"My skin looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid that's been put through a microwave on high heat."
Good news, hirsute women! The culture is moving back to pubic hair. According to a new survey done by UK Medix, 51 percent of women are now opting out of grooming their bushes in favor of the au naturel look. With a surprising 62 percent saying their partner prefers their vagina to be covered in its natural plummage, I have to wonder if this new trend is trickling down to our bedroom talk.
Before you make a case for the decreased rate of crabs, let me remind you that pubic hair serves a biological function, as do all of our parts. Its job is to cushion us against friction that may cause injuries, protect our genitals against outside bacterias, and retain heat. Even with more permanent methods of removal, our pubic hair will always grow back to some degree.
Since the advent of the razor blade in 3,000 B.C., the standards for pube upkeep have waxed and waned, with pubic hair removal booming in Ancient Rome, laying low in the 70s, and reviving with the Brazilians of the 21st century. But the price and maintenance of keeping a pubis-a-la-mode continue to expand. So much that 45 percent of the women surveyed said they simply can’t be bothered to keep up with the demands of the modern day woman’s depilation regime.
Gentlemen, before you lament about the changing of the tides and start polishing razors for your lady friends, complaining that you don’t like going down on Chewbacca, let’s examine what, exactly, is going on during women’s hair removal routines. I spoke to some real world ladies who anonymously confided what it’s really like owning and grooming their own "Kate Bush". Men, if you’re prepared to endure all of the following yourself, by all means, groan on.
The upkeep: Nothing. You rock the 70s vibe. You shower, but you don’t touch your pubes.
What is feels like: “I’m definitely au naturel. Shaving there ALWAYS gives me decidedly unsexy ingrown hairs. The man I’m seeing also happens to LOVE it. He told me, ‘I like that you actually look like a woman, not a little girl. I want to have sex with a woman.’”
The upkeep: Scissors are a perilous weapon to wield around your precious goods, but some women dare to snip. The process is done with some barber’s scissors or regular old Fiskars, taking bits of your pubic hair (long at this point) between your fingers and trimming down. Often done above a toilet to catch the mess, the process can take a while to ensure evenness and safety.
What it feels like: “It’s like a regular haircut, except with the added bonus of kind of being absolutely terrifying because a blade is right near your clit. Sometimes the outcome is really uneven, because I’m not actually a hairdresser. Once–ugh, and this is traumatizing to even say–I accidentally snipped at one of my lips and it began to bleed. Overall, though, it’s generally painless and cheap for women who want hair but just don’t want that much.”
The upkeep: Shaving is done at home and at a fairly cheap rate (12.00 for your average package of razors). You have complete control over how much hair and what shape you want to shave your pubes into. It's best to apply a cream or lotion afterwards to avoid a rash. Also, you have to wait a few days between shaves in order for adequate hair growth to occur for the next round. Shaving near the lips of your vagina is dangerous, but some women shave inside their labia and around their anus. After shaving, some women experience shave rash, red bumps, bacterial infections, ingrown hairs, sharp pubic stubble, and itching when the hair regrows. Five o'clock pubic shadow is real. (And, pubic hair removal injuries are skyrocketing, with 83 percent coming from razors.)
What it feels like: “Avoiding painful, hideous razor burn along the bikini line is nigh impossible — it's about as rare and perfectly aligned as a solar eclipse. It's got to be the perfect combination of weather, shower steam, moisturized skin, slightly pre-grown-out hair, a fresh razor, the exact right amount of suds/shave cream, a non-irritating lotion or oil applied post-shave, and luck. And even then, it only lasts a day or two before everything grows back.”
“If I wanted to be smooth, I would have to shave twice a day. Instead I have to settle for a velvet-like fuzz.”
The upkeep: At-home waxing kits can go anywhere from $5.00 to $40.00, (and usually their effectiveness is in direct correlation to their price.) You put warm or cold wax on your pubic region, place a cotton strip over it, and then your hair is ripped out of its pore when you quickly peel away the cotton strip. You are in control of how much and where the hair is removed. The process is by and large considered to be very painful. Unlike other methods, you remain hair free for a few weeks.
