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Intimate Grooming: What Women Need to Know

What to know about cleansing and hair removal in the bikini area.

Traditional or Brazilian Wax

A Brazilian wax removes more hair than a bikini wax, says Susmta Patel, founder and creative director of Studio Sush, in Saddle Brook, N.J. A traditional bikini wax focuses on the front and sides (what would be visible in a swimsuit). The Brazilian removes the front, sides, back and everything in between, often leaving only a strip of hair in the front, or none at all. Most of the time, you can leave your underwear on during a standard bikini wax, but for a Brazilian, you won't wear panties.

Some reasons for having a Brazilian wax include cleanliness, convenience, and sexiness, Patel says. For many women, this does not come without some pain. "Yes, bikini waxes do hurt,” Patel says. But he adds that everyone’s pain tolerance is different. The good news is that it hurts less the more you do it.

To minimize the pain, Patel recommends wearing soft panties that won’t rub your bikini area the wrong way. Although the pain does subside as soon as the wax is over, the area can remain sensitive. Patel also suggests not using any scrubs for the next two days and not exposing the area to direct sun for at least 24 hours. To treat redness or swelling, apply a small amount of cortisone cream from the drugstore.

After the tenderness eases, Patel advises exfoliating in the shower to remove dead skin so the pores don't become clogged, causing ingrown hairs and bumps.

If you do see any evidence of irritation or infection, see your doctor right away, advises Kenneth Beer, MD, board-certified dermatologist in Palm Beach, Fla. Beer says that when professional waxing is performed in a well-managed, clean spa by an experienced aesthetician using quality products, there is no reason not to get waxed if you choose to do so.

Make sure the spa technician is licensed and does not “double-dip” during the waxing session, Patel says. Double-dipping means that the technician used the same stick each time she dips into the vat of hot wax. This practice contaminates the wax and allows bacteria to spread from one client to another.

Bikini Laser Hair Removal

If you don’t want to make the time commitment necessary for regular waxing or shaving, you might want to consider laser hair removal for a longer-lasting fix. Lasers remove hair with a laser beam that destroys the root

Laser hair removal is best for people who have dark, thick, wiry hair, says dermatologist Kenneth Beer. It does not work for people with blond or gray hair. This permanent treatment requires 4 to 6 sessions  spaced 1 month apart, followed by yearly touch-ups. Avoid any type of tanning (real or fake) during the process, or you might end up with a burn, Beer says.

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