If you’re thinking about trimming it up, you’re not alone.

According to a U.S. study, just over half of men surveyed — 50.5 percent, to be exact — reported regular pubic grooming.

There’s no need to feel self-conscious about why you do it, either: men trim the hedges for numerous reasons, from cleaning up before sex to keeping it neat and tidy so that hair doesn’t stick out of clothes.

But don’t feel like you need to groom at all. Pubic hair maintenance is totally up to you. Just be sure you’re well-versed in safety, maintenance, and aftercare before you start.

The kind of pubic hair design depends on what you like and how much maintenance you want to do. Here are the three most popular, go-to designs:

Briefs

Basically the man’s version of the bikini style. Shave all the hair that visibly sticks out of your underwear.

Lion’s mane

Remove all the hair off your balls and the base of your penis, but leave everything just above the penis. This can make your penis look larger.

Trimmed

Cut your hair down to a short length so that you still have full hair coverage but much shorter hairs. This is a good option if you don’t want to shave completely but still want to keep the hair minimal.

Other manscaping designs:

  • Minimalist: Shave all the hair above your penis, but leave the hair on your balls and the base of your penis. This can save you some time trimming around your tricky, delicate scrotum skin.
  • Horizontal landing strip: Shave the hair above your pubic area (but not around your penis) and trim your ball hair so that you have a sort of horizontal landing strip just above your penis.
  • Shapes: You’ll need to first trim all your hairs short so that the shape is easier to see. But afterward, get creative until you’ve shaped it to your liking. Arrows, hearts, letters, and straight “landing strips” are popular options.

You can also go completely bare, if that’s your choice. You may find the style you like dependent on how much upkeep and grooming you want to do.

Before you start grooming, wash your hands and sanitize your tools. You might also want to take a quick warm bath or shower first to soften the hairs. This will keep your skin from getting irritated, especially if you’re going bare.

When removing hair, do it in the shower or over the toilet to make cleanup easier. After you’re done, disinfect your tools and put them in an enclosed, clean case.

1. Shaving

Shaving is common among dudes who manscape, but it’s also one of the most hazardous if you’re not careful.

When you shave, it’s easy to accidentally slice some skin and expose yourself to bacteria or irritants. Shaving can also block your follicles — the casings that hold each hair — potentially causing folliculitis or ingrown hairs.

How to: Shave in the direction that your hair grows to minimize irritation. Pull your skin to keep it taut to get all of the hairs.

Shaving tips

  • Always disinfect your razor before use.
  • Dampen your pubes to soften the hairs and make them easier to cut.
  • Use shaving cream, gel, or moisturizer with natural ingredients to prevent irritation. Opt for more natural options from brands like Dr. Bronner’s, Alaffia, Alba Botanica, Herban Cowboy, or Jāsön.
  • Use cortisone cream to minimize post-shave irritation.
  • Don’t get cream or gel near your penis.
  • Replace your blades often.

2. Waxing and threading

Waxing is done by applying strips of warm wax to a hairy surface and pulling hairs out from their follicles. Waxing is a good alternative to shaving because it typically results in less itchiness when the hair starts growing back.

Threading works by wrapping thin threads around hairs and pulling them out by the root, too.

These methods are perfectly safe when done by a trained professional, but if done improperly, can cause some uncomfortable side effects, including redness, irritation, and ingrown hairs.

Waxing and threading tips

  • Choose a shop that uses safe methods. Read customer reviews and any ratings by health organizations.
  • When waxing or threading, the person doing your treatment should be a trained or certified aesthetician and wear gloves.
  • Good salons will never dip a waxing stick more than once and will cover the waxing table with a disposable cover.

3. Chemical depilatories

Chemical depilatories weaken keratin in hair so that it loosens from its follicle and can be wiped off with a towel or gentle exfoliating sponge.

These are easy to find at your everyday drugstore. But they can contain chemicals or other substances that cause allergic reactions or breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, you’ll want to avoid this method of hair removal.

