Not exfoliating your pubic area could be the reason for those red bumps — a derm's guide to shaving
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- Before you shave down there, prep the area by cleansing it with soap and warm water.
- Then, spread shaving cream over the area and pull the skin taut before you begin shaving.
While having pubic hair is completely natural and healthy, many people choose to remove some or all of it based on personal preference.
Whether or not you keep your pubic hair is totally up to you. However, it's important to keep in mind that if you do choose to shave it, you should take special care.
Since pubic hair tends to be coarse and the skin is sensitive, you're more prone to irritation and ingrown hairs in the region if you don't take necessary precautions.
Here are some tips and tricks for getting the best shave down there and minimizing your risk of irritation.
How to shave your pubic hair
Whether you're shaving some of it or all of it, it's helpful to follow some general guidelines to get the best results.
1. Prep the area: Prep your pubic region by cleansing the area with soap and lukewarm water. Friedler says using warm water helps open up the pores so you can get a closer shave.
2. Use a shaving cream or gel: Spread something lubricating over the area, like shaving cream or gel. This helps the razor glide over the skin more easily, which reduces friction and irritation, says Friedler.
3. Start shaving: Pull the skin taut, then use short and careful strokes to shave with the direction of hair growth instead of against it, Friedler says. This helps prevent cuts and ingrown hairs. In between strokes, rinse the razor to make sure it isn't clogged with hair or shaving cream.
4. Rinse with cool water: Rinse away the hair and shaving cream with cool water. Friedler says opting for cooler water over warm water helps close the pores back up.
5. Moisturize: Especially if you have sensitive skin or are prone to irritation after shaving, Friedler says it's helpful to moisturize or apply a product specifically designed for use after shaving to soothe your skin and prevent ingrown hairs or bumps. Opt for a mild, unscented moisturizer. If your skin is very sensitive, Friedler says you may use an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to ease redness and inflammation.
Note: Avoid shaving with dull razors since this increases your risk of ingrown hairs and overall irritation. Use a new razor or replacement blade every five to seven shaves.
Should I exfoliate?
It's important to occasionally exfoliate before you shave if you're prone to ingrown pubic hairs.
Medical term: Ingrown hairs occur when the hair grows back into the skin instead of growing out above the skin, King says. When the hair gets trapped beneath the surface, it results in inflammation and a bump.
Exfoliation is a step that involves using scrubs or chemicals to remove dead skin cells on the surface of your skin. By removing these, you can help prevent blockages that lead to ingrown hairs.
There are two categories of exfoliants: chemical and mechanical.
- Chemical exfoliants use acids to break down dead skin cells. Common chemical exfoliants include alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs).
- Mechanical exfoliants use microbeads or abrasive textures to remove the dead cell layer.
When adding exfoliation to your shaving routine, King recommends starting slowly, exfoliating just once or twice a week, and then increasing the frequency if your skin tolerates it well. On the flip side, back off on exfoliating if your skin gets irritated.
How to exfoliate
The step-by-step depends on if you're using a chemical or mechanical exfoliant.
According to King, here's how to exfoliate if you're using a chemical exfoliant:
You can get different types of products with chemical exfoliants in them, so the process changes depending on which product you choose.
1. If using toner, blot without rubbing.
2. If using lotion, lightly rub in.
3. If using a cleanser, wet your skin first and make gentle massaging circles for two to three minutes.
Afterward, rinse the product away with warm water and begin the steps for shaving.
With mechanical exfoliants, the process is fairly similar, King says:
1. Wet your skin.
2. Apply the exfoliant and rub gently in small circles for two minutes.
3. Rinse with warm water and begin the steps for shaving.
If you're going to use a product that's a mechanical exfoliant, King says you should use something that has very fine particles and apply gentle pressure when scrubbing.
If your skin is more on the sensitive side, stick to chemical exfoliants. Be sure to only use your exfoliant on the external genitalia.
Best shaving tools
- Best shaving cream: Aveeno Therapeutic Shave Gel with Oat, $4.49 at Amazon
- Best razor for your bikini line: Venus Pubic Hair & Skin Shaving Kit, $44.99 at Amazon
- Best safety razor: Standard Razors Aluminum Series, $69.99 at Amazon
- Best exfoliator for sensitive skin: Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, $64 at Ulta
Pubic hair grooming is a personal choice. If you decide to shave down there, taking precautions like using shaving cream or gel, shaving with the direction of the hair, exfoliating, and using fresh razors can prevent pesky ingrown hairs and help you get the best results.
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