Before we get into the step-by-steps of how to shave down there correctly, let’s get one thing straight: There’s no right or wrong way to wear your pubic hair. How much or how little you have is a purely personal choice (and there are benefits to having it, FYI), as is your hair-removal method.
There are, of course, upsides to laser hair removal treatments and bikini waxes. But it’s always good to know how to shave your vagina—which, anatomically speaking, is technically your vulva, but we’re going to keep it colloquial here—so you can take matters into your own hands. With that control, though, comes the possibility that you may be making common shaving mistakes without even knowing it.
That’s where we come in. Scroll on for the correct steps you should be taking when shaving pubic hair, along with tips on how to shave your bikini area without getting irritation or ingrowns.
How to Shave Down There
If your hair is longer than about a quarter of an inch, trim it down as short as you can before getting in the shower. This will both save you time when you shave but will also prevent razor burn and ingrown hairs.
Want to know how to shave your vag without getting stubble? It may seem extra, but the key is taking time to exfoliate. Using a washcloth, loofah, or gentle scrub, exfoliate the skin on your bikini line and around your vulva.
“If you’re prone to razor bumps and irritation, you may want to exfoliate the area beforehand to ensure that the hair can come cleanly out,” says Dendy Engelman, M.D., a dermatologist in NYC. This will help remove any dead skin, which can build up in your razor and lead to irritation. Just be sure not to pick a heavy-duty scrub, since that can actually increase irritation. Instead, look for a gentle, unfragranced product made specifically for your body.
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Make sure your skin is damp but not sopping wet—otherwise the shaving cream can slip off your skin. It’s better to use shave gel instead of soap or body wash since it’s specifically formulated to give razors a gentle glide.
“In general, it’s best to use a sharp razor blade and shaving cream on all areas of your body to obtain the closest shave,” says New York dermatologist Elyse Love, M.D. “This is particularly important for sensitive skin, such as the underarms and bikini line, as these areas can develop irritation with shaving if proper care isn’t taken.” Need a new favorite? Check out our list of the best shaving creams for women.
Using a fresh, clean razor (like one of these best razors for women), pull your skin taut and shave in the direction that your hair grows. Going in multiple directions with your razor can lead to cuts and serious ingrowns. Remember not to apply too much pressure. The sharp blade should be doing the work for you. If you do need to make a second pass for a closer shave, you can go against the growth after you’ve first gone with it—this will help minimize irritation.
Make sure you’re rinsing the razor blade between strokes, as any pieces of stuck hair or shaving cream buildup can prevent it from working as well. (Remember, never, ever use your fingers to pull out anything stuck in your razor; otherwise, you risk cutting yourself. The water pressure from your faucet or shower should do the trick.)
Once you’re done, gently rinse away all shaving cream with warm water, and pat dry with a clean towel.
Here’s another step you may be used to skipping but can make all the difference: Be sure to moisturize postshave. Your skin will be dry from all the exfoliation, so rehydrate it with an unscented lotion.
Tips to Prevent Razor Bumps on Your Vagina
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Now that you’ve got the basics down about how to shave your pubic area, read on for a few more pointers that’ll help you prevent ingrowns and razor burn while you’re removing hair. (Be sure to check out our list of more general shaving tips as well.)
Whipping out your razor as soon as you get in the shower is practically asking for a raging case of razor burn. Instead, make shaving your pubic hair the very last thing you do. It’ll give your hair follicles a chance to properly soften, which lowers your risk for irritation by a lot.
Proper tools make all the difference. Use a shaving cream without heavy fragrances, and leave it on the area for a minute or two to soften the hairs. Then pick up a fresh razor and get the job done. (These are our current favorites of the moment.) Using one that’s old and worn out will at best be inefficient and, at worst, give you a rash or razor burn.
Owning a pair of grooming scissors or a bikini area trimmer will help you not only trim back the hair you’re not looking to shave off, but will also get you ready for a big shave if it’s been a while (if you recently had a baby, you might know what we’re talking about here).
We’ve all been there: You get an impromptu invite to the beach or are rushing to get ready for a date and you realize—eff—you need to shave. So you prop your leg up on the sink and quickly take care of business. At the very least, take a few minutes to press a hot washcloth against the area you want to shave in order to soften the hairs and use a shaving cream to protect your skin. It’ll help ward off red bumps.
Chances are your favorite body lotion is loaded up with fragrances that can irritate freshly shaved skin. Buy a product that’s specifically geared to soothe the area (be careful of men’s aftershaves, which aren’t the same thing) or use a mild natural moisturizer like aloe vera to hydrate and protect your skin.
If you can help it, don’t reach for anything made out of lace or nylon. Soft, 100% cotton underwear that doesn’t have tight elastic bands around the leg openings is ideal. It’ll give your skin a chance to breathe and recover, preventing ingrown hairs in the process.
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