Banishing body hair isn't one-size-fits-all: Some areas take better to shaving, others to waxing. But no matter the method or body part, prep the skin first by exfoliating, says Maryland dermatologist Valerie Callender, MD. "You'll improve your results, because exfoliating helps the hair to stand up and removes dead skin." Afterward, apply fragrance-free moisturizer with calendula, tea tree oil or aloe to soothe. A good one to try is Jason Body Lotion 70% Aloe Vera ($7.12 at Jason-Natural.com).
Best for underarms and legs
Even a waxing maven like Cindy Barshop, founder of Completely Bare Spas in New York City, prefers shaving for underarms. "The hair there grows in all different directions, and it's a relatively small area, but hard to see," she explains. And leg hair tends to be finer, so shaving is less likely to trigger ingrowns or red bumps.
Before you shave, keep these tips in mind:
- The more blades there are, the closer the shave will be. Try Gilette's Venus Embrace 5-blade razor ($12.49 at Walgreens). Switch blades every three or four shaves (or more often if your hair is coarse) to avoid nicks.
- Look for glycerin or "cone" ingredients like silicone, simethicone and dimethicone in shave gels, says Heidi Waldorf, MD, a New York City dermatologist. They help the razor glide smoothly. She likes Aveeno Shave Gel ($3.99 at DrugStore.com).
- Soak skin well to soften the hairshaft before applying shave gel. Pull skin taut, then stroke steadily against the direction of hair growth. If you do nick yourself, Dr. Waldorf recommends dabbing the cut with a styptic product like Kutkit Styptic Swabs ($3.99 at AmericaRx.com, and then putting a little Vaseline on top of it to help it heal.
- Apply hydrocortisone cream to any red or irritated areas afterward.
- If you're really strapped for time, slather on a thick lotion before shaving, and rinse the blade often as you use it.