All Your Most Embarrassing Butt Questions, Answered

Illustrated by Mallory Heyer.
We as a nation may not be ready to free the nipple, but we'll be damned if we can't have our ripped butt jeans and ass inspo accounts. But just because it's become almost snoozy to see celebs baring their backside on the red carpet doesn't mean some topics still aren't taboo.
Burning questions about anal bleaching? Wondering why the hell anyone would get Botox injected into their butthole? The best way to treat chicken skin or inflamed zits on your cheeks? We're answering all your most embarrassing butt questions, ahead.
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How do I get rid of hair down there?

The hair around your anus is meant to protect it — so if you choose to remove it, proceed with caution. Every expert we spoke to agrees that shaving is the least desirable option, due to the frequency, required flexibility, and increased risk of nicks. Nandi Wagner, Lead Esthetician at Bliss Spa in SoHo, says that "shaving can be incredibly irritating, itchy, and uncomfortable for the perianal area particularly during regrowth," but suggests that if you do attempt it, to use a fresh razor at the end of your shower (when the hair has softened) and to always shave in the direction of the hair growth.

If you're already getting Brazilian waxes, your backside should be included. Waxing is great because it can lead to finer and slower hair growth over time, adds Wagner, but because it's more costly than shaving, many attempt it at home. If that's you, she says, "make sure you have plenty of light and a mirror... and keep some oil around just in case you get stuck." Nikki Babian, Lead Specialist at Spruce & Bond in Scarsdale, NY, adds that you should always apply the wax in the direction of the hair growth and pull it off the opposite way. And try not to hesitate as you are removing the wax — it could cause a bruise or ripped skin, she says.

Board-certified dermatologist Estee Williams, MD, says that laser hair removal in the hands of a trained professional is the best way to go, as it will permanently stop hair growth over time and alleviate folliculitis, or butt breakouts. (More on those later.)
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Is anal bleaching safe?

There's no denying it: Being overly concerned with the shade of the skin around your butthole is pretty damn superficial. (Who can forget the fight between Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph in Bridesmaids that culminates with the latter's character screaming, "Her asshole is bleached and you know how I know? I went to the fucking salon and got my asshole bleached too and I love my new asshole!")

There is absolutely no medical reason to lighten the area and having a darker skin tone between the cheeks is completely normal, caused by "hair removal methods such as waxing and shaving and friction of any kind in the area, which activates the melanocytes that cause the color change," says gynecologist Carolyn Delucia, MD, of VSPOT in New York City. Still, if an even-toned anus is what you're after, here's how to go about it responsibly.

If you're attempting an at-home job, avoid any products that don't clearly state what the lightening agent is, and what percentage of it is in the formula. Nine times out of 10, it'll be hydroquinone, which "works by decreasing the production of pigment in the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. He calls hydroquinone one of the most effective treatments available, but warns against making direct contact with the anus. "If you develop any burning, stinging, redness, or peeling of the skin in that area, discontinue use and make sure to apply a bland moisturizer to the area," he says. Wagner recommends kojic acid as a safer alternative to hydroquinone, saying: "It's naturally derived and has a much lower risk of injuring the skin in the brightening process."

Still, you're better off going to a professional for a chemical bleaching (it's a common treatment at many medical spas) or, safest yet, getting a laser lightening procedure. At VSPOT, Dr. Delucia uses a laser to lighten the skin around the genitals and anus and adds that "when done cautiously, it will give a quicker resolution than chemical bleaching." You can expect to see results after three treatments spaced out over about eight weeks, but there will always be a need for touch-ups, since it's impossible to avoid all friction that causes darkening.
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Why is my butt breaking out?

We're completely opposed to the idea of a "beach body" being anything other than your body — cellulite, hair, stretch marks, and all — at the beach. However, there is something none of us want to see when we go to put on a swimsuit and that is a big, red, painful zit hanging out in plain view on our ass. But because the universe is cruel, summer is the season when we're more prone to folliculitis than ever, thanks to the hot, sticky temps.

"Anytime the skin is occluded, be it from wearing tight clothing or sweating, it can lead to bacteria and yeast growth and trigger folliculitis," says Dr. Williams. She recommends always wearing cotton when possible and removing gym clothes and hitting the shower immediately after your workouts.

"Use a body wash with benzoyl peroxide (2.5% - 5%) or neem as the active ingredient, followed by glycolic (5-10%) or salicylic acid (1-2%) pads as a leave-on treatment," she advises. A "butt facial" every few months, and in anticipation of beach vacations, is another option.
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Can I do anything about spots?

So your butt pimple is gone, but in its wake is a scar or dark spot, even though you treated it carefully and didn't pick or pop. What gives? This area is especially prone to discoloration due to the lack of sun exposure it gets, says board-certified plastic surgeon Norman Rowe, MD. The pores are also larger on the body than the face, and body hair is more coarse than facial hair, so those factors can lead to deeper scarring, says Wagner.

A consistent exfoliation routine involving sugar scrubs and products containing glycolic and salicylic acid can fade marks (Wagner likes gentle fruit enzyme peels followed up with brightening rosehip oil), but more intense discoloration will require in-office treatments. "Intense Pulse Light can fade marks and treat breakouts simultaneously, especially an IPL with a dedicated acne filter such as the Lumenis M22," says Dr. Williams.

If your issue isn't acne so much as it is bumpy texture and chronic itchy, dry, or inflamed skin — often the result of keratosis pilaris, eczema, or psoriasis — you should be exfoliating regularly, but most importantly, infusing the skin with tons of moisture. "If you look at eczema skin under the microscope, you'll see tiny cracks throughout; moisturizing actually repairs and restores this barrier defect and is as important as applying medicated creams," says Dr. Williams. "Look for moisturizers containing ceramides, such as Cerave Cream. On the other hand, psoriasis skin is usually very thick and products with salicylic acid, such as Neutrogena T-gel, are best."
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WTF is butt Botox?

You've probably heard of some of Botox's many off-label injection sites: the scalp to decrease sweating, the tip of the nose to discourage droopiness, the neck to erase lines... but the anus? It's hardly mainstream, and yet board-certified dermatologic surgeon Jason Emer, MD, has been treating the area for nearly a decade and offers what he calls "the full designer anus," which also includes hair removal and skin lightening with peels, creams, and lasers.

"It started when I had a lot of marathon runner patients who would sweat constantly in the genitals and anal area and it would cause chafing when they would run or bike long distances. We started using Botox to stop sweating and then I noticed it helped other issues, such as fissures, hemorrhoids, wrinkles and sagging, and anal sex. Patients would tell me how much easier it was for them to 'perform,'" says Dr. Emer, who is based in Los Angeles, CA, otherwise known as the porn capital. "I have a wide range of patients, but typically it's the very open younger male or females in the porn industry or those who are very open with their sexuality and have crazy sex with their partners, are involved in sex partiers, or love using sex toys."

After numbing the area with topical cream, Dr. Emer injects between 20-200 units, depending on what he is treating ("for sweating, we do 100-200 units in the crack from the top of the buttock all the way down to the base of the scrotum; for the anal area itself, we do 20-40 units"). He notes that while the risks are low, "if too much is injected into the anal area, you could weaken the muscle that controls your ability to go to the bathroom and you could easily have accidents."
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