Is it Better to Wax or Shave my Bikini Line?

woman with her arm raised in a bikini

Photo by Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

If you're not a fan of your body hair, you might feel like you look best in your swimsuit when your bikini line is waxed or shaved. But how you get rid of that hair is up to you, and any way comes with pros and cons. Whether you want to cut it off or rip it out, there's good and bad to either.

Waxing Pros and Cons

Waxing has longer results but may have more potential conflicts, and it's important to be aware of what those are. Certain medical conditions, beauty products, and medications might cause issues with the process—issues that may leave skin red and scabby. If you have allergies, those are important to consider too, as different places use different products to cleanse the skin. Allergens could be present in the wax itself, but they can also be part of the formulas applied post hair removal to soothe and remove remaining product. So be careful! If you're not waxing yourself, inform your technician about any allergies you may have. Some pain is normal, because waxing is pulling out the hair from the follicle, and the bikini area is sensitive overall. The amount of pain will depend on your personal threshold, the tech, and the technique and type of wax used. Regardless, you should never feel any burning or excruciating pain, so tell your tech immediately if that's what you're experiencing.

A pro bikini wax can take up to an hour, and cost from $30 to upwards of $80—and that's not counting gratuity and tax. The total cost at a salon will ultimately depend on both how much hair is being removed and if a shape (like a landing strip, triangle, square or rectangle) needs to be waxed. Exactly how long your wax will take depends on the speed of the tech. If you DIY it, which costs $25-100 for a reusable kit, you should really only be removing the hair outside your bikini line. Due to the level of difficulty and how sensitive the area is, moving to more sensitive zones without experience can be genuinely dangerous. As a non-professional, this should also take about an hour or so depending on how much practice you've had. Results may last three to four weeks as long as the entire hair follicle is removed from the root, and hair isn't broken above or beneath the surface. There should be no "shadow," like what's left behind when those that have dark thick hair shave because hair is fully removed. However, be on the lookout for the bruising, bumps and ingrown hairs that might result from waxing.

Shaving Pros and Cons

Some people have sensitivities or allergies to ingredients found in shaving gels and creams. Allergic reactions may make skin red, irritated, inflamed or itchy. If something feels wrong down there, it definitely is, so wash the product off right away and buy a different one. Shaving should be painless, but be careful while doing it, because cuts and nicks in this zone can hurt a lot.

Generally, shaving is cheaper and quicker than waxing, and some easy prep work can make the process even smoother. If your hair is really long, you're going to want to trim it down first: there's less pulling on skin that way, and you don’t dull your blade more than necessary. For a truly smooth shave, let the water and steam soften your hair and skin for about five minutes in your bath or shower. More pliable hair will allow for a better shave. You only really need water, a good shaving cream or gel (in a pinch, shower gel will work,) and a high quality razor. The downside of shaving is that it doesn't last—hair may show back up a couple days later above the skin. As with shaving anywhere else, razor burn, bumps and ingrown hairs are always possible. However, preventative steps can be taken, like using fur. Skincare's Stubble Cream ($38) on the shaven area. "Moisturizing with a gentle product can protect the skin barrier, and actives like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid can be great for prevention as well," says board-certified dermatologist Michele Farber, MD. "Just avoid on mucosal areas and consider lower percentages on sensitive areas."

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