I wanna wear a teeny bikini
February 12, 2022 2:25 AM   Subscribe

I gave up on removing my bush a decade ago due to horrible problems with ingrowns. I would really like to wear a little bikini this year though and want to look for a new solution. What’s new in hair removal in the 20s? If the usual methods gives you nasty ingrowns, has anything worked for you?

In my youth, I worried about the acceptability of the bush and tried everything to remove it. Shaving with a variety of razors and techniques and waxes at the best-reviewed salons in town still gave me a rash of nasty red ingrowns that sometimes took weeks to disappear. Deodorant, Tend Skin, hydrocortisone afterwards did nothing. I tried that smelly hair removal cream and it didn’t remove the hair. I even got a GroupOn and did a 6-appointment laser package my bikini line, but having to shave before treatments was a pain because it gave me ingrowns, AND the hair reduction only lasted for a year.

I gave up and accepted the bush and life has been just fine since (a message I desperately wish I’d heard as a younger woman). Got zero complaints from partners over the year and I’ve worn swimsuits with modest cut bottoms.

But…I’m in my early 30s now, and I’ve gotten really into working out this year and feeling a lot more body confident, and I’ve been feeling the urge to strut my stuff in a little bikini this summer while I’m still relatively young. I have NEVER worn a traditional bikini in my life and now my bikini line is the only thing holding me back!

So I come to you all…what haven’t I tried yet? Fancy shavers? Sugaring? New technologies that have sprung up in the past decade? I am determined to make this work. Has anything worked for you if you are delicate ingrown-prone flower like me? This would just be for the bikini line so I’m willing to try things that are not recommended for your junk or whatever.

For the record, I don’t get ingrowns shaving anywhere else on my body, and I’m not a particularly hairy woman. Just have never been able to conquer them in this particular area.
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (30 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
You need a waxer who does Brazillians, because they do the best job communicating about wax maintenance in my experience. It sounds like you were never told about the need to exfoliate before and after and the schedule needed to avoid ingrown hairs. You also need to moisturise with something like Cetaphil or Bio Oil.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:11 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Have you ever tried using a bikini trimmer, like this one? On the shortest hair setting, it might do a good enough job for you.
posted by Erinaceus europaeus at 4:35 AM on February 12 [20 favorites]

For the laser you have to top it up once a year as a general rule… I would do JUST my bikini line, struggle through it (start next winter?) or maybe because you did it before you won’t have to do as many cycles?
posted by pairofshades at 5:07 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

A trimmer like Erinaceus europaeus linked, especially the setting/cover on the 4th picture. Tbh, I learned from strippers and dancers on TikTok for who it’s extra necessary to be smooth!
posted by raccoon409 at 5:08 AM on February 12

I'm working on wearing the swimsuit and letting hair peek out if it is going to. Because nothing is worth ingrown hairs. And as a human, I have hair. Deal with it, world.
posted by tiny frying pan at 5:39 AM on February 12 [24 favorites]

I have super sensitive skin and had the same problem as you do. I finally asked my dancer friend what she does since she has to keep her area nice 24/7.

What you want is this magical cream. Apply it after hair removal.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 5:39 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

The surest way for me to avoid ingrown is to go at it myself with tweezers. Takes about 10 unpleasant minutes. Ice the area first for about 5 minutes. Use TendSkin afterwards.

Second best way is sugar wax - the hair is pulled off in the direction of the hair growth, so I find it less prone to irritation and ingrowns than regular waxing.
posted by ananci at 5:50 AM on February 12

I bought this at home laser dealie when it was half price on a Christmas sale. 90% of my interest is for a rogue little patch of hair near my face that grows like a masc beard (thanks, body) that I just decided to pay for pro laser on literally days before the covid shutdown, so have never gone in to get. Why not try it, I thought.

I've been using it consistently since the first week of Jan on my dumb hair patch, and I'm seeing slow results. It's not gone but it's definitely growing in less thick. (They say on the website gone in 6-8 weeks but I never really believed that. It does seem to be working for me though, just slower. I'm fine with that.) Back in the before times I'd use an epilator, and that was effective, but I'd get a couple little ingrowns from time to time--and note this is face area, where I diligently and regularly exfoliate and moisturize. I haven't had a single ingrown since starting the laser tool.

I haven't used it consistently elsewhere on my body yet because it's real cold where I am and I don't feel like sitting around for 20 minutes in the open air with my skin exposed every day. Once it's not so unpleasant to be pantsless in my own house I'll bring my lower body area into the routine, see how that goes.
posted by phunniemee at 6:17 AM on February 12

I really struggled with ingrown hairs, irritation and the occasional infected ingrown until I started using a gentle chemical exfoliant. I use a 7% glycolic acid solution (from The Ordinary) on all shaved skin (+ my face & the bumpy skin on the backs of my arms) after every shower, before lotion.

Actually that’s a lie; I had to do it after every shower initially, and it took about two weeks to achieve final results, but now I just make sure to use it a couple times a week, and to be sure to use it directly after shaving during months when I plan to be baring a lot of skin & am shaving more often. Closest thing I’ve ever found to a miracle product, as far as skin care goes - I just never have shaving irritation or ingrown hairs anymore.
posted by wind_up_horse at 6:57 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]

Not a lady but a high school diver standing around in Speedos. Now I'd use something like the bikini trimmer but I already have this: Amazon.com: Philips Norelco OneBlade Hybrid Electric Trimmer and Shaver, Frustration Free Packaging, QP2520/90 : Beauty & Personal Care. It just trims so short that you're probably not going to see it unless you're really close. Works wet or dry so you could even lather up a bit if it's still irritating.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:58 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I really can’t do anything but trim without causing havoc, but I recently tried Magic Shave powder (you mix it into a paste, let it sit, wipe it off) and it worked great, no issues at all! I would use it more often if it weren’t a bit messy and fiddly to deal with. It stinks to high heaven but that’s par for the course with depilatory products.

Like all great things nowadays I learned about this product from TikTok.
posted by padraigin at 7:10 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

I am very prone to getting infected ingrowns. My dr told me not to shave or wax. She suggested I get professional laser, which I did and substantially reduced the amount of hair I have. I had both underarms and bikini line lasered. When I got professional laser, I had probably 8 weeks of perfect hairlessness afterwards. Now I just do some upkeep with a trimmer like the one Erinaceus europaeus linked if I'm going to swim.

I really found laser worth it, but I would try and get a recommendation for a place. A friend told me about the place I went and they were one of only a couple places in my large city with this particular kind of laser.
posted by ice-cream forever at 7:18 AM on February 12

Laser at my dermatologist’s office worked for me when nothing else did. It was painful during, and shaving before was very not fun, but if your previous laser experience was at a spa or salon or the like, maybe consult with a derm to see if your hair/skin combo makes you a good candidate?
posted by minervous at 7:26 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Electric hair trimmer on the shortest setting. I get TERRIBLE ingrowns when I shave with a razor but none at all with a hair trimmer. It leaves the hairs just long enough that they poke up above the surface of the skin (so no chance to become ingrown) but still short enough that they’re barely visible.
posted by mekily at 7:48 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Seconding tweezers. Take some tylenol 30 minutes beforehand, put on the bikini you want to wear so you have an idea of what you want to remove, and pull in the direction of each hair. Note that, like with eyebrows, this might permanently damage the hair follicles and keep the hair from regrowing.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:31 AM on February 12

Electrolysis. Hurts, but worth it.
posted by heathrowga at 8:50 AM on February 12

I have to shave that region for technical scuba diving (for longer dives in a drysuit, we wear a glued-on silicone external catheter — it’s about as much fun as it sounds). I’m prone to ingrown hairs as well. What I do is first trim the hair very short with scissors where I’m going to shave. Then, before shaving, I exfoliate with scrubby shower gloves and lots of baby oil. Then I shave with a fresh, sharp razor and lots of sensitive skin shaving cream. Then I exfoliate a second time with the gloves and lots of baby oil. This method seems to significantly reduce the ingrown hair issue for me.
posted by cnidaria at 9:12 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

Another vote for a trimmer! I enjoy my bush and enjoy the occasional trim and smooth, and the buzz-cut and metal-mesh closest-trim attachments on my epilator - just like the Remington above - allow me to do both with not a single ingrown that I can remember. I’ve also done tweezing and various waxes, but this is the most convenient and most reliably ingrown-free for me.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 9:47 AM on February 12 [3 favorites]

I have this dual head trimmer which I enjoy. And I use tend skin as I’m prone to ingrowns and try to exfoliate. And +1 for working toward a world that doesn’t shame body hair. I no longer shave my armpits, rarely do my legs, and trim the bikini stuff.
posted by Crystalinne at 12:14 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

Just as an FYI -- the laser technology has improved by leaps and bounds since the last time you tried it.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:16 PM on February 12

I would recommend HEAVILY against using Nair or any other chemical remover. In my experience, they aren't any better in terms of ingrown hairs, and I've gotten chemical burns before just from getting them vaguely near the skin on the back of my knee. I would keep them far, far away from the bikini area.
posted by augustimagination at 12:51 PM on February 12 [6 favorites]

Just FYI, deodorant isn’t going to do anything for razor bumps. What you want is antiperspirant. It closes up your pores so bacteria can’t get in and irritate them. Shaving would give me bumps every time, but using antiperspirant kept them completely away. Use it once a day for a couple of days after shaving.
posted by MexicanYenta at 2:08 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]

$20 trimmer from anywhere works just fine
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:28 PM on February 12

I would recommend HEAVILY against using Nair or any other chemical remover. In my experience, they aren't any better in terms of ingrown hairs, and I've gotten chemical burns before just from getting them vaguely near the skin on the back of my knee. I would keep them far, far away from the bikini area.

