Many of us have declared war on our pubic hair. In the last 10 years, the hair removal industry has grown tremendously, especially genital hair removal. Cultural trends spawned by bikinis and thongs, certain hairless actors and actresses, a desire to return to childhood, a misguided attempt at hygiene, or being more attractive to a partner, have all been motivations for this huge war.
Surely us humans are not so naïve as to be susceptible to fashion trends and biases. Unfortunately we are (I raise my hand), and unfortunately, we will never win this war.
Research has shown that surgeons have found that shaving a body part prior to surgery increases the opportunity for onsite infections. It doesn’t matter how fancy or expensive the method of hair removal – razor blades, electric shavers, tweezers, waxing, depilatories, electrolysis – they all can be harmful.
Here are the things you should know about pubic hair removal:
- It naturally irritates and inflames the hair follicles left behind, leaving microscopic open wounds.
- Frequent hair removal is necessary to stay smooth, causing regular irritation of the shaved or waxed area.
- When that irritation is combined with the warm moist environment of the genitals, it becomes a happy area for some of the nastiest of bacterial infections.
- Some clinicians have found that freshly shaved pubic areas and genitals are also more vulnerable to herpes infections and other STIs as well due to the microscopic wounds being exposed to viruses carried by mouth or genitals.
I, too, was guilty of removing my hair down there until I kept suffering from the incessant nightmare of ingrown hairs. My OB/GYN explained to me how unhealthy it was that I was removing the hair because it is a form of protection for my womanly parts. She expressed that pubic hair does have a purpose, providing cushion against friction that can cause skin abrasion and injury, protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens, and is the visible result of long awaited adolescent hormones, certainly nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. She told me if I must remove hair from there, I should trim it low but not completely off.
Here are the 5 most common forms of removing hair down there:
Shaving: Some girls say that shaving pubic hair is “high maintenance” because the hair usually grows back in just a couple of days. In the meantime, your genital area can feel itchy and prickly because the skin in this area is very sensitive. When shaving remember this:
- Trim as much hair as possible before you begin shaving – DON’T use a dull pair of scissors.
- Soak in the tub for at least 5 minutes to soften the skin and pubic hair before you shave.
- Apply shaving cream or gel with aloe vera or another soothing agent (made for women) over all the areas you plan to shave. Reapply as needed.
- Use a new/sharp razor or “bikini” razor – DON’T use a dull blade. Try a razor with a built-in moisturizing strip.
- Hold the skin tight with one hand and shave with the other hand. Avoid using too much pressure.
- Shave in the direction that the hair grows, using slow strokes.
- Rinse your skin with warm water after you are done shaving and then pat dry.
- If you want to put lotion or cream on afterward, avoid scented products because they may sting your skin.
Over-the-counter cream hair removers: This method of hair removal is painless, but it’s important to be aware that not all creams are safe to use on your vulva or “bikini line.” Be sure to read the product label first to make sure it is safe to use on your vulva, and follow the directions exactly and in order. Don’t leave the cream on any longer than the directions say. If you notice redness, swelling, or a rash, it could mean that you’re allergic to the hair remover.
Waxing: A thin layer of warm liquid wax is applied over the hair you want to remove. Next, a thin cloth-like material is placed over the wax before it hardens. It takes a couple of seconds for the wax to get hard. Once hard, the cloth strip is quickly pulled off. This method of hair removal usually stings (when the cloth is pulled off). Waxing is different than other hair removal methods because…