If you want to make a difference and help others while learning about sexual health and keeping yourself safe, then you need to join SMART Youth! You can come to any of our events around the city or come to one of our movie nights or Open Mic events. Check out our schedule to learn what we are doing or e-mail

Friday, October 17, 2014

SMART Youth Answers: To Wax or Not to Wax – That is the Question

Okay, so waxing had nothing to do with the life question Hamlet was grappling with, but it’s something that many of us have thought about, especially relating to pubic hair. There are multiple debates, both in the bedroom and publically, as to whether we should let it be au naturale or if we should groom it to some degree (trimming or complete hair removal). 

We, especially women, are constantly bombarded with messages from the media about how we should maintain our private gardens, but are any of them valid? Is there a ‘correct’ way to upkeep our pubic hair?

The History

Worrying about our pubic hair is not as new as we may think. Actually, the practice has been around for thousands of years! In the Middle East and other areas with hot climates, it was common hygienic or religious practice for both women and men to remove their body hair.

Flash forward to modern times – Removing hair from the bikini line became trendy in the United Sates during the 1940’s, when bathing suit bottoms became more revealing. It wasn’t until the mid-90’s that the practice of waxing all of your pubic hair became a trend. It was introduced by the Brazilian J.Sisters who opened a salon in NYC in 1987 and popularized by an episode of Sex in the City where Carrie Bradshaw went to get a Brazilian wax. 

Today, removing pubic hair is almost seen as the norm. It’s common to see many salons offering the service, and many people also trim/remove their pubic hair at home. Although women receive the most messages about how to maintain their pubic hair, this is not only a women’s concern. There is a rising trend in men also trimming or removing their pubic hair, also called “manscaping.”

Types of Hair Removal

There tend to be three categories in which people generally style their pubic hair:
  • Natural – This is when the pubic hair is left untouched
  • Trimmed – This is when the pubic hair is cut to a shorter length, but not removed,
  • Shaped/Removed – This is when the pubic hair is removed either completely from the area, or is shaped depending on your preference. This can range from removing just the hair on your “bikini line”, to going completely bare.

Methods of Hair Removal

There are many ways you can trim or remove pubic hair. Each technique yields different results, as well as has its own pros and cons.

Shaving: This is when you use a razor to cut hair down to the skin. While shaving is one of the easiest and cheapest ways of hair removal (you can do it yourself in the shower!), it only cuts the hair off, meaning your hair will grow back at its normal rate. Shaving also means that the hair is cut off bluntly, which not only makes your hair feel courser and prickly when it grows back, but also puts you at greater risk for ingrown hairs.

Waxing/Sugaring: This is when a very tacky paste, such as hot wax, is spread across and quickly pulled from the skin, removing the hair from its root (follicle). Because the hair is removed from the root, it slows the rate the hair will grow back. The hair also grows back softer because it’s not cut. This method is not only costly, but is also painful because the pubic area is very sensitive. It is best to get it done professionally.

Depilatories: This is a chemical paste that removes the hair by dissolving it. It’s a fairly easy, painless, and inexpensive process. Since harsh chemicals are used, it’s very important to read the directions on any depilatory product…especially because the pubic area is sensitive. Only use depilatories that are specifically for pubic hair removal.

Long term/Permanent Removal: There are two methods of long term hair removal. Laser hair removal involves removing hair by pulsating laser light onto the hair follicle and destroying the root. This allows hair growth to be slower and slower over time, although not permanent. On the other hand, electrolysis is the only permanent hair removal technique, given that it actually destroys the hair cells responsible for growth. Both procedures are painful and extremely expensive, so they’re recommended for smaller areas on the body.

The Great Debate

For as many people who are fans of pubic hair grooming, there are just as many who are not. There are multiple arguments for and against grooming. Some believe that it is most hygienic to be “bare down there”, with people crediting pubic hair removal for the eradication of pubic lice. Others believe that removing all of your pubic hair is wrong because it perpetuates “porn culture.” Many people feel that the porn industry is responsible –through the way they display women’s labia in porn scenes – for convincing both men and women that having no pubic hair is more attractive, which creates a beauty standard.

There are multiple reasons for why people choose or don’t choose to keep or remove their pubic hair, but you should never feel that you have to do anything to your pubic hair – let alone any part of your body – to please someone or to follow a trend. If you think it is right for you, you can access safety tips for shaving and waxing linked here and here.

Do what’s right and comfortable for you. Your choice to wax, shave, or trim is just as valid as your choice not to; and that’s what it is, YOUR choice!

No comments: