Body Hair Part Two: My Removal Strategies

Here’s a follow-up to this post about the politics of body hair among women. As it turns out, you folks ARE interested in how I deal with my own, copious amounts of fuzz.

As always, what works for me may not work for you. You may not want to do some or all of these things, you may not want to invest the time or money, you may think it all sounds positively loony. And that’s just fine. To each her own, as always. I am someone who prefers the aesthetic, feel, and sensitive-skin-related serenity of keeping certain areas hair-free, and this is how I handle my routines. I am responding to queries about my own behaviors, not attempting to make judgment calls about how others deal with hair removal, growth, or maintenance.

All righty? Here we go:

I have had laser hair removal treatments

I started getting big, black hairs on my areolas in college after I switched my birth control meds. And initially, I plucked them. Wow, people, did that ever hurt. Plus when they grew back they were ingrown and zit-like and it was just awful all around. So around the time I moved to Minneapolis in 2000, I did my first laser hair removal treatments for those babies and for my chin. About six years after that, I plunked down several grand for treatments on my legs, and several years later did some sporadic treatments on bikini line, lower belly, and armpits. I am a terrific candidate for laser since I have pale skin and dark hair. My understanding is that the lasers target contrast, so women with pale hair and pale skin or dark hair and dark skin have a tougher time of it.

Was it painful? Yes. A bit like someone snapping a large rubber band against your skin. Was it 100% effective? No. I still have gobs of hair. Was it worth it? OH HELL YES. At least, to me. Most body hair growth is hormonally fueled, so laser hair treatments will never eradicate all hairs forever and ever amen. But they can drastically reduce growth rate and number of hairs. And that has been the case for me. And since my alternatives were to grow out my body hair and be itchy and uncomfortable, or shave frequently and be covered in a horrible razor-burn rash, I feel I chose wisely.

When I got my legs done, I already had my large green calf tattoo and tattooed areas cannot be laser treated. (It’ll burn the heck out of you anywhere you’ve got ink.) So every week, I observe a little personal control group: The hair on my tattoo grows back immediately, thick, dark, and copiously. The hair on the rest of my leg is slow to grow back, sparse, and a bit lighter. The difference is astonishing. You can read more about my experiences with and thoughts on laser hair treatments here.

I stay the hell away from waxes and creams

Since I have extremely sensitive, acne-prone skin encasing my entire personage, waxes, depilatory creams, and anything chemical-y is bad news for me. I’ll admit I’ve never done professional waxing, and I might give it a try someday. But I have my doubts that it’ll go well. My skin just hates … stuff. I’m better off with methods that don’t involve any kind of goop that might clog my incredibly cloggable pores.

IΒ get my eyebrows threaded

Syreeta is amazing, and I go see here every couple of months. Threading causes some minor irritation around my brows, but nothing compared to the mayhem of waxing.

I trim the bush about once per month

Designated scissors and a bit of topiary action is all I need. ‘Nuff said.

I shave my legs and pitsΒ every couple of months

Yep, that’s right. The joys of laser hair removal mean I don’t get visible hair growth in either area unless I let it go for eight weeks or more. They still appear, and around eight weeks they’re mighty long, so I do shave occasionally. But I feel very lucky – and happy – that I don’t have to do it often. My tattoo gets super hairy, but I mostly ignore it. Or wear boots.

I shave my chin nearly every day

The laser removal helped with my ladybeard for many years, but in the end my hormones won that battle. Plucking my chin hairs is incredibly painful and causes ingrowns, so I shave. It’s kind of hilarious to look in the mirror each morning and feel like my dad, but it works. Well, it mostly works. If you get out the magnifying glass, you’ll see the little black dots even moments after I’ve shaved. But let’s make a deal: Don’t do that. OK, deal.

And that leads me to my final hair management strategy:

I try not to worry about it

Despite this extensive routine that seems to imply a LOT of worry, I do my best to remember that body hair is natural and normal and anyone who gets close enough to my legs to examine and critique my stubble should be bonked on the head and told to get a job. I’m hairy. I don’t like it, but it’s just part of my genetic makeup. I do what I can to keep it under control, and have learned over the years that I can’t keep it ALL under control ALL the time. And I do my best to just roll with that.

I have no idea if any of this is helpful, but this is what I do. I am in NO WAY implying that all, any, or some of you should follow these practices. Body hair is personal, and body hair removal is almost more personal. A loaded topic full of sensitivities, body-specific needs, and personal desires. But since there were many requests for my personal routine, I’m more than happy to share it.

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  • Valerie

    Morning Sal! All I have to say is, hair after menopause is . . . different. I still depilitate my ‘stache, though it’s much less noticeable than it used to be. I have virtually no underarm hair, but my forearms look like burly longshoreman’s, so I shave those. I have sensitive skin issues, so my leg hair gets shaved only when i feel like bigfoot’s wife–I’m in slacks/trousers most of the time. Eyebrows and head hair have thinned :-(. So has lady-part hair. Oh, well. I don’t feel as self-concious about it, as I did when I was in my 20s-40s. Age has its benefits.

  • Body hair has been an insecurity issue for me my whole life! Through a miraculous combination of genetics I am one of the hairiest girls in my family. I shave my legs and bikini and have my eyebrows threaded and sometimes my stache gets threaded, too, when I feel like it. (btw, I LOVE threading.) Sure, I have areas that bother me but mostly I get over it. At some point it clicked in my head that I’ve never lost any dates, friends, or jobs because of my copious amounts of arm hair.

  • anotherjen

    Thanks so much for this Sal, your honesty is refreshing.

    I’m a similarly hairy, but have different strategies, particularly because my skin is not as sensitive. So I shave more often than you do, but I don’t shave my legs at all in the winter (I live in Canada – no one see, no one cares), which is when I also only shave my pits weekly. I don’t bother shaving anything that doesn’t show.

    In order to deal with my chin hair and upper lip hair I opted for electrolysis instead of laser. I am also fair with dark hair, but laser was too expensive, and I was afraid of scarring. I went to have electrolysis about every week for a year or so (at $45 for 30 minutes), and now I have a few chin hairs left and some upper lip hair that doesn’t bother me (I used to bleach this, but I don’t feel the need now). I go back every couple of months to take out a few stragglers, and I suppose this will continue. In order to make the upper lip work bearable I used Emla to freeze that area, I found the pain on my chin and neck to be okay. I’m pretty pleased with the whole thing and I think it cost about half of what laser would have. It did take more time, but I was willing to give up part of my lunch hour once a week for it, actually the woman who did my treatments is lovely and fascinating so it made it kind of social too.

  • Snapper

    Shaver. I do find that A & D is helpful for burn and itch though.
    Not going to self wax again. Ever!

  • Janine

    Hi there,
    I hardly ever leave comments, but your article struck a chord with me. I have been waxing for years now (legs, full bikini, underarms, eyebrows), and have virtually no growth at all. I have (what I consider to be a big problem), with hormonal chin hairs – these are getting worse as I age. I did try laser treatment for my chin, however I didn’t notice much difference at all (probably due to me being a pale skinned person with fair hair with little pigment). Recently I found someone who does electrolysis, which is working a treat. Years ago I had some terrible electrolysis treatments which left me with many scars and very disillusioned, my hair growth actually increased (or it appeared to), and the therapist suggest I had a hormone imbalance, so I rushed off to an endocrinologist (at huge expense), only to find there was nothing wrong with me! I commend you for your well balanced outlook, I am terribly self conscious when my chin hairs appear between treatments – I need to take a leaf out of your book!

  • I’m going to join you in TMI-ville!!!:

    I tried waxing – I didn’t like it. I stupidly went for a Brazilian my first time and almost passed out from the pain (I now understand why they offer you wine before the appointment – I needed it).

    I hate depilatory creams. They stink – even the scented ones are smelly. Worst of all, my skin feels like it’s on fire. I have a distinct memory of doing a very awkward, embarassing dance in my bathroom when a cream supposedly gentle enough to use on the bikini line caused me to cry and writhe in awkward pain until I could get the cream off. Needless to say, I will never try that again.

    I usually just shave. During the summer I do my underarms every day, my legs every two or three. I tend to run a razor over my pubic area every few weeks to thin out, and only clean up my bikini line if I know I’m going to be wearing a swim suit (I hate thigh-brows). I usually go bare if I know I’m visiting the gynecologist, because she has an awful habit of leaving lots of lube on me, and it’s just easier to clean up when things are bare. I shave my “trail of unrighteousness” (belly button down to pubic area) maybe once a week during the summer. Because while that hair isn’t dark or thick, it does catch light. Very, very effectively.

    Any other stray hairs I find, I pluck. It’s not incredibly comfortable, but it does the job.

    Yay for being honest and oversharing! πŸ™‚

    • Amanda

      “Thighbrows” made me both laugh out loud and sigh with relief! I thought I was the only one. πŸ™‚

  • K

    You’re brave for putting this all out there! I suffer from some of the same hairiness and would never admit to the WHOLE WIDE INTERNET all that I do to look like I don’t have hair where I do (did that make sense?).

  • I too have pretty sensitive and acne prone skin that gets ingrown hairs really easily. So much so that my ex used to liken them to bedbug bites! But unlike you I’m a great advocate for waxing. I had a really knowledgeable beauty therapist that told me I had the sort of skin that unfortunately is just prone to them so I need to gentle exfoliate every day. Also that you should never switch between shaving and waxing. Stick to one method or you’ll get ingrown hairs. And finally there is an Australian wax called Lycon Wax which you also have in the UK and probably the USA that is much better for people susceptible to ingrown hairs (I have no connection to Lycon) and less painful. But more expensive too.

  • Allison

    I’ve done laser hair removal and it’s been great for me – I think body hair is a-ok and am not somebody who obsesses about removing it, but I have really sensitive skin and would get very painful ingrowns all the time without any hair removal intervention, so I bit the bullet and tried laser. Anyhooo – laser has gotten a lot cheaper lately, and I’ve noticed that groupon and a lot of those other coupon companies often have great deals on laser hair removal, so maybe it will get a little more affordable!

  • Living Social (similar to Groupon) has a special for laser treatments going for the next two days~ I’m not sure how to share it on here, but could email you the deal. ($139 for 3 treatments in Eagan~that’s good, right?) After reading this, I think I might go for it! I have such sensitive skin, too, and have tried all the options EXCEPT for laser treatment and electrolysis. I’m extremely hairy and would love to find something that works. Thanks for sharing your stuff. πŸ™‚

    • Sal

      I’ll check it out – thanks for the tip!

  • LisaZ

    I also have very fair skin and dark hair, but unlike you I’m fortunate to not be very hairy. My legs get dark, bushy hair so I shave them. I bought an electric lady’s razor off Amazon (whatever was top-rated at the time, under $25) and find that while it doesn’t shave close it does the job well enough and I can keep it up better. I hate shaving in the shower, or dealing with the wet mess. Once in a while I’ll shave in the shower just to feel smooth, but that’s just for me! My husband doesn’t care at all. Good guy.

    I shave the pits with soap and a razor daily or often in the shower. I tried the hippie thing of growing that out a couple of years ago–I have several friends who don’t shave there–and just didn’t like it. I tried the hippie thing on my legs one summer too and realized the feeling of discomfort I felt was not worth making the political statement that women shouldn’t have to shave. I am just not THAT crunchy, I guess.

    I sometimes get my eyebrows waxed, or pluck them myself a bit, but I’m inconsistent with it. My glasses hide most of it anyway. I used to have darker hair above my lip and, like Sal, bleaching it was my preferred method of dealing with that. But now that hair isn’t very dark. Maybe turning 40 has changed my hormones enough, or maybe I just don’t notice?

    Bikini line almost never gets shaved because it hurts and itches like mad, although my electric razor has a long hair thing-y and using that keeps the area in check and doesn’t hurt at all. I wear a swim skirt or shorts, too. I loved your Sal-kini post! I think Brazilians are WEIRD and would never, never in a million years do that. But I’m just way old-school.

  • anne

    Hey, this really stuck a cord with me. I used to shave. Then when it got awfully annoying to my skin( I had a new boyfriend and did it every effing day) I switched to epilator on my legs. I’ve never looked back. It did hurt the first few times, but now it’s ok, I can barely feel it. Also, a few months ago I bought one that can be used in the bathroom or, under water, and I switched to using it on my underarms too. Just once every two weeks, with some shaving in between. Have you tried some new generation epilator? I’m not sure how you sensitive skin would take it, but it’s been a lifesaver for me. I wax my lady-stache . I used to do it at a salon, but i buy home cold wax strips and works just the same. (Cheaper, but not a tiny massage the lady at the salon gave me. )

    • Sam

      I second anne – fellow epilator convert over here!

      I used to be a waxer-slash-shaver. Never really found a good solution; waxing was too expensive (and the after-creams they used caused nasty breakouts). Shaving only lasted a day, since my hair grows FAST.

      http://www.braun.com/global/female-grooming/silk-epil-epilators.html

      For the past five years I’ve used a Braun epilator (see above link). Still have it, still works fine. It was $100… fantastic investment!

      I highly recommend it. It hurt like HELL for the first two times, and if I go longer than two weeks between epilating, it hurts almost as much as the first time. So I keep at it. The hairs grow back fine and thin – unlike shaving – so I don’t need “pants” days.

      • Secret Squirrel

        Another shout out for epilators, I have very sensitive skin, but can use it on dry legs, or wet and either is fine. It avoids the terrible rashes I would get from shaving foam and razors. I have to remember to use a body brush on my legs a few times a week, gently, to avoid ingrowing hairs.

        Thanks for your honesty in sharing this Sal, it is much appreciated.

      • Sarah L.

        Amen to the epilator! I got my legs waxed for years, then went freelance and decided that waxing at NYC prices was an expense I should forego. I bought the same Braun model mentioned above for use on legs and pits, and love it. I find that it doesn’t catch absolutely everything on the legs, but it’s certainly good enough. It doesn’t hurt any more than waxing did, and on me it’s a full week till regrowth merits a next go-round.

        Especially for women who are used to waxing, I recommend the epilator wholeheartedly. For me, it was a great investment, and has saved me a ton of money and time.

  • nina

    I am very similar with my hair and I am so happy you posted this. I can’t bear to shave my legs more than once a week because they get so broken up and sensitive. My underarms were even worse, i’d get razor burn, rashes, and it would hurt to put deodorant on. I have the massive black nipple hairs, which until now I thought was just me (though it’s au natural, not because of birth control). I had a problem shaving my bikini/brazilian too, so I waxed for a long time. I do laser hair removal on underarms, brazilian, and upper legs only because of the high amount of Groupons and Living Social deals we have for them here in Chicago. It’s done wonders for me. I’ve been embarassed to ask about doing it for the hairs on my nipples, which i’d like to get done, but I’ve somewhat come to terms with them, mostly from encouragement from my boyfriend who doesn’t seem to mind as long as I shave them once in a while. (Though I do think he’d prefer they not exist at all.)

    Thank you for so candidly blogging on this subject!

  • wow, I admire your candor as well your determination and various strategies for wrangling the stubborn buggers. I do believe in shaving and waxing and other methods of hair removal but I’m far too much of a pragmatic to be constantly obsessing with smooth skin. I like that you have a very realistic view on this issue, I’d much rather have a bit of stubble than rashes, zits and ingrown hair.
    Oh a little trick I always use: I keep a bottle of surgical alcohol in my medicine cabinet and I gently spray my skin with it after shaving or waxing. It helps prevent rashes as well as acne.

  • J

    You did not mention electrolysis. I’m currently in the process of getting my underarms lasered, but electrolysis has been amazing for my chin hairs. I went from plucking every single day to… nothing. I have one stubborn thick hair on my jawline and nothing else. It hurts a lot, but it’s also very inexpensive. I get my chest and belly done too, and while that hasn’t been as dramatically improved as my chin, it’s been much better. It might be something to look into if you care.

    Also, waxing is the best thing ever. If you go to a good waxer, Brazilians hurt but not too much. It’s really important that you go to someone competent because bad things can happen if you don’t. I got a Brazilian once and it burned me, so I was peeling crotch skin shreds off myself for the next week. SEXY.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see some honesty from someone else, because I’m definitely too cowardly to admit this stuff to someone. So thanks!

  • Cel

    Okay, your bikini line problem with the ingrown hairs? I have really thick dark downstairs hairs, and used to shave my nether regions for this same bikini area reason, and had the exact same problem. Ingrown hairs from HELL (so bad my doctor actually commented on it while at a female-related visit) and so I just… kept things trimmed. And then I tried waxing. And surprisingly… WAY less ingrown hairs. Painful? Oh hell yes. Worth it? Definitely. It hurts a little less each times you do it too, because the hairs come out more easily. I still get ingrown hairs, but less and less each time. It seems shaving was the primary cause for them.

    I totally suggest you try a professional waxing at least once… don’t even bother trying to do it at home though… I know from experience that’s just not worth trying. You’d need nerves of steal and crazy agility to get the wax onto yourself at just-the-right-hotness and not drip it everywhere and… just no. Professionals know what they are doing, hah. And as odd as it might sound, it’s actually not that awkward to have a total stranger seeing you half-naked. It doesn’t last super long, but it’s way better than shaving, in my opinion.

    I’d contemplate getting laser hair surgery but it’s just so expensive. My war with body hair is not yet difficult enough to warrant that price tag.

    • Katharine

      Mileage may vary on this though. I had several professional waxings back when I did competitive bodybuilding for a lark, and got ingrowns like you would not believe, that nothing really helped, including exfoliating and various supposedly miraculous potions rubbed on.

      I thought waxing was the least return for the most investment of anything I’ve ever spent money on, frankly. It cost me a hundred dollars a go, with tip, and I started to see regrowth not much more than a week later, with visible stubble two weeks later. And then you have to wait to the Hobo Beard stage before you can get it ripped again? Seriously, how has this become a thing? I am not a fan.

  • Sarah

    I actually started to cry when I was reading this…I am a fairly confident woman and I try not to buy into our culture’s rules regarding what is and is not attractive. I focus on what I already love and I work daily on learning to love what I don’t like that much. But body hair seems to be the one thing I can not embrace or learn to love, and I feel shame when I look in the mirror and see a full bush or body stubble or stray hairs in a strange place.

    But, I’m being real here, the bush is the worst. Nothing I’ve ever tried has ever left me clean and bare without burning, hurting, or itching like hell, and I totally feel your pain about ingrown hairs. What looks better, a full bush or a rash of pimple-like ingrown hairs? Yet I feel horrendous pressure as a single woman to have absolutely no pubic hair. I feel shame that I grow it. I feel shame that I can’t be completely bare down there. I feel shame that I’ve been brain-washed into thinking my pubic area needs to resemble by 5-year old neice’s!!! I feel shame that the hair is there and then I feel worse shame that I can’t love it.

    When I am getting intimate with a man for the first time, I don’t worry about my saggy bits (and they are legion). I am 30 years old and my body shows it. I have cellulite, stretch marks, scars, bruises, freckles, moles, pimples, weird patches of dry skin, and occasionally a rash from some product or clothing item that irritated my skin. I shave my underarms and get an ingrown hair there at least once a month, and it ain’t pretty. BUT the ONLY thing I worry about when I know I’m going to get naked with a new fellow – the only thing I worry about so much that it might ruin my good time – is my bush. I assume he wants it bare and I agonize over what to do about it. My two choices are: a very neatly trimmed full bush that covers a lot of area down there, or a lot less hair along with a rash.

    I don’t know that I will ever learn to love my body hair the way I’ve learned to love my other imperfections. But I really, really, REALLY have to say THANK YOU for being honest. I have never ever discussed my hair issues with another human being, and I’ve sometimes wondered if I am the only woman under 60 left in the world who has a full bush as opposed to the teeniest, tiniest strip of baby-fine pubic hair or none at all. It makes me feel good to know I’m not some sort of full-bushed freak.

    • Sal

      Oh Sarah, it kills me to hear that you feel this way about keeping yourself bare. My gosh, there is NOTHING WRONG with having pubic hair. NOTHING! All hair removal is socially reinforced and essentially unnatural, and while I engage it for my own aesthetic and skin health-related reasons, I get what it means. But it just burns me to hear that you feel like you’ll be judged for having a full bush. I realize that my saying so probably won’t change how you feel, but regardless: You get to manage all of your body hair in your own way. You do. And that includes your privates. Glad this post was somewhat helpful, and hope you find some solace as you puzzle out how to handle this in the future.

      • Cate

        Sarah,
        I was shocked to read your post and I want to second Sal’s thoughts that there is nothing wrong with having public hair. I guess I’m from another era (age 52), but I’ve never gotten rid of my bush nor felt any pressure to do so. And, I don’t plan to get rid of it, even though I’m single and looking now. I like the way I look and the way my body feels. I’ve never once heard anything negative from a man about how I look “down there” either. Is this a new trend, that young women “have to” be without public hair? When did this happen? And, why?

        • Velma

          I’m 43. This has got to be generational! I trim a little around the edges for neatness (and I suspect I am not especially hirsute to begin with), but I have never heard anything but appreciation for my basically natural state. My husband certainly likes me natural–but then he is also in his mid-40s.

          Honest question here: Do quality men under 40 truly insist on women being as bare as the day they were born? When I was in my 20s, only a guy who was deeply into porn, strippers, and that sort of thing would be likely to like that level of “maintenance” . . .

          • pope suburban

            Not quality men, no, and I think that descriptor pretty much sums it up. I’m 26, and my fellow ladies tend to be much more inclined to get the Brazilian or shave it all off, so hairless is pretty normal to me. I have been with the same quality man for years now, and when I asked his opinion on waxing down there (I had heard a lot about it and it piqued my curiosity), he said he’d never ask me to do it and it’d be my deal– and that he’d rather I didn’t, for what that was worth. He’s 25, so he’s well within the age range for “guys who hypothetically insist on hairlessness.” Interestingly, the less-quality guys I dated before him didn’t mind that it’s just landscped either, and weren’t shy about intimacy or anything. I think it’s true that the average guy, although he might have personal preferences, is not really going to be that hung up on the issue.

          • Jen

            I’m 26, and currently single. My male friends, though, say that as long as it’s clean, they’re just happy someone is giving them access. πŸ˜‰ I do shave the edges weekly for comfort and hygeine reasons, but the rest is trimmed about every other week.

          • Jac

            I am 32 and married for 4 years. I do think younger men prefer a well groomed “down there” in women. I am sure some of these men want a woman completely bare. I do think the porn industry and the ease of viewing all kinds of porn online has influenced this in young men.
            As for me, I prefer that area to be well groomed but not totally bare– it grows back too itchy
            And, Sal, I cannot thank you enough for this post. I HATE HATE HATE having chin and neck hair and I actually have side burns, too. I shave my side burns daily and chin and neck once or twice a week. I live in fear that someone else will notice ths stuble or my skin will get a weird texture from being shaved so often. Reading this post does not make those fears go away or make me hate the situation any less, but it is reassuring for me to know I am not the only one dealing with these issues!

            • Antome

              If this late response from a guy is any worth, I want to reassure you that no, us guys proably get a different texture in our beard area, not because of shaving but because of the pores, bearing a much bigger hair shaft.
              You might be a bit hairy, but you hardly have the same hard quality, in your facial fuzz, so don’t worry. And only keep shaving if they are really darker and harder than normal ;). A bit of hair is natural on you girls.

          • Velma, I’m 28 and men do not need it bare. Some might.

      • Jenny

        Just to add that I’m 38 with a very full bush and have had several guys tell me they really like it that way. πŸ™‚

    • Sarah, I hope you find some balance with this. I am your age and I find that clean shaven just doesn’t work for me, too ingrown and uncomfortable. I have an electric trimmer and I keep the bush down to around half an inch long and carefully shave the bikini edges so it looks tidy all around. This has been a happy middle ground for me.

      Honestly (and TMI) I’ve found that most guys don’t care if it’s bare or not and the ones who do tend to be so porn oriented that they aren’t really seeing women as a whole people anyway. Your mileage may vary, but I hope you can find that tidy and tended and COMFORTABLE ends up being much more important than looking like a porn star or a pre-pubescent girl.

      • Sam

        I have an electric trimmer and I keep the bush down to around half an inch long and carefully shave the bikini edges so it looks tidy all around. This has been a happy middle ground for me.

        Ditto. This, this, this.

        I had the same aweful insecurities around my pubic hair, honest. Then I had a bad brazilian and… it took A YEAR for the ingrowns to go away. Something snapped and I was all, Fuckit, guys can have neat, trimmed beads, right? I can, too!

        TMI x1,000,00: The neat triangle left by a nice 2 cm attachment on a beard trimmer does not, repeat, does NOT minimize my husband’s enjoyment of oral sex. Plus, it looks cute: Not too 70s, but certainly not prepubescent.

      • I completely cosign here–I use a trimmer and that’s it. And when I was 30 and dating a lot and happily sleeping around, I got ZERO flak about my bush and anyone who gave me flak would’ve been booted out the door. I hope you can get some peace about your bush. (And I do mean that, but it’s definitely the most hilarious sentence I’ve written today.)

        I love body hair talk! Bring it on! Come out of the closet!

      • Amanda

        I agree with Cricket- most men don’t care. Seriously. They night appreciate it occasionally as a novelty but I don’t think guys expect women to be completely hairless all the time. If a guy does remark on why you don’t have a Brazilian, tell him you’ll schedule him an appointment for a mankini wax.

      • Cricket, I’m with you! I’m about the same age as you ladies, and I’m single too. I’m relatively hairy, but I refuse to go bare down there, just keeping myself mildly trimmed and if I’m seeing someone I’ll shave my bikini line maybe once a week. I’ve NEVER had a guy complain or care. Any guy that would is an immature jerk, and shouldn’t be allowed access to your lady parts anyway! We are adults, and (most) adults have pubic hair. That is all there is to it.

        Oh, and if a guy ever did ask me to get a wax or something, I’ve already got my comeback planned. Without missing a beat, I’d look him straight in the eye and say, “Sure, WE can go get our pubic hair waxed together!” I figure that’ll shut him up, and point out his immature double-standard. πŸ˜‰

        • anne

          Well, I actually did that to a guy, and he complied. It didn’t work out though, he wasn’t really my type

    • Two words: electric shaver. The kind with the three round faces, not the rolling-bar thing. It isn’t as effective as blade-and-cream shaving – it never gives me a perfectly smooth shave – but having miniscule stubble and needing to shave every other day is INFINITELY preferable to taking 45 minutes to lather, sloooooowwwly shave, and rinse, only to end up with horrible razor burn the next day anyway.

      • Sorry, I didn’t really mean that as a reply! But I agree with those ladies. A friend once asked me how I dealt with the bikini region, and I told her the truth, which is trimming it with scissors. She was shocked to hear that my husband didn’t want it totally waxed, because she was in the same boat, thinking that all guys want women to have bare nether regions. They don’t! Sarah, you are DEFINITELY not the only woman in the world who doesn’t strip it all off – I’d like to think that those women are the ones in the minority.

        And if a guy is going to be so petty that his reason for breaking things off is because you don’t have a Brazilian…I mean, seriously? HE IS SO NOT WORTH IT.

    • pope suburban

      Nope, you’re not alone. While I am all for landscaping because it’s more comfortable (My 1/4 Italian genes apparently all manifested in that region), I cringe at the thought of shaving it all off. The pain of re-growth is making me twitch right now, just contemplating it; I’ve never tried, I’m so sure it will end in tears. And if some guy seriously expects me to do that, because somehow what Ma Nature gave me is supposed to be “wrong,” well, forget him. I think it’s much more shameful to expect someone to hurt themselves than it is to be who you are. I am simply not interested in making that kind of person happy. They don’t get the privilege of having me value their input. They don’t get to dictate how I feel about myself, because they are clearly messed up and not in touch with reality. I don’t know if any of that will do any good, but I felt like I had to say that you’re not the only one.

    • Laurel

      You are definitely not the only women your age (and *younger*!) with a full bush. Nothing to feel ashamed of.

    • Anna

      Sarah, I am 50 years old and back when I was a teenager we WANTED to have a bush, we waited for it to start growing, it was a sign ( along with growing breasts ) that we were finally women and no longer children. Then years later came the Brazilian trend. I occasionally go bare and in between I let it grow back. My man is my age so he is from an era when women had hair down there. PERIOD. Believe me, many men feel that the naked look is silly.

    • Adult women have pubic hair. End of story. Men who insist on hairless pubes are either brainwashed by porn or have a fetish for little girls. Beware of them!!! I’m dead serious — ask a man why he wants to have sex with an adult woman who has no or almost no pubic hair. There can’t be a sane reason.

    • Tracey

      Jeez I have to chime in with my “older” counterparts on here (I am 44) and agree the no pubic hair seems to be a generational thing and really horrifying to me. My husband of 20 years loves what I’ve got and my long-ago lovers from my 20s did too! I am also a biologist and there are sound biological reasons for it being there, including trapping grit & grime & germs and things that shouldn’t be getting inside you (sorry, gross but better out than in!) and concentrating the pheromones and scent cues that are a critical part of sexual attraction. I have been through the body image pain, and I know it is not easy to fight societal norms, but I wish for all women 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and beyond: if a lover or potential lover says something negative about your body, kick him/her the hell out of your bed and don’t look back!

      • Tracey

        Because we women beat up on ourselves enough as it; we sure don’t need to let our lovers do it for us!

    • Gaby

      I’m with everyone who has commented to say electric shave/electric shears… and I’m 23! I have been using electric shears on my pubic hair (both the ‘bush’ and the, uh, outer lips – carefully!) since I was around 15 or 16. I run the shaver with the grain of the hair and just trim it down. I do this about once a month and it takes less than 5 minutes. It also cannot physically cause ingrown hairs because I’m not actually taking out the hair, just cutting the top of it.
      The other issue – you *assume* that the guy you’re with wants you to be bare? How about you stop assuming that every guy is the same and wants something you think a media-projected stereotypical man wants? Like someone else said, most guys would be happy just to have access! Just make sure it’s clean/washed πŸ™‚
      My husband and I are both 23 years old, so I’m part of “the younger generation” who are supposedly all brainwashed to want no hair anywhere. But that’s not me, and that’s not my husband. He has no issues whatsoever with my ladyparts and how hairy they may or may not be at any point in the month. I home-waxed the bush part off completely once, because he wanted to see how it looked, and neither of us were that amazed by the outcome. As long as everything is clean and I’m comfortable, he’s happy πŸ™‚ !
      Take heart! And please remember that not every man is the same!!

    • A.

      Sarah, I’m in my mid 20s and have grown up my whole life with the idea that pubic hair is gross and should be done away with. I started shaving it all off almost as soon as I started growing it. I hated shaving. I hated that I was made to feel like I should look like a prepubescent child for a man to find my bits attractive. I eventually decided that if a man couldn’t handle hair-down-there, he wasn’t a man I wanted to be with. I stopped shaving it all off and switched to trimming it and keeping it “contained” when I was in my late teens and I have never looked back.

      Body hair is natural. I can’t remember the last time I found myself getting intimate with a man who didn’t have his own pubic hair, so why should I feel like a freak for having it, myself? It is YOUR body and if you feel more comfortable with a full bush, then rock it out! If someone says something negative to you about your bush, put your clothes back on and leave him hanging. No man is worth the blow to your self esteem. Always remember, the way you take care of your body, inside and out, is all about YOU. You, you, you!

    • Tabithia

      Girl I’m 21 and used to feel the same way but lived with the shameful feelings because it was just too painful to try and remove it or when it started growing back. I have a trimmers now I use once in a while and that’s it. My husband made a comment once before we were married, and I looked at him and said when you do it, I’ll do it. Just think of it this way the majority of those men probably aren’t trying to remove all of theirs so why torture yourself? Obviously my hubby didn’t care too much though bc that was over a year ago and I’m 6 months pregnant now πŸ˜‰

      I think being pregnant though, has helped change many of my body image issues a lot, especially the hair one. I don’t have the energy or desire to shave as much as I did and it’s getting to hard to bend over for that long anyways! As long as it’s clean, I’m happy!

    • Any guy who complains about the appearance of the pussy he’s about to get doesn’t deserve to get it.

      I’d close my legs, then show him the door.

    • C.

      I feel the exact same way. I’m only 20 years old but I feel this pressure a lot, I don’t think I wouldn’t mind having more hair down there if no one would judge me for that. I think it’s one of the main reasons I had opportunities to have sex and never did it because for example at the time I had hair down there and it’d be too weird. Even with my girl friends that I don’t have problem talking about anything I’d feel weird if they knew how much I let my hair grow, I feel a lot relieved when I’m waxed there (or don’t have any hairs showing). But I really can’t go of this shame, most of my friends are guys and lots of them make fun of girls they “banged” and had lots of hair. One time when we’re discussing hair size, they were like 2cm seems too much to have down there!
      I don’t want to feel the pressure but I can’t help it. I’d love to shave/wax because of me and not because somebody will think less of me because of it. I do like to have my legs and pits hairless but when I don’t have the pressure and can grow them a little bit I feel so much freedom because no one will judge me for that.
      I kinda feel you put my feelings into words.
      Sal, thank you for the article anyway, really liked to read what you said about it πŸ˜€

  • here’s my TMI topic for the day: regarding shaving the ol’ bikini line. i don’t have sensitive skin, but i *do* get razor burn in that area (regardless of whatever bikini-line-shaving-cream i’m trying out that week). i recently started using veet depilatory cream – but shaving it off after the 3 minutes (i don’t know anyone who can use that stuff on their coarse body hair and just wipe it over. it doesn’t work!). it stinks up like whoa but it works really really well – no razor burn! no creepy bumps! i like to put a little extra virgin olive oil on the area after, to soothe & soften it. obvs this won’t work for someone with sensitive skin, but it is def a lifesaver for those of us who just deal with bumps.

    as far as the rest of my body, i just shave with the standard razor & shave gel. i’m lucky that my skin can handle shaving on the regular – it’s just the bikini line that would get irritated. i pluck my eyebrows, but i’ve been doing it for soo long even that doesn’t hurt anymore. oh, and a weird thing i noticed a few years ago – i only grow hair in patches on my legs now. wtf? it wasn’t always like that and i’ve never lasered off the hair or anything like that. now it just grows on the knees & a couple lines down my shin. weird, huh?

    • Yes! I have relatively sensitive skin, but not so sensitive that I can’t shave daily. My mom told me I’d hate the maintenance when I first started and I told her I wouldn’t; I was right. I still shave my underarms daily. My legs though? The hair barely even grows back, and then only in the same patches that you mentioned. So weird! I’m glad I’m not the only one.

  • Mel

    Sal! What a hoot!

    This is EXACTLY what I was talking about yesterday! Your posts about topics that I would NEVER discuss with anyone, and yet here you are sharing your thoughts and feelings! And other people are, too.

    And it’s ever so helpful. I always thought I was the only lady this hairy. No one else in my family is hairy, AT ALL, and I don’t know anyone this hairy either (but how would I know, since I’ve never asked them?).

    I used to be extremely self-conscious about it, but am better about it as I get older. I’m very hairy, I hate it, but there’s not much I can do about it. On the other hand, I’m a very kind, considerate person. Doesn’t that trump hairy?

    One thing that helps me get past having so darn much body hair, is that that I have lots of nice thick head hair! I get complimented on my head hair all the time. Funny, no one has ever said, egads woman! you have lots of arm hair. They probably don’t even notice, cuz they’re so busy admiring my lovely head hair.

    I pluck the chin hairs, ignore the mustashe, am oblivious to the arm hair, shave the pits & legs every 2 days, bikini area only before going to the beach as that usually results in in-grown hairs that take at least a week to grow out scratching that area is socially unacceptable. Eyebrows? Eh, who cares. Let them be thick. I can honestly say that I have never given any thought to my nipple hair…never knew that other women didn’t have hair there!

    I’ve tried home waxing…doesn’t work well at all. Creams take too long to actually dissolve the hair. By the time they dissolve the hair 45 minutes later, they’ve thoroughly burned my skin.

    Just recently got a man’s razor for my legs (not the disposable kind), and it works better than the lady’s razor…I think due to it’s weight.

    Once again, thanks for a great post!

  • Sasha

    WOW — you are so brave for this posting…or maybe I’m a wimp. Either way, thank you!!

  • Anne

    Dear Sally, first, thank you for your candor. I wish you had been around when I was in my early 20’s and feeling like a freak. Here is a bit of good news about being a bit fuzzy: my esthetician said that the free radicals that we’re all fighting cling to facial or body hair and don’t do as much damage to our skin. yeah! I am also a fan of waxing. I take an Advil about 30 minutes before my appointment. It still smarts but I remain bump and itch free. I also sing the praises of board shorts, sarongs and gauzy cover ups in the summer.

  • Sharon

    You made my morning, I thought I was the only one who hid the pits and legs in order not to shave too much. I do do waxing of the eyebrows (tears) and am thinking seriously about the chin, the nether regions never. P.S. my DH trims me when it gets out of hand. I know TMI.

  • Weathering

    This is really interesting, Sal, thanks for sharing!

    I, too, am of hairy-Northern-European stock. For me, the thing I have always been the most insecure about is my bikini line, which is way lower than any bathing suit I’ve ever owned. I still remember being at summer camp one year in my early teens, before I started shaving at all, and having people make comments about how my bikini line was “gross” — I didn’t actually know what a bikini line was, but it was clear that I was failing to live up to some standard.

    It’s taken a long time, but I’ve finally decided to stop worrying about that. I personally don’t want to pay money to have anything waxed, shaving anything in the pubic area gives me razor burn and prickliness (and razor burn isn’t exactly attractive in a swimsuit), and I just don’t like depilatory creams. I’ve decided that even though I don’t think hair sticking out from a swimsuit is attractive, the problem is not with my body, it’s with swimsuits. For the beach, I’m all over shorts of various kinds (personally, I like men’s trunks better than women’s board shorts), and for swimming laps I’ve decided that if hairy men get to appear in public in Speedos, I can show up in my utilitarian one-piece and be okay with that. If I ever get into the habit of swimming laps regularly, I’m planning to get one of those fancy suits that are bike-short-length.

    I often wish I could extend this acceptance to my leg and armpit hair, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve negotiated an agreement with my body in which I shave from the knees down, and just wear tights with any shorter skirts, and that works pretty well.

  • katy

    i have extremely sensitive skin as well. i once tried waxing – using all-natural sensitive-skin as pure as pure can be – and got one strip done, my skin decided it hated me and i had a horrible painful rash for a week.
    i’ve found the thing that works best for me shaving-wise is wet shaving & using a safety razor, fresh blade each time, and using a good shave soap (not shaving cream/gel, but the block of soap), made from almond oil & shea butter, lathering up with a brush and shaving like they used to. just make sure to start with hot water, shave, rinse with cold. no toweling off, just brush off the water, i just put on witch hazel (with aloe) afterwards, and no razor burn! my skin loves it, it feel so much better than when shaving with new, super expensive, disposable head razors. i have a 50’s lady gillette (when my mom saw it, she said she used to have one in purple when she started shaving!), and not only does it work better for me, it’s infinitely cheaper. even if you’re not wanting to use a safety razor, try wet shaving (brush+lather), it’s sooo nice.

