So do gynos think shaving pubic hair is safe? Of is shaving a total hazard for your vulva? We put the question to three gynecologists.
"It is personal preference whether you want to shave or not," says Michelle Metz, M.D. But there are two caveats that make shaving a bit risky. "If you do remove hair too frequently, you can end up with something called folliculitis , which is an infection of the hair follicule" Metz says. Ouch! They look like white bumps and can often be caused by bad shaving technique (more on how to avoid that later). But don't be alarmed if it happens to you-folliculitis can be treated with a topical or oral antibiotic.
Another downside to shaving: ingrown pubic hair . This is when hairs regrow by curling back into the skin instead of out of it, causing bumps and irritation. You can stave this off by applying an OTC hydrocortisone cream post-shave to prevent them from popping up.
Another thing to keep in mind when preparing to shave your lady bits: The hair is there for a reason. "Pubic hair is also made to prevent irritation from friction," Metz says. (Like, say, the friction from getting down and dirty between the sheets with your partner). Your pubic hair is thus "protective," says Metz, and you don't NEED to remove it. But of course, if you prefer to trim, shave, wax, or otherwise remove your pubic hair, that's totally fine.
So, what's the best method for shaving your pubes?
First of all, know that it's ok to remove any and all hair on your pubic area-it's ok to shave your whole vulva and not just you bikini line, says Dr. Katharine White , MD, WH advisor and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University. Start by taking a hot shower and waiting until the end to shave-that gives your skin and hair follicles time to heat up, opening your pores and softening the follicles, which makes them easier to shave and gives you a closer shave, says Dr. Jessica Shepherd, MD WH advisor and founder of Her Viewpoint .
Cleanse the area first using a gentle sulfate-free wash, ideally one with hydrating oils like apricot kernel and coconut. After that, pile on the shaving cream or gel (whichever you prefer is fine) to protect your skin as you shave. Look for one that contains panthenol, an ingredient that acts as a humectant and locks in moisture so your skin and any remaining hair or stubble feels softer, says Shepherd.
White recommends using a new single-blade razor every time you shave or replacing your razor frequently, around every ten shaves, since a dull blade can lead to razor burn, red bumps and nicks. Shave with the grain of your hair, moving the razor in the same direction your hair grows. This can help reduce your chances of getting ingrown hairs , says White.
Afterward, consider applying aloe vera to soothe your skin. "Applying a soothing scent-free oil or moisturizer will condition skin and hair follicles and help prevent the dreaded stubble itch," says Shepherd.
White recommends taking shaving breaks to give the skin on your vulva a little recovery time every one in a while, too. Consider shaving only when your bikini line will be exposed, or before special dates. The skin will be smoother and shaving will be easier when it isn't an everyday endeavor.