Hair removal cream tips

  • Talk to your doctor before using a depilatory to see if it’s the right choice for you. Consider getting a depilatory done by a medical professional.
  • If you’re allergy-prone, get a skin or prick test to see what ingredients you might be allergic to.
  • Do a patch test somewhere else on your body before applying it to your pubic zone.

4. Laser hair removal or electrolysis

Laser hair removal and electrolysis are both considered “permanent” methods to denude pubes: both eliminate hair follicles so hair doesn’t grow back.

Laser removal uses concentrated beams of light, while electrolysis uses a device that transmits energy from chemicals or heat into your follicles to keep them from growing new hairs. Hairs may still grow back after several treatments, but they’re usually finer and less noticeable when they return.

The professional will ask you to shave before coming. It’s best to have two weeks of growth, although some places give you privacy to shave at the beginning of the appointment.

Laser hair removal tips

  • See a trained medical professional to have these treatments done. Avoid over-the-counter methods that claim to use these methods.
  • Choose a treatment center wisely. Many places offer these treatments, but check into reviews and health assessments before you commit.

Both types of removal should be done by a professional at a treatment center. Talk to your doctor before choosing either of these techniques, especially if you’ve had keloid scar tissue formation.

If done improperly, these treatments can change your skin color, too.

5. Trimming or maintaining

Don’t want to chop your pubes? No problem.

Pubic hair, unlike head hair, stops growing at a certain point. So leaving your hair untrimmed won’t cause a Rapunzel situation down there. But if you want to take a little off the top, trim with the scissors pointing away from your body.

Don’t cut hair too close to your pubic skin, either. This is an easy way to accidentally cut yourself. And be extra careful around your scrotum and penis skin, which is much thinner.

Trimming tips

  • Disinfect any scissors you plan to use on your pubes.
  • Store scissors in a secure case that isn’t too moist or exposed to the air.
  • Don’t use these scissors for anything else or share them — this increases your risk of infections or other pubic threats, like lice or crabs.
  • Keep your pubes dry so that hairs don’t clump together and become harder to individually trim and detail.

Even if you’re careful, it’s not uncommon to get rashes, bumps, or ingrown hairs on your pubic area, especially if you shave.

It’s best to stop shaving until these symptoms go away. See your doctor if they don’t get better after about a week of no shaving, or if they seem to be getting worse.

Here’s what you should do for each concern:

Rash

  • Don’t scratch. This can make the irritation worse or cause an infection.
  • Use hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching.

Bumps

  • Use a soothing, natural lotion or cream to relieve irritation. (Or make your own at home using shea butter, olive oil, baking soda, and a few drops of essential oil.)
  • Let the hair grow back out until bumps disappear.
  • Consider shaving less frequently if you get bumps every time you shave.
  • Try using an electric razor.

Ingrown hairs

  • Don’t shave again until the hairs grow back for a few weeks.
  • Use a warm, wet washcloth to massage the area once daily until irritation improves.
  • Don’t use tweezers to pull them out, as this can increase your infection risk.

There’s no right or wrong way to handle your pubic hair. Stats show that men are split right down the middle when it comes to pube grooming, so it’s really all about personal preference.

Some men go completely pube-less, while others just keep it trimmed. Some men don’t pay any attention to it beyond keeping it clean — and either way, it’s totally okay!

Remember that not everyone’s pubic hair is created equal. Your bush is going to look different than one online or in the locker room — like the rest of your hair, genes and overall health play a role in hair growth and quality.

If your partner or someone close to you is pressuring you to do something to your pubes you’re uncomfortable with, let them know. It’s your body, and no one besides your doctor (and only when something is threatening your health!) should ever tell you what to do with them.

Grow ‘em proud, trim ‘em down — it’s up to you!


Tim Jewell is a writer, editor, and linguist based in Chino Hills, CA. His work has appeared in publications by many leading health and media companies, including Healthline and The Walt Disney Company.