Every garden needs a bit of maintenance from time to time, including the one between your legs. We've already covered shaving and trimming, but those aren't the only ways to get rid of your pubic hair. Here are some other options.
Title illustration by Jim Cooke.
Pick Your Shape
First, you're going to want to decide on just how much maintenance to do. Here are some common shape options:
- Cleaning up the sides. This is the most basic option, for those who just want to flirt with hair removal. Your esthetician will take a few inches off the sides. It works for guys or girls. (For girls, this is often referred to as a bikini wax. You can also get a French bikni wax, which includes removing hair from the labia, and a Brazilian bikini wax, which includes hair in between the cheeks.)
- Triangle. This is the most common option. Here, even more hair is taken off the sides and the top, shaping the hair into a neat triangle shape. You can ask your esthetician to clean up the edges between your legs, remove all of the hair from your labia, or leave your labia alone.
- Landing strip. With this option, your pubic hair is shaped into a rectangle that can be anywhere from half an inch to a few inches wide. Labia hair can be cleaned up on the side or removed fully.
- A random shape. Estheticians can do some crazy stuff these days. You can get a partner's initials, a heart, or any other simple design you can dream up.
- Everything off. Yep, everything. Including the hairs around your butthole. This is usually referred to as a Brazilian.
If you're not sure which shape to get, you can always turn to Google for help visualising your options. Unless you're going with one of the permanent hair removal options (laser or electrolysis), it will grow back, so why not have a little fun?
Yep, Nair is still around and going strong.
How it works: Depilatories are creams that you apply directly to the hair, then wipe off a few minutes later. The chemicals in the cream break down the structure of your hair follicles, removing as much as you'd get rid of shaving.
Why you should consider it: Depilatories are nice because they're painless and last a bit longer than shaving. It's weird (but oddly satisfying) to wipe your hairs away along with the cream. You can use a depilatory in the privacy of your own home, without needing a beauty school education.
The downsides: You're literally giving yourself a controlled chemical burn when you use depilatories. They're pretty toxic and smell horrible. Depilatories are too strong to be used on the delicate tissues of your labia or anywhere near your penis, so you should only consider depilatories if you want to remove the hair from the very edges of your bikini line.
How to get the best results: If you're anal (heh) about wanting a straight line, use a ruler to help you figure out where to apply the cream. Test the depilatory out on the back of your leg first, to make sure you don't have an allergic reaction. If you're going to get a rash, I'm willing to bet you'd rather have one on your leg than on your crotch ("I swear, it's just my Nair!"). Make sure you follow the directions perfectly. You do not want to leave this stuff on for too long.
Betcha didn't know there were more than one type of wax! Soft wax is what most people picture when they think of hair removal wax.
How it works: Soft wax is warmed, then applied directly to the skin with a spatula in the direction of hair growth. Next, a muslin cloth or bandage is placed on top of the wax, and pulled in the opposite direction of hair growth to remove.
Typically you'd get a soft wax done at a salon, but there are some at-home products that consist of pre-assembled soft wax strips. Nad's is a pretty popular brand. (Am I dating myself with this amazing Nad's informercial?)
Why you should consider it: Results can last from two to six weeks. Since you're pulling the hair out at the root, it's much more effective than shaving or using a depilatory cream. Additionally, with regular waxings, the hair starts growing in thinner and thinner.
The downsides: I'm not going to lie to you: any type of waxing is painful. I mean, you're getting hairs ripped out of some of the most sensitive skin on your body; what do you expect? You may also be asked to get into some pretty embarrassing positions ("do a cannonball for me!"), and may be forced to participate in your own torture ("can you hold on to your labia right here and pull really hard?"). Also, your esthetician will probably want to wax your butthole too, and that's just beyond embarrassing (but hey, it's not like yours is the first and only hairy butthole they will ever see).
How to get the best results: The day before your appointment, exfoliate your genital area in the shower with a sugar scrub or loofah mitt. This will get rid of any dead skin cells that may be trapping your pubic hairs beneath the surface of the skin. Take an Advil 30 minutes before your appointment to minimise pain. You can also try using one of these nifty anesthetic sprays to cut down on the pain (make sure you let you waxer know, or bring the bottle to the appointment if you're unsure about usage). If you're a woman, don't book your appointment during your period, as you'll be more sensitive than usual. Keep an eye out on your esthetician and make sure they're not double-dipping their spatula into the wax warmer. Doing so is extremely unsanitary, and can lead to a horrible infection ("I swear, it was just my unsanitary esthetician!").
