If you decide to shave, no matter which body part it is that you're shaving, 99% of times, the process is pretty intuitive. But that 1% comes into play when we're talking pubic hair. If you're wondering how to shave pubic hair, you're not alone. There's noticeably less info out there for shaving down there than there is about shaving other body hair.
When shaving pubic hair, you're dealing with a sensitive area so you'd definitely want to keep a few tips in mind. In the interest of making sure you're shaving safely and effectively, here's a step-by-step guide for how to shave pubic hair from start to finish. Plus, advice from doctors on what to do if something goes wrong (from nicks and cuts to pesky ingrown hairs).
Shaving your pubic area is easier when you've already trimmed off any excess hair. Grab a pair of small scissors or a hair trimmer and cut your pubic hair so it's only a few centimeters long.
Use a loofah, washcloth, or exfoliating sponge to gently exfoliate your skin before shaving. Exfoliating will remove any dead skin and allow you to shave the hair as near to the root as possible. Harsh exfoliants aren't necessary and can actually do more harm than good in your pubic area. A simple scrub-down is all you need.
Apply a generous amount of shaving cream to the areas you want to shave. It's best to use fragrance-free shaving cream on the area, as creams with fragrance can irritate the delicate skin.
Pull the skin taut and shave in the direction of your hair growth to avoid irritating the hair follicle.
Follow up shaving by moisturizing with a fragrance-free lotion. If you're about to get dressed and go out, you can also put on a powder-like Gold Bond Powder to prevent rubbing or chafing (talc-based powders or baby powder are not recommended).
Even if you have a good handle on how to shave pubic hair, you probably still have some lingering questions, like... why is there hair there in the first place? And what do I do if I cut myself? We talked to top dermatologists to get answers to these and other questions about tending our gardens.
Experts believe it has to do with how your body defends itself. "In some ways, pubic hair is like a protective barrier,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology. “Hair that exists in creases of the body, even like in the armpits, or areas that get sweaty, is perhaps there to help prevent chafing,” she says.
Indeed, "hair down there" seems to be evolution’s way of protecting your internal body from itself — as well as from other foreign entities — even protecting against conditions like molluscum contagiosum or STDs like herpes. “When you shave that hair,” Dr. Nazarian notes, “you’re leaving the skin more vulnerable to these infectious agents.” But don’t let that stop you from stripping away unwanted follicles — shaving your vulva is totally safe if done in the proper way.
First off, “never dry shave,” says New York dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler, “so either lather up with a good soap or a body wash for your pre-shaving treatment.”
Secondly, Dr. Wechsler urges against using dull blades anywhere near your private parts. “Some people think sharp razors are bad,” she says, “but sharp razors are actually better — it’s the same thing as knives. People think you’re more likely to get hurt with a sharp knife, but a dull knife is actually more dangerous to use because you have to push harder to get it to work.” For a closer shave, use a sharp razor.
Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Nazarian also says not to be fooled by razor companies that advertise more blades as better. “Every time the razor drags across the skin, it’s creating microscopic cracks,” she explains. Because of this, both Dr. Wechsler and Dr. Nazarian suggest using brand-new, disposable, two-blade razors each time you decide to shave your pubic area — two blades to ensure there is little to no damage to your down-there dermis, and disposable because you shouldn’t be using said razor on other parts of your body. “You’re harboring vaginal bacteria in that area,” says Dr. Nazarian. “You don’t want to be spreading that around to your arms, legs, or anywhere else.”
Dr. Wechsler and Dr. Nazarian also agree that perhaps the most frustrating part of any shaving activity would have to be the emergence of ingrown hairs, which can be especially uncomfortable and painful when they appear around your pubic area. “An ingrown hair is when a hair is attempting to grow out of the skin but ends up curling back into the skin as opposed to curling out of it,” Dr. Wechsler explains. “Since it curls back in, the body sees it as a foreign object and takes defense — the skin around it will become inflamed and you will be left with an irritated swollen bump.”
Dull razor blades and tight clothes are contributors. (That’s right: Your skinny jeans may actually be causing your ingrown-pube misery.) “If you’re going to shave, that is NOT the time to put on your super tight jeans,” says Dr. Nazarian. If you do end up with an ingrown hair, treat it gently with products specifically formulated to exfoliate the area, like the European Wax Center Smooth Me Ingrown Hair Serum.
If you nick or cut your pubic area, Dr. Wechsler urges you to apply gentle pressure on it to stop the bleeding and to make sure the area is clean by washing it with soap and water. In the same vein, Dr. Nazarian suggests following up the cleanse with Aquaphor to prevent the cut from getting infected. While shaving down there, “you want to avoid mucosa areas in general,” she says. “You should really stick to the areas where you just have hair — you shouldn’t go into the area that’s more internal, because it’s just going to irritate and inflame it.” Dr. Wechsler agrees that there's no need to get every single strand of hair — and that removing hair around the labia should be done especially carefully, if at all.
Dr. Wechsler tells her patients an easy trick to help fight razor burn (especially in the summertime): “Put your hydrocortisone cream in the fridge!” she says. “If you apply the cream cold, it keeps the area nice and cool and actually helps symptomatically, with the pain and the red bumps.”
Go slowly, be gentle, and do not blind-shave. “Make sure you can really see what you’re doing, even if it means taking a mirror into the shower!” says Dr. Wechsler. Going slow is also vital to preventing cuts and nicks: “All those mistakes that people make happen because they’re just not taking their time,” says Dr. Nazarian. And if you do get a cut, an infection, or some sort of abscess, she insists that you go see your dermatologist immediately. “It’s such an embarrassing area of the body for people sometimes, but it’s OK — that’s what we’re here for," she says. And you especially don’t want any harmful bacteria festering down there — it has the potential to be extremely dangerous.
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Whether you choose to shave your bikini area regularly or not, having a safe shave routine is a must. “Some want less hair, although I’ll tell you, that wave has been turning, too,” Dr. Nazarian says. “The newer generations I see are actually embracing hair in that area, so I would just say, do what makes you happy.”
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