The down-low on pubic hair

Pubic hair is both a blessing and a curse. Pubes can get pretty wild, sometimes going down your inner thighs and up your bum crack, though where your hair grows is dependent entirely on your genes.

Rest assured that your mother and her mother no doubt all had the same problems that you’re having, though they probably didn’t try half as hard to get rid of it as you might.

Some ladies are lucky enough to have a tidy muff that doesn’t go halfway up their back or down their legs straight from puberty, however these women are like Pamela Anderson’s body: rare in nature.

Modern styling means that less has become more with pubes, though this appears to be changing as the tides are wont to do.

No matter if bushy is in season or not, there is still pruning to do, because no doubt ‘bushy’ means ‘bushy in front with a clean crack and sides’. You know how this goes. There are always rules (that you can make and break at will).

Pubic styling guide
Bush is making a comeback

In women, coarse hair grows on your ‘mons’ (the pubic bone) and outside lips (labia majora), plus possibly creeping onto the thighs, deep in the crack of your butt around your anus, and even on your buttocks or creating the infamous snail trail up the stomach.

Why you might want to keep some pubic hair

Pubic hair protects your vagina and vulva from damage during sex, particularly from friction, so if you like to get it on vigorously or often, try keeping a patch – it really works.

Anyone who’s ever shaved themselves a Brazilian, then a day or two later had a reasonable amount of sex, will remember the red, sore, inflamed result of going against the new, stubby grain. It’s hot to the touch, and not in a good way.

If you want to get rid of all or most of it and don’t mind if it’s forever, laser is the best option because it removes the hair in a long-lasting fashion. Laser hair removal is not permanent, because it just damages hair follicles, which can repair or reappear, but it does a good job.

Laser hair removal alleviates issues when it grows back like ingrown hairs, and although it is expensive if you are really broke, it isn’t going to break the bank if you are on a reasonable full-time wage. You have to pay for the eight or so sessions you need to get your smooth mons.

You just have to think about how much you’ll save in razors, waxing, or whatever else you’re using for it to be worth it, but it’s a personal thing. The red, infected bumps left by just about everything else surely make a mess of your muff and encourage better solutions.

If you are not in for permanence, don’t do treat your pubes this way, or just do around the edges of your bikini line where you are far less likely to want to grow a bush back.

There are limits to the bush, and bikini-toting ladies generally prefer the lawn to be mowed around the edges. Trimming with scissors or better yet, electric hair clippers, is a great option.

What your partner thinks of your pubic hair

Pubic hair follows whatever is in fashion. Ever checked out porn from the 70s? Those ladies have the most magnificent muffs! Huge, unabashed bushels of pubes that hide all the actual physicality of their vulva; you can’t see anything but hair.

You’ll also notice that these ladies are not perfect size skinny, nor do they have breast implants or perfect teeth. They were, at the time, the epitome of sexiness, and the very same men who now claim to only like smooth puss would cut off their right arm to bury their face in it and be received, graciously, by this lady.

Bush preferences are fashionable, and yes, they will change again many times. You just wait. As fashions change, so does our cultural perception of what is sexually attractive.

Porn has had a massive influence on the way us ladies do our muffs, for lots of reasons, but credit where credit is due: they are muff pioneers, those porn star ladies.

What’s interesting about the shedding of pubic hair is a new interest in (and fear of) the almighty labia, which have been more often under attack from surgeons’ knives. Nobody even knew what was under all that hair before, but now, it’s all dangling out for everyone to see and taste.

The reviews have been mixed, but remember – it’s fashion, and our beauty standards change all the time. (We delve into this more in our labiaplasty article.)

Your partner may have an opinion about how you ‘do’ your pubes (and in fact the shape of your labia), but at the end of the day, it’s your muff, and you can do what you want with it.

You can’t change the shape of your labia without surgery, but you can make your vag look its best with some pube stylin’. If someone finds you less sexy because of your muff design, then they are way too fussy and need to be more grateful that someone wants to have sex with them.

If they find you sexier than ever, great, but don’t be scared to try new things! There are a thousand and one ways to do a muff. This brings us to the humble merkin…

Boardwalk Empire merkins
Actress on Boardwalk Empire wears a merkin

Pubic wigs

Our prostitute friends in the dark ages used to shave their muffs off and use a pubic wig, the hilarious merkin, to stave off the lice and hide their syphilis.

Now you can buy pubic wigs online, with or without the syphilis. Movie stars also wear merkins on screen, including Kate Winslet in her Oscar-winning role in The Reader.

Apparently she tried to grow her own bush out, but after years of waxing, it just wouldn’t.

Pubic hair styles
Kate Winslet wears a merkin

Another merkin was used in Boardwalk Empire for a female corpse, because at the time this great bush would have been the way the ladies wore their pubic hair.

The merkin also protects TV and film producers from having to apply certain ratings that prohibit ‘exposed female genitalia’ (too despicable for words!), such as in Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay at the party where all the girls are naked from the waist down, wearing multicoloured merkins.