If you're doing your own waxing job at home, apply baby powder to your skin to help the wax adhere to your hairs better. After the wax, use an aloe gel or cooling spray to help your skin stop freaking out.
After any type of waxing, don't get into a bath, pool, or sauna for at least 24 hours. You may also want to avoid working out or having sex if your skin feels sensitive. After 24 hours, exfoliate the area regularly to prevent ingrown hairs.
Hard wax is pretty similar to soft wax, but there are no additional strips necessary.
How it works: The wax is heated, then applied directly to the skin in the direction of hair growth. The wax is allowed to cool until it hardens (hence the name). One edge of the wax is lifted up and used as leverage to rip the whole strip off in the opposite direction of hair growth.
Why you should consider it: Many waxing professionals think that hard wax is a better option for the sensitive bikini area. Hard wax attaches to the hairs itself, whereas soft wax tends to attach to the skin. Less contact with your skin equals less irritation. Hard wax can also be used on shorter hairs than soft wax.
The downsides: Exactly the same as with soft wax. "Can you spread your cheeks apart with your hands for me?"
How to get the best results: Follow all the same guidelines for soft wax.
I know, the name itself sounds so delicious and inviting. Sadly, you're still getting pubic hairs ripped out at the root, so it's no picnic.
How it works: The "sugar" is a sticky ball of goo made of sugar, water, lemon juice, and perhaps a binding agent or two. It's usually about the size of an apricot, is opaque, and has roughly the same texture as chewing gum. The sugar is applied to your hair against the direction of hair growth (instead of in the direction of hair growth, as is the case with waxing), then pulled out in the same direction as hair growth.
Why you should consider it: Fun fact: this hair removal method was invented in ancient Egypt, so you can close your eyes and imagine you're Cleopatra instead of some sucker laying half-naked, spread-eagle, with stranger's face buried in your crotch. Sugaring is much less irritating to the skin than waxing, and causes fewer ingrown hairs. There's no risk of getting burned with hot wax, nor is there risk of infection from double-dipping since the esthetician uses one ball of sugar per client. Some people also find it to be less painful.
The downsides: Sugaring takes a lot of skill, so it can take more time than waxing unless you're at the hands of a true pro. It also tends to be more expensive than waxing.
How to get the best results: Exfoliate beforehand, pop an Advil, try an anesthetic spray, avoid your period, take it easy on your skin afterwards, and resume exfoliation after a day.
Laser Hair Removal
If you're absolutely positive that you want your pubic hair shaped into a lightning bolt for the rest of your life, you may want to consider lasering.
How it works: Lasers target the pigment in hair follicles, damaging them with pulses of light. It's all very space-aged.
Why you should consider it: Laser hair removal only takes about 4-6 sessions to create good results. It's expensive up-front, but can end up saving you a lot of money in the long run (those monthly waxing visits really add up!). Sessions themselves don't take a lot of time, and are less painful than waxing or sugaring. You can also purchase laser units to use in the privacy of your own home, though these generally aren't recommended for usage beyond the edge of the bikini line.
The downsides: It really only works best with those who have light skin and dark hair, since the laser needs to be able to locate dark pigment in the hair. The laser can create pigmentation issues for people with darker skin. Lasers are expensive, averaging a couple hundred bucks per session. It's also billed as permanent hair reduction, not permanent hair eradication.
How to get the best results: Make sure you seek out a licensed professional who has great reviews. You do not want some schmuck aiming a freaking laser at your junk.
Yep, still pretty set on those lightning-bolt-shaped pubes. Here's an even more permanent option.
How it works: An electrical current is transmitted into each hair follicle using a needle-shaped probe.
Why you should consider it: Electrolysis is the best method for permanently removing hair. It works for a wider range of people than laser hair removal. Individual sessions are much cheaper than lasering, so you can spread out the cost.
The downsides: Sessions take longer than lasering, and many more sessions are required for permanent results (as many as 15-20). If not done properly, it can lead to skin scarring or pigment damage.
How to get the best results: Ditto to getting a trained professional. You thought lasers near your bits were scary? How about needle shaped probes?!
That may seem like more than you ever thought you'd know about pubic hair removal, but it's good to have options. If you have any experience with the above, let us know how you fared in the comments below.