An inflamed, damaged skin barrier promotes both razor burn and increases your risk of developing ingrown hairs.
We asked Joshua Zeichner, M.D., and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, for the full scoop on those little hairs and how to take care of them:
1. There’s a reason it’s there.
“Body hair served an evolutionary purpose of keeping us warm,” says Zeichner.
“Hair on the body can generally be categorized as having the same purpose as hair in the genital area or buttock.”
So, hair is hair. Over time, as we evolved, the need for body hair became less and less important, says Zeichner. After all, your butt is plenty warm thanks to flannel pajamas and indoor heat.
2. It's OK to remove it.
If a furry behind doesn’t match your personal aesthetic, it’s fine to remove it, says Zeichner. As with hair removal anywhere else, there is no one-size-fits-all method.
It all comes down to personal preference. Shaving, waxing, depilatories (a.k.a. Nair), and laser treatment are all acceptable but come with their own sets of risks, especially because this is one of the most sensitive areas on your body, he says.
For shaving, your biggest fear is cutting yourself or getting razor burn. With the other methods, your fear would be a chemical or heat-related burn.
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All of these hair removal methods (except for lasering) also put you at risk of developing folliculitis, says Zeichner.
This is a small infection that develops within the hair follicle and results in red bumps with white puss that often resemble acne.
This usually heals on its own within two weeks and can be prevented by washing with mild soap after hair removal and avoiding tight clothing.
If you’re shaving, take single strokes in the direction of the hair growth.
Another risk is that if your skin below the waist becomes broken, raw, or infected, you're more at risk for contracting STDs, says Zeichner.
So remove with caution.
3. Ingrown hairs CAN happen down there.
An ingrown hair can occur anywhere on your body where hair grows, including your butt.
This is simply when the free edge of the hair gets trapped and grows back into the skin, says Zeichner.
“If you have an ingrown hair, you can clean the skin and your hands with rubbing alcohol, then use a clean sewing needle to pop out the free edge of the hair,” he says.
“If you cannot easily clear the free edge of the hair from the skin, do not continue picking an ingrown hair or a razor bump.”
Since picking at an ingrown hair can lead it to become ingrown again, consider seeing a board-certified dermatologist for professional treatment.
4. It's important to keep that area moisturized.
No matter how you are removing hair, remember that the process affects both the hair and the skin, says Zeichner.
In order to maintain healthy skin, it’s important that you keep the area well moisturized. An inflamed, damaged skin barrier promotes both razor burn and increases your risk of developing ingrown hairs.
There are a variety of aftershave creams and lotions that you can use, including pubic hair oils, which have become very popular to use after bikini waxes, says Zeichner.
Just remember to check out the ingredients—alpha or beta hydroxy acids, retinol, and vitamin C can cause irritation when applied directly over freshly shaved skin, says Zeichner.
Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, proceed accordingly.