We all know that waxing is the quickest way to deal with pubic hair. (Unless you prefer the natural look, which is having a moment.) Problem is, for many women, putting up with the pain of waxing–not to mention forking over $60 to $75 at every appointment–just isn't worth the end result. Luckily, shaving can be just as effective when it comes to pubic hair removal.
Here's everything you should know about how to prep your skin, the best way to moisturize after shaving, and how to get rid of razor bumps.
1. Don't Skip Pre-Shave Prep
If you haven't shaved in a while or this is your first time, it will be easier on your razor if you trim your pubic hair with scissors first. (Shoot for a quarter inch long.) But whether you're new to the hair removal game or you shave every day, soaking your skin beforehand is the best way to prevent razor burn along your bikini line. "Shaving toward the end of your shower or bath allows hair to soften," says Rachel Nazarian, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. And softer hair will result in a closer, smoother, less irritating shave.
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2. Invest in the Right Razor
Avoid using a razor with too many blades, because that can be too harsh on your vulva–especially if you shave daily, says Dr. Nazarian. A good rule of thumb: Use two different razors, one for your pubic area and a separate one for your legs and underarms. The one for your bikini area should have just two blades.
Additionally, don't wait for the razor to rust to replace it. "Since blades tend to dull after a few uses, toss them out by the fourth shave—or even earlier if you see buildup of dirt or dead skin on your razor," says Dr. Nazarian. This is where disposables razors come in handy, since two blade throwaways are just as effective at offering a close shave.
3. Make Exfoliating a Priority
Instead of focusing on how to get rid of razor bumps, prioritize exfoliation to prevent them from forming in the first place. While shaving is its own form of exfoliation, dead skin and dirt can build up on the blades of your razor as you shave, which wears them out and increases the chances of nicking. "Exfoliating with a soft scrub or cloth is a great way to gently clean the skin before shaving, and will extend the life of your blades," says Dr. Nazarian. Just make sure to limit exfoliation to once a week because overdoing it can irritate sensitive skin, particularly in the winter months.
4. Apply an Unscented Cleanser In Place of Shaving Cream
"Using heavily perfumed shaving creams can irritate your sensitive areas," says Dr. Nazarian. So it's best to substitute those products for unscented, moisturizing cleansers like a CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser (Buy It, $12, target.com) or Cetaphil Hydrating Facial Cleanser (Buy It, $9, target.com). Unlike popular pre-shave products (think: Skintimate shave gels), these won't foam. "But they do offer a smooth, easy surface for the razor, as well as prevent over-drying or irritation," says Dr. Nazarian.
5. Avoid Unnecessary Friction
While shaving against the direction of hair growth gives a closer shave, it can also cause sensitive skin to flare up. "Ideally, to avoid tugging on the hair, the razor should follow the direction of hair growth while trying to minimize the number of strokes," says Dr. Nazarian. By shaving down with the hair growth, you prevent razor burn as well as ingrown hairs, she explains. Another major cause of razor burn is pressing too hard with the razor. Your blade should glide over the hairs, so if you feel a lot of resistance and pulling, you're pressing too hard.
6. Follow Up with a Soothing Moisturizer
"Applying a light, perfume-free, alcohol-free moisturizer immediately after showering can help soothe skin and hair follicles that might be inflamed from the shaving process," says Dr. Nazarian. And since lotions and topical creams are absorbed more effectively after bathing, it's best to use lotion that contains colloidal oatmeal, which naturally calms irritated skin. Dr. Nazarian recommends trying Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Lotion (Buy It, $7, target.com).
Wondering how to get rid of shaving bumps that have already appeared? Start using an oil to get rid of razor bumps after shaving. Fur Ingrown Concentrate (Buy It, $28, furyou.com) and Bliss Your Situation Oil (Buy It, $17, blissworld.com) are both made for getting rid of razor bumps on the bikini area and contain tea tree oil, which has anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
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This article originally appeared on Shape.com