This story was originally published December 26, 2016.
Three months ago, my coworker Alix Tunell turned me on to a safety razor after listening to me bitch about ingrown hairs for far too long. After I gave up waxing about a year ago (both for financial and holy-shit-that's-painful reasons), I began suffering from ingrown hairs along my bikini line. So I got hooked up with a single-blade safety razor, and figured everything would come up roses.
Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. The first time I ever used it to shave my vagina (yes, I know the technical term for the outer genitalia is 'vulva,' but that doesn't have the same ring to it), I nearly sliced off half my labia — and screamed bloody murder the moment it happened. I then realized that while I'd been taught by my mother and health class how to properly remove the hair from my pits, legs, and eyebrows, no one had ever covered exactly how to wield a razor around my vagina. And if any region needs a manual, it's that one.
So I called up Jodi Shays, owner and founder of Queen Bee Salons in California, and asked her a series of increasingly personal questions about how to shave my favorite body part bald without risking stitches. She was up-front about the fact that she isn't a huge fan of razors near the vulva, but, she acknowledged, "I completely understand why it has to happen, whether you need to be shaved all the time for work or you simply can't afford a wax." Fair enough.
Ahead, find the guide your mother never gave you for how to shave your vulva. (Be warned — the following images are anatomically correct, so this may be NSFW.) It's a tricky business, but don't worry. We're here to help.