We don’t know about you—but no matter how many times we get them, pre-bikini wax apprehension is akin to dental visits in their shudder factor.
However, as we get closer to summer (and bikini season) many of us are opting for pre-beach Brazilian waxes. Brazilians are a whole other ball of wax—pun totally intended—for those of us used to the immediacy and ease of shaving.
The biggest issue when waxing is dealing with the regrowth time between waxes. The whole reason we get bikini waxes is to be perfectly hairless during bikini season—and then we have a month between waxing appointments!
Shave the Distance
It’s a bit of a myth that if you wax, you shouldn’t shave between appointments, as your hair may grow back coarser. The truth is, it’s all an illusion: hair can seem thicker or coarser when it grows back because the hair has been cut and has a blunt end, compared with the rounded tip of a new hair (which is what you get when you remove hair by the root, i.e. with waxing, sugaring or tweezing). It’s not literally a different textured hair, though!
Depending on hair re-growth, waxing results last between three to six weeks with hair growth being light the first week and increasing the third and fourth week. This can be problematic if you have a hot date or a beach date scheduled for around two weeks post-wax! That’s where shaving touch-ups come in.
Make sure to use a Venus Embrace between waxing appointments. You’ll want to wait about 2 weeks before your first appointment and stop shaving approximately 10 days before your next waxing appointment because hair needs to be approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inch long for a clean wax (longer for coarser hair that has never been waxed). This will—depending on your hair growth patterns—probably mean waxing about once a month.
With 10-14 days growth on each side, you’ll have what is needed for a clean pull for your aesthetician (and an easier wax experience for yourself!). Avoid the temptation to cut it any closer than this (pun totally intended, again!). You want to allow the wax to have a good grip on the hair and be released from the root, rather than just the hair above the skin being removed. (Because, ouch.)
The Benefits of the Shave
Aside from maintaining the clean bikini area throughout the month, there are inherent skin benefits in shaving. “Ingrown hairs are, in part, due to dead skin that covers over hairs, often leading to an inflammatory reaction in the skin. Exfoliating the dead skin in the bikini area, for example, is a necessary part to helping to prevent these ingrown hairs. Shaving with a sharp razor that is suitable for sensitive skin is a good way to exfoliate this region between waxing and will help prevent these painful ingrown hairs from forming,” shares Dr. Jody Levine, Venus Dermatologist. Shaving doesn’t just make our skin smooth because of the hair removal—by also exfoliating it’s like a facial for our lady parts! The last thing we want are ingrown hairs, which are often accompanied by bumps and irritation—the antithesis of a clean and perfect bikini line.
How to Shave
Many of us have been shaving since we were teens, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t get those annoying nicks and scrapes. When we’re dealing with the bikini area, that’s completely unacceptable. Since you are a waxer, your hair shouldn’t be very long. In the event it is, try to trim the hair to about ¼ with scissors before getting in the shower. This will help you get a clean shave and avoid hairs getting stuck in your blade once you begin shaving. As much as you may love hot showers, it’s best to go lukewarm—the hot water will drag the moisture out of your skin. Dry skin is far more likely to get irritated. No matter how much of a rush you may be in, never skip rinsing the blade after each pass of the razor. There’s going to be increasing levels of hair and skin caught in your blade, and this can reduce the quality of your shave. Shower as normal and then shave at the end; that’s when your skin and hair will be at its softest. And, whenever possible, shave with the grain. The grain is simply the direction your hair appears to be growing in. If you need to go back against the grain to get a closer shave, you can do so—gently. But make the initial pass in the “right” direction. And definitely don’t attempt to “dry” shave outside of the shower. This is a great way to clog up your perfectly good razor with dead skin cells and end up with ingrown hairs and razor bumps. If you aren’t near a shower and desperately need the shave to be right then—it happens—take a warm, wet washcloth and leave it in the area for a few minutes before proceeding.
Make sure to change your blade as directed. A dull blade can lead to nicks. And even though you are used to waxing and may not have a razor sitting around, get one. As tempting as it may be, never borrow your guy's razor. His hair is coarser and will dull a blade. A razor like Gillette Venus Embrace has five, sharp blades for close shaving, plus the smooth glide you get from the ribbon of moisture can be your very best friend when shaving tricky areas like the bikini.
After the Shave
When finished shaving—just as whenever you get out of the shower—never skimp on the body oils or lotions. Even baby oil is great if your skin has a tendency toward dryness. The method of moisturizing you do is up to you—as is your hair removal routine—but avoiding irritation and dryness always leads to the best results!