What it feels like: "First time I waxed I told myself not to be too ambitious. 'You only need to do bikini line' I said. But you know, wax is sticky and if you miss your wax to designated skin line-up…there is no reset. Wherever wax lands, you gotta commit or you're in for even more pain. First I tried to delicately pull up the wax strip to move it—OH MY GOSH OUCH!. Okay, like a band aid–OUCH! Oh crap I didn't get it all the way! Why is this strip of wax so long? Finish it! ACK! Okay. Don't worry, you're a badass now. Side two next. Easy…
That also resulted in a terrible patchwork of red, irritated skin and a feeling of impending doom on what is expected of me as I grow into an adult woman. I did get better at it. And it doesn't exactly get less painful, but you spend less time in pain if you know what you're doing.”
Professional Bikini Waxing
The upkeep: Similar to an at-home wax, but these take place in salons and are administered by professionals. The esthetician most likely uses wax that's been heated to 140 degrees F and applies it to your pubic area until it hardens. Keep in mind you are half nude in front a stranger who then rips your hair follicles out with cloth strips. For just a basic clean up (a little in on the sides and the top), it's generally $15-25 plus tip. Brazilian waxes, meaning complete hair removal, can be $50 or more. Some salons say a minimum of $50 for a Brazilian and charge you based on how much hair you have.
Brazilians are incredibly more painful than normal bikini waxing, but it does leave you feeling smooth and hairless. One fun thing to note for frequent waxers: studies have proved those who regularly wax or shave put themselves at higher risk for contracting the viral skin infection Molluscum contagiosum due to the micro-trauma it causes to the skin. (Yeah, that's an STD.)
What it feels like: “I've been getting bikini waxes every 4 weeks for 6 years. I have not had one perfect wax since I've been in NYC, but I keep doing it. They really want to move you in and move you out, so I find my waxes to be uneven, like one side is waxed farther in than the other side. The worst was when the top was crooked…like obviously crooked…like how did the girl not notice or care?! I'm not uncomfortable with somebody seeing me naked or touching that area, but I think I feel a little uncomfortable saying "Hey, that looks shitty," or "Hey, you gave me a bruise because you hesitated for a second too long when you pulled the wax strip," because you know. I am laying there on my back with my pants off, and they are in close contact with my lady parts.”
Immac cream (Nair)
The upkeep: Immac creams like Nair are easily purchased at a drug store for under 10 dollars. This method is often painless, but isn’t that effective. This method involves applying the cream, waiting for a few moments, and watching as the chemicals in the product dissolve your pubic hair. A foul smell can be a byproduct of the process. Because you are dissolving hair near your family jewels, you can experience burning. Most products aren’t strong enough to dissolve very coarse hair, though.
What it feels like: “I am 24 years old and I still have genuinely no idea what I'm doing with my pubic hair. That said, I'm always doing something with it. If I shave, I get a rash. If I use a cream like Nair, I get a rash and a bunch of leftover baby hairs. I don't think I've ever once gotten my pubic hair "right”.
The upkeep: It takes anywhere from 2-10 laser treatments for the best results with treatments every 6 to 8 weeks. During a treatment, they put anesthetic cream on your pubic area, ice your vagina, and then your technician lasers each follicle until it’s dead. During the process, it stings and smells of burning hair. It takes about an hour to two hours for each round. Afterward, the lasered area should not be exposed to the sun. The average cost is $235 per session. Lasering can cause skin discoloration, may lead to eventual regrowth, and may not be suitable for women of some hair and skin colors.
What it feels like: “Lazer feels like what I imagine electroshock therapy feels like except the shock is concentrated in a super small area- each zap supposedly kills 60 hair follicles. The process takes a long time, an hour for legs, half an hour of shocking for bikini and butts, and half an hour for arms. When the process is done, my skin looks like a Cabbage Patch Kid that's been put through a microwave on high heat- bubbly, red, and sensitive to the touch.”
The upkeep: Electrolysis is the most invasive of hair removal practices. The technician takes a tiny and thin electrified metal probe and inserts it into a hair follicle. The hair follicle is shocked with electricity and eventually, hair will no longer grow from that pore for a long duration of time. The patient will most likely feel a prick or sting in each follicle during the process, as a small needle is inserted into their pubic area. Electrolysis needs to occur in several rounds, is time consuming, and very painful. Often it takes several months to complete the treatment and hundreds of dollars, depending on your follicle count.
What it feels like: This is just way too terrifying. We couldn’t find someone who actually did electrolysis on their pubic region.
Not satisfied? Those are just the most popular methods of pubic hair maintenance. There’s also Flash & Go, epilation, chocolate wax, sugaring, tweezing, anal waxing, threading, carameling, and burning. The options (and the accompanying torture and sexy feelings) are endless.
Images via Flickr.