your bikini line (or anywhere on your body, for that matter) is completely, 1,000 percent, a matter of personal preference. Want to rock a full bush? Go for it. Prefer to be entirely bare? More power to you. The point is, we are by no means saying that you should or even have to think about removing the hair down there,
However, if you want to get rid of some (or all) of your pubic hair, you have options. Laser hair removal, waxing, sugaring, and shaving are all potential methods. Yes, shaving is on that list. If you've always equated shaving your bikini area with tons of bumps and razor burn, we've got good news: With a few simple tweaks to your shaving routine, you can end up with your smoothest skin yet. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to shaving your bikini area straight from board-certified dermatologists Geeta Yadav, MD, and Dustin Portela, DO.
Meet the Expert
- Geeta Yadav, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of FACET Dermatology in Toronto.
- Dustin Portela, DO, is a board-certified dermatologist in Boise, Idaho.
Trim the Hair
If your pubic hair is super long, you'll want to start by trimming it a bit (a pair of small eyebrow scissors makes it easy to do so). According to Portela, it should ideally be about a quarter-of-an inch long—any longer, and you risk the razor getting clogged with hair, preventing you from getting the closest and smoothest shave possible.
Wash and Exfoliate the Area
Shave in the shower after you've cleansed the area and exfoliated. Exfoliation removes dead skin cell buildup that can trap hairs beneath the skin (leading to ingrown hairs and bumps) and helps lift the hair away from the skin for a smoother shave, explains Yadava. You can use a gentle physical scrub for this (sugar-based scrubs tend to be more hydrating than salt-based options) or simply gently massage the area with a damp washcloth or loofah, no product required.
Make Sure Your Razor Is Sharp
"A fresh, sharp razor is essential for a close and even shave," explains Portela. "Dull blades can cause irritation, razor burn, and uneven results." Yadav agrees, noting that the duller the razor, the more times you'll have to go over the same area, upping the likelihood of irritation and bumps. (Not to mention, old razors can start to get rusty and harbor germs and bacteria.)
If you like disposable razors, use a new one each time. Otherwise, consider changing out the blade after every few shaves. And speaking of razors: Portela adds that using one with a flexible head that can easily navigate curves is an especially good idea when shaving your bikini area.
Load Up On Shaving Cream
Shaving dry is essentially a guarantee for razor burns and bumps. Slather on shaving cream, which will lubricate the area and help the razor glide smoothly over your skin; "This reduces the risk of both cuts or irritation," says Portela. While any shaving cream will be better than none, ideally, you'll want to choose one that's fragrance-free or formulated for the sensitive skin of the bikini area, he adds. We like Eos' Shea Butter Shaving Cream for Sensitive Skin ($6)
Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth
Giving a little extra thought to your shaving technique can make a world of difference when it comes to the end results. For starters, "Shave in the direction of hair growth to minimize irritation and the risk of ingrown hairs," Portela advises. "This decreases the risk of a hair being cut so short that it recedes below the surface of the skin, at which point it is much more likely to become ingrown."
Use light, even strokes with gentle pressure, and rinse the razor frequently to remove built-up hair and shaving cream. Finally, pull the skin taut as you shave. This will help the razor glide easier and reduce irritation, which is especially important if you're shaving areas where the skin is softer and has more stretch, such as the labia, he adds.
Finish With a Post-Shave Product
Pat the area dry and apply a soothing, moisturizing after-shave product. Shaving doesn't just remove hair but also exfoliates the skin, Portela notes; this can lead to irritation if the skin isn't moisturized after. Similarly, Yadav says a post-shaving product is also a good way to soothe and comfort the skin and minimize the likelihood of bumps. She recommends Tree Hut's Coconut Lime Bare Post-Shave Soothing Mist ($10).
Is It Bad To Shave My Bikini Area?
Nope, shaving your bikini area definitely isn't bad. "Shaving is just one of many forms of hair removal, and for [most] people, it's the most budget-friendly option. Paying for waxing adds up, and while laser hair removal can pay off in the long run, it's a big expense upfront," says Yadav. "The key to success with shaving the bikini area is proper prep." As long as you prep your skin and shave correctly, you can end up with smooth, bump-free skin. To that point...
What Causes Bikini Line Bumps?
These pesky and unsightly bumps around the bikini line are often ingrown hairs, which occur when, rather than growing straight up out of the follicle and through the skin's surface, the hair curls back into the skin, explains Yadav. The trapped hair then results in a bump forming. (It's worth mentioning that people with very coarse and curly public hair may struggle more with ingrown hairs and bumps, she notes.) Bumps may also be folliculitis, or inflammation of the hair follicle, which look like tiny pimples, Yadav adds. And sometimes, those bumps are just a sign of run-of-the-mill skin irritation caused by shaving, Portela says.