Which Pubic Hair Style Is Healthiest?

From au naturel to totally bare, pubic hair trends come and go. But is one look better for your health? Here's what gynecologists think.

Landing strip, Brazilian bare, au naturel—when it comes to pubic hair, every person has their own personal preference. But does one pubic hairstyle offer more health benefits than the others?

A 2016 study published in British Medical Journal concluded that the more hair down there, the better. Researchers surveyed more than 7,500 people about their pubic hair styling habits and found that any type of grooming was associated with a higher risk of sexually transmitted infections such as herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), gonorrhea, and chlamydia.

To better understand how pubic hair style affects health, Health posed the question to two gynecologists.

Au Naturel Pubic Hair Health Benefits

The short answer: going au natural is the healthiest pubic-hair policy. "Your pubic hair is there to protect the skin around your lady parts because that skin is very sensitive," Donnica Moore, MD, a Chester, New Jersey-based gynecologist and president of Sapphire Women's Health Group, told Health.

Dr. Moore said pubic hair acts as a buffer, protecting you from irritation or infection when your genitalia rub up against itchy or uncomfortable fabrics and surfaces, such as tight underwear or damp yoga pants.

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of OB-GYN at Yale School of Medicine, said there's no reliable research making the case that one pubic style is healthier than the other. However, Dr. Minkin said conventional wisdom often leads gynecologists to suggest that pubic hair should remain as nature intended.

"There's not much data, but it's hypothesized that pubic hair prevents friction and keeps away dirt from your genitals," Dr. Minkin told Health. "We've evolved to have hair on our genitals for a reason."

To Trim, Shave, or Wax Your Pubic Hair?

In one study, over 75% of people surveyed reported grooming their pubic area. Unfortunately, more than a quarter of that majority also said they'd injured themselves, giving themselves cuts, burns, or rashes in the process of grooming their pubic hair.

Which pubic hair grooming method is safest? "In general, the more thorough the technique, the higher the risk for injury," Katharine White, MD, an OB-GYN at Boston University School of Medicine, told Health.

That's why, to get the protective benefits of your natural pubic hair, you might want to opt to trim rather than shave, wax, or laser.

"Clipping is going to be less risky than shaving, and shaving is less risky than waxing," explained Dr. White. To trim safely, Dr. Moore recommended using blunt nail-clipping scissors and holding the hairs in place with a fine-tooth comb while you trim.

Here are some tips to avoid injury while trimming, or clipping, pubic hair:

  • Stand while trimming. Standing helps you to see what you’re doing, which could reduce injuries.
  • Trim your own pubic hair. More injuries occur when a partner does the trimming, possibly because your partner cannot feel what’s going on.

Tips for Shaving Pubic Hair

If you prefer to shave, remember that the skin under your pubic hair is especially sensitive and vulnerable to skin irritation. Go with the grain of the hair, use a new razor every time, and soak in warm water first to soften the hair so it's easier to cut.

Make sure to use new blades; old ones can carry unwanted bacteria that can cause razor burns, bumps, folliculitis, and other irritations to the skin and hair follicles.

To get your best pubic hair shave, try these tips:

  • Before you shave, wet your skin and hair to soften it
  • Apply shaving cream or gel
  • Shave in the direction that the hair grows
  • Rinse after each swipe of the razor
  • Store your razor in a dry area

Tips for Waxing Pubic Hair

Nothing quite beats waxing for giving super smooth results (and some pain). Although waxing has fewer incidences of ingrown hairs compared to shaving, skin irritation and ingrown hair can occur, according to Sherry Ross, MD, an OB-GYN and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period. Another drawback to waxing is an increased chance of Staph infection around the hair follicle, said Dr. Ross.

Other waxing tips (if you're going to a waxing professional) include:

  • Avoid retinoid creams before waxing
  • Reduce discomfort by taking an over-the-counter pain reliever 30 minutes prior to the wax
  • Soothe your skin with cold packs if you have pain

You should get waxed at a salon or spa that doesn't “double dip.” That means that when the aesthetician is using a new wooden stick each time they stick it into the wax pot. If the aesthetician uses only one stick per client and keeps dipping that same stick into the wax pot, that’s “double dipping.”

A Quick Review

Leaving your pubic hair au naturel is, in fact, the pubic hair style recommended by gynecologists. However, most people take some measures to groom or style their pubic hair. If you trim, shave, or wax your pubic hairs, make sure you are following the tips outlined here for the best results.

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Sources
Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Osterberg EC, Gaither TW, Awad MA, et al. Correlation between pubic hair grooming and STIs: results from a nationally representative probability sampleSex Transm Infect. 2017;93(3):162-166.

  2. Truesdale MD, Osterberg EC, Gaither TW, et al. Prevalence of pubic hair grooming–related injuries and identification of high-risk individuals in the united statesJAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(11):1114-1121. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2017.2815

  3. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 7 ways to prevent injuries while trimming pubic hair.

  4. American Academy of Dermatology. Hair removal: how to shave.

  5. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair removal: how to wax.

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