Let’s get one thing straight: There’s no right or wrong way to wear your pubic hair. How much you have down there is a purely personal choice (there are benefits to having it, FYI).
But if you prefer to rely on shaving and trimming—with the occasional bikini wax thrown in for good measure—know that taking matters into your own hands on the regular can also mean repeating bad behavior without knowing it.
To that end, here are some common mistakes that could be making removing hair a pain in the (well, you know), along with tips on how to shave your pubic area without getting irritation or ingrowns.
1. SHAVING THE SECOND YOU GET INTO THE SHOWER.
This is a surefire way to earn yourself a raging case of razor burn. Make shaving your pubic area the last thing you do in the shower or bath instead. It’ll give your hair follicles a chance to properly soften, which lowers your risk for irritation by a lot. Exfoliate the area gently beforehand to get an even closer shave and ward off ingrown hairs.
2. NOT TRIMMING IN ADDITION TO REMOVING HAIR.
Owning a pair of grooming scissors 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). If your hair has grown longer than a quarter of an inch, trim it back before stepping into the shower. Not only will this save you time, it’ll also ward off irritation.
3. DRY SHAVING AROUND YOUR UNDERWEAR IN A RUSH.
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—shit—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 prep your skin for a razor. It’ll help ward off red bumps.
4. SHAVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.
Yes, there is a proper technique and if you don’t follow it, you can end up with some serious ingrowns. You should always shave in the direction of the hair growth and remember not to apply too much pressure. The sharp blade should be doing the work for you. Going in multiple directions with your razor can lead to cuts and those unwanted ingrown hairs. But if you must for a close shave, you can go against the growth after you’ve first gone with it—this will help minimize irritation.
5. USING YOUR REGULAR LOTION TO SOOTHE JUST-SHAVED SKIN.
Unless you’re a natural-beauty girl, 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 after-shaves, which aren’t the same thing) or use a mild natural moisturizer like aloe vera or coconut oil to hydrate and protect your skin.
6. PUTTING ON THE WRONG KIND OF UNDERWEAR WHEN YOU’RE DONE.
If you can help it, don’t reach for anything made out of lace or nylon. Soft, 100-percent 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.
7. USING SHOWER GEL AND AN OLD AF RAZOR.
Proper tools make all the difference. Use a shaving cream without heavy fragrances (like EOS Moisturizing Shave Cream, $4, target.com), 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.