  • Lizzie

    Thanks so much for writing this Sal, it’s great to hear a discussion on this stuff.
    I use an epilator, but haven’t been very good at using it frequently, after the last use I’ve got loads of ingrown hairs – I’m hoping its just because I’ve been a bit lax in moisturising for the last couple of weeks. I tend to pluck my bikini line, and over stretch marks which the epilator likes to eat up – pretty painful. I definetly follow the not worrying about it too much, I usually swim at least once a week and if the grooming routine doesn’t coincide I normally just decide no-ones going to notice, its not like other people are tring to spot it xx

  • Courtney L.

    I inherited the hairy gal genes from my dad’s side of the family, and like you, I’m pale with dark hair. My mom was also pale with dark hair, but her genetic makeup blessed her with much sparser body hair that was light brown in the places that I could see. It’s a trade-off: she struggled with the thickness of the hair on her head, I struggle with the thickness of the hair elsewhere. My lower leg and underarm hair has been thick and dark since puberty. When I turned 25, the magic of hormones, made the hair on my upper legs and belly get longer and thicker. The hair on my bikini area also spread further onto my upper thighs, though the texture of the hair is the same as before. The hair on my forearms, hands and knuckles is not as heavy as it could be, but still heavier than is considered attractive. It thankfully never turned black and thick, but it still makes me self-conscious.

    Shaving
    I shave my pits daily and my lower legs a few times per week. Shaving those areas doesn’t seem to make me break out. The skin on my pits is darker than the skin surrounding it. I don’ t know how much of that is from the hair under the skin, how much is discoloration from shaving and how much of it is just natural. I shave my upper legs as needed based on what I’m wearing. If I’m wearing a skirt, I’ll shave a few inches up my thighs. Once every few months, I’ll shave my thighs all the way up. I rarely have breakouts on my thighs from shaving. The frequency has more to do with how much of a time suck and pain in the ass shaving my thighs is. On rare occasion, I shave my bikini line, but I have to be careful to only shave the part that is *actually* my thigh. I also have to shave with the direction of hair growth instead of against it or I break out horribly.

    Plucking and Waxing
    My lip hair is fine, and about 80% of it is light enough to ignore. The dark bits tend to congregate above the corners of my lips. About once a season, I use cold wax strips on my lip hair, which makes me break out for about a week. I pluck stray dark hairs in between waxings. And do my best to put it out of my mind most of the time. I pluck my eyebrows, which mostly doesn’t hurt anymore. (It does make my eyes water and nose run, and sometimes it makes me sneeze.)

    When I was in college, my mom bought me a home waxing kit. I used exactly ONE strip worth on the back of one calf. After pulling it off, I screamed bloody murder and proceeded to hop around my apartment yelling my head off while trying to get the used wax strip to let go of my fingers. Once I recovered, I threw the kit away. This experience has kept me away from professional wax & sugaring treatments.

    Trimming
    I trim the pubic hair that is on my actual ladybits (and not my inner thighs) on an as-I-feel-too-fuzzy basis. I shaved there once. ONCE. I still shudder when I think of my skin’s response to this. Because of this, I get viscerally angry at the social push towards viewing women’s pubic hair as dirty. I periodically trim the belly hair but mostly leave it alone.

    Cream bleach & depilitories
    I tried Nair on my arm hair when I was in high school. My arms were broken out severely for a month with a patch that looked like I had a sunburn for a month longer than that. I’m frankly lucky I didn’t scar. I haven’t tried any chemical processes since then for fear of chemical burns on my skin.

    Laser Treatments
    I would LOVE to do this, but I have never had the money. If I had the money, I would start with my pits and then do my legs. When you get that TV gig from Oprah, send me a little consultant love, m-kay?

  • Laurel

    My most preferred method of hair removal is waxing. I don’t have the nerve or skill to do it at home though, so it’s too expensive to do except for special occasions. I really like waxing because I get stubble almost immediately from shaving, and with waxing I can be smooth from between 2-4 weeks. One thing I will say is that the amount of irritation, pain and ingrown hairs depends not only on the woman but on the skill of the aesthetician and the kind of wax used. If this is something you’re interested in but have had a bad experience with previously, it’s worth it to ask around.

  • Colleen

    Just wanted to say I love you for putting this all out there. Having body hair is not un-ladylike or shameful. It’s normal, and we all have to deal with it however makes us most comfortable – whether that’s embracing it or fighting to eradicate every sign of it. Personally while shaving the legs and pits is a pain, I’ve come to enjoy my plucking ritual for eyebrows and any other errant hairs – it’s kind of relaxing.

  • An

    Have any of you tried the at-home TRIA laser? I have been seriously thinking about getting one of those, but it’s a big investment for something that might not work. Like Sal, I have done some laser treatments (underarms, full arms, ‘stache) and it has changed my LIFE but it definitely doesn’t remove 100% of the hair. It just makes a lot less of it grow back a lot slower, which for me was a huge (hairy) deal :-). So, I have no illusion that TRIA would rid of hair completely forever, but if it could do to my legs and belly and bikini line what the doctor’s laser did to my underarms (seriously, HUGE DIFFERENCE), I would be ecstatic. I shave every single day, even in winter — call it some kind of programmed behavior, but I just don’t feel clean when I haven’t shaved.

    Thanks for the post, Sal πŸ™‚

    • Sal

      I have been so tempted by the TRIA, but just haven’t been able to pony up for one yet. If I do, I PROMISE to report back. Anyone else given TRIA a try? I don’t think anyone’s mentioned that yet in the comments here, but could be wrong …

      • Michele

        I am half Portuguese, and my hairy bits all look like a Portuguese water spaniel. I have shaved, waxed, trimmed, epilated, depilated and plucked over the years. I finally broke down and forked over about $300 for the SilkN Bellalite home laser system (Costco). I am using it on my ‘stache, chin, areolas, “pleasure path,” underarms, bikini line, knees and…big toes!! You have to shave the bits you are treating, start on a low setting and use it only every two weeks. It is a slow process, but after a few months, I am happy with the results. ‘Stache is pretty much gone. Chin is stubborn, but lessening (I have some white hairs that just won’t zap). Areolas, just about gone. “Pleasure path” disappearing. Knees and toes, almost gone. Underarms, getting there, but I started them later. Bikini line, lessening. At its highest setting, it can get a little hot and stingy, but I am sticking with it for the long run. I may go after the rest of my legs, but the treatment area on the unit is small, and I am too impatient to zap both my entire legs.

        • An

          Wow, this sounds like what I am looking for. One of the complaints I have heard about the TRIA is that the battery doesn’t last long enough for you to do much of your body… maybe half a leg, or both underarms, but certainly not a full arm or leg at a time. Is the SilkN Bellalite better at that sort of thing?

  • I figure if Frida Kahlo rocked a ‘stache, why shouldn’t I? I shave my pits daily – mainly because I feel like that combats body odor better and my legs when I feel like it. I have a crazy cheek hair that I pluck occasionally, but I leave the hair on my arms and face alone.

  • Leslie K

    Thank you for this wonderful, honest post. Body hair has been and continues to be my largest insecurity since I was a kid (it started with the arm hair and got worse from there). I consider myself a confident person in most aspects of my appearance, but I will hardly even discuss body hair with my best friend or my mom. This gives me a boost and reminder that it’s natural, normal, and not worth feeling ashamed.

  • Patti

    I’m incredibly hairy, and I use a lot of the same tricks. Waxing has never worked well for me, whether at home or professional. I’m interested in laser but the cost has held me back, plus I’m a redhead, although my hair is pretty dark.

    I recently started using a safety razor and double-edged blades, after finally getting sick of paying three bucks each for Mach disposable blades.

  • I have SUPER SUPER sensitive skin, but luckily very light hair (natural blonde through and through), so I can skip out on shaving/plucking things for a little bit longer than some people can (eyebrows, awkward chin hairs, mustache, legs).

    I’ve tried eight billion shaving creams, and hate every single one of them. I use hair conditioner, and oh wow is it amazing. Works perfectly, no rash, smells good, and cheap. Try it sometime – a thicker kind is just fantastic!

  • Oh, this is interesting. I’m another pale lady with dark hair, so I’m always frustrated by the shadow that comes from stubble or hair growing back. I used to freak out about it a lot — but I’ve gotten much more comfortable. I wax my eyebrows and upper lip regularly (with my new glasses — which I love — eyebrow maintenance is key) because I can’t see well enough to tweeze my eyebrows. If I’m close enough to the mirror to see without glasses, there’s no room for the tweezers!

    I shave my underarms daily/every other day and legs get done probably one or two times a week. Used to be less but I started doing social dance, which means lot of skirts and so I feel a bit more compelled.

    The thing that worries me is the bikini line. I’m not in a relationship, so mostly I just ignore or trim occasionally. But I do think, what if I’m in a position for it to be more of a concern? I suppose I’ll go for waxing, but..I hate that it makes me so self-conscious even as a theoretical question.

    The only other thing I do is try to keep in mind a comment from a lovely friend of mine who doesn’t shave or wax anything, and when asked about it, replies: “Of course I have hair, I’m a mammal! If I didn’t, I’d be a reptile.” I like it, because it gets her point across in a funny way — and usually disarms anyone who is asking.

  • Sally I had no idea you were dealing with so much hair! I guess that’s what gives you the beautiful locks on your head. I live on the opposite end of the spectrum – but have fine head hair (which is much less luscious). I can go weeks without shaving my legs and the hair is sparse and blond. I do shave the pits (in the summer) and i’m pretty hardcore on the bikini line – I tend to shave it all off weekly. Takes about 5 minutes so I can’t complain.

  • I am incredibly awed by your openness and honesty about all your hairy bits, Sal! Thank you – all of this media interest in making us feel like we must be completed denuded of all hairs sometimes drives me bonkers.

    I have been noticing that as I get older, the hair on my face (my moustache and cheeks up to my hairline) which has always been more like a soft down, is getting a little thicker. I’ve considered waxing, but have felt that it’s just vanity. But you know what? If it works for me…

    I shave my legs twice a week in summer, once in winter. Pits when they might show. Bikini…I use a cream about once a year. I live with the itch for about 3 days, then let it all grow out again.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have hair “issues” and your last point really hit home – try not to worry about it. It’s good to know we aren’t alone in our struggles and I may just have a couple of new coping strategies. I have very fair skin and turn beat red just with tweezing so waxing is out for me. But I have had enormous luck with an epilator (Braun) for my underarms and bikini line. The first couple of times it really hurt but now I just whip that thing out and go to town. It was useless on my legs though.

  • Mia

    Yay, it’s TMI Friday! I love when people are able to let their guard down and talk about this stuff–it’s not going to go away, so why not share? But then, I’m not easily grossed out. (Hey, I worked in elder care, bodily stuff comes with the biz.)

    Most of the time, honestly, I Don’t Give A Flying Fig. Maybe once a week I’ll shave my legs and pits, if I think it’ll start being noticeable at work, but if I can get away with going longer, I will. I discovered long ago that my bikini area doesn’t react well to depilatories or straight-up shaving, so maybe once a month I borrow my boyfriend’s electric razor and use the trim function to get it down to a buzz cut (if you will). There’s still hair, it’s just more manageable and less of a panty-fro. I do get the occasional ingrown hair from this, but honestly it’s never been anything that’s hurt enough to stop trimming, and I have a system down for dealing with occasional ingrown hairs.

    I haven’t yet grown a mustache or chin hairs, although I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in my future. I pluck my eyebrows whenever I remember, and I do kind of enjoy it in a feel-the-burn way. I had a pretty amazing unibrow when I was younger and overreacted to it once I learned about plucking, so I could probably do with letting my eyebrows grow back towards the middle a bit.

    I had a friend in high school who shaved her arms, which always kind of perplexed me. But then, why are hair-covered arms par for the course on women and hairy legs are not? Do some women with exceptionally hairy arms feel compelled to shave them? The social dictation of where-hair-can-be and where-hair-can’t-be feels so arbitrary if you look at it from the outside.

  • Two cents

    Sal, please consider electrolysis for your chin and upper lip hairs! I had about 20 thick and coarse chin hairs and 20 coarse hairs on my upper lip and now they are ALL GONE after electrolysis treatments. I have heard many people including dermatologists and estheticians say that shaving your face is the worst thing you can possibly do, because the hair just grows back more coarse, plus it leaves you with a “shadow” that is not that pretty, and once you start you cannot stop . I was very skeptical about electrolysis but I am simply amazed at how well it worked. I really implore you to consider it, it changed my life and I think you would be a prime candidate. Thanks for your honesty.

  • I appreciate your willingness to “overshare” πŸ™‚ . I wish I’d been lucky enough to see a list like this when I was 15 and overwhelmed. And I like the way you organized your post so as to cover all the parts we might be concerned about on our own bodies.

    O.k., here’s what I don’t do: Waxes, epilators, and any type of chemical depilatory or bleach. My skin has been burned by the waxes and creams. And they interfere with other skin treatments I use. And I’ve heard waxes and epilators can cause spider veins. So, no thanks.