Strong, strong second. However, if you do want to risk it, you could try Magic Shave beard-hair melter product thang. It will actually work, unlike gentle for the ladies stuff like Nair et al. I did my legs with it once and the results were spectacular. I also dissolved the fingernails on the fingers I used to swab it on with. It's fine to put it on with your fingers if you're just doing the lower half of your face, but not if you're trying to do both legs. The agony of discovering this, when I washed it off my hands and the water hit my Saran-wrap-thin former fingernails was even more spectacular than the results I got! And then I had to wear bandaids over those two fingernails for months 'til the nails grew back. Elegant!

Another thing I did in my twenties that you might also want to risk trying was to bleach the hair with mustache bleach if they still sell that crap. Problem there is, it bleaches not just the hair but the skin under it, so you get this weird pale effect where the bleach was. Who knows what that does for your ability to ward off sunburn, but I'm sure it doesn't help. And of course it burns like mad. If I were going to do this, I'd first trim the hair with a bikini trimmer, then apply the bleach. Actually, I would not. I would continue to stomp down to the beach in my Everlast wrestling-singlet-looking ancient cotton swimsuit from the Goodwill in 1998 that is all that will fit me at this point and thank god for that because this shit is just not worth it.

Srsly, please don't do these things. Ow. What if you end up in the hospital?

Hey, maybe you can find a nude beach! Just skip the bottoms entirely! It only looks messy because of the poking-out-from-under phenomenon, which is entirely the fault of the bathing suit, not the bush.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:59 PM on February 12 [4 favorites]

I've tried waxing and shaving with the same unfortunate results as you. But laser has worked like a charm. And I might suggest that instead of shaving before an appointment, just use a trimmer and allow the technician to shave any parts that still need to be further depilated. They definitely shave clients all the time, especially parts that are hard to reach. When they've shaved me, I've had zero ingrowns. If you're concerned that doing this might be asking your technician to go above and beyond, simply leave a larger tip.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 3:39 PM on February 12

I think there's a big range in quality of laser places. I had laser hair removal done at a dermatologist's office around my bikini line about 15 years ago and it lasted for quite a long time. I was actually about to go get it done again at a place recommended by a dermatologist, but then Covid hit and it hasn't been a priority. My friend went to LaserAway and and she did not have much success. I compared the prices of LaserAway with the place recommended by my derm and they were very close.
posted by radioamy at 6:04 PM on February 12

Oh also I have "one weird trick" I learned from my mom that I use for the random hairs on my abdomen. I use a cheap razor on dry skin, short strokes. I don't know why but it works!
posted by radioamy at 6:05 PM on February 12

Philips Lumea
posted by atlantica at 3:12 AM on February 13

I am also incredibly prone to ingrowns and I started epilating this year—I wanted to do laser, but after finally getting to a point in my life where I can afford it, the pandemic hit and it just wasn't feasible to start. Enter epilator.

For me, it was medium painful the first two times I used it on any area of skin, but after gritting my teeth through the first couple of sessions it's now basically painless, just the occasional twinge if I go over a particularly thick hair. Now, I definitely still get ingrown hairs—epilators are kind of notorious for that—but they don't ever get red and irritated like shaving bumps. They're just hairs that are kind of struggling to break through, and I do chemical exfoliation (the glycolic acid mentioned upthread) and sometimes physical exfoliation with a dry brush and it takes care of maybe 75%. Since the ingrowns aren't painful or irritated anymore, they bother me much less.

The important benefit to me of epilation is that even when I haven't epilated in a while, the regrowth is incredibly sparse. I have always been pretty self conscious about having visible body hair, but now that the density of my hair has been cut down so much by the epilator, even a couple of weeks of regrowth looks so subtle and sparse that I'm comfortable showing my skin. Thus, I have a lot more time in between hair removal sessions to pamper/exfoliate my skin, and fewer opportunities for ingrowns to form.
posted by telegraph at 3:40 AM on February 13

So I think it's worth calling a local well-reviewed wax salon and having a conversation with whomever there gets excellent reviews for waxing. It sounds like it's been ten or fifteen years since your last experience with waxing?

I get terrible ingrowns from shaving my bikini line, and sometimes also from waxing and even using hair clippers. The past few years (pre-pandemic), I went to a great place where the aesthetician helped me out a lot with post-wax care. What has worked for me: post-shave or wax care with excellent ingrown hair products before I see a problem, along with regular exfoliation of the bikini area. You might have one approach for the first 24 hours (hydrocortisone) and then afterwards, you are basically trying to prevent any problems by exfoliating and/or applying products before the ingrowns start showing up. So I have this product (discontinued, ugh) called Salic, but there's also this Ingrown Hair Serum I'm going to try next. Basically, every day you apply it to the area where the hair was removed as a preventative; the directions say you can use it twice a day on specific areas with ingrown hairs. I also use an exfoliating glove every time I shower around the bikini area.

I haven't been keeping up with this as much lately (I've been using a beard trimmer and not shaving quite as closely) and I did notice an ingrown the other day. One or two applications of Salic are pretty much fixing it, along with resuming my regular exfoliating.

My suggestion is to try a wax before bikini season and see how it goes with regular care and maintenance.
posted by bluedaisy at 1:19 PM on February 21

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