Just a Super-Useful Guide to Shaving Your Pubic Hair
Please be assured that I am wholly aware there are more important things to worry about right now than the state of your nether regions. Maybe you've never even thought about removing your pubic hair. I don't know your life! But in the event that you — like me at age 13, during the delightful stage known by endocrinologists as puberty — are plagued with the question of how to shave your vagina (or, to be anatomically correct, your vulva, since the vagina is all internal), there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, don't do what I did and drag your razor across the skin in a back-and-forth direction as many times as you need until it's all smooth, like my decidedly cooler ninth-grade friend told me to. This, I can attest, leads only to unsightly ingrowns and tiny red bumps that will make you feel like a plucked chicken. Instead, you'll want to treat this delicate area, well, delicately, because shaving down there isn't the same as shaving anywhere else on your body.
"The hair in the pubic area is different from leg hair," Caitlin Orszulak, a senior scientist for P&G, tells POPSUGAR. "On average, pubic hair is about twice as thick as leg hair, tends to be curly, and can grow in multiple directions. On top of that, the hair in the pubic area tends to be much denser, meaning there's more hair per square cm versus on a leg." She adds that your skin down yonder is also thinner, meaning it's more permeable to moisture loss. "Finally, the deeper layer of skin in the pubic area has more nerve endings and higher blood flow than the legs, making this area particularly sensitive."
This is all to say, there are a quite few things to know on how to safely shave your pubic hair, and that is precisely why we tapped a handful of grooming experts to help. Keep scrolling for some pro tips below. Trust me, if you're gonna shave your pubes at all: your bikini line depends on it.
How to Shave Your Vagina, Step 1: Collect the Proper Tools
The biggest rule of thumb on how to shave down there without getting bumps is using the proper equipment. So, when choosing the best razor for this sensitive area, consider the number of blades. "When it comes to the pubic hair, less is more," CC Sofronas, co-founder of Pacific Shaving Co, says. (You know, just to be safe.) "You don't need a 12-blade razor like you might for your legs, because that will just irritate the skin."
The magic number, then, is somewhere between three and six blades. (If you need a little help choosing, you could also consider the Dollar Shave Club 6-Blade vs 4-Blade Razor Starter Set ($9), which comes with two options to test what's best for you.) Otherwise, consider a razor with "floating" (aka flexible) blades and a pivoting head to make it easy to maneuver around tight spaces, like the Venus for Pubic Hair & Skin Razor ($18). This is recommended over one "fixed blades and fixed head that can be much less forgiving," says Orszulak.
The one non-negotiable? "You have to have a sharp razor blade — that's the first thing — and that you replenish the blade when required when it feels dull," says Sofranos, and Orszulak agrees: "Older razors with duller blades will pull on hair more, which can cause irritation."
How to Shave Your Vagina, Step 2: Trim the Hair as Needed
Too much pubic hair can lead it to tug on your razor, making it harder to remove in one fell swoop — in those instances, you'll have to glide it across skin like I so eloquently did in middle school (and thus, increasing your risk of irritation). "You can skip the trim if you prefer, but shaving longer hair can quickly clog up the blades so you have to rinse the razor more often," says Orszulak.
Instead, Sofronas suggests you get some small sterile scissors; we like the Tweezerman Facial Hair Scissors ($15). Or, if you want to use what you have at home, sewing scissors could also work. "Just don't use big kitchen sheers — that could be dangerous if you're shaving your pubic area," she says.
If your hair is still too long after using scissors (the ideal length, experts agree, is about a quarter-inch) — and especially in areas where it's a little trickier to reach, like near the labia — use a tried-and-true trimmer or a trimmer attachment, like what you'd get with the Schick Hydro Silk 5 TrimStyle Women's Razor ($19). "That way it won't clog the razor too much," Sofronas says.