    In the spirit of oversharing, here’s what I do for my very prolific dark-hair-on-light-skin areas:

    Nipples: Too dark for laser, and plucking causes ingrowns. So I just trim every now and then.

    Bikini area: I shave the parts that show when I’m wearing bikini underwear. I use a product called The Cool Fix (from Shaveworks) to control ingrowns and irritation. It seems to work pretty well. I also trim the bush every now and then with scissors.

    Underarms: I shave almost every day in the summer. In the winter, I don’t care. I let it grow until it gets annoying. I use a lotion-like shave cream (from EOS).

    Legs: I shave in the shower, again using an emollient lotion-like shave cream. I do lower legs one day, upper legs the next day. It’s a constant battle because I can’t stand prickly stubble, and I have a LOT of hair. I also shave my toes, because there is usually some hair sprouting there as well. πŸ™

    Facial hair: I have a monobrow, and I have hair on my upper lip and chin, and also some tiny but visible dark hairs on my nose. They all get tweezed or threaded. But mostly, it’s tweezers. The upper lip can be painful at first, but it eventually gets desensitized. I can now pluck my mustache just as easily as I pluck my brows. Ingrown hairs on my chin are not such a problem since I started using a glycolic acid treatment.

    Of all this maintenance I do, the only one that really annoys me is keeping up with the leg hair. It’s so time-consuming. I think I might start saving up for laser treatments.

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that I recently switched to a men’s two-blade razor, and I find it gentler on my skin than the 3/4/5- blade razors that are the current norm in women’s razors. I think it’s the Gillette Sensor Excel.

    • An

      I just started using The Cool Fix as well, and it really seems to be working! Came in last month’s Birchbox.

  • Alexis

    I am another advocate for electrolysis and threading over waxing.

    The lady that did my threading before I switched to electrolysis explained that since wax lifts the skin away from the muscle when the wax strip is removed, that used over the long term it can cause wrinkles because of damage due to the skin lifting away. She also does waxing and threading didn’t cost enough more for me to think she was telling me this for her benefit.

    But, I have now found an electrolygist who is reasonable and I prefer this method – mostly because for the same money I can get permanent results. Thankfully, I have very pale, fine baby hair. I just have an aversion to body hair on myself (I don’t care if others are hairy, a good thing since DH is very hairy). So, I don’t have to have the elctrolysis more than 1x per month to maintain a hairfree brow and upper lip, and it is just a bit more than my threading was. After a few more treatments I will be done with my brow/upper lip for good. I intend to then start my chin and then maybe my forearms.

    I did have 3 laser treatments on my underarms, thanks to a groupon deal. It wasn’t enough to get it all, but has helped. If I can get another groupon or livingsocial deal for my area for underarm treatments, I will do that. That hair is dark enough to be treated with laser, while my facial hair can’t be laser treated.

    I tried a bikini wax once 8 years ago, and wouldn’t do it again. Too painful and I didn’t like the look (went for the brazillian).

    Good luck in your hair removal pursuits.

  • I have friends who SWEAR by the Tria. When I have the spare cash I’m getting one. (They had a giant Black Friday sale last year, BTW.)

  • JS

    It is such a relief to share all this! It’s something that is rarely discussed and this makes me feel much more “normal”. I am another paler skinned, dark haired lady and I also happen to suffer from PCOS – one of the symptoms is excess body hair :-(. I bleach my arms and stomach every few weeks, shave my legs inc bikini line and toes 2 or 3 times a week, trim the more intimate areas every few weekst, shave under my arms every day, pluck my eyebrows and stray chin/neck hairs every day, and keep an eye out for random nipple ones! I hate having to do it and am also very conscious of remarks made about “hairy women”. There are some girls at work who do this fairly regularly and it does make me feel awful and aware of how I look. Reading this makes me realise I am not alone, so thank you.

  • One other thing: since this isn’t an area I’ve had issues about, I have to say I NEVER notice other people being “hairy”. Honestly, I think this may be one of those things that’s much more noticeable to the person with the hair than to anyone else around her.

  • Janice

    I think it is great that you are so open and honest about this subject. As a young girl, I never knew there were any options for bikini line hair, so I avoided wearing a bathing suit, which was sad since I grew up near lakes. As an educated adult, I have been waxing the bikiini line (Brazilian) and will never stop. It is very effective for me and I just started to wax my underarms a few months ago, and already there is hardly anything growning back. I go once a month for both treatments to a wonderful woman and pay $55 CDN total for both…plus tip:)
    I shave my legs almost daily….

  • I love your TMI posts. No other blogger is a truthful as you, and I appreciate your honesty. I have hair in every place you described too. But thankfully, my skin never gets irritated from shaving, so I use my razor everywhere except my head. It’s cheap, quick, and works for me.

    Have a great weekend!

  • Caitlin

    Thanks for this post! I have dealt with excess facial for years, mostly by using depilatory creams. I’m pretty pale and have extremely dark hair (along with PCOS), so I really have to stay on top of it. A few months ago, I discovered (in the comments section of another blog, so I’m paying it forward) the best and simplest (and cheapest!) way to deal–it’s called the R.E.M. Spring Sprong. It’s a little coil–narrow and maybe 6″ long–that you roll across your hairy areas and it basically plucks a bunch out at one time. It hurts at first, of course, but I’m used to it now and wouldn’t go back to creams for anything. I use it on my neck, chin, and upper lip–you can’t use it on eyebrows because it could catch your eyelashes. You don’t need a mirror, even–I just use it while I’m reading, watching TV, etc. I found a lot of tips on using it from the comments on its Amazon page. Check it out! It was like $15 and I’m planning on buying a few more in case they ever go out of business. πŸ™‚

  • D

    The hair on my arms is fairly light so I leave that alone, and I only worry about shaving my legs and pits a couple of times a week. I would love to get laser treatments, but I’ll have to wait till I have some extra cashola for that. I tried waxing my legs with my roommates once, a few years ago, but we’ll just say that it didn’t go well. It probably didn’t help that we were somewhat intoxicated, and were probably doing it wrong. I do get my eyebrows waxed every once in a while, but mostly I stick to plucking.

  • yo, Sal, I know you’re not looking for advice since you are giving it so graciously here… BUT I can’t help myself cause I suffer from the worst bikini line issues ever. I can’t even shave it because I’ll get the horrible red bumps that are itchy and painful… that inevitably lead to deep ingrown hairs… that turn into marble sized cysts that I have to get drained by the dermatologist! OMG I can’t believe I just shared that horror, but it’s true and it’s gnarly and i hate it. and one day I’ll get laser removal there because it’s been the bane of my existence since age 14 (i.e. HALF MY LIFE).

    ANYWAY, wanted to share my method in case you or others might benefit from it. First of all, I trim everything with a lady trimmer (this one if you’re curious)… it comes with miniature combs like you’d find on a hair trimmer, so you can select how bushy you want your bush to be. Then I use, not the foilhead thingie that’s mean to be a close shave, but the precision trimmer to trim up my bikini line instead of shaving or waxing it (OMG waxing does not work for me. worse than shaving with the horrendous reactions). Even afterwards if you’re looking closely you can still see the tops of the hairs, but seriously if you’re looking that close at my crotchal area, we have bigger problems. The reason this works for me is that the hair is TRIMMED, thus leaving a little exposed above the skin, reducing the chance of said hair turning around and becoming an ingrown monster.

    I’ve been using this technique for the last 5 years, and I can’t see a reason to try anything different!

    Also, I’m with you on the days between shaving thing. Since I hardly go bare legged anyway, I usually wait until it’s driving me nuts or I’m gonna go bare legged, or am trying to get lucky. same goes for pits! my skin does not like being shaved… so I try to compromise and give it breaks between sessions.

  • Catherine

    THANK YOU!!! I first have to commend you tremendously for your honesty — that’s some tough stuff to put out on the internets, but it is SO HELPFUL just beacuse it’s honest and candid and detailed. So, THANK YOU.

    This is going on the “pro” list for laser treatments. I will probably get them eventually – I’m 27 years old (which I feel is young) and I already spend a good amount of my time every single morning tweezing all over my body – eyebrows, chin, ‘stache, nips, armpits (strays), bikini line (and toes!) – all get a onceover every morning. I don’t actually mind the tweezers – I’ve been plucking my eyebrows since 6th grade (yes) and so I might be immune to the pain of it now – but it gets old and time-consuming, and I’m really trying to convince myself to lay out the cash for laser treatment.

    My biggest problem is where to start?!?! I’m thinking chin and brows, or armpits. The problem is tht the armpits are a bigger problem because of the razorburn and ingrowns, but the face would be cheaper and plus IT’S MY FACE. So any insight there would be great.

    I agree with you about depilatories and creams – I have NEVER had a postiive reaction to any of them. Instead, the hair stays (not all of it, but enough to be frustrating) and the skin burns or gets rashy and painful. Not worth it.

    I’ve waxed my bikini line and my armpits, and had mixed results with both. It DOES cut down on the ingrowns, which is really really nice – plus it’ll make me nice and smooth for an entire week AT A TIME. However, since my skin is so sensitive I have also had it happen where the skin itself was ripped off during the waxing process – leaving big patchy scabs, thereby making me not want to show the area and completely defeating the entire reason for the wax. Plus, in order to wax again the hair has to be a certain length, so for like three weeks after the hair-free week, I have to let all the hair grow in coarse and curly and that doesn’t really seem worth it. So, I’m not a fan of waxing, is where this paragraph is going – however, i do recommend it for “fancy events” as long as (1) it’s done a few days in advance so my skin can recover and (2) I am very aware of the waxer and make sure to tell her when to stop trying to get that last hair, because it’s ripping my skin off.

    • An

      Honestly, I would start with your pits. I wouldn’t recommend your face being your first laser area, because a) you need to see how your skin and body react to the treatments; everyone is a little different, and b) you need to evaluate the place doing the laser. If there happens to be bumps (or even small burns, which have never happened to be me, but I hear are possible if the laser technician doesn’t do it right), then it’s easier to have something healing in your armpit than on your face. This isn’t to scare you away from laser — I have loved my laser treatments, and if I could afford to, I would go back and get my entire body done in a heartbeat. But I would still recommend your first treatment to be somewhere other than your face.

  • Amanda

    I adore your honesty and bravery.

    Re: Brazilian waxing, if you find a reputable salon, it isn’t as bad as you might think. I found a place that did an outstanding job- it did hurt but the pain was less than that of a tattoo by far, no ingrown hairs, no bleeding (my 1st Brazilian wax ended up with patches of my skin torn off), no swelling, I liked the look of it and my husband was all for it but what kept me from continuing (and this is where I get teary-eyed) was the shop’s website. They mentioned that they do not want to offer services to anyone with an STD. I have asymptomatic herpes so, basically, they’re saying that they don’t want to touch me even with gloves and don’t want my money. I haven’t been to a waxing salon since then because I felt like a creepy disease vector. (Sorry for the ugly TMI- just wanted to warn folks that sometimes waxing can come with surprise issues.)

    Since then, I realized that I’d rather spend the money on a decent dinner out or save it for a vacation than have hair ripped out of my privates. My current body hair routine is shaving my armpits and legs (from the knees down) daily and doing some private parts grooming as the need arises (some trimming once or twice per month). For a treat, I get my eyebrows threaded but usually I just tweeze them into shape. And that’s it.

    Great topic and refreshing honesty from everyone.

  • Hairy Anon

    Sal, thank you for this. I noticed that the majority of the comments reflect problems with hair removal, ingrown hairs and razer burn/bumps being the most common. Why do we do this? K-line notes that she doesn’t notice other people being “hairy” — I guess because we all work so hard at appearing hairless? Anyway, I want to thank you and all the commenters for letting me know I have more company than I knew.

    My personal take on hair removal has tended towards less is better. I left my (quite hairy, with dark hair light skin) legs and pits alone for almost a decade. In the end I succumbed to social pressure. Hairy legs are “gross” in this society. I was tired of being gross (or at least talking about / defending my choice, constantly), and limiting my wardrobe to long skirts and pants wasn’t very much fun anyway. So now I shave about twice a week and just live with the ingrowns and the burn. I shave much less in the winter, when leg hair is warmer anyway — bonus!

    The only hair removal I do for me (and not them) is plucking chin and upper lip hairs that qualify as “whiskers” — at about 40 yo some of those hairs started being so course as to feel scratchy to me when touching my face. I don’t like that! So I pluck them. More every year, but completely manageable.

    To Sarah above, who feels a lot of pressure as a single woman to look “clean down there”, I feel your pain (see above about my hair removal being purely socially motivated) but we need to draw the line somewhere, and our intimate areas would seem to be a good place as they are as private and protected as our hearts. Our bodies are not simply playthings for other people, and beginning relationships based on a willingness to be anything for someone puts you in an unsustainable spot. Please consider that if you don’t love/respect yourself, your partner won’t either. [This is not an anti-sex opinion, by the way, just in case someone thought they saw that there.] And also consider what YOU want in a partner, as opposed to what someone you don’t even know wants in a partner. Removing your bush may or may not make sense then. Just some stuff to think about. I think all of us want to give you a big hug and make you feel better! Thank YOU for commenting, Sarah.

