Waxing vs. Shaving: Learn the Best Way to Manicure Your Pubic Area

Each has plusses and minuses

Woman shaving her legs.
Guido Mieth / Getty Images

A study by JAMA Dermatology published in June 2016 asked a group of more than 3,000 American women about their preferences on the subject of the grooming of pubic hair. A very high number, 84 percent, said they removed pubic hair in one of several ways: with scissors, razor, wax, tweezer, depilatory cream, laser, or electrolysis. Despite a variety of methods available, the two main ways to do this are shaving and waxing.

Many wonder which is the better method and want to know the pros and cons of each.

Waxing Lasts Longer Than Shaving 

Hair grows in cycles: growing, resting, and shedding. When you first start waxing, it will last about two weeks. But if you continue to wax every two to four weeks and get the hair that was growing underneath the skin at your previous wax(es), it can be gone for up to six weeks. Of course, dark, thick hair is always more noticeable when it grows in, as opposed to light, fine hair.

But even with repeated and frequent waxing, six weeks of hair-free skin isn't the case for everyone or in every area. Waxing an area frequently over time can also damage the hair follicle and cause it to come in lighter and finer or stop growing hair altogether.

Shaving lasts just a few days at most for most women before that stubble starts to return.

At-Home Removal

You can wax your bikini area at home if you are just taking the hair on your bikini line.

Keep in mind by waxing your own bikini carefully, following instructions, is a must for the longest lasting results. You could end up breaking hairs above or below the surface, and they will grow back much quicker than if the entire hair from the follicle was removed. Breaking hair creates a sharp tip and can often cause ingrown hairs.

If you basically want most or all of your genital hair removed, close to a Brazilian wax or other specialty bikini wax, you should have that done professionally. There are many waxing styles, from a little to a lot off. Then again, you don't need to be locked into any name. You can customize the hair so it's removed and left exactly where you want.

Shaving is, of course, always done and home, and you don't need specific instructions. All you need is a fresh blade, shaving cream or gel to moisturize, and the knowledge that you should shave in the same direction the hair grows. But it's risky to try to remove any more than your bikini line with a razor because removing every bit of hair means you are shaving an area that is super sensitive.

How Long It Takes

Waxing is not as fast as shaving. Using a razor takes just a few minutes. Waxing is a longer process with setting up the supplies and products, not to mention applying and removing the hair and cleaning up. If you go to a salon or spa a skilled tech can do a bikini wax fairly quickly, but you'll have to set aside time for getting ready and driving back and forth to the appointment, which means a big time commitment.

The Pain Factor

Shaving is generally pain-free with the right tools and technique because you're not uplifting any hair.

You're simply cutting it, and that doesn't hurt in itself. The side effects of shaving can be somewhat painful, especially in the bikini zone. Razor rash or burn, redness, irritation, nicks, ingrown hair, and pimples are some of the risks.

Waxing, however, can be uncomfortable, especially in the private zone. This, of course, depends on your personal threshold, the thickness of the hair, and the person who is performing the service. Waxing can also lead to inflammation after it's done and ingrown hairs.

Cost Comparison

Shaving supplies can definitely add up, especially if you break the razor out often. Waxing at home can also be costly, especially the initial investment of quality products to do it correctly. This includes wax, strips, applicators, powder, and pre- and post-wax cleanser.

If you decide to go to a salon or spa for waxing, the exact cost varies.

This depends on where you live, the type of facility it is, and the kind of bikini wax you get. This is, without doubt, more expensive than either shaving or waxing at home.