The way our hair grows and how this affects its removability

The hair shafts of different ethnicities present their own challenges: Asian and Native American women’s hair shafts are round, Caucasians’ egg-shaped, and black women’s pubic hair shafts are elliptical.

Each hair erupts out of a little follicle that contains oil glands, making it very easy to inflame a follicle if you run over with a razor (especially dry shaving), rip it off with wax or burn it with laser, which is unfortunately easier to do to elliptical hair shafts due to the shape, making black women great candidates for rocking the mega-bush.

Irritating a hair follicle results in red bumps that may be painful or itchy or both (shaving rash), and makes it much easier to have ingrown hair. Ingrown hair is simply the hair stub growing up folded under the skin instead of popping outside of it, and can be picked out with tweezers before it causes inflammation and infection.

(How to remove an ingrown hair from your bikini line)

Dying your pubic hair

Pubic hair goes grey too, and some women prefer to dye it. This doesn’t come with a high recommendation just because the ability for your body to absorb poisons from dye is much greater in areas with exposed mucous membranes, such as your vulva.

But if you want it, ask your beautician if they do it. They are trained professionals and can see better than you can where they are putting the dye. You can also do it at home, but be really careful – getting dye into your vag won’t be much fun.

Shaving pubic hair

Just like sex, always use lubrication: soap, oil, shaving cream. You need to smooth the follicles so you avoid taking the top skin off them, causing irritation and shaving rash (small red bumps which are actually the tops nipped off your skin cells).

Some people say to shave only in the direction that hair grows to avoid pulling the follicle open and ripping the top off with the razor, but this is very hard when you have a lathered muff growing in all directions (and is less satisfying as a shaving technique), so just do whatever works for your particular muff and gives you the results you’re after.

Use a good quality women’s razor because disposables will tear you to shreds. A good quality razor is worth the money. Have good lighting, something to rest your foot on, and be careful!

There is often some nicks or cuts, and they’ll heal. (Check out how to treat vulvar cuts and tears if it goes sideways.)

Hair-removal creams

Hair-removal cream has come a long way, baby, and now you can get creams and gels that take only minutes to work and you can use them in the shower, sponging them off.

Hair-removal cream works by dissolving the protein structure of the hair, allowing it to come off the skin easily, though some environmental questions must be asked.

Washing this poison that can dissolve hair down the sink, which then ends up in the sea at some point, can’t be good. Use at your discretion.

Some issues with depilatory creams are irritation and chemical burns, as they are quite toxic, so if you are sensitive, do a patch test before smothering your vulva or crack in it. Don’t use on cuts or abrasions, because it’ll hurt, and do not get any inside your vagina.

Waxing your pubic hair

When you first start waxing, it really hurts when they rip your hair out of your labia, but as they promise, the hair grows back less as the years pass and it becomes less painful, though this does actually take years, so don’t expect it to taper off anytime soon after you start.

Hair growth tapers off anyway, so it’s not really the waxing that does it alone, but age too. Waxing lasts longer than shaving or creams, but it still needs doing every 3-6 weeks, depending how fast your hair grows, and unless you are a brave and flexible soul and can do it yourself, you’ll have to pay someone else to do it.

This can add up, but is a nice luxury – visiting a salon and having an intimate experience with someone you trust, and walking out with a very tidy muff can feel very nice indeed.

If you wax, you also need to exfoliate regularly, because you are ripping the whole hair out, the new hair can grow up underneath the skin (ingrown hair).

The best time to wax is when you are ovulating, because your pain tolerance (due to oestrogen) is higher than other times. Around your period (both pre and post, when oestrogen is low) is hormonally speaking, for your pain tolerance, the worst time to get it done.


Electrolysis for hair removal
Electrolysis on the bikini line

This is somewhat old-fashioned now that laser beams exist, and works by inserting a needle into the hair follicle (or more recently, using electric tweezers) that electrocutes the root of the hair, killing it.

It used to be done all the time for bikini lines, but now laser is preferable if you have the right skin tone and hair colour, but, laser doesn’t work for everyone. Electrolysis is not pain free.

Electrologists may need a licence, as they are using needles that can pass diseases (but don’t), electricity and need to be careful. Find a good one who has hygiene at the top of their list of important stuff to advertise. Can work better than laser for light skin and hair that laser won’t work for.

Laser hair removal of pubic hair

Laser hair removal is getting less and less expensive as time goes by, and more beauticians become trained and buy the big machines. You need contrasting colours such as darker hair and lighter skin for laser to work the best, though your beautician will be able to tell you if she can work on your hair and skin tone.

Laser hair removal machines are getting more and more high-tech and better at all skin tones and types. The laser hair removal treatment usually feels like a rubber band ping, but pain depends on the hair removal laser used. Some women find the experience excruciating whereas others hardly feel a thing.

Ask your laser hair removal practitioner what to expect. Your hair will probably grow back a little bit, but it’s more like a light fluff and is often sporadic. It’s a great long-term option even for just the bikini line and butt crack, and any thigh stragglers.

You can also consider this for legs, armpits, and really anywhere you have hair you don’t want it. One of the best parts about being a woman is enjoying styling your muff.

Happy muff styling!

Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)