  • Yay for TMI! I’m lucky that my skin isn’t too sensitive, also I don’t care too much about hair removal πŸ˜‰

    But I am a convert to a bit of waxing — primarily for brows & lip. I get that done every 6-8 weeks (whenever I remember / can afford it). It stings but it’s over fast. I’ve gotten my bikini line waxed a couple times, & that was painful & not as fast. I got a Brazilian before going to Brazil (seemed appropriate!), & that was not only painful but ended up w/ingrown hairs. Yuck, never again! I’ve switched to retro-style swimsuits that don’t show that area at all (like this — http://corpgoth.blogspot.com/2011/03/size-is-just-number-swimsuit-edition.html ), so a little landscaping is all that’s necessary.

    I only shave my legs in summer when I wear shorts or skirts w/out tights. In winter, everything is covered up, so who cares?

  • Anecdote: I recently re-watched the movie “10”, which by the way is hilariously 70s in many ways. But at one point there was a risque pool scene and I was amazed at the amount of pubic hair the women had. After the initial “Whoa” it was actually very refreshing. I know the 70s were way more au naturale than most times, but this “bare down there” thing is only very recent and will hopefully pass because, let me tell you, crotch stubble is not a good thing (especially to my husband!) lol.

  • H.

    Sal, I think you are incredibly brave to openly (and humorously) discuss a topic that so many women shy away from. As a plucking-waxing-shaving, makeup-wearing feminist, I understand the strange dichotomy of theoretically eschewing modern aesthetical mandates and primping like mad to feel acceptably pretty.

    Keep doing what you are doing and making yourself happy; that’s the bravest act of all.

  • Thanks for the honest post (and the honest comments from everybody else!). More women should talk about this! Just wanted to throw in that I got laser hair removal for my upper lip, sideburns, and arms, as a pre-wedding present from my husband, and it’s changed how I feel about myself. The place I went to recommends eight treatments, and I think I got to around six when I decided that it was good enough (and really costing a lot of money). My upper lip hair bugged me since I was a teenager, while my sideburns were something I never noticed until I was in my 20s (usually not noticeable unless my hair was up and away from my face). Once I noticed them though, I couldn’t stop thinking about them. My arms truthfully didn’t bother me, so I figured as a present TO my husband, I would get those treated too (he loves me…but did comment on how hairy they were, and since he was footing the bill…).

    I’m a confident, happy person, and always tried to not let the hair bother me, but it did. I looked at it every single time I looked in the mirror and hated it, always thinking about bleaching, cutting, shaving. I still have hair in all of the areas I had treated, but it’s so much less noticeable, and it doesn’t bother me anymore. I know laser hair removal is expensive, but seriously consider it if you’re bothered as much as I was by your body hair. I usually never would advocate somebody spending a lot of money, especially when there are risks involved, but it’s really made me feel more happy and confident. Find a good place that does it, they’ll test you to see if your skin color might change (a possible side effect), save your money, and do one thing at a time if you have to. I know even if my husband hadn’t given it to me as a present, I would have found a way to do this on my own because it is worth every penny.

  • Halo

    I also don’t do much in the bikini area, but I do like to clean up that area during bathing suit season. Personally, I am anti-waxing, but hate shaving, too, so I get a professional sugaring. It’s just like waxing in that it’s sticky stuff that hurts when it pulls your hairs out, but it’s not hot so you run no risk of burns. It’s a zillion times better than waxing, in my opinion. I also have my esthetician sugar my eyebrows (she threads the top edge for a really clean line).

  • Karin

    Maybe I just don’t have the right kind of friends, but I thought I was a freak for needing to shave my chin. THANK YOU for making me feel normal!

  • Jean S

    You obviously struck a nerve with this post, so well done, you!

    I’m hear to say that things DO change after menopause, but as I’m blonde and very fair, my experience probably won’t have much relevance for you. Find an older Italian/Russian/Greek/etc. gal and get her to spill the beans! πŸ˜‰

  • aphra

    I, like you, have extremely sensitive skin. I’m allergic to perfumes, dyes, chlorine, alcohols, detergents.. the list goes on and on and also includes my own sweat and most soaps. Like you, I am also fair skinned with lots (LOTS) of dark hair. I can’t shave it anywhere but my armpits, so plucking it is for chin hairs, nipple hairs, stomach hairs, etc. But I have found that I can wax my legs if done professionally (I tried to do it myself… omg disaster) with certain techniques and certain waxes. There is some wax (they use it in Brasil, mostly) that is made up entirely of sugar and lime juice that has sat in a jar for a long time. This works best for me and I’ve never had any type of negative reaction to it. Another that works for me is the type of wax they use at Red Door Salon and Spas. I’m not sure if they have those where you live, but it might be worth looking into. Of course, everyone is different, and what works for me might not work for you. But maybe this will give you hope!

  • I prefer to wax since it lasts longer and is less painful than shaving in the long run, but I still do a lot of shaving. As a pale brunette, I have to deal with a lot of obvious body hair. I used to be really insecure about it, but I have made a lot of progress in recent years. I still have to shave every time I wear a skirt though.

  • I used to shave, but I also had major problems with ugly bumps and ingrown hairs. A couple years ago I started using an epilator, which works pretty well for underarms, legs, and even areolas but is way too painful for the bikini line. For that I either do waxing myself at home or go to a salon. But after reading some of the comments here I was inspired to go check out the Tria, and wow that looks appealing! I recall when the home lasers first came out they were about $900, but they’ve come down in price a lot. One thing I’ve thought of is having a few friends go in on one, because once you’ve finished all your treatments it’s not like you need to use it that frequently, right? And either way it’s still a whole lot cheaper than getting it done professionally.

    • anne

      There is also a Phillips Lumea. But it said you should treat every 2-4 weeks , as the follicle will reactivate otherwise

  • LOL! I am so going to read every one of these comments! You’re frankness with a smile makes me feel less alone. I guess we’re all kinda in a club. Yes, that’s it. The Hairy Women Club! Now for meetings of the HWC…

  • Oh, and my grammar is horrendous! Shhh…don’t tell anyone I’m an English teacher.

  • Eliza

    Sally , thank you so much! That was helpful, informative & funny!

    Have a lovely weekend, Eliza

  • Thanks so much for this Sal, even the TMI bits weren’t really TMI for me. Which makes me sound like a creepy creeper that likes to hear personal details about your life… but you know what I mean!

    Anyways, I, too, get the razor burn/bumps and ingrowns and have really dark hair and pale skin. I’ve found that, for my face at least, threading works well. It hurts a lot, but it is quick and leaves me much less irritated than waxing or sugaring or even tweezing does since they use no potions or liquids or anything.

  • Tina

    I am definately LOVING this article! I consider myself to be pretty hairy and I despise it because I have sensitive skin in most areas. I hate plucking my brows (just laziness) so I usually just clean up the unibrow and wait until I cant stand the rest, or I enlist the help of a friend who barely has brows left due to obsessive plucking. She cleans them up pretty good for me when I ask or she notices them getting out of control! Legs I pretty much only shave from my knee down unless I am going swimming or something and that skin isn’t sensitive so I can keep them pretty smooth. Pits and bikini however, absolute nightmare! I can’t shave my pits everyday because the skin gets so irritated that it becomes painful and even when I do shave them it seems like I have a constent 5 o’clock shadow anyway, so, I just keep my arms down! LOL! Bikini line, UGH, I just try to keep it as cleaned up as possible without causing the after effect misery! I too, have tried all those bikini creams without success πŸ™ I have dark hair everywhere but the hair on my upperlip is pretty light so in the winter it isn’t very noticable but get me out there in the summer sun, WHEW, it looks like a full blown stash! I do use depilitary cream made for the face and it works good and doesn’t irritate the skin too much as long as I keep replacing it. I don’t use it too much, maybe once a month in the summer and I used the same bottle from last summer early this spring/summer and I broke out in tiny little itchy bumps! I will remember to toss that away when switching my skin routine around for the upcoming fall/winter. I REALLY want to try laser or electrolosis on my pits and bikini! I need to start saving now, it would definately be worth it.

    Thanks for this article!

  • SO glad to hear that there’s a whole world of people with the bikini line problem. Chelsea nailed it — those little cordless trimmers work wonders. Will you look 100 percent hair-free, close-up? No. Is it good enough for the beach, when viewed from a reasonable distance? Yes. Is it better than an awful, itchy, red, bumpy rash? Yes!!!

  • Vive

    This comment is mostly to send applause to you, Sal, for tackling this somewhat taboo subject. I applauded the first time you leapt into it a month or two back, and I applaud again this time. And I loved reading through the comments from your reader community.

    I want to add to the discussion about what men think of women’s pubic hair to say that men, too, deal with shame around body hair. I grew up in the 70s and 80s when hairy-chested men were sexy and boys waited for their chest hair to arrive. Now men are meant to be as smooth as, well, boys. My husband has chest hair AND back hair and spent a long time avoiding any situation in which people would discover that about him. No massages, horror at pool parties. He wasn’t going to look like a CK model, which is the only thing culture told him was acceptable.

    When we met, I told him in full truth that I didn’t care about his body hair. I don’t. The gift? He doesn’t care about mine either. It would never occur to him that I should get rid of my pubic hair or get a bikini wax. And I never wanted to. My attitude has long been to shave legs and pits when they’ll be visible to the world, get the brows waxed a few times a year, do a bit of tweezing in between, and let the rest go. I don’t really mind being seen with underarm stubble or my upper lip fuzzy.

    Just a reminder that it cuts both ways. These cultural ideal cause undue pressure for both sexes and it would sure be nice if we could respond to our natural body with more realistic expectations.

    • Valerie

      Interesting–I remember an interview with Robin Williams, who said that with all his back hair, he knew he’d never be a leading man.

  • I am in love with this post. I’m not super hairy, but I still remember that moment in high school when a guy friend asked about my mustache. And then I started bleaching it, but now I’m pretty much meh about it. I don’t notice it much and my husband never says anything about it, so there.
    Also, I remember reading an article in Allure (why I even picked it up, I’ll never know…) trying to act like 90% of women in the US were getting Brazilians when actually most of the women who came in get a bikini wax were getting Brazilians. I’m fairly certain based on my (purely anecdotal and completely unscientific) research that “most women” in the US are taking care of their bikini area at home on their own and they’re probably not taking it all off. There is something deeply disconcerting about a society in which we expect adult women to have the lady parts of a little girl….

  • jean

    I just want to chime in in favor of home waxing for those whose skin isn’t too sensitive for wax. Shaving makes my hair grow super thick and fast, so I love being able to just wax once every few months and then forget about my hair. But I’ve had many bad experiences in salons–painful waxing, unsanitary waxing, strange times in salon basements with waxers who got too “intimate”–yeah, I’d advise against going to the cheapest place you can find. But anyway, home waxing has been the perfect solution for me. It hurts less, because I know where I need to be careful and gentle; I avoid the awkwardness of dealing with a stranger who may or may not make sexually explicit comments about my crotch; and best of all, it never costs more than twenty bucks. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can do my own bikini and partial Brazilian. I get myself a glass of wine, turn up some music, and go at it. “Me” time.
    Something else I’d suggest for people queasy about self-inflicted pain: get together with some buddies and wax each other’s legs! If you’re super comfortable with your friends, you could even go further and do each other’s bikinis. Or have your boyfriend or girlfriend do it.

  • Your bikini workaround has just made my day. I have the same hair problems plus just enough of a poochy tummy to make me uncomfortable in teeny bikini bottoms, but above the navel everything looks great. This summer I wore a skirted bottom but I wanted an alternative, and now I’ve found one.

    You rock.

  • k

    I get brazilians now, but back when I used to shave my bikini line every day I was in love with this gel product called bikini zone. Just rub it on after shaving, no more ingrowns.

  • Jen

    Sal, I don’t think you’ve mentioned–do you groom your eyebrows? That’s the biggest PITA for me. I’m hairy and have to pluck pretty much every other day.

    • Sal

      Oh! Cripes, I can’t believe I forgot those. Yes, I have had them professionally shaped, and then pluck myself. And I, too, need to do that daily.

  • This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my girlfriends about eyebrow grooming. I was shocked when she said that she had never, ever tweezed her eyebrows – she just got electrolysis on them in the exact shape that she wanted. They look amazing.
    (Not to get too TMI, but since shaving irritates your skin so much, have you thought about electrolysis just for the facial issues so you don’t have to shave your chin on a daily basis? I know it’s quite expensive, but as someone with temperamental, acne-prone skin myself, it’s something I might look into were I in your shoes.)

    I am very fortunate not to have a *huge* excess of body hair, but the hair under my arms and down below are quite dark and thick. I’m currently undergoing laser hair removal under my arms, which normally I would not have paid for, but I got an amazing Groupon ($120 for 6 sessions) for a local salon. My sister scored a good Groupon for a different local salon for her own treatments. Shaving under my arms daily is one of the things I’d most like to do less of – I cannot stand the itchiness and I have stubble after one day, So far, after 2 treatments, I only have minimal hair loss, but it *is* somewhat noticeable. Like you, I have very fair skin and, under my arms, very thick and dark hair, so I was considered a very good candidate. I hope that it will be successful.

