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These tips will make manscaping as painless as possible
You wouldn’t whack your way through a forest’s uncharted territory without devising a strategy first. So the same should apply to clearing the path to your private parts: That thick thatch of hair is sprouted atop sensitive terrain, where even the slightest misstep can send you to a world of hurt.
In fact, emergency room-worthy injuries sustained while manscaping pubic hair spiked 5-fold over an 8-year period, finds a study in the journal Urology. These included painful things like cuts, rashes, scrapes, and abscesses.
So before you take the pube-free plunge, follow these seven tricks to safely groom your own crown jewels. We bet you’ll clean up like royalty.
1. DON’T MULTITASK WITH YOUR TOOLS
If you’re trimming, use a pair of scissors designated solely for your short-and-curlies. That means the pair you employed to snip a stray hair on your head—or, even worse, to cut lettuce in the kitchen—must not venture below the belt.
“There are certain bacteria and yeast that live in your groin area, and you don’t want to spread these to other parts of your body,” says Anthony Rossi, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Otherwise, this can cause fungi, like jock itch or ringworm, to spread.
Before you start snipping, wipe down your scissors with rubbing alcohol, and give your hands and your manhood a good scrub down. This will help create a sterile environment so you’ll be less likely to develop an infection.
2. LAY THE GROUNDWORK
Nearly 50 percent of women prefer their partner to be either totally or partially hair-free, found a 2014 study from Indiana University. If you want to take the plunge yourself, it’s important to set the stage the right way.
You don’t want to start by taking your razor directly to your lush, luxurious bush—that wouldn’t be a pleasant experience, says Dr. Rossi. Whacking back an untamed hedgerow can cause skin irritations like razor burn, itching, or stubble. And when long, stubborn hairs snag on your razor blade, it can cause seriously painful cuts.
“If your hair is long to start, trim before shaving using clippers,” says Dr. Rossi. “Since pubic hairs are coarser and have more curl to them, it’s easier for the hair to curl back into the skin and cause an ingrown hair.”
Trim to a short length, but not at the skin surface—about 1/16 of an inch. This will allow you to keep your hair well manicured easily with clippers and avoid potential ingrown hairs.
3. GET WET—AND HOT
Shaving your pubes when they’re dry is a bad idea. Instead, wait to manscape until after you’ve taken a hot shower. That will make the process smoother and less abrasive, meaning you’ll be less likely to cause some nicks, says Dr. Rossi.
Shaving after a shower is helpful because the warm temperature allows your skin to soften, and loosens dirt and oils. Plus, the water will help naturally lubricate the area and prevent hairs from pulling, Dr. Rossi says.
But lathering up with your regular old bar soap won’t cut it, either. You need to use a shave gel, which is more moisturizing. Look for alcohol-free gels that contain aloe, says Dr. Rossi. These can help prevent irritating your delicate parts.
4. SHAVE THE RIGHT WAY
If your grooming goal is to get smooth, you’ll need to shave in the direction of hair growth, not against the grain, says Dr. Rossi. Look which way your hair is pointing toward and shave smooth, even strokes that same way.
This will help you avoid the dreaded after-shave stubble and trapped ingrown hairs. The method is also less likely to cause irritation or bumps, since your razor won’t be tugging hairs in a direction they aren’t used to going.
5. USE EXTRA CAUTION ON YOUR BALLS
It’s no surprise that taking a razor to your balls requires a little more TLC. Your scrotum and shaft in particular are prone to many skin folds and grooves, which can easily be nicked or cut.
In fact, those areas have been proven to trap huge amounts of bacteria—when you shave them, even a minor cut or laceration can cause bacteria to get inside there, says Brian Steixner, M.D., Director of the Institute of Men’s Health at Jersey Urology Group in Atlantic City. This can very easily cause cellutitis, abscesses, and something called Fournier gangrene. (You really don’t want to look this up. Trust us.)
So you’ll want to be extra careful down there. Use your non-dominant hand to pull your skin taut before you go to town with razors, trimmers, and scissors, Dr. Rossi says. This will smooth out the area and make a slip less likely.
And to be sure you’re hitting all your tricky angles, try standing over a portable mirror in a well-lit bathroom.
6. CLEAN UP A CUT
Even if you’re super careful, you can still get a nick down below. In fact, according to a 2012 study from the University of California at San Francisco, cuts were the most common injury sustained during pubic hair grooming that sent people to the emergency room.
If you accidentally slip up, don’t panic. “Make sure to clean the area thoroughly with soap and warm water, as well as alcohol,” says Dr. Rossi. If you’re dealing with just a superficial cut, apply pressure with a damp piece of toilet paper so your cut can clot. Hold firm pressure on the bleeding area for 10 to 15 minutes without peeking; this should stop all minor bleeding.
If bleeding doesn’t stop after 15 minutes, or if blood appears to be pulsating from your cut, call your doctor. A deep cut may require stitches to close the gash.
7. FINISH THE JOB WITH MOISTURIZER
It’s common to feel irritation or a must-scratch-it-now! sensation after shaving. “That’s caused by the sensitive nature of the skin down there, as well as the curved nature of the hair follicle,” explains Dr. Rossi.
You can prevent that prickly feeling with a good dose of post-shave moisturizer. Look for a soothing lotion that contains aloe or camphor—this will help reduce the itching and ease irritation, he says.
But if those problems persist for several days or more, you might have folliculitis—an inflamed hair follicle—or a bacterial or fungal infection. Visit a dermatologist, who can ID your condition and prescribe possible treatments like steroid or antibacterial creams.