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Dear Sexpert,

About 5–6 months ago, I got a full Brazilian wax for the first time, but I wish I wouldn't have because I didn't know what I was getting myself into. I was told afterwards that I had to buy and continue using their ingrown hair serum (which is really expensive) and then I found out that you're supposed to wax every 4–6 weeks, but that is really expensive for me to do. Now, I haven't done anything since then, but my hairs have grown back and I'm very uncomfortable with it. Should I let them grow out longer or should I try to remove them on my own?

Sincerely,

Waxed and Annoyed

Dear Waxed and Annoyed,

Ouch! Waxing is a great hair removal option for some, but it seems that your skin may be too sensitive to continue waxing. Totally fine! You have many options for personal grooming — all of which vary in cost, frequency of maintenance, and potential discomfort — if you’re looking to trim things up down there. 

If you’re done with waxing, shaving could be a good, relatively inexpensive option if you want to fully remove all hair. Before shaving, make sure to trim as much hair as possible and soak the region for at least five minutes either in a tub or in the shower to soften the hair and skin. Use a hand mirror, sharp razor, and gentle, fragrance-free shaving cream, and shave in the direction that the hair grows. Shaving is gentler on the skin than waxing, and usually applying baby oil or aloe vera before and after shaving is enough to prevent ingrown hairs. However, shaving can be time-consuming and inconvenient, and for those with very sensitive skin, or if it is not done properly, it can definitely cause irritation and ingrown hairs.

Hair removal creams or “depilatories” can also achieve the same effect as waxing, but not all creams are safe for use on the vulva. If you do try this method, make sure that the cream you buy is safe for use on the vulva or bikini line, and carefully follow the instruction in order to prevent irritation. Given the sensitivity of your skin, it is recommended that you try the cream on a small area to “test” how your skin reacts before applying all over. If you notice any burning, pain, or swelling, the product might be too irritating for you.

An easier option that is likely not to cause any irritation but also does not fully remove hair is to use a trimmer. These tools are essentially beard trimmers or electric powered razors but for pubic hair. They trim the hair down to a preferred level without touching the base or root of the hair, preventing irritation and ingrown hairs. Higher-end models can be adjusted to cut at a certain length or have various attachments to assist in grooming. Usually these trimmers are made specifically for pubic hair and can be bought online or in a drug store.

In the meantime, if you are seeing any irritation, there are several inexpensive methods to relieve any pain or itching. Soaking/showering with warm water and keeping the area clean, dry, and moisturized are good places to start. Make sure you use very gentle products — specifically those without any fragrance — on the inflamed area.

If you notice any sign of infection, like red bumps or white-headed pimples around the hair follicle, you can apply a thin layer of over-the-counter antibiotic ointment to the area. If you experience any itching, you can do the same with hydrocortisone cream. You should also take a break from hair removal while the skin heals. Finally, as always, if the condition persists or is becoming extremely uncomfortable, make sure to see a health care provider to ensure that the condition does not worsen.

Overall, you have many options for pubic hair care, but you get to choose what works best for you and what makes you feel most comfortable!

Sincerely,

The Sexpert

Source information from the Center for Young Women’s Health.

The Sexpert is a biweekly column done in collaboration between the Prospect and the Peer Health Advisers (PHA program). For more information, you can visit the Sexpert’s website. If you are interested in submitting a question, you can email sexpert@princeton.edu

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