    I have got a full Brazillian wax exactly twice – once a salon wax, and once with a salon sugar wax. Sugaring might be something for you to look into, too, Sal. It doesn’t have to be as hot as a salon wax, and it didn’t leave me sticky because it would just wipe off with water. I did not have a problem with ingrown hairs afterwards when I exfoliated well. However, I did find both types of waxing incredibly painful. I’ve been told that the pain dissipates the more frequently you wax (as the hair follicle gets weaker), and I’d imagine that is true – I barely feel it when I pluck my eyebrow hairs now, after all. But… yeesh. I don’t know if I could stand waxing my nether parts on a regular basis, even though I loved being so smooth for a few weeks. I’m too squeamish about pain. So instead, a few days a week, I take a long soak in the tub and go at it with a razor and some very gentle bath gel for sensitive skin, and I only rarely experience irritation.

    I do have a patch of long and thick-ish body hair on my lower back, but I just shave it once a month, and it’s not enough to be a bother.

    The one thing I’ve tried that I’d never do again: trying to make and use my own sugar waxing at home, via Youtube videos. Utter disaster!

  • I should also mention that my own preferences for the hair that I choose to remove (especially my nether bits and underarms, but also my legs) are primarily about comfort and *minimizing* skin irritation, though I very much enjoy the aesthetic benefit too. My skin in those areas actually experiences much *less* breaking out now that I keep them bare. I shave frequently because the sensation of stubble, regrowth, or simply having any hair at all drives me nuts.
    In contrast, I do have longer, thicker hair on my forearms than the average 20-something woman, and I used to be quite self-conscious about it. However, it’s not very dark, and it doesn’t cause any irritation at all to my skin, so I leave it alone.
    My eyebrows are probably the only area of hair removal that is absolutely, 100% about aesthetics, even though mentally I can’t stand it when there is a stubborn eyebrow hair that isn’t yet long enough to pluck. πŸ™‚

  • Ellie

    Someone else posted that they cried when they read this post and I must admit that I did too. For me it’s because you just calmly said you shave your chin every day! I do too and have for years, but I feel such *shame* about it. I am of that oft-mentioned Northern European light skin, dark hair group and, while I have very little bodily hair–I have *loads* on my face. Nothing wrong hormonally and I’ve tried laser treatment, but it really just lessens the problem and costs a bundle. Now I shave daily. I was recently in the hospital for minor emergency surgery and made sure my best friend brought me my shaver. My husband, bless him, couldn’t figure out why I wanted it as he’d never noticed. Thank you for your openness about that-which-must-not-be-mentioned (facial hair on women)–it makes me feel less freakish.

  • Fab

    I’ve had several bad experiences with depilatory creams, itchiness, burning etc. apart from being messy (ugh!). It felt so good to know that practically all women out there have the same problems even though we don’t talk about it often. I’m not exactly sure why, but I felt kinda relieved after reading your post!! Great going Sal – you sure know how to make a girl feel good about herself, hair and all!!

  • Fruitful

    Wow, everyone has written thoughtful informative comments. All I’ve got to say about this post is – I love you Sal! <333333

  • Angela

    Omg, very interesting. Is it too late to comment? Some of this is very embarrassing.

    First, I get my eyebrows waxed, maybe 6 times a year, love that, but they swell for 6 hrs or so.

    I shave legs up to the knee and pits 3 times a week, maybe.

    The embarrassing part: I did not know to trim the bush until about 9 years ago, which my childhood friends tease me mercilessly about, to this day!! I have been with my husband since I was 20 (now 40) and it never occurred to me and he didn’t complain. My face is red thinking about it…anyway, I use a trimmer and wear swim shorts….enough said πŸ™‚

  • Gaby

    I never use a razor on my skin because I see it as too much fussing – the soap/cream/gel, and the waste of water and time. Plus I had really sensitive, eczema-prone skin for years so am hesitant to use gels etc.
    Instead I use what I think are called “electric shears” – like a guy might use to get a buzz cut or the hair dresser might use to tidy up the hairs at the back of one’s neck after a haircut. I don’t use any of the attachments, just the bare shears, and it cuts the hair to about 0.5mm! Pretty much invisible for my fair-hair legs, and close enough to invisible for darker armpit hair. I shave ‘dry’, no water or cream required, and go against the grain so the razor can find the hair. For my pubic area I’ll lift the shears off a little as I don’t like to have super-short hair there; I just trim it.
    I’m 23 and have managed my hair this way since I was about 16. The hair does not grow back any darker or thicker – which is something I have heard can happen when one shaves with a razor. In fact my leg, armpit and pubic hairs are quite soft! I also like that getting ‘hair free’ takes me under 5 minutes in the bathroom and is not messy at all.
    As you say if someone is *that close* to me that they notice those little hairs, they should move away! Unless it’s my husband, and he has no qualms about the way I take care of my hair πŸ™‚ (he even uses the shears for his pubic hair when it’s getting a bit wild!)
    I love your blog by the way! It has been really interesting to read about other people’s hair management techniques, along with all the other great posts you do.

  • Gaby

    PS. “Leg shaving” for me = knees and below. My thigh hair is sparse and light-coloured, and has never grown longer than probably 0.5 cm, so I have never shaved it. I should thank my genes more often!

  • After discussing the many facets of this post with my husband, he’s coined the term “Norwegian” for all of us who shy away from the Brazilian!

  • Great post! I too invested several thousand dollars in laser hair removal (almost full body—I left my lady bit untouched). I have generally felt really happy with the results (after about eight treatments), but was wondering whether I should be frustrated that I still get some regrowth. I love your description of the “control patch” on your ankle—it really reminds me that my leg hair situation is SO MUCH BETTER now than it was before…easily worth what I spent.

    I found the laser to be SUPREMELY effective on my bikini line, for what that’s worth! As in, the hair there seemed to just give up the fight for life after just a few treatments. Have you tried lasering that area?

  • ali

    Hey waxing is amazing! I had done the brazilian for the first time last year and the first time is a bit painful,but if you do it every month its not that bad at all, only the heat of the wax is an issue. I get the one with just wax, no painful cloth strips to pull off. Really it barely hurts after the first couple of times, and if not for the woes of student budget I would be in every month.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the frank post. I have almost as much body hair as you by the sounds of things (and also very dark hair coupled with very fair skin) and don’t bother about it much these days but it’s still good to know that so many of us are in the same boat!

    I pluck my eyebrows and chin hairs (only a handful are thick & dark, I leave the very fine ones there and on my upper lip – my sister bleached it for me once and I couldn’t really tell the difference so have never bothered since) and shave my lower legs and armpits in the summer (about once a week) but don’t shave at all when it’s too cold for bare legs and sleeeveless tops. I’ve never touched my arm, nipple or belly hair, and have shaved the patch between my breasts very occasionally when wearing something low cut. I started shaving my bikini line & upper thighs when I started swimming regularly but as well as irritating my skin I found it grew back worse than before so have stopped and invested in a one piece suit with short legs instead. I trimmed my bush once as a teenager and it drove me up the wall and I’ve never done it again since. I much prefer the soft natural feel to sharp trimmed hairs.

    I’m lucky because my partner loves my body hair (we are both in our early 30s) and these days I’ll quite happily go to the pool hairy in winter and no-one has ever made any comment about it. I might consider lazer treatment on my bikini line one day as it would be nice to have a wider choice of swimwear but I’m not sure I care enough for the expense.

    Also, it’s interesting to read all the older women horrified by the idea of no pubic hair. My mother had chemotherapy in her late 50s and found the loss of all her pubic hair more distressing than losing her head hair. I’m not sure I’d feel the same in her place but i certainly have no desire to remove mine!

    • Anonymous

      Oh, and I forgot to say – if you can bear to leave your leg hair unshaved for colder months when you are covered in public anyway, I definitely find that mine is much slower to grow back after being left for a few months. And it gets quite a lot finer too.

  • For what it’s worth, from another hairy lady here (I stick to copiuous razoring and tedious tweezing; did not have good experience with waxing) I have found tons of relief from using plain Aura Cacia Sweet Almond Oil. I started using it as a simple moisturizer out of the shower (a little spreads nicely over wet skin) then reached for it out of desperation during a bout of burning, itchy razor burn. It gave me instant relief and also a noticeable improvement in the area when I woke up the next day. Now it’s part of my shaving routine. I use it almost every day in some area, right out of the shower. I use it for prep the day before if I know I will be shaving a sensitive area, and also directly after shaving an area before getting dressed. And for flare-ups. Nothing else has helped so much for this particular issue, even other pure oils I’ve tried. Anyway, it’s brought me so much relief I had to share.

    Still, I don’t shave every day. I find that gentle exfolation every few days with a washcloth helps. I usually make sure to exfoliate and oil a sensitive area the day before shaving, then put the oil on again after I shower. It felt weird at first, but I just put my undies and clothes on right on top of my very moisturized skin and I’ve never had an issue with the fabrics. It’s become a nice routine of indulgent self-care and mini-massage that has many extra benefits (my feet/hands/cuticles always look great!). My mom has told me that the hair thins out after menopause (she says she doesn’t have to shave under her arms anymore) so by this point, I guess I’m holding out. Although I have considered lasering my toes at least. Talk about some painful plucking!

  • Thank you Sally for your wonderful insight on the women’s world of Hair, especially in places where we don’t want it. Yes, I agree with your other bloggers that age does change some things, I am 53 years young and Menopause does change the growth in certain areas. Blonde and gray and it is awful when you see gray hair in the lady’s region especially when you’re not a grandma yet. Thank you for your wonderful blogs, I always read your column but don’t usually comment. So here’s to you Sally, for making all of us proud.
    Bravo for well written piece on an area that’s so tough to write about. You have courage beyond your years. Thanks —

  • I have a waxologist–which over a fairly short time., is pricey enough to make me realize that laser would make more sense, financially. However, as long as Skyler is in business, I’ll go every six-8 weeks and get a “full leg/bikini”–she is hilarious! and very very good at what she does. very good means she is super quick and I don’t really notice the “rip” because I’m laughing too hard. It also has gotten much less painful as the hairs have become less wiry/strongly rooted. I’ve been going regularly for about 3 years–ever since I quit dying my hair (I’m 42 and almost totally white/grey). It’s cheaper than going in for a dye job every few weeks, which was where I was headed. And I used to get really irritated afterward, but that seems to have desensitized a lot, too. It’s an aveda salon, super clean and everything smells divine. Anyway, it has become (strangely)something I look forward to. When I go, I also get my lashes and brows tinted as mascara irritates my eyes and I am fading there, too. since I don’t wear any other make up, I feel like it gves my a slightly more high maintenace look without much effort.

  • beth

    Another hairy one here. I have tried lots of methods but generally love the epilator for most body parts, along with tweezing. I’ve found that the epilator has solved my ingrown hair problem for pits but made it worse on legs. But I love being able to go long stretches without hair removal. What I have found recently, that I don’t think I saw mentioned here, is apple cider vinegar to help ingrowns. A little swiped on in the evenings has helped both bikini area and leg ingrowns, although you might want to test it on sensitive skin in a small zone first, since it is a mild acid. But it’s cheap, safe, and has really helped me!

  • I have extremely acne prone and sensitive skin too! I don’t like shaving (hate stubble) and regular waxing sucks for my skin, but have you ever tried sugaring? There are loads of natural recipes online you can use and it’s easier on your skin πŸ™‚ And a commercial type of sugaring is the Nads line which I love and swear by!

  • anon

    This has been really interesting – thank you for posting, and to all the commenters!

    I am lucky to have either pale body hair (arms) or skin that doesn’t get irritated by shaving (legs/pits) – I usually shave my pits every other day, mostly because it feels cleaner to me (when I was in jr. high I had a serious problem with underarm sweat, which made me very self-conscious about keeping my pits clean and dry; I always think anti-perspirant will work better on bare skin than on hair). In the summer, I shave my legs every other day or every 3 days (depending what I’m doing/how industrious I feel). Shaving doesn’t bother me, but growing-out-stubble makes me itch like crazy (I’m sort of allergic to all living hair, I think – cats, dogs, horses, my husband’s beard, my own stubble…). It grows relatively quickly so my options are either shave regularly, or put up with it for 2-3 days and then go long for a while (which I do a lot in the winter!).

    I do get my brows shaped by a BRILLIANT woman – I love her! – and she actually tweezes, but so quickly the pain is minimal (although somehow I always manage to schedule my appts around my period, and I’ve been told – and believe – that your skin is more sensitive at that time of the month, so always end up kicking myself!). I like the tweezing because it’s more precise than waxing (except in the most skilled hands, I think). Even though it’s a little painful, I just find it so *satisfying* to have her rip out those stubbly out-of-place hairs! (Even though I am the one who has decided they’re out of place, of course.) But they do grow back like gangbusters, so I get this done once a month (she trims the length, too, which I have a really hard time doing on my own).

    I get one or two darker hairs at the corner of my upper lips that I need to pluck maybe once every 6 months, and I have some dark hairs on my chin (there’s one damn one that I’ve had for the last 15 years, I swear, and I pluck it and it always comes back) (I’m 42). But they’re few enough that I can pluck them without problems. Ditto the hair on my nipples – thankfully, no ingrowns or related problems there. And I have come to find it very satisfying to yank these hairs out!

    I have great sympathy for Sarah above because I don’t do anything to my bush – if I do, it itches like crazy. I don’t even trim it, because in the past when I have tried to make it neater, the hairs didn’t lie right and all seemed to start to poke me uncomfortably. Thankfully, my husband doesn’t care in the slightest (if I wanted to shave/wax he’d be fine, if I don’t he’s fine – like someone said he above, he just likes access!). I’m not worried about a man wanting me to be bare. But I went back to school recently and have been hanging out with 25-year-old women, and I kind of worried that should I end up in any kind of gym/sports-changing situation, I would be the only person who’s not hairless and the younger women would consider me a dirty freak. WHY I should care about this (especially since I never HAVE ended up in any kind of changing-room situation!), I don’t know, but I had the impression that all younger women went bare (or nearly) these days, and so was worried that I would be some kind of dinosaur (it can really do a number on your insecurities to spend all your time surrounded only by people 15 years younger than you are – for instance, although I’m not *trying* to attract anyone besides my husband, it’s still a little weird/disconcerting to not even really register as a sexual being with probably 98% of my classmates!). So I appreciated reading from so many people with so many different approaches to the topiary!

  • I went for professional waxing for a few months, and had awful ingrown hairs. Even after meticulously following the esthetician’s instructions to exfoliate with a loofa every 2nd day in a circular motion. And 3 of the suckers became ridiculously infected. And all 3 were in the bikini area. And after the infections subsided all 3 left marks that have not yet subsided, 6 months later. So I sympathize with your own experience!

    I’m hairy, too, but mostly downy blonde stuff on my face which, as you’ve pointed out, isn’t a good candidate for laser. Sigh. I use a personal trimmer. I’ll pluck the odd darker strand, but that hurts.

    I don’t like being hairy, as it makes me feel somehow kind of masculine and my preferred image of self is very feminine. I guess we have to get accustomed to what nature hands out – at least to a degree as even with hair removal treatments the reality is that we have to deal with the annoyance with some regularity.

  • Holly

    Sally, thanks for sharing. I’ve been following this hair removal debate with interest and it is always so interesting to hear what other women think on the topic.

    I went for years not thinking about body hair except for legs and underarms. I shave when I am going to expose those areas. I personally enjoy the feel and look of freshly shaven legs and underarms but would never judge any woman who chooses not to shave those areas. I’m a redhead with blondish hair on my arms, legs, and — I’ve recently noticed — a nearly invisible fuzz on my upper lip. Other than shaving pits, legs, and the occasional attempt to clean up my bikini line (which ALWAYS results in irritation and ingrown hairs), I really don’t think much about my body hair. It barely occurred to me until recently that I was supposed to think much about hair ‘down there’. I love your solution to the bikini question! Cute and practical.

  • Bactria

    Thank you all for your honesty! I am lucky to have relatively pale skin and fine brown/red/blonde hair, and would probably never have shaved any of it had my mother not started to nag me in my teens about my legs being ‘disgusting’. I thought waxing would involve less effort, so started that, and it has been very effective – I use wax strips to prevent the third-degree burns which would result from do-it-yourself hot-waxing for me! During winter I let them grow as I wear jeans pretty much all season, during summer I wax, then do a tidy-up shave a couple of weeks later. It grows back very sparse now. As a control, I’ve never shaved my thighs as I they are hardly ever visible, and the hair is only distinguishable up close. I used to shave my bikini line for swimming, and found it very itchy so now just select swimmers which conceal it. After waxing my legs, I find plain olive oil removes any leftover wax and also nourishes the skin so always apply that. I find the idea that a man would prefer a woman with nude pubic area a bit creepy, frankly, so I’ve never even thought considered removing mine. It makes sense to me that my body wants to protect those very sensitive parts, so consider the hair part of that protection (but again, I have fine and not very thick hair, this is just my thoughts about me and not prescriptive about anyone else).

  • Bactria

    Oh! Sorry, forgot to mention that the area I do shave often and religiously is my armpit area. I live in Brisbane, Queensland, and sweat is a daily factor often even in winter, so to minimise body odour I have to use a strong deodorant and remove hair there as soon as it appears.

  • We could be body hair twins! I deal with the exact same issues, and have yet to find an affordable, painless solution to removing body hair. I received a laser treatment package for Christmas for the bikini area. It’s by far the worst area to deal with, because who wants ingrowns and razor rash there?

    Summer time is the worst because I really like wearing shorts and skirts to stay cool, but I can only shave every 3 days or so. And we spend a lot of time on the lake. I’ve just gotten to the point that if I’m a little stubbly (and it’s visible, trust me!) I just go with it. If someone has something to say about my Sasquatch-esque pelt I just laugh. We are mammals after all.

  • I started shaving my legs in secret, at about 11. I used to be very self-conscious and shy and wanted to be like all the other girls at school (imagine Mean Girls, that was elementary school for me). I am kind of embarrassed at how self-conscious I was, shaving my pubic hair as soon as I got it, thinking it was unnatural how hairy I was, even though my mother was very pro-natural. Now looking back, (I’m 19 now) I’m not hairy, I just have hair. It’s NORMAL. I wish I had been more brave as a child, but I’m kind of thankful for the experience, so that I can teach my children that pubic hair is normal, leg hair is normal, that “sexy” is something you don’t understand at 12.

    When I “lost” my virginity (lost? what does that even MEAN?), I was kinda worried what my boyfriend would expect, so we had a talk and he told me that he wanted to make love to a woman, because I made him feel like a man, a man in love. (I will never forget that.) I don’t think I was as hairy as he even expected, what with me trying to “prepare” him so much for the big bushy reveal. What’s that saying?

    “Those who mind, don’t matter, those who matter don’t mind.”

    I just trim with scissors when I feel like it. Some days I like being nearly hairless, currently I got a lot going on, but no plans to “deal with it” as of yet. I don’t really like shaving my legs because they get really irritated, so I go like 2-3 weeks between shaves. My leg and arm hair is pretty fair, but to be honest, I simply prefer touching the soft fine hairs than worrying about stubble. My friend thought I was trying to make some kind of feminist statement, but I’m just lazy and far too happy with myself to go fussing about hair. I also have one long hair poking out from one nipple, named “Oscar”.

    TMI?

  • Maria

    This is one my favorite posts ever on the web. Thank you for being so open and honest about your hair grooming strategies. I have a great relationship with my body, but an only decent relationship with my copious body hair. And learning of someone with similar struggles really make me feel better.

  • I really enjoyed the last post on this, and part 2 is no exception. It’s so refreshing to hear about a peer of mine who is not overly obsessed with the cultural “norm” of hair removal, and doesn’t feel she should oblige to some ridiculous standards. I’m like you – trim downstairs, shave the limbs 1x a week. (Maybe 2 if there’s a special occasion!) I have friends 10 years older than me who are SHOCKED that I’m not completely bare down there. Firstly, I find it shocking that they care!
    I’m so glad I’ve never fallen under the spell of “you must do this” or “you must look like this” to be valid or pretty or desirable in this dept. In all my college escapades, I never had a complaint from a guy, so someone is blowing this way out of proportion! πŸ™‚
    I did want to share though, that I have started laser treatments – bikini, under arms and my calves. I weighed going to a place to have it done and ultimately bought a machine from Costco. It’s still too early to tell results, but my obsessive review searching gives me hope. This is purely for convenience’s sake too – I’m just annoyed by shaving those areas more – I’m hoping this at least diminishes the frequency.
    PS – Love the updated pic – you look radiant!

  • Kelly

    Thank you for writing this! I don’t have much to add that hasn’t already been eloquently said, but having this discussion will hopefully help others feel less shame about having hair in places they “shouldn’t.” For me, I spent over 10 years agonizing over the fact that I have to shave my chin/jawline since “women don’t do that.” In the last year, I’ve been financially able to begin a course of laser treatments which has made me feel better about my appearance. But, I can’t help but wonder if we were more open about this topic, would I have had as much angst about it and felt compelled to take (expensive) action…

  • diane

    I had my armpits and bikini line laser-ed a few years ago. I did 8 sessions, and realistically, I could do 8 more. I still have fuzz, but it’s extra fine and slow growing. I can shave once a week no problem. I had such a horrific time with razor burn and ingrown hairs. Getting laser was the best money I’ve spent in the name of beauty. But holy hell, IT HURTS!

  • M.K.

    Loved this post and the ensuing discussion. It’s always challenging to find a balance between doing what makes one comfortable and not feeling like a pawn of the commercial machine that’s wants to convince us we have to be hairless so we buy more products… Thank goodness for those partners who love us for us and not for the state of our body hair grooming! Thought I’d share the link to this Boden swim skirt which might be just the thing for those who don’t want to worry about a bikini line:
    http://www.bodenusa.com/Womens-Swimwear/Bikinis-Tankinis/WB022/Womens-Pretty-Swim-Skirt.html#SwimwearGuideSN

  • Laura

    I’m hairy too and I’m a teenager, which makes it worse. The advantage is I have nice thick eyebrows/eyelashes and head hair. I don’t mind if I have a bit of stubble. And (TMI) I used to shave totally bare down below as did my boyfriend, but we both realized we like the other with some hair.

  • Right, here goes.

    FACE I have my eyebrows waxed once a month, and don’t pluck them in between. I think if I didn’t have glasses, I would pluck in between more, but once a month is okay, just. I have my sideburns and part of my cheek waxed also, this could happen more than once a month, but I can only afford it once a month. I pluck my chin and neck hairs – I’m tempted to shave but not sure if that would make it worse, am thinking about laser or electrolysis, or even seeing if my doctor can give me something.

    UPPER BODY
    I’ve got random hairs on my chest and around my boobs, pluck those, but the ingrown hairs are starting, so I might need to look at an alternative. I also have hair on my shoulder blades, which I tend not to worry about but sometimes self wax with strips.

    MID
    Snail trail and belly I shave on and off. I get bad ingrowns so I’ll tend to leave it long between shaves.

    BIKINI
    I used to get it waxed, but in an effort to save $$ I bought an electric shaver, and just trim the edges, maybe every 6-8 weeks (if i am swimming it would be more regular) I sometimes use the electric shaver all over, but still with the trim mode set.

    UNDERARMS, LEGS, TOES AND FEET. I shave, 1-2 times a week below the knee. Maybe once or twice a year I’ll go above the knee.

    THE UGLY
    I have crazy nose hairs, which I use a nose hair trimmer for – works great. Oh an hair on my bum, not cool. But there is no way I am touching it, too scared of getting ingroans from waxing etc. I was so mortified by it at one point I wore knickers to bed, because I didn’t want my partner at the time to see, eventually she did, and I just said ‘look, it’s mortifying, can’t do much, embarressed, that’s why i wear the knickers (i hate wearing clothes to bed)’ she was fine with it, and kind of thought it was cute – who would have thought? Ha.

    I’m 30, and my hair has got thicker worse, cropped up more as I have got older. I’m still embarressed by it, but at the same time I know people who have similar issues, so I don’t feel alone. For along time I thought I was the only one in the world with this problem, except for really old ladies with whiskers!

    Thank you for writing this Sal!

  • esky

    Thank you for this post. Body hair is something I’m extremely sensitive about. With a hormonal imbalance and ovarian cysts, my problem has only worsened. It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one with hair issues… However, I still feel like I must be the only with-TMI- hair on my bum and between the butt cheeks. I’m so embarrassed about it, that I’m reluctant to complain even to a doctor. I’m terrified of being judged. And perhaps needless to say, I’m a virgin.

  • Tasha

    I’m here from Yes and Yes and I really really appreciate your honesty! I’m one of those very hairy women as well.

    I hate, hate it since it hurts like he!! but I usually pluck my chin hairs, leave my moustach alone (it’s not too noticeable except when people look at it up close and my fiance hasn’t said anything), and pluck my eyebrows or sometimes go in for a wax.

    I get really dark hairs around my areola and I usually just shave those, but mostly leave them alone. I shave my legs about once a week in the summer usually from the knees down (though this might change once I’m married) and hardly at all in the winter. I usually don’t shave/wax my bikini line unless I’m going swimming since I get really bad razor burn. I usually wear shorts if I’m going swimming anyway. I sometimes shave between my belly and pubic area- I have really dark hair there but usually not since nobody sees it and I get ingrown hairs when I do shave. I also trim the bush about once a month. Ya know, to keep it neat and all.

    I hate having so much hair and I thought for a while that I was weird and strange. Glad to know I’m not the only one with this problem. Thanks a billion for this post.

  • Naomi

    Sal- How do you deal with the prickliness of shaving your chin? I tried that and had regrowth by the end of the day. I also try plucking but I can’t get them all and waxing hurts too much and I end up having to pluck afterward anyway cause it doesn’t catch all the hairs…

    • Sal

      Naomi, I just try not to worry about it. I’ve got regrowth by the end of the day, too, but it’s not too noticeable until morning, when I just shave it again. Plucking hurts and causes pimples for me, so I just deal with the stubble instead.

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  • e

    Thankyou this helped me so much. I have the exact same problems as you. Helped me realise im not alone. Thankyou again.