"Down-there" grooming is a touchy subject ... literally. Whether you leave the hair-removal process up to the professionals or you prefer to do your own "landing strip" at home (yeah, we went there), you're probably still wondering if you've got this thing all figured out.
So we took one for the team and asked Uni K Wax founder Noemi Grupenmager and Tennessee-based licensed aesthetician Eva Hendrick the "down-there" grooming questions you've always wanted answers to, but were too afraid to ask.
Can you get a bikini wax during your period?
Yes, you can have a bikini wax during your period (though the full Brazilian may not be ideal). However, if your skin is particularly sensitive during your menstrual cycle, Grupenmager suggests avoiding a bikini wax during those days.
Are there certain "times of the month" that are best to get waxed down there?
"The best time to get waxed is on your most fertile day of your cycle because your pain tolerance is at its highest," Hendrick says.
Do men typically get their private parts waxed, and why?
"Men's grooming is very common and many men prefer a clean, polished look over going au natural," says Grupenmager. "Aside from general grooming purposes, men also get waxed when they participate in different sporting activities such as cycling, body building, swimming and many others, as a hair-free body provides for additional aerodynamics and possibly a competitive edge."
Grupenmager adds, "Waxing also elevates the senses -- men love the way their cotton pants feel against their skin. There are other benefits to manscaping as well. It adds an extra level of intimacy when you are with your partner and it looks 'bigger' when all the hair is removed. Waxing also keeps your manscaped area looking hair free for longer, up to four to six weeks."
What are the most common questions men ask when getting a professional wax?
"Male customers who have never been waxed before often ask waxers what the difference between the many bikini services offered. [They are also] interested to learn that they can wax their shoulder blades or their collar and all the other parts of the body," says Grupenmager.
Is it safe to shave every day?
Waxing is the smarter choice, according to Grupenmager, because it removes hair below skin level, immediately weakening the hair follicle so hair grows back more slowly, lightly and sparsely over time. But, if you insist on shaving over waxing, make sure you're shaving in the direction of hair growth, not against. Always use shaving cream or gel to protect skin from irritation and ingrown hairs and use a razor with a sharp blade -- dull blades cause nicks and give you an uneven shave.
Should you exfoliate before or after shaving and waxing?
If you are getting waxed "down there," exfoliation should take place 24-48 hours prior to waxing and again 24-48 hours after waxing. If you are shaving, you can exfoliate right before but you can wait longer afterwards, as this hair removal method is actually exfoliating. "Moisturize with Tend Skin (an astringent) right after waxing or shaving. Then use Tend Skin for the next three days in combination with a gentle moisturizer daily. After the three-day period, continue to moisturize and use Tend Skin as needed," Hendrick adds.
How do you avoid ingrown hairs and what should you do once you get them?
You should exfoliate regularly to avoid ingrown hairs. "When you have an ingrown hair, dab a little bit of an acne spot treatment (benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid) several times a day to help with removal. The acne spot treatment along with exfoliation is often enough to remove ingrown hairs and is one of the least painful ways to remove them," Hendrick says. Tanning lotions, alkaline cosmetics, after-shave products containing alcohol and bars of soap also leave a film on the body that could cause ingrown hairs -- stay clear of these for at least 48 hours post-grooming.
How long does the hair "down there" really need to be in order to wax or shave?
For an effective wax, Hendrick recommends the hair to be 1/4-1/2 of an inch long and no more than 1/2 of an inch for an effective shave. "Elastic wax can remove shorter hair, but the longer the hair is, the better result," Grupenmager adds.
How do you stop the irritation and itching post-waxing and shaving?
Two great ways to sooth post-waxing or shaving irritation and itching are using 1 percent hydrocortisone cream and aloe vera gel. "Aloe-based products or anything with tea tree or lavender will help soothe, heal and provide antibacterial properties," Hendrick says.
What are the cautionary signs of "down-there" grooming gone wrong?
Depending upon what went wrong with your waxing service, Grupenmager believes that will affect how you can remedy the situation. If your skin was burned from a hot and hard wax, wait until it is fully healed and definitely do not go back to that salon.
Skin lifting from waxing, which may look like a red raw spot, is definitely a red flag. Hendrick suggests applying an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin to help the spot heal. "Ingrown hairs will look like a pimple at first," she explains. "You want to make sure to get the hair out once you know it is an ingrown hair, otherwise it can turn into a painful abscess."
What is the secret to extending a great wax?
Exfoliation will only extend the wax so long. Heat stimulates hair growth so it will grow more quickly in the summer than in the winter. So Hendrick strongly urges you to keep it cool "down there." Avoid tight clothing, tanning beds, sun exposure, saunas, heavy exercise and hot baths for at least 24 hours after waxing or shaving.
This piece was originally published on November 4, 2013.
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