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The Hair Down There: At-Home Options for Your Bikini Line

If you’re like me, summertime means pool time. Whether it’s splashing around with your kids or logging laps for triathlon training, a sizable portion of your warm-weather wardrobe probably contains swimwear. And with swimwear, there are certain, uh, grooming issues to consider. Know what I’m sayin’, ladies?

I used to be a bikini wax devotee. I had a standing appointment every six weeks, where I would happily plop down $65 for hair removal. But when I quit my job in academia to pursue writing, my new budget didn’t allow for that luxury. When the time came to “trim the hedges,” I bought a home waxing kit, dropped trou in my bathroom, and got to work.

I’ll spare you the details, but just know this — that was the first and last time I used a home waxing kit. I think you probably get the picture, but just in case, know that this wasn’t too far off base.

I shared my story with Crickett, a professional who has trained hundreds of estheticians to perform bikini waxes, earning her the title of “The Wax Chick.” It was all too familiar for her:

“I have talked so many clients that tried the at-home wax, and their stories were all pretty much the same: ‘I had wax stuck in every nook and cranny,’ ‘I stuck myself together,’ ‘I bruised myself.'”


Fear not — there are multiple options for the Fit Bottomed Girl in a hairy situation (you know I had to say it). I talked with Crickett, as well as Lauren Snow, a representative from Associated Skin Care Professionals, to get their input on at-home hair removal options. Here’s the lowdown. (That was the last pun, I swear!)

bikini line options


Shaving is the standard for at-home hair removal. It’s cheap and speedy, especially if you use a good razor. Shaving is also safe and fairly easy to maintain.

Cons: Hair grows back quickly after shaving. When it does, it can get trapped in the pores under the skin, causing painful ingrown hairs. This is especially true if you wear clothing that rubs in that area — think underwear, bikini bottoms and the liner in running shorts. So unless you’re going commando 24/7, you’re probably going to encounter this issue more than once.

Advice: If you’re a shaver, says Snow, exfoliate regularly using a dry exfoliating mitt (like this one from Stark). If red or black bumps appear, treat them with a product containing salicylic acid, like Completely Bare Bikini Bump Blaster.

Depilatory Creams

In the past, most women who tried depilatory creams at home reported less-than-spectacular results. However, Snow says these products have come a long way in recent years and produce better regrowth than shaving. “Creams actually dissolve the hair, so when it grows back, it is softer than if you had shaved.”

Cons: The bikini area is a very delicate one, and chemical burns can happen with depilatory creams, especially when left on too long. “I’m still not a fan of creams, mostly due to their harsh chemicals,” says Snow.

Advice: If you’re trying a depilatory cream for the first time, test a small patch of skin before applying the cream to the rest of the area. This will help you to determine if the cream actually works and how your skin reacts to the chemicals.


Waxing lifts hair from the roots, leading to a smoother skin surface that lasts for weeks before hair re-grows. With the average salon waxing service costing $65, home waxing kits promise a more affordable way to achieve these results without having to go to a salon and bare all in front of a stranger.

Cons: DIY waxing kits are “disasters in a box,” says Crickett. “There is so much that can go wrong when waxing the bikini area, especially if the technique is not correct. You can bruise the skin, burn yourself, lift skin and cause tears.” Umm … ouch.

Advice: Some things are worth the money. Bikini waxing is one of them. If you get a professional who knows what they are doing, they work quickly and greatly reduce the discomfort of the bikini waxing service.

Laser Removal

“Laser hair removal is considered the Cadillac of choices to say goodbye to unwanted hair,” says Snow. The process, which disables hair growth by targeting the melanin in the root, yields the longest-lasting benefits, with results lasting up to two years. In the past, you could only receive laser treatments in a spa or clinic setting; today, it’s available to the masses, thanks to home devices like Tria Laser and Silk’n.

Cons: Not everyone is a candidate for laser hair removal. Because the laser operates by looking for pigment, those with little contrast between skin and hair (that is, light skin and light hair or dark skin and dark hair) will not see results. Those with medium-toned skin may see results, but they’re also at high risk for burning and scarring — yikes! Even with pale skin and dark hair, there’s no guarantee your hair will respond to laser treatment, which can make the investment (which, for a home device can be several hundred dollars) a bust.

Advice: If you have light hair or dark skin, skip this treatment altogether. If you do decide to purchase a home laser, follow the directions carefully and begin treatments with the laser on the lightest setting possible.

Do you take the DIY route when it comes to hair removal, or are you willing pay up for a professional? Got any stories or tips to share? —Susan

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  1. Lauren says:

    I religiously go to a salon by me that does sugaring. Instead of using warm/hot wax to remove the hair, this process uses a gel-like substance made up of sugar, water, and lemon juice. It’s room temperature, and the “sugar mama” spreads some of the sugar substance on your skin and then flicks it off (instead of using any type of paper material like you would in waxing). It hurts quite a bit less and it pulls the hair from the root so it lasts just as long, and I’ve noticed a significant reduction in the amount of hair that I have growing back. The sugar substance only removes dead skin cells and hair, so you can go over a spot multiple times without hurting your skin or causing any tears/burns/bruises. I highly recommend it!

  2. Quite an informative post. We all know that keeping our bodies hairless in all the right places isn’t always smooth sailing, all hair removal methods, whether it’s waxing, shaving, or laser, have the potential for issues like nicks, bumps, ingrown hairs, and general discomfort. Thanks for sharing such an interesting information.

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