Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Shaving
MP EDITION 044
No shame in your game if you want to keep it au naturale but if you’re looking to go smooth, we’ve got the details on all the different kinds of hair removal methods. First up: shaving 101.
Shaving is a popular way to remove unwanted hair. In fact, 77% of women shave their bikini line. But done wrong, shaving can end in tears from razor burns, ingrown hairs, and irritated skin - all things you don’t want, least of all down there.
The skin around your vagina is extremely sensitive so you need to take care when shaving down there. For example, even using heavily scented products may throw your vaginal pH off balance, causing odors or infections. But don’t worry, we have some tips for you when it comes to shaving down there.
First things first, before you pick up your razor, there are a few crucial steps you should take for the smoothest shave possible.
Invest in a good razor
When it comes to shaving your private parts, using a dull or worn out razor is a surefire way to get razor burn. A good rule of thumb is use your razor no more than four to seven times as the blades tend to dull after that. Swap it out even earlier if you start to see a buildup of dirt or dead skin. We love Billie and Oui the People.
Trim the hair
If it’s been a while between shaves and your hair has grown longer than a 1/4 inch, trim excess hair down to a few centimeters with some grooming scissors before you shave. Too much hair will clog up the razor and make the blades less effective. Trimming will save you time and prevent irritation.
Cleanse the skin
When you shave, the hair follicle opens up. This means that it’s easy for bacteria to enter and cause an infection. So before you shave, make sure you clean your vulva with a gentle cleanser.
Have a soak
Before shaving down there, or anywhere for that matter, spend at least 10 minutes in warm water first. Shave towards the end of your shower or bath to soften your skin and hair, reducing the chance of razor burn and irritation. Not showering? No problem. Covering the area for a few minutes with a warm, damp washcloth will do in a pinch.
Next, exfoliate the area gently to prevent ingrown hairs. But don’t go too crazy on your sensitive skin down there as it can do more harm than good. You only need to exfoliate enough to remove any dead skin. Whatever your preference - loofah, washcloth, or scrub - exfoliating helps you to get as close to the root as possible for a closer shave.
How to shave down there
Alright, now that your skin is sufficiently prepped, it’s time to shave!
- Lather up: Please, whatever you do, never shave dry - it’s a recipe for razor burn. You always need some sort of gel or cream. Without it, it’s extra easy to cut your skin. Avoid shaving creams with heavy fragrances or artificial ingredients as those can irritate your skin further. Instead, use a shaving gel with natural ingredients such as shea butter, aloe vera, and coconut oil to protect and moisturize your skin. Apply a thin layer and let the shaving cream sit for a bit to soften the hair even further.
- Slow and steady wins the race: Using small, short strokes, shave slowly, especially because your skin down there is super sensitive. Shave without applying too much pressure as that will likely cause razor burns (if you need to apply pressure, your razor blades are too dull!) and avoid going over the same area multiple times.
- Do it right, keep it tight: Pull the skin taut to avoid cuts.
- Shave in one direction: There are many schools of practice around which direction to shave in. Generally speaking, shaving against the direction of hair growth gives you a closer shave but it can result in ingrown hairs. If you have sensitive skin, shave in the direction of hair growth.
- Rinse it out: Pause often to rinse out your razor to keep your razor in tip-top shape.
Your post-shaving regime goes a long way to keeping your skin smooth.
Always hydrate and moisturize the skin after shaving to soothe and calm any inflammation or irritation. Look for a lotion that contains ingredients like aloe vera, jojoba oil, and vitamin E.
Air it out
The last thing you want to do after shaving is aggravate the skin with irritating fabrics or tight clothing. Giving your skin a chance to breathe and recover will prevent ingrown hairs. Opt for cotton underwear and loose, comfortable clothes.
How often should you shave down there?
Avoid shaving more than twice a week - your skin needs time to breathe.
What’s going on down there??
If, despite your best efforts to shave properly, you get what looks suspiciously like a shaving vag rash, here are some tips to help.
If your skin looks like it’s breaking out, it’s likely folliculitis, aka razor burn. Razor burn is when bacteria gets inside your hair follicles and then gets inflamed. While unsightly and itchy as hell, razor burn usually goes away on its own within a few days. You can also avoid razor bumps by storing your razors in a clean, dry place so they don't pick up bacteria sitting around in the moisture-filled shower.
Razor burn can be soothed with tea tree oil, a natural anti-inflammatory and antiseptic, 1% hydrocortisone cream, or an ointment with vitamins A and D, and zinc oxide. If it still doesn't clear up, see your doctor for a prescription for antibiotics or a more intense cream like a topical steroid.
60% of women who shave reported ingrown hairs as the main complication from shaving. Ingrown hairs occur when dead skin cells clog up hair follicles and force the hair to curl and grow under the skin. When this happens, the body immediately goes on the defense, thinking the hair is something that it needs to fight against, which is why the skin around it is often inflamed and irritated.
Ingrown hairs can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable, especially around your vulva, but resist the urge to pick. Instead, treat it once a day with a mild toner with antiseptic and soothing properties.
If you don’t have the time or extra funds for frequent waxing appointments, shaving is a convenient hair removal method that you can do yourself on the regular, and these tips will help ensure your shave is as smooth as your skin.
Take care of down there. Muff love.