You ever notice that products don’t always come with quite enough disclaimers? I mean, sure, there are the antibacterial kitchen wipes that advise you not to use them on babies and the digital thermometers that warn, “Once used rectally, the thermometer should not be used orally,” but are there some areas where they haven’t gone far enough? I think so, let me stroll down memory lane to illustrate.
Once upon a time, in a day before kids and marriage, I spent inordinate amounts of time worrying about razor rash and pretty underwear. I would visit Victoria’s Secret with great frequency, stocking up on fanciful bits of fabric, that, even though I am nearly morally opposed to it, you had to refer to as panties, unless they were of the thong variety, in which case, thong was just fine, but never g-string, no matter the severity of the back portion, g-string, even in my racy youth (insert raucous snorting and scoffing), was not something I could say.
I tried the waxing thing, but even though everyone from Gwyneth to the Friends girls swore by the “Brazilian Wax”, I couldn’t get on board with how much, how sticky, or how blindingly painful it was. So, shaving it was. I soaked and lathered, I experimented with water temperature and razor blades. Venus, Daisy, Sensor. Double blade, swivel head, triple blade, and holy-god-there-are-four-blades. And a moisturizing strip. I tried every shaving product imaginable, from creams to gels, formulated for sensitive skin, intended for dry skin, featuring added emollients, designed for women and equipped with essential ingredients to discourage future hair growth.
I feel compelled as I reread this to let you know that despite what the previous paragraph might suggest, I do not have a Teen Wolf type hair condition in the bikini area, I simply took very seriously the campaign to remove the very normal amount of hair there.
No matter what I did, there were bumps, ingrown hairs and a fierce red rash. I decided that since Witch Hazel had never amounted to anything and using men’s after shave products kind of created a situation that would make showing the fruits of my labor to anyone, well, awkward at best, I needed to foray into the realm of bikini rash creams. I did what any sensible girl would do and bought the most expensive tube at the grocery store.
Armed with my last hope for a smooth bikini line, I used my best shaving techniques and emerged from the shower to apply the hallowed cream. The smell was minimal and there was no greasiness. I followed the directions (and then some) and sat on a towel for 30 minutes to prevent any discoloration on my clothing. Miraculously the cream worked. The skin on either side of my $9 Victoria’s Secret panties was perfect, blemishless, bumpless and of one consistent, healthy, tawny color. I was walking on air. I wanted to go back to high school and wear those god-forsaken, polyester bungies on the volleyball court again. I wanted to let everyone know how amazing life was with silky, smooth skin along the bikini line.
Fast forward one month: I was doing laundry in a basement on the Williams College campus. On either side of my dryer were other dryers being used by other people. Male people. I took my laundry out and began to put it in my hamper, opting to fold it back in my room, rather than in front of the guys. I grabbed a couple of tank tops and a towel and then came the underwear. Pair after pair came out of the machine, each with two blinding stripes of bleached fabric more dramatic than the last. It looked as if I suffered from some sort of radioactive bikini sweat.
I caught one of the guys eyeing a pair of red and white gingham panties hanging in the door of the dryer, the edges of the front marred with a wide swath of bleached fabric. I quickly grabbed them, stuffed them in the hamper and said, “I wouldn’t use this machine, I think it ruined my clothes,” and bolted from the basement. It was the last time I used a bikini rash cream or a public laundry area.