September 15, 2018 3:32 PM
As if it needs to be said, the full bush is back. But the au naturale look is far more than a fad or trend resurrected from the ’70s. For many women in 2018, body hair has inherent social implications that run the gamut from more newfound self-love to fighting the patriarchy.
While Lillian Tung and Laura Schubert, cofounders of the pubic hair and skin company Fur, firmly believe that how much or little hair a women chooses to keep down there—or anywhere else—is a personal decision, they do agree that online platforms such as Instagram are furthering the conversation around letting it grow out. “With the rise of social media as a ‘filterless’ platform, women are becoming more comfortable discussing [their] body hair,” they explain. And Bea Feliu-Espada, founder of feminine-care brand The Honey Pot, also sees a correlation with shifting beauty ideals. “I think the strong movement towards body acceptance and positivity that has been swelling up for the past few years includes embracing your pubic hair in its natural state,” says Feliu-Espada.
It’s a pivotal shift that New York City–based holistic ob-gyn Dr. Eden Fromberg, who has observed fuller hair down below in her patients over the past few years, believes is a long time coming. “Women are becoming increasingly aware that our bodies are a lot more than the visual or sexual playthings that past cultural norms implied,” she says. “We want to express our diversity and power, live our preferences, and feel comfortable in our own bodies without judgement.” And just as important to Fromberg as shattering stereotypes is getting the point across that pubic hair isn’t dirty or unhygienic. “Pubic hair exists to protect our delicate areas and encourages a diverse and often quite healthy microbiome, which keeps us in balance while preventing infection,” she continues.
And while forgoing regular waxing or shaving for the first time in a long time can be liberating, it can also be uncharted territory for many women. From minimal grooming to gentle cleansing, here the experts weigh in on how to maintain the natural look.
Invest in Trimmer Scissors
While a buzzer for your bikini line can be handy, Fromberg recommends cutting pubic hair with small trimming scissors (“Not a scissor that you use to cut paper or things in the kitchen!” she cautions), as well as sterilizing the blades beforehand with alcohol. For better results, use a magnifying mirror, and if the hair is long enough, a fine-tooth comb can help hold it in place as you trim. If you prefer to shave simply to neaten the area, do so with a natural shaving cream, like Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Soap, and be sure to disinfect the blade with a toner infused with witch hazel afterwards.
Exfoliate to Treat and Prevent Ingrown Hairs
Ingrown hairs can be par for the course no matter how you wear your pubic hair. “When it comes to keeping ingrowns at bay, exfoliation in the shower works wonders,” say Tung and Schubert. Fur’s Ingrown Concentrate is infused with moisturizing coconut oil and antibacterial tea tree oil to help banish bumps; it comes with an exfoliating finger mitt to help lift dead skin and trapped oil in special spots. For extra care outside of the shower, you can also massage the area with Cap Beauty’s Bikini Dry Brush to boost circulation and speed up any needed healing.
Cleanse Gently—But Not Too Much
“When you grow out your pubic hair, a healthy cleansing regimen is important as you may have more issues with sweating and hair can trap odor and bacteria,” says Feliu-Espada. She advises using a gentle pH-balanced feminine wash free of artificial fragrance, parabens, and sulfates, such as The Honey Pot’s Feminine Wash Sensitive. “Avoid soaping up your vulva, labia, or inside your vagina, which can cause drying and irritation,” says Fromberg.
Nourish and Soften the Hair
“Cutting and shaving pubic hair will make the ends feel more scratchy and bristly in texture, so [one of] the benefits of leaving pubic hair long is that it feels soft,” says Fromberg. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the texture even silkier. Fur Oil is a cult favorite among many women—including Emma Watson—with its quick-drying grape seed, anti-inflammatory clary sage seed, and strand-softening jojoba oils, as well as its light citrus scent.
Let the Area Breathe
Another benefit of pubic hair is that it protects the skin against irritation from uncomfortable fabrics. That said, airing it out is important too. “Avoid tight clothing and let your pubic area breathe after a long day or sweaty workouts,” says Fromberg. And to that end, stay away from moisture-retaining synthetic fabrics and opt for organic cotton underwear, such as Skin’s organic cotton boy short briefs. A few adjustments to your regimen aside, you’ll find: The more pubic hair, the less to worry about.