Bikini line?

Jun 01, 2007, 4:00am

How to limit the 'ouch factor'-and still have a smooth summer

Now, you can significantly cut down on the pain, whichever method of hair removal you choose.

Shaving is still the standby method of removing hair. When shaving the bikini line, there are ways to minimize the emergence of red shave bumps and stubble.

"This helps develop a tiny, microscopic, calloused layer of skin that can better withstand shaving," she explains.

Dr. Draelos also says if you're prone to developing red bumps, make sure to shave with a downward motion instead of zig-zagging back and forth with your razor. "Use a shave foam to clearly track where you have already shaved, to avoid repeat strokes in the same area."

If you're a morning shaver, wait at least 20 minutes after rising. This allows fluids under the skin to disperse, returning skin to its natural tautness. There is a new razor for women called Shavemate Diva that has a triple blade, but in a very thin razor head that enables users to be more deft. The shaving cream is dispensed directly from the razor for convenience and to help users see each pass of the razor.

KEEP IT OFF If you want hair removal that lasts, you have two options. Waxing allows many women to enjoy three to six weeks of hair-free skin, but you must consider the "ouch factor." If having hair wiped away with wax sounds unpleasant, apply a layer of 4 percent lidocaine cream to the area 20 minutes before waxing. It will help numb skin enough to make the procedure bearable.

Another option to consider is laser hair removal. Although this can be costly, and a few sessions may be necessary to accomplish the task, it certainly will provide you with one less beauty chore.

Some women opt to have their entire leg from ankle to bikini line lasered. When considering laser hair removal, speak to a qualified dermatologist. Depending on your skin shade, he or she may recommend different types of lasers. A laser called GentleLase is best suited for fair to olive skin. The GentleYAG laser is more appropriate for darkly pigmented skin.

Finally, there's the depilatory route. This method incorporates a cream hair removal formulation applied to the bikini line for eight to 12 minutes and removes hair from below the skin's surface. Results last longer than results from shaving, but not as long as those from waxing.

While some women swear by this method, using products from Nair, SurgiCream and GiGi, others find it messy or smelly, and you may need to repeat the procedure several times before all hairs are removed.