Public opinion on pubic hair has come a long way since the Renaissance. Back then, south-of-the-border fuzz was thought to be so uncivilized, women used depilatories formulated with
arsenic to remove it. (The directions, according to a 1532 recipe: "Wash quickly with hot water so the flesh doesn't come off.") Those times, in the best interest of everyone's skin, are luckily behind us.
Today, the pendulum has
swung in the opposite direction. Plenty of celebrities, from Emma Watson to Amber Rose to Ashley Graham, have addressed growing a bush like it's casual dinner party talk. We support whatever you choose to do down there, but if you're ready to go au naturale and want a bit more guidance beyond just "grow it out," stick around.
On the road from bare to bush, you might experience ingrowns, irritation, and chafing along the way — the storm before the pubic hair rainbow, if you will — but with the advice of Jodi Shays of
Queen Bee Salon & Spa, you'll be embracing the style in no time. Read This Next: We Wore "Vagina Lipstick" & It Made Everyone Uncomfortable Shaving My Face Is One Of The Worst Things I've Done For Beauty Why Hair Removal For Trans Women Isn't Just About Vanity
The first step, from the department of
duh: Stop shaving, waxing, or doing any other form of hair removal and just let nature do its thing. It's worth noting that your preferred method of removal will likely affect the way your hair grows. (Shaving can lead to thicker stubble, Shays says; lasers and waxing might cause it to grow in spotty or uneven patches.)
"It's like a haircut — you just have to get through the grow-out phase," Shays says. "There's the frustration of not being able to put your hair in a ponytail, but you have to [remember] that one day, you will get there." To help speed up the process, you can also take hair-stimulating vitamins, which some people swear promotes growth of
all your hair.
Not only are these colorful gummy bears
utterly delicious, each one packs a 5 mg of biotin, plus folic acid and vitamin C, punch — which, while not confirmed by the FDA, seems to have the brand's 1.6 million followers on Instagram convinced. Sugar Bear Hair Hair Vitamins, $29.99, available at Sugar Bear Hair.
Worried about overdoing it with the sugary gummies (
we've been there)? You can also get your biotin in natural pill supplements. Natrol Biotin, $6.99, available at Drugstore.com.
Razor burn can make the grow-out process especially brutal if you don't treat it before things get too hairy. "If the skin was chafed after shaving, the hair will grow out onto sensitive skin," Shays says, so you have to be especially careful. The first order of business: Reach for soothing potions, stat. "You're looking for anything that will help calm the skin down with ingredients like oatmeal or aloe vera," she says. "Make sure there's no perfume in it."
When you find your formula, just be mindful you're only smearing the concoction on the outer skin. "You never want to put anything anywhere there's a membrane," Shays warns.
"Anti-fungal creams can help with itching, because it's warmer down there," Shays says. "There are different jock itch ones that are great for chafing." This one, from Gold Bond, is her husband's go-to.
Gold Bond Rapid Relief Anti-Itch Cream, $3.82, available at Target.
If you need something stronger, try an anti-inflammatory cortisone cream. Just make sure to mix it with soothing aloe vera or a fragrance-free lotion to dilute it, Shays advises, since you don't want to apply too much of a steroid to the sensitive area.
CeraVe Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, $6.99, available at Walgreens.
R29 senior beauty editor Alix Tunell likes
putting on sheet masks post-wax. Tip: Just make sure to avoid ones that pack a retinoid or powerful alpha/beta hydroxy acids. Dermovia Lace Your Face Chamomile Calming Compression Facial Mask, $15, available at Nordstrom.
Ingrown hairs are the bane of anyone who's ever gotten a wax, but there's one surefire way to fight 'em. "You should be exfoliating every day anyway, but the bikini line area tends to get ignored," she says. Whatever you do,
don't pick. Step away from the tweezers and pick up a sugar scrub, salicylic acid toner, or an on-the-go exfoliating pad. For the especially adventurous, you can also opt to get a "vajacial."
Shay's recommendation: These gycolic- and- salicylic acid-loaded pads. "It's truly wonderful because the glycolic works to strip the dead skin away and the salicylic clears out the bacteria from the [hair] follicles. It's a glorified acne pad, but we use it for everything."
Queen Bee Buzz Off Bumps, $24, available at Queen Bee Salon & Spa.
This little sister to
Anthony's Ingrown Hair Treatment has all the AHAs and BHAs to keep your bikini area smooth, plus a soothing complex that calms irritation. Shaveworks The Cool Fix, $26, available at Sephora.
Now, for the most uncomfortable part of the process: the inevitable itchy phase. Hair, when it first sprouts, can come in a bit stubbly and poke the surrounding skin. A good rule of thumb? Give your nether regions as much breathing room as possible. "The looser the clothing during grow-out, the better," Shays says. "Synthetic fibers like the tight, micro-pants you'd wear spinning can lock in moisture and trap sweat, bacteria, and dirt, [which will] obviously make irritation worse."
That means it's probably in your best interest to skip the ballerina costume or anything remotely close to
Ruth's get-up from Netflix's Glow should you be growing out your pubic hair around Halloween. Switch to 100% cotton panties. And if you can't quite fight the urge to itch, "there's no real answer other than to clip your nails down," Shays laughs.
"This is key," Shays says. Softening the hair and skin underneath at every phase ensures less itching, and a smoother process overall. Just make sure to stay away from conventional hair products, since they can mess with your vulva's natural pH balance. "Buy a men's beard oil with natural ingredients," she says. "Whichever one tickles your fancy... pardon the pun."
Emma Watson, who shared her
eco-friendly beauty musts with Into The Gloss, claimed this pubic hair oil was an "amazing all-purpose product." Fur Pubic Hair Oil, $44, available at Fur.
If you opt to use a regular moisturizer for the hairs, you want make sure it's a gentle formula. "I always tell my clients to use the Aveeno brand because it has oatmeal in it, which is both moisturizing and calming," Shays says. "Slap it on if you ever have razor burn, too."
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $2.97, available at Target.
Going au natural doesn't mean you have to let it go completely — you don't have to totally forgo maintenance, unless you want to. If things are getting a little too wild down there, take some time to landscape. Pick up an at-home trimmer to keep it neat or create your preferred shape. You can also book an appointment with your waxer and just have her take a little bit off the sides. (Most salons offer discounted rates for touch-ups.)
If you already tossed your razor, this trimmer from Schick gives you both.
Schick Hydro Silk Women's Trimstyle Razor Handle With Bikini Trimmer, $13.97, available at Walmart.
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