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Body hair

girl shaving her legs

Even before you get your first period, you will likely see new hair growing in your pubic area, under your arms, and on your legs. The hair may start out light and there won’t be a lot of it, but then it will grow darker and thicker as you go through the stages of puberty. Hair in the pubic area starts near the opening and spreads up in a V shape over time.

Body hair is normal, and some people think it looks cool. Lots of women and girls remove body hair from places such as their legs and underarms, although there is no real health reason to do so.

If you are thinking about removing hair for the first time, it makes sense to talk to your parents or guardians. They may have an opinion about how old you should be to start removing hair or advice on ways to do it.

Keep reading for some tips on ways to remove body hair.

Ways to get rid of hair arrow. top

Removing body hair can cause skin irritation, cuts, and other problems. Some parts of your body, like areas around your eyes and vagina, can be especially sensitive. Also, if you have a lot of hair on your face, it could be a sign of a medical condition called PCOS.

Here are some tips to help prevent problems when using some popular ways to remove body hair.

Shaving

  • Try shaving in the shower when your skin is soft.
  • Use a shaving cream or gel.
  • Change razors often because a sharp blade helps prevent cuts.
  • Shave in the direction the hair grows.
  • To avoid spreading infections, don’t share razors.

Hair removal creams, gels, and liquids (depilatories)

  • These use chemicals to make the hair melt, and the chemicals can irritate your skin.
  • Follow the directions carefully, and leave the product on only for the recommended amount of time.
  • Don’t use these near your eyes or on skin that is already cut or irritated.
  • These sometimes can cause rashes, burns, and other skin problems, so it’s a good idea to test a product on a small area the first time you use it. You might want to avoid these products if you tend to have sensitive skin (like if skin care products give you stinging, burning, or a rash).

Waxing

  • Waxing involves putting cold or hot wax on skin where you want hair to be removed. A cloth is used to pull off the wax and the hair. Waxing can hurt, and it may irritate your skin.
  • You can buy waxes to use yourself, or you can go to a salon professional for waxing. If you wax yourself, make sure to follow all directions that come with the product.
  • You might avoid waxing if you have sensitive skin. Also, avoid waxing skin that is sunburned, chapped, irritated, or has moles or warts on it.
  • It can be a good idea to do a test on a small area for allergic reaction or irritation.

Electrolysis

  • In electrolysis, a professional uses an electric current to kill the hair root.
  • Electrolysis can take many sessions and a lot of money.
  • You could get an infection from a dirty needle or scars from poor treatments, so consider asking your doctor to recommend a trusted electrologist. You also should look for an electrologist with a current license or certification.

Laser hair removal

  • Light is beamed through the skin to stop hair growth.
  • The laser light can cause pain sometimes, but creams are used to numb the skin. If you use a lot of these creams, they can cause serious health problems, so talk to your doctor before having laser hair removal.
  • Avoid sunlight when your skin is healing after laser removal.
  • Keep in mind that laser treatment can be expensive and works best on dark hair and light skin.

Tips for removing pubic hair arrow. top

In recent years, more girls and women have also begun removing all or some of the hair around their vagina. There is no need to remove the hair to keep the area clean. The decision to remove pubic hair often is based just on trends, which change over time.

If you’re thinking about removing pubic hair, keep a few facts in mind:

  • Your pubic hair helps protect the sensitive lips around the opening to your vagina from painful rubbing by your underwear.
  • The pubic area is very sensitive. It can easily get irritated or infected when removing hair.
  • Waxing works by pulling out the hair, which can hurt.
  • If you shave, you can give yourself a painful cut.
  • As shaved hair grows back, it can feel itchy and uncomfortable.
  • If you decide to use a hair-removal cream, make sure it says it’s gentle enough for the pubic area.
  • Don’t put on any product that could sting, like aftershave lotion. To help avoid irritation, don’t use products with added dyes or fragrances.

If you have more questions about taking care of this sensitive area, talk with an adult you trust.

 

Content last reviewed April 15, 2014
Page last updated May 23, 2014

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.

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