Shaving my pubic area - for the first time!
March 20, 2006 5:13 PM   Subscribe

What are the best products, techniques, shapes, and ideas for a first-timer grooming the female pubic area?

I have NEVER shaved my pubic hair, but I am now having the urge to do so. I have a lot of questions, probably things that I should have learned long before the age of 26, but hey. I am more than a little embarrassed that I have gone this long without learning this stuff!

I do shave my underarms and legs on a daily (or every-other) basis. I have been sexually active in the past, but am not right now. I am completely single, so I would be doing this completely for myself, and not for a boyfriend. Throwing another fact into the mix, I am about 40 pounds overweight, so I have some extra fat hanging around that area (my thighs and stomach seem to bear the brunt of my obesity).

I read this, but it seems even more advanced than I am right now! I haven't even gotten to the razor burn!

1) What products should I have on hand? Presumably a razor - but what brand? Shaving cream, too, but again, what works best? Is all shaving cream pubic-area-safe? All I need is a yeast infection or UTI! I read about Bikini Zone and similar products, so I think I have that covered. I am definitely afraid of waxing right now, so I think I will see how I like having a groomed pubic area before submitting myself to that pain.

2) What shape should I shave my hair into? "Landing strip" seems to be most popular. If I do that, how far back do I go with the razor? Do I go all the way to the anal area? Do I need to trim the hair that is left? If so, what kind of trimmer should I use?

3) My biggest fear is cutting myself - I imagine that it's horribly painful given the location. What techniques do you know of to avoid this? I have heard that partner-shaving is very helpful - but I am single right now so that won't pan out. Does using a mirror help, or is that useless?

4) How often will I need to do this? Is it like shaving your legs or underarms, where it can and should be done once a day? Or is it more of a once-a-week deal?

Those are my most burning questions - please feel free to add anything you think might help me.

Thank you so much for your time and advice!
posted by anonymous to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (19 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Electric razor with a "height-guide thingie" is your friend. Far less chance of cutting and minimizes razor burn if used correctly. Try trimming (no pun intended) before or in preference to shaving entirely, it saves on the itch and possibly ingrown hairs.

How often you need to do it depends on how fast you grow hair and how clean-shaven you want to be. Again, start with trimming, only shave after you've gotten used to the trimmed look and feel.

As to the shape, that's really your call unless someone else will be checking it out. Different guys will have different preferences; some, like myself, aren't that fond of the obviously shaved look, as it's reminiscent of strippers trying to look pre-pubescent; some will be into it for a variety of reasons. So in the end (no pun intended) you need to please yourself. Be aware that if you're overweight, shaving will probably make that more apparent.
posted by orthogonality at 5:44 PM on March 20, 2006

Oh, and with an electric razor, you don't really need shaving cream.
posted by orthogonality at 5:45 PM on March 20, 2006

Yes, definitely go with the electric clippers. You get a close cut (e.g. 1/4 inch) but you're not actually shaving all the way down so there is no stubble or ingrown hairs to worry about, and it's virtually impossible to injure yourself.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:17 PM on March 20, 2006

I just experimented with the same thing just last week (funnily enough I was going to post a question about shapes, so this is serendipitous, and I'll be watching the answers here)

I'm quite glad I did it, although at first I wasn't too keen on the results. I didn't like the bare look much, felt better once it grew in just a little.

I trimmed down as far as I could with scissors. I then hopped in the shower, let the hair soften a bit, then tackled the, er, front using a new Bic twin blade and Aveeno theraputic shave gel. At first it was very "Oh god, what am I doing", but it seemed to work.

For the more delicate areas, I placed a towel on my bed, got a little mirror to stand on it's own and a a bright lamp, and just went at it, slow and steady using the Aveeno again, and shaving in different directions. Again, at first it was very "Jesus, it's like Velcro. Somehow surely my very life force is in this hair and now I will die." but it all worked out okay. The only place I cut myself was a tiny little bit at the very top of my pubic area.

Then, liberal applications of Bikini Zone every morning for a week or so.

Once it had grown back in about 3 mm, I shaved it all off again (in the shower this time, again with Aveeno and a new razor. Bending over with my legs wide worked well for me, and I didn't cut myself, but be careful if you don't have good balance and flexibility) except for a cute little triangle which i'm rather fond of and plan to grow out. And Bikini Zone again in the mornings.

Right, that was me. YMMV. I'm single too, which means the whole thing is sort of nice--no pressure for a "look", just experiment! Quite fun.

And god, if anybody is reading this that REALLY didn't want to know, shall we just pretend that this never happened and you havn't a clue about the state of my pubic hair, yes?
posted by stray at 6:18 PM on March 20, 2006

Just be aware that less hair and even more so razor burn may make you more susceptible to infection if you do hook up.
posted by orthogonality at 6:29 PM on March 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

1) Have a sharp razor. Shaving cream might help, and won't cause infections. Just make sure everything is nice and clean down there, and you're good.

2) Seems like a personal preference thing.

3) I have never cut myself there, but then I don't get as creative as you're considering. I'd suggest being careful at corners and tight places. I would also suggest shaving with the direction of the hair or at an oblique angle, and not against.

4) Frequency is also pretty personal. You may want to start out shaving less frequently to avoid too much irritation at first, and then increasing in time. You will probably itch when you first start shaving yourself down there. Badly.

