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How can I avoid razor burn?

Answer: Bikini season: two words that strike fear into the hearts of women.

Now that you’ve put down the donut, let’s discuss another obstacle that could possibly ruin your beach debut: razor burn. Feel free to opt for the adorably retro, high-waisted, wide cut suit that will cover a lot of prime real estate, but if you’re itching to don a tiny bikini this season (pun intended), these tips will help you prevent any unsightly redness and irritation:

1. Shave in the shower. The warm water softens your hair so it’s easier to remove, and the running water makes it simple to rinse your razor between strokes to get a clean shave.

2. Use warm water rather than hot. Warm water will relax and open up your pores, while hot water will distress your skin and dry out the area you’re shaving, causing problems later on.

3. Exfoliate. It’s important to exfoliate before and after you shave to release the hairs and keep your pores clear of any product buildup or dead skin (yum). I use either a sea salt scrub or a pair of nifty exfoliating gloves if I feel like being extra thorough.

4. Use a sharp razor. Personally, I gravitate towards men’s razors because they’re made for tougher stubble, and I recommend reaching for a new blade after every 5 shaves to be safe.

5. Ditch the shaving cream. Standard shaving creams can cause dryness due to harsh detergent ingredients. I prefer to use Coconut Oil, which provides a smooth barrier between my skin and the blade, and has the added benefits of being naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and moisturizing.

6. Be gentle. Stick to short passes over your skin. The longer you drag your razor over an area the more pressure is applied, which will lead to nicks and cuts as well as irritation and possible ingrown hairs.

7. Shave with the grain. I used to exclusively shave against the grain in hopes of attaining baby smooth softness, but soon grew tired of performing minor surgery on the resulting in-growns a couple of days later. I have since realized the error of my ways and shave once with the grain, and sometimes allow a second pass diagonally across the area if I absolutely must, or if the razor is becoming dull.

8. Treat and prevent irritation. TendSkin is an amazing salicylic acid product tailored specifically to use after shaving, but it can be costly. I make my own version using uncoated aspirin, witch hazel, and rubbing alcohol. It works just as well—and for a fraction of the cost.

9. Reduce friction. Applying deodorant to the newly shaved area may sound like a a strange trick for avoiding irritation, but it truly works to prevent chafing. Choosing silky or satin panties helps to reduce friction as well. So does forgoing panties altogether.

10. Moisturize. Calming and moisturizing the area is the last and most important step. Choose a lotion with ceramide in the ingredients, which will help replenish your skin’s natural protective moisture barrier.

11. If, despite following these steps, you still develop irritation—revert back to the old faithful diaper cream containing a high percentage of zinc oxide. This will calm the rash and leave you smooth as a baby’s bottom.

What are some of your favorite shaving tips? Share them in the comments below!