The area that gets the most razor love when anything summer is related? Your bikini line trumps even your leg or underarm areas, but it’s also the situation with the most harrowing shaving terrain. You’re systemically getting rid of hair on an area that won’t be covered up, so any mishaps are in full view in a bathing suit. We chatted with an expert about super common bikini area issues, like ingrown hairs and bumps, plus how to fix them.
1. Ingrown Hair
When you find yourself in this situation in which the stuff you’re trying to REMOVE creates even more issues, the key to healing may be in an over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream, says our expert, Venus Dermatologist, Dr. Jody Levine. “Apply a small amount of cream right after you shave to the irritated area and continue to use it twice a day for a few days, if needed. Try to avoid shaving over areas of irritation or open areas on the skin,” she says.
Avoid the problem entirely by practicing exfoliating in this area. You might not think it’s necessary, or even think to do it because it’s not your face, but it may keep your hair growing in the right (non-irritable) direction. Dr. Levine suggests using a facial exfoliating toner twice a day on this area as a source of prevention.
2. Razor Burn
As if shaving didn’t seem dangerous enough, a rash or “burn” from the blade is another sad effect. “Razor burn, irritation, and ingrown hairs can actually all be caused by using a low quality or dull razor and bad shaving habits like pressing too hard and going over the same area multiple times,” says Dr. Levine.
Razor burn can be prevented by putting a few steps into place in your showering routine. First, you’re going to need to get a razor that creates a close shave. “Using a five-bladed razor, like the Venus Swirl, will give you a close shave in one stroke, so you don’t have to go over an area again and again. Fewer strokes means less interaction with skin and a lower chance of irritation,” explains Dr. Levine.
The next step is actually pausing before you go and start to shave. Try standing under warm water, allowing the water to saturate this area, for about three minutes. Dr. Levine says this will make the hair softer and easier to cut.
Finally, you’ll want actually use a shave gel for this area. “Some people forgo shave gel, but it’s actually another important step in your shaving process, as it allows your razor to glide more easily over your skin and lessen the chance of razor burn,” she says.
In fact, she says it is often formulated with “lubricating agents,” keeping the hair soft, and creates a protective barrier. Bar soap, apparently, does not have the same effect, for all of you substituting the cream for soap. “Ordinary bar soap can clog your razor and leave your skin feeling dry and flaky. Creamy body wash and hair conditioner are other products people sometimes use to shave with. These are not as effective as shave gel and are sometimes too slippery, causing the razor to fall out of one’s hand or slip,” she explains.
If you already have razor burn, reach for a topical antibiotic and a mild steroid lotion to help with inflammation.
Uneven patches of pigmented skin on your bikini line have a few potential causes, says. Dr. Levine. This can include a repeated rubbing of a certain area (watch how your workout clothes effect this area!), prolonged irritation and inflammation, and pushing too hard with a razor while shaving. Dr. Levine suggests following the same steps as you would to prevent razor burn and to talk to a dermatologist, who may prescribe a lightening cream, if it doesn’t go away.
Often included in razor burn irritation, bumps may bug you when it comes time to put on your bikini. To prevent it from happening or to help heal them, Dr. Levine says to use an exfoliating toner twice a day and to use a hydrocortisone cream on the area for a few days. They also have a bit to do with your razor’s dullness.
“Because hair on your bikini line tends to be coarse and curly, and the bikini area has many contours, it’s best to use a high quality razor that has five, fresh blades and is designed to adjust to the contours of that area, like the new Venus Swirl razor,” she explains.
5. Dry Shaving Irritation
You were out of product and in a rush and just went ahead with the dry shaving. Probably not the best idea, but we get it, it happens. Dr. Levine says that this causes irritation because the razor isn’t able to glide over the surface of the skin, causing friction and then rubbing. Bumps and razor burn may result, so treat the same way you would for those specific ailments.
This is a super sensitive area of the skin, and often comes in contact with tight elastic and hems of clothing, leading to further irritation and possibly infection. Use a shaving gel and shave slowly to help prevent the slip of a razor. “Antibiotic ointment applied at least twice a day will help the cut heal,” says Dr. Levine who mentions you should avoid shaving over any open cuts to help the healing process.
7. Yeast/Fungal Infections
It’s not as common as, say, razor burn, but it’s still something you should be mindful of in the season of sweat and humidity. “In the summer, sometimes people get irritation and yeast/fungal infections in skin folds from moist skin, and rubbing only makes shaving in this area uncomfortable. Make sure to change out of wet clothes right after working out and use anti-fungal powder to avoid this problem,” our expert explains.