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Intimate Grooming: Shaving or Waxing Pubic Hair

From the WebMD Archives

Thinking about personal grooming for a very tender spot on your body? Here are the best -- and safest -- ways to protect your private parts if you want to remove pubic hair.

Pubic Hair Style

There's no medical reason why you should or shouldn't remove your pubic hair. It's not dirty, and girls who take it off aren't any cleaner.

"I think a lot of it comes down to societal peer pressure," says Jennifer Ashton, MD, author of The Body Scoop for Girls.

But the bottom line is it's really your choice. How much hair you remove is up to you, too.

Grooming “down there” began years ago to tame pubic hair that might peek out from a bathing suit. Now styles vary from just a trim to a skinny rectangle, called a landing strip on TV's Sex and the City. Some women dare to go completely bare with a Brazilian wax.

So which is better when you want to get rid of pubic hair, shaving or waxing? Again, it’s up to you. Many women prefer to wax their pubic area. When you wax, the hair doesn't grow back for a few weeks, although you do have to wait for it to grow in a little to wax again. It can also be pricey.

With shaving, you'll see stubble pop up in a few days. But you can take care of it quickly and easily by shaving again. Shaving is also cheaper than waxing.

Wax On, Hair Off

For waxing, home setups are available, but that can get messy and awkward. And hot wax may better be left to a professional. When you go to a salon, here’s how it works:

  • First, talk with your technician (an "esthetician") about what style you want and how much hair to take off.
  • Next, she’ll spread on hot wax, then place small cloth strips on top.
  • When the wax sets, she’ll quickly pull off the strips one at a time and your unwanted hair is ripped away with them.

Shop for a Clean Salon

This is a delicate area of your body! Find a reputable place that keeps it clean.

  • Look for a salon that belongs to The Salon Association.
  • Choose an esthetician who is licensed in your state.
  • Visit the spa or salon before your big day. The bathroom is a great clue to how clean the place is.

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"Be sure they're using fresh wax ... and they're heating it appropriately," says Estherann Grace, MD, of Harvard Medical School.

Part of being clean means no double dipping. It's gross and unsafe!  You don't want to share a bowl of hot wax with other women in the salon. It spreads germs.

The spa worker should use a new applicator just for you -- usually a disposable wooden stick. Expect the white glove treatment -- latex or plastic gloves, that is -- so she doesn't pass on any infections to you.

Get a Close Shave

Don't want to bare your girly bits to a salon worker? Don't like the cost and sting of a hot wax treatment? Try shaving. Depending on the thickness of your hair, it can work just as well.

Shaving is pretty safe, too. The trick is to avoid painful nicks, razor burns, bumps, or blisters.  "Shave in the direction that the hair is growing," Grace says.

“Use a disposable razor instead of using the same blade over and over," Grace says. Bacteria can stick to the blade and start to go wild in the warm bathroom.

Also, don't share razors.  

After shaving, keep the area clean and dry. Skip lotions or gels, which can clog up the hair follicles, says Ashton.

Your clean-shaven look will last one to three days.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on January 23, 2013

Sources

SOURCES:

Jennifer Ashton, MD, obstetrician/gynecologist; CBS News Medical Correspondent; author, The Body Scoop for Girls.

Armstrong, M. Urologic Nursing, 2006.

Braverman, P. Adolescent Medicine Clinics, 2006.

Meltzer, D. American Family Physician, Nov. 15, 2005.

Estherann Grace, MD, associate clinical professor of pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; clinical chief, division of adolescent medicine.

© 2010 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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