While millions of American women swear by waxing to keep their bikini lines tidy, it's not for everyone. For one thing, it can be pretty painful. Individual hairs are yanked from the root by a warm wax that hardens within seconds. Second, a professional bikini wax can make a not-so-pretty dent in your beauty budget. And if you're the shy type and want to get smooth in the privacy of your own bathroom, waxing can be frustrating. The process can be messy and difficult, forcing you to contort your body into poses not even found in yoga. But luckily, there are several hair removal methods that allow you to get a hair-free, beach-ready bikini area without going anywhere near a hot pot of wax.

Woman shaving her legs

Shave Away

The cheapest way to get smooth skin down below is by shaving. But even if you've been shaving your legs since you were 12, you might need a bit of retraining to groom your bikini line, since the skin in this area is supersensitive and prone to bumps and redness. Your first line of defense against ugly razor burn is by investing in a good razor. Avoid those plastic disposable models and choose one with dual blades and a swiveling head that really hugs the curves of your body. If the hair is a bit on the longer side, use scissors to trim it down so it doesn't clog your razor. Soften the hair and moisten the skin by sitting in a tub of warm water for about 10 minutes. While in the bath, exfoliate your skin with a washcloth or bath scrub. Next, lather up the area with a rich shaving cream or gel. When shaving, drag the razor lightly in the same direction as hair growth. It may seem counterintuitive to do it this way, but it's advised by dermatologists. Otherwise, you may end up with ingrowns. After wiping away residual shaving cream, apply a moisturizer to help calm freshly-shaved skin.

Weigh Your Options

While shaving is cheap and easy, regrowth appears within a day or two. If you're looking for a hair removal method with more staying power, keep in mind that there are more options. Depilatory creams – found at most drugstores and relatively affordable – dissolve hair right at or just below the skin surface, so you have smooth skin for a few days longer than when you shave. Laser hair removal is effective for semi-permanent hair reduction, but it can be expensive. Performed by a professional in a clinic or spa, a strong beam of light is zapped into the follicles, causing the hair to fall out. The only permanent hair-removal solution is electrolysis. Here, a needle carrying an electric current is inserted into individual hair follicles, killing them and preventing regrowth. The downside to electrolysis is its price. It can take many sessions and several years for an area as large as the bikini zone to become completely hair-free.