Whether you’re doing it with wax or a laser, getting hair removed from your bikini line is an unpleasant experience, to say the least. I’d go so far as to put it somewhere in between “drinking a smoothie made with glass” and “getting out of the shower at the gym and realizing you forgot to bring a regular bra” level unpleasant. Unless you’re down with regularly shaving or leaning into that #bigbushenergy, it just sucks—full stop. While there are certainly things you can do to make bikini waxes less painful in the moment (lookin’ at you, ibuprofen), when it’s over you’ve got at least an hour of waddling uncomfortably around town ahead of you.
And it’s worth noting that there are certain things that you should never, ever do during said “uncomfortable waddle” period, according to the pros. “To avoid pain or irritation after a waxing session, especially if you are new to the process, I recommend waiting a few hours before taking a hot shower to avoid any reaction,” says Helene Marie, waxing expert at European Wax Center. Though if you’re a veteran waxer, you *should* be ok with a post-sesh shower, since the more you do it the less sensitive your skin becomes (even though that whole “waxes get easier over time” myth is total BS).
Though you may want to show off your freshly waxed bikini line in an actual bikini right away, it’s probably for the best to wait it out for a few days. “Freshly waxed skin is more sensitive to the sun, so try to stay out of it for 48 hours and use sunscreen,” advises Marie. And one more thing to stay away from, for at least a few hours? The gym. “It’s best to also avoid exercise and wearing tight sweaty clothes, because your skin is so fresh after a wax so the pores are still open and susceptible to bacteria,” she adds. And even if you’re strictly #teamlaserhairremoval, Christian Karavloas, owner of Romeo and Juliette Laser Hair Removal in New York City, confirms that the same rules apply.
One thing you should do a few days after a wax, and then regularly thereafter? Exfoliate. “Exfoliation is key—especially as the hair begins to grow back in,” says master esthetician Amy McLain, who recommends Hydropeptide 5x Power Peel ($68) to help avoid any painful (and pesky) ingrowns. “Exfoliating the area regularly will remove dead skin cells so the hair can grow straight out of the hair follicle, and not be trapped under the skin causing it to curl back down becoming an ingrown hair,” she adds.
So, to recap: Stay out of the sun and the shower, exfoliate regularly, and consider your recent bikini wax an excuse to skip the gym.
If embracing the bush is your thing, good news: Here’s why experts want you to hang onto your pubes. And here are some ways to wear your bathing suit every single place you go this summer, no matter what your situation is down there.
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