A Tip on When to Shave Your Vagina
Assuming you're shaving in the shower (which is preferred versus dry shaving to minimize irritation), you can use that steam and water to your advantage. "Save any shaving you do for the end of your shower experience," says Sofronas. "You can wash your face, shampoo, conditioner, anything you need to do first, and then that way your skin and hair are softer and that makes for an easier shave. It's better timing instead of at the beginning of the shower."
Exfoliating first can also be helpful in preventing ingrowns, although it's up to you on how often you do this step. "Either using a loofah or an [exfoliating] product can help to release any trapped hair and remove excess dead skin cells and sebum that can get in the way of a smooth shaving experience," says Katelyn Liston, a scientist for P&G.
How to Shave Your Vagina, Step 3: Apply Your Shaving Barrier
The type of shaving formula you choose — oil, cream, mousse — is based on personal preference, but the important thing is you have one. "You don't want to shave dry or wet without a barrier because it'll irritate the skin, so having one makes for a more comfortable shave," says Sofronas. Her product of choice is the Pacific Shaving Company Ultra Slick Shave Stick ($12), which is a solid, transparent formula that lathers when introduced with water. "It's a shave stick in what looks like a deodorant container, so it's super easy to use. You just swipe it across your skin to create that barrier, but then unlike shaving cream you can also see any areas that you missed."
If you want something easier to spread across skin, the King C Gillette Transparent Shave Gel ($8) or Billie Shaving Cream ($8) are good options. For beginners, or if you want more of a guide to areas so you don't accidentally glide across the skin more times than you need to, an opaque formula like a cream or mousse might be best. Just make sure whatever you use is fragrance-free and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals that could cause an adverse reaction.
How to Shave Your Vagina, Step 4: Pull Skin Taut, Then Shave in the Direction of Hair Growth
Now, onto the main event. The first tip to getting the closest shave is to ensure you're pulling the skin taut. "The flatter the shaving surface, the more comfortable the experience will be," says Liston.
Then, a tip I probably could have used way back when: "You want to shave in the direction of the hair growth — with the grain, so to speak," Sofronas says. "And you don't want to go over the same area multiple times."
"Press down enough that the blade hits the hair, but don't go too hard — you want to be gentle on this area."
Stick to one pass with the razor if you can (that's where trimming beforehand will help), especially if you're a beginner. After you've done it a few times, and you want an even closer shave, you can go against the hair growth on a second pass. ("Then that's it; you're good to move on to the next shaving area.") Oh, and always make sure you rinse the razor between strokes.
Some other good need-to-knows? "Press down enough that the blade hits the hair, but don't go too hard — you want to be gentle on this area. That's what leads to nicks."
A Note on Shaving Your Labia
Even more so than the top of your pubic bone, the skin on your labia or lips is a coarser texture, "so you want to be extra careful," Sofronas says. "This is when you just really want to take your time."
Because you might have a harder time getting visibility here, she recommends you lift your leg on a dry, flat, elevated surface to ensure easier access to the area. "It's tricky, but try your best to pull that skin taut so there's no bump, that's going to make for a safer shaving experience."
Liston agrees, adding that whatever position floats your boat works, whether it's putting a foot up on the side of the tub or laying down a mirror on the floor of your shower. "If employing either of these methods, try to use your other hand — the one that's not holding the razor or trimmer — to hold the shaving surface taut."
How to Shave Your Vagina, Step 5: Apply a Moisturizer Afterward
So, you successfully (and safely) shaved your vagina — congrats are in order — but that's only half the battle. To minimize the likelihood of razor bumps and ingrowns, keep the area soothed and moisturized. "The thin skin is permeable and allows moisture to escape more than in other areas of the body," says Orszulak. "Keeping skin hydrated helps to ensure your skin and hair are in good condition for next time." (We like the Fur Ingrown Concentrate ($32) or the Flamingo Ingrown Spot Treatment ($10) for these purposes.)
"When you get an ingrown, that means the hair isn't able to pop through the skin, so that's why it's important to use a non-comedogenic post-shave moisturizer, whether it's an oil or something else," says Sofronas. "You also want to avoid clogging your pores, so exfoliating can help remove that top layer of dead skin."