Having body hair is completely normal, but it's reported that over 85% of people choose to groom their pubic area, removing at least some of their pubic hair.
But do we have to?
The short answer is no. Much like how your hairstyle is an individual choice, so too is how you style your pubes. Call it manscaping, lady-gardening - whatever you like, at the end of the day, whether you choose to shave your pubic hair is entirely down to personal preference and what you feel comfortable doing. Whether you like the wild and free look, neatly trimmed or completely bare, it's your choice.
Many people, especially women, feel an enormous amount of pressure to keep up with societal 'norms' on how to look and present their bikini area. With the influence of porn and social media, women are increasingly opting for a completely bare vulva, favouring the popular 'Brazilian' bikini wax that leaves just a landing strip of hair over the pubic bone.
But with such levels of hair removal comes a few risks, so it's important to approach with caution. The skin around the genital area is very delicate and pubic hair is there to protect it. So when you're looking to remove your hair, it's important to be mindful of that delicate skin to avoid damaging it.
There are several options to remove hair down there.
Waxing. Giving the longest-lasting results, waxing works by pulling the hair out from its root but it's also probably the most painful. Warm, melted wax is applied to the skin in the direction of hair growth, trapping the hair as the wax cools. The wax is then quickly pulled back in the opposite direction (sometimes with a cloth strip, sometimes without), taking the hair with it.
Depilatory Cream. Hair removal creams include a chemical formula that dissolves the hair at its root to the point that it breaks off and can be wiped away. Whilst you can get lotions designed for the bikini line, this is fine for the very edges if you want to keep things tidy, but they're not recommended for all-over genital use. This is because the chemicals used can be quite harsh and cause irritation on the sensitive skin tissue.
Laser Hair Removal. Providing a long-term solution, laser hair removal involves destroying the root of the hairs with pulses of light. It tends to be more effective on darker hairs and lighter skin as the laser detects pigment. So it's less effective on blonde hair and can burn darker skin tones. It takes around 6-12 sessions for optimal results and is by no means the cheapest option - but many people like it for its longevity.
Shaving. Probably the most common method of hair removal as it's cheaper and easier to do it yourself at home, shaving works by cutting off the hair at skin level. But as you're only cutting it off, the results are short-lived and will need re-doing every 1-3 days.
How to get the smoothest shave
If you do choose to shave your pubic hair, here's a few handy pointers to get the best results.
Beforehand, reach for the trimmer or some small scissors to cut the length of your pubes. A short, close crop is preferable to avoid pulling the hairs or dulling your razor too quickly.
Have a quick wash with warm water - not only will this reduce and transmission of bacteria, but opening up the hair follicles will help get a closer shave.
Use a proper shaving cream or gel to provide lubrication against the skin. Dry-shaving is just asking for razor burn!
Use a new, clean razor blade. A dull blade will tug on the hair and skin, leading to skin irritation. And shave in the direction of hair growth - this will help reduce irritation. If you shave 'against the grain' as it were, you may get a closer, longer-lasting shave, but this can leave you more prone to ingrown hairs.
Rinse away any remaining shave foam with warm water and be sure to moisturize your skin after. Keeping a good skincare routine is essential for helping reduce irritation and ingrown hairs, so exfoliate regularly to remove dead skin and open up the follicles, allowing the new hairs to grow back smoothly.
The side effects
With pubic hair removal can come a few side effects which are not only unsightly but can lead to injury if you're not careful. The most common side effects are skin irritation, ingrown hairs and possibly even folliculitis, which are red bumps or pimples often known as razor burn. These red bumps can become infected if you're not careful, leading to boils or even abscesses.
If you're shaving, it's important to use a clean, sharp razor. And after any method of hair removal, keep the area clean, exfoliated and regularly moisturised to help new hairs grow back smoothly.
The bottom line
Whether you prefer the wild and free look or want to go fully-shaved, how you groom your pubes is entirely up to you. Just be careful with your delicate areas and don't rush the process!