Ok, here I go… Probably too much info, but I think I need to share.
I have extremeely sensitive skin, and bumps, dots, ingrown hairs, etc. are very intimate issues with me. I have tried nearly every product and method for hair removal and after-removal care. I finally found a regimen that works, and is based on proven concepts, rather than marketing hype and quackery.
First, it is important to understand where the bumps come from. When you remove hair, you necessarily irritate your skin, to some degree or another, resulting in inflamation. This is because hair is very tough, dead protein, and your skin is very fragile living tissue. The hairs were made to stay in, with a large bulb at their root for this purpose. Hair was also made to be resistant to cutting, abrasion, breaking, etc. In the case of body hair, this results in a permanent sponge, able to collect large amounts of sweat in order to attract members of the opposite sex. Yeah, I know, yuck. But that’s what the biologist say.
So now, you need to apply a large amount of enrgy to the hair and surrounding skin in order to remove the hair. This is true of shaving, waxing, chemical depilation, lasers, IPL, elotrolosys, tweezing, abrasion, and any other method.
Beyond photoepilation (lasers or IPL), the method that is gentlest to the skin is shaving. What I’ve found is that the Gilette Mach 3 is the best method for shaving for a couple of reasons. First, the blades are very smooth and sharp, second, the gooey stuff that they put on the top and bottom of the blades is an excellent lubricant (I think it contains dimethicone and/or simethicone). The lube helps to stop dragging, and the sharp, smooth blades allow the razor to slice cleanly through the tough hair without yanking on the root.
If you decide to use a different brand of razor blade, make sure it is a good (expensive) one. Never use a disposable, and don’t use the Schick flexible blade (it curves to fit your face)- the time I tried the Schick, it looked like my face was in a razor-blade factory explosion. Also, no matter what razor you use, make sure it is very sharp (new).
When I shave, I’ve found the best shaving cream is actully moisturizing shampoo (never use soap). I have bad luck with shaving creams, even “Ultra-sensitive Edge”. The problem is that the shaving creams all contain either astringents, excessive emollients, or both. The moisturizing shampoo is much less irritating, but is still slick enough combined with the lubricating strips on the razor.
When shaving with a blade, as opposed to an electric shaver, try to shave with the grain. When you absolutely must shave against the grain, be very gentle. You might be left with some slight stubble, but this is better than ingrown hairs and infections.
I also use an electric shaver, more often than the blade. An electric shaver, if it’s a good one, will be much gentler than a blade, but won’t always get as close as a blade. I found that an oscillating “micro-screen” is the best type to use. I have a Norelco rotary that cost more than 100 dollars, and it doesn’t compare to the microscreen. And I would never use a rotary on the very sensitive genital/bikini areas (save the money and use a broken bottle).
I also use pulling methods (waxing/sugaring), on occasion, but not as often as the electric shaver. Chemical depilitories are better than pulling methods as far as irritation/inflamation are concerned. Chemical depilitories can only be used once every several days without irritation.
As far as bump-fighters go, I have not found one that works at all. But here is my secret for stopping bumps and ingrown hairs:
Before I shave, wax, or use chemicals, I wash the area with Betadine. Betadine is water based version of old fashioned tincture of iodine (alchohol based). Betadine is the stuff that surgeons scrub with before surgery, but you can buy it at any drugstore. Also, after hair removal, I use the Betadine again, and somes iodine tincture. Iodine tincture actually is better, but it stains your skin for a few hours after use.
The reason that Betadine/iodine works for preventing bumps and inflamation is that a major cause of the inflamation is bacterial infection. No matter how clean you are, you have a wide variety of flora living on your skin and in your hair follicles. When you break the skin’s surface, which you almost always do when removing hair, these external bacteria are introduced to a warm, nutrient rich place to grow (your blood and broken skin). So, kill the bacteria before you break the skin. Afterwards, apply Betadine/iodine again, so that you retain some residue to protect your skin afterwards - this is also important.
Now that the bacteria is absent, you will have much less inflamation. Without the inflamation (swelling), your new hairs won’t have anything to “bite” into, allowing them to grow out, rather than in.
Bacteria is not the only thing that will cause inflamation, but it is the most common thing. Other causes of inflamation are perfumes, dyes, antiperspirants, deoderants, soap, dirt, oil and clothing. If you remove hair fom the bikini/genetal area, don’t wear tight underwear the day or two afterwards. These items will also cause enough inflammation to promote ingrown hairs, as well as generally unhealthy skin.
This sounds like a lot to do, but it’s really not once you settle into a regimen. And it’s very inexpensive compared to all the other creams, potions and snake oil for sale out there. Also, I’ve used shampoo for years for my whole body, and it much more effective than soap for cleansing, and for the condition of my skin (shampoo is a detergent, as opposed to a soap). And the so-called “body shampoos” and liquid soaps are terrible as cleansers and leave skin dry and full of chemicals.
The bottom line is, be as gentle to your skin as you can when removing hair, and make sure you remove the bacteria as well. This is the only methodology that I’ve found that works. If you do get small bumps, they will go away in a few days.