Many of us are preparing to hit the beach, go to a few pool parties, or go on vacation this summer. But, there is a downside — trying to get our bikini line to be flawlessly smooth, without ingrown hairs, red bumps, or wax burns. The options for hair removal are endless, from razor to waxing to laser, but choosing a beauty regimen that works for us can be a challenge.

Most women admit to grooming their pubic hair. In a 2016 study, published in JAMA Dermatology, researchers found 84 percent of 3,300 American women surveyed reported to grooming down there, while only 16 percent said they never do. Meanwhile, a 2010 study found razor shaving to be the most popular removal method, with fewer than five percent of women engaging in waxing, electrolysis, or laser.

Read More: Pubic Hair Removal: Should You Stop Shaving Down There?

Shaving is one of the cheapest and most accessible methods of hair removal because we can do it ourselves in the shower. It's best for legs, underarms, and even the bikini area, if we're not prone to skin irritation, razor bumps, or ingrown hairs. However, this technique comes with unpleasant side effects, such as nicks and cuts.

Cue waxing and laser hair removal.

These two methods offer smooth skin for much longer than shaving. Waxing can leave our skin smooth for weeks, while there are claims laser is permanent. However, some women are undecided, and ask, "Which is better?"

Bikini Wax Vs. Laser: Which Is Better?

We all know the bikini area is very sensitive, therefore, it's good to look at our options - temporary or permanent.

Dr. Estee Williams, a board certified dermatologist at Madfes Aesthetic in New York City, explains the difference between bikini waxing and laser is how each targets the hair.

"Like shaving, bikini waxing is a temporary fix that reduces the appearance of hair, but it does not actually prevent the hair from growing back the way laser hair removal does," she told Medical Daily.

However, laser is the only procedure that can target the hair at the deep follicle and slow its growth.

The Waxing Process

Bikini waxing uses a wax that physically pulls out hairs, and for some this could be painful and irritating. It is applied, so it's important an esthetician is properly trained to correct the temperature setting for their specific wax to avoid burning the skin. In waxing, there are proper techniques for pulling wax off the skin quickly and safely so it does not pull or bruise the skin.

According to Williams, it's recommended for the hair to be at least half an inch long prior to treatment. If the hair is too long it can be very painful; if it's too short, it can break off, and not get pulled from the root. After waxing, it's common to see actual hair regrowth as early as one week.

So, is laser really permanent?

The Laser Process

Laser hair removal works by destroying the hair follicles through heating the hairs. It uses a light that treats the root of the hair, which causes it to reduce hair growth, or decrease the density of hairs. Irritation can last for a couple of days after treatment. However, topical anesthetic is available to help minimize the pain.

Read More: 5 Ways Your Pubic Hair Affects Your Health

Dr. Janet Prystowsky, a board certified dermatologist in New York City, explained to Medical Daily: "The injury to the follicles does not distort them so ingrown hairs are not likely."

Unlike waxing, hair will take about one to two months to grow back. According to Prystowsky, hair will tend to grow back about 20 percent thinner after each appointment, as growth will be negligible after a few appointments. Eventually, hair growth in the treated area will be nonexistent.

Bikini Wax Vs. Laser: Possible Danger For Skin Infections

Whether it's shaving, waxing, or laser, they all come with risks. Previous research has found pubic hair grooming is linked to a greater likelihood of getting an STI because of cuts. Those who shaved, waxed, trimmed or plucked their pubic hair were twice as likely to have STIs such as herpes, which can spread via the skin. Groomers were also 90 percent more likely to have lice and 70 percent more likely to have secretory STIs like chlamydia, which can spread through bodily fluids.

However, lesser risks include skin irritation. For example, waxing can lead to allergic reactions, burns, and even ingrown hairs. Meanwhile, laser does not carry the same risk of skin irritation and ingrown hairs.

When it comes to laser, Williams emphasizes: "Lasers should be done by trained professionals since there is a risk of discoloration and burn if not done properly, especially for darker skin tones."

Laser hair removal on dark skin tones can be difficult since the laser picks up pigment, and if there's less contrast, it will be harder for the laser to recognize the hair. This can lead to a risk of burning or hypopigmentation. Meanwhile, blonde or white hairs cannot be effectively targeted.

Remember, prior to any skin treatment, it's important to make sure the skin is properly "prepped," cleaned and disinfected with a proper wipe or rubbing alcohol. If not, the risk of infection increases, according to Williams.

Bikini Wax Vs. Laser: The Verdict

A bikini wax or laser are both effective in what they do: remove unwanted hairs. One method can lead to hair growth within a week, while the other can halt growth altogether. However, whether you want to do away with all hair, or just do it for special occasions, each service can cater to specific needs.

However, if we want to be bikini ready in the summer, we'll have to do laser in advance. Laser treatments over the summer months means we need to keep the treated area out of the sun and use sunscreen. It will take six to seven weeks between treatments before you can go on a beach vacation, or you can take a break in the spring, and finish treatments in the fall.

Meanwhile with waxing, you can wax during the summer months. It does make you slightly more sun sensitive, so proper sunscreen use is a must. Also, the week leading up to your mentrustration can cause the skin to be more sensitive.

These two beauty treatments offer the promise to remove unwanted hairs — both temporarily and permanently.

It's important to speak with a dermatologist to address your individual needs to see what treatment is best for you not only for the summer, but year-round.

See Also:

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