You might want to start out with a trim and a modest shaving at the edges to shape things a bit, then go from there.
posted by moira at 6:29 PM on March 20, 2006

A brand new razor may be too sharp for a never-before shaved sensitive area. I'd suggest shaving, say, one leg (or maybe just lower leg if you have dense or robust hair) with a brand new razor before using it on the genital area.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 6:32 PM on March 20, 2006

I haven't gone all the way but I know this: get yourself some TendSkin. It's miraculous. Stings horribly (for a second) right after shaving but it completely eliminates the red bumps. They seem to market it to men, but you can find it at Sephora or online.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:03 PM on March 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

One can make TendSkin at home. Did I get the recipe here? I don't remember:

solution 1:
18 tablets uncoated aspirin, crushed
5 oz. rubbing alcohol

solution 2:
8 tablets uncoated aspirin, crushed
2.5 oz. witch hazel

combine the two solutions. the aspirin will settle a bit, so shake it before use. apply to the bikini area to prevent ingrowns. it can also be used to spot treat blemishes. (aspirin is acetic and salicylic acids.)
posted by oflinkey at 8:53 PM on March 20, 2006 [4 favorites]

New disposable razors and your shaving cream/lotion of choice. Don't go over an area more than once without rinsing the blade and relathering. Add gradually to the real estate that's shaved as to get used to stubble, which can be a lot less comfortable poking against tender bits.
posted by desuetude at 9:03 PM on March 20, 2006

So these treatments to prevent ingrowns - do they grow normally (ie., extend outside of skin instead of growing into the epidermis) or what?... kindly asking.

What's the method of action?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 9:10 PM on March 20, 2006

I've been shaving the front (and trimming the actual labia area) for almost a year now. It took a couple months to really get used to it and stop itching—but since then it's been smooth sailing. What I use: basic Target brand women's shave gel. The razor: Gillette Mach 3. That shave gel is fantastic—surprisingly better than anything else I've tried, and I have pretty sensitive skin. The razor has also been wonderful.

Tips: If you have sensitive skin, you might want to avoid actually shaving that crease between the upper thighs and the abdomen. Every time I shave that, I get terrible razor burn, and the prickles that grow back itch like crazy, 'cause they poke every which way into both the abdomen side and the thigh side. Personally, I only trim that area and the labia area with scissors, rather than shaving there, 'cause I've found that it's almost impossible to shave those areas without creating painful prickles, ingrown hairs, and an uneven appearance. Perhaps I'd be able to make that work if I had an electric shaver, but I can't afford one right now.

So that's what I do. I've not yet been able to make designs work, but it's something I plan to try again in the future.
posted by limeonaire at 9:15 PM on March 20, 2006

I feel like everyone on Metafilter has weighed in on this, and I've yet to pubicly proclaim my status. Feel free to email me if you have any other questions.

The shaving process is one of trial and error and finding out what's best for you and your skin. Definitely trim as much as you can with scissors first, especially if this is something you've never done. Not only will it make shaving go easier, it's less to clean up in the tub. It's not attractive, but if you put a plastic shopping bag under your bottom you avoid any mess.

For looks, your best bet is to just shave in the direction the hair grows. It feels a lot smoother if you go both ways, but you'll have more trouble with possible ingrown hairs. It's worth a try when your skin gets used to shaving, though. Definitely use a new razor - it will cut whereas a dull razor will tug a bit at the hair before cutting and that will cause irritation. A soak in the tub for a bit before the first time or if it's been a while will soften the hairs and make things easier. It's also easier to get a good view of things if you're already lying on your back.

It may sound like a pain in the neck, but I strongly recommend shaving every day. It gets your skin used to things, and it also keeps you more comfortable. The discomfort arises from when the hair grows back in, so just keep it from growing back in. After doing it a few times, it's only an extra five or six swipes with the razor and takes a second.

When possible, I prefer to shave in the evening so that I can keep from putting clothing on for a few hours after shaving. It really minimizes the bumps. If I did need to shave in the morning, I find baby powder works best for me. Some friends swear by cocoa butter - it was a disaster for me.

I've heard a lot about the aftershave products designed for this area. In the 10+ years I've been shaving, the only time I wished I had something like that was when I first started. And I've never cut myself, though I have had a nick on the top from when a dull razor pulled at the hair - just kind of a bleeding follicle.

Oh, and please, if you are going to shave, do the anal area too. It'll give you a sense of accomplishment with all the positions you get yourself into. And it looks nicer if somebody is going to see it.

I never had much luck with designs - I had a friend who was fantastic with them and she tried to teach me, but with no luck. I find it a lot less hassle to just take it all off.
Aside from the look of it, it feels incredible. Without the hair padding things, even vacuuming is a thrill if you wear the right pants! Enjoy!
posted by Iamtherealme at 11:26 PM on March 20, 2006

Oh - I don't think there's any basis in the worry to yeast infections or UTIs from the shaving cream. Just be sure to rinse well afterwards. I used to be very prone to UTIs though, and as a "better safe than sorry" move, I just urinated after I got out of the shower.
I think it goes without saying, but for the love of God do not use Nair or anything like that. Not even for the top. I figured it would make things easy to make a design, but the bottle is telling the truth when it says not to use it in that area.
posted by Iamtherealme at 11:31 PM on March 20, 2006

Recommendation: just get waxed. It looks better, it is easier.
posted by k8t at 12:00 AM on March 21, 2006

Another adamant recommendation for waxing.
posted by elisabeth r at 6:11 AM on March 21, 2006

A note: it'll itch the first few times. I used to shave every day and did it for a few years. After the first month or so, I never had an itching issue.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 10:31 AM on March 21, 2006

I'm a sometimes-shaver, but i'm invariably too lazy to do it every day. Also, I find it painful to shave over very short stubble. Anyone else? What do you do about the stubble, anyway?
posted by xanthippe at 11:04 AM on March 21, 2006

just remember about the baby powder--there are people who propose a link between it and girlparts (cervical, was it?) cancer--be careful. personally, i'd never put talcum powder on my bits.
posted by ifjuly at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2006

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