Troublesome Pubes

Anonymous
asks:
My pubic hair is pretty stubborn. No matter what I use or how I shave it, it always breaks out into bumps, and then gets irritated when I try to shave the short hairs. I've tried different creams and techniques, but it always breaks out.
al replies:

Good news! You're not the only person who's experienced this - pubic hairs are definitely more stubborn than other hairs on our bodies! The hair that grows in the pubic area is thicker than other types of body hair or head hair, not to mention, the skin around the vulva and the scrotum are really sensitive and more prone to irritation than other areas of our bodies.

I did want to ask you a few questions first:

  • What makes you want to remove your hair?
  • Do you like the process of shaving/removing it?
  • Do you like the way that it feels on your skin?
  • Does it make you feel confident when you're being sexual?
  • Has someone else reacted positively to it?
  • Or, conversely, has someone reacted negatively to your pubic hair groomed a certain way?

The reason I ask these questions is that pubic hair grooming/removal is a bit of a -- pardon the pun -- sore subject here at Scarleteen. We spend a lot of time talking with folks about skewed portrayals of sex and bodies in popular media, which often include bodies that are unnaturally smooth and hairless, with no grooming or effort required. It's not realistic, and it often leaves folks (especially women and femmes) feeling like their body or pubic hair is gross, dirty, or unattractive. I'll also add that there is an entire industry of beauty products that have a lot at stake in the game of making you think that what naturally grows out of your body needs to be removed, because they've got waxes, creams, razors, clippers, epilators, and all sorts of frightening devices to sell you. That industry can only survive if people feel like there's a reason to use their products.

All in all, your decisions about your pubic hair are totally up to you. If you want to remove it because it makes you feel good, that's great! Power to you. I just think everyone deserves to feel good about themselves in their bodies as they are, too, and not feel the need to change how they look for anyone else.

In terms of tips and tricks for smooth, non-irritated pubic shaving, I'm afraid there's not a whole lot that I can recommend in terms of remedies. Some people swear by certain products specifically made for shaving pubic hair, like "bikini trimmers" or certain razors, or even going to a professional to get waxed. The trouble might be shaving, specifically, or other methods that leave the root in. On the other hand, you might find you have this issue with every way of getting rid of body hair: a lot of folks do. Unfortunately, each person's body reacts to things differently, and your body is going to show you what it does and doesn't like when it comes to grooming habits, and ingrown hairs and other bumps are just plain common with removing (and even just having) pubic hair.

I'll also say that if you're a person with non-white ancestry, you may have a slightly tougher time with hair removal, because our hair usually has a coarser texture and tends to be more curly than that of many white folks. People of color who have beards, for example, tend to get irritation more frequently because the natural curled shape of their hair is prone to curl a little under the skin rather than growing out straight.

As for next steps, I'm wondering what it might be like for you to take a little break from hair removal to let your pubic hair grow out a bit. It would give any existing irritation/razor burn some time to heal, and might make any future attempts a little easier with something more to remove. Plus, I daresay, you might even find that it's not so bad?

Below is some further reading on body hair and cultural expectations if you're interested: