Sweaty butts, itchy balls, and other body hair issues
As a cyclist, a male, and a hair removal technician, I am in a somewhat unique position to present a topic most riders are too shy to talk about. Discomfort caused by genital hair afflicts both genders but definitely more so for men, so if you notice a bit of male bias in this article, that's why.
We're going to get detailed here, so clip in for a fun ride. 😎
Men and body hair
From the time we hit puberty, men start sprouting pubic hair. Largely due to our ancestry and genetics, the type of hair and amount of hair varies hugely from guy to guy. Teenage boys generally start to notice this variance at high school when they happen to glance at a mate in the showers after sport, at the pool or gym and so forth. Internalised comparisons are made, and sometimes even bullying, and this is where the self-consciousness and awkwardness about body hair kicks in.
As a result, in this age where smooth is cool and hairy is gross, men are very sensitive about having too much body hair. When a new client jumps on my treatment table, he'll often apologise for being hairy. It's sad that they feel the need to, but that's how guys are hard-wired.
If guys are embarrassed by their hair in front of a professional therapist, it's no wonder they don't discuss it with their cycling buds.
Problem hair areas for cyclists
The one 'discussable' area of course, is legs. It's a thing that everyone does, so in the chilled and confined intimacy of the post-ride cafe, guys generally don't mind admitting they shave their legs. But I dare you to ask your cycling mates about waxing their butts and nuts - Watch the eyebrows raise as they collectively gag on their muffins!
So, to the crux of the discussion. Let's look at the body parts that really bother you and your mates, but nobody wants to talk about. We'll start with a typical bike seat and how it interacts with your body.
As you can see by the diagram above, there's a heck of a lot happening. Every single pedal stroke causes your seat to generate friction and pressure on these body parts. Impacts are also being transmitted from the road or trail surface through the tyres and frame then up the seat post into the seat, and in turn, into your delicate areas.
Logic therefore dictates that you want the friction between seat and body to be minimal.
Whether you favour the lycra kit of roadies and XC riders or the nylon shorts of enduro, chances are you wear a chamois. If you're planning a long session, you might also add some chamois cream. Both of these are great to help reduce friction, pressure, and impact. However, a chamois is not very good at reducing sweat. In fact, it traps sweat, that wonderful stew of water, salt, sebum, and fatty secretions. This is why your bike shorts smell like an abattoir if you forget to rinse them for a day.
A chamois also fails to reduce friction between your hair and skin. In fact a chamois can actually make it worse because the hairs get stuck in the fabric, making them stretch further than they normally would and increasing the friction points exponentially. Add perspiration to the equation and you are literally rubbing salt in the wounds.
Have you ever jumped off your bike after a long ride and the skin feels burned or super sensitive to the touch? Even though you were wearing a chamois and cream? That's why.
Pluck out one of your pubic hairs. Right now, while you're reading this. Run your finger over it and feel how rough and sharp it is. Now multiply that sensation by say, the 500 hairs between your scrotum and anus. Every pedal stroke, they're moving, crushed between your seat and your body, held tight by your chamois, and hacking away at your skin like tiny serrated knives. 🤢
Hair Removal options for cyclists ~ Reef Studios Rockhampton
If you've ever shaved your legs, you know how bristly they feel after a day or two. You've probably even shaved your upper leg to your inner thigh or bikini line and given yourself some lovely ingrown hairs. Do this for a while and you'll get some nice scars from it too that never go away.
If you're going to shave anything, stick to your lower legs. If you haven't tried waxing instead, I highly recommend it.
Depilatory Creams and Sprays
Don't use them for anything. Just don't. My personal prediction is they'll be regarded in 20 years like we view asbestos now. "Why did anyone let us put this toxic crap on our skin?" Really, don't use it.
Waxing is a common option for waxing those sensitive bits. Pros and cons? The first time you get it done, you will need to wait at least a few days before jumping on your bike, or you risk getting white-head pimples that might take a few weeks to clear up. After your second wax, any skin irritation usually settles down in a couple of hours.
At around three weeks after your wax, new hair growth will start to come through. You might feel slightly itchy when this happens. If so, jump in the shower with an exfoliating mitt and rub the area lightly to help lift the new hairs through and thus minimise the chance of ingrowns.
Follow up treatments are usually 4 to 6 weeks. The hair does begin to thin over time and comes through much softer if you keep up with your waxing routine.
To find out everything about men's waxing, including prices, head over to the Male Waxing page. A treatment called The Saddle is designed for cyclists, and includes the central points from front to back - the perineum, bum crease, and back of the scrotum.
If you want to combine that with a Brazilian wax, the 3X Athletic + bum crease is an ideal style for male cyclists who want to keep the whole package tidy. You will find full details of that and other styles on the Male Brazilian Waxing page.
PTF (permanent hair reduction)
PTF is probably the most common method for dealing with unwanted pubic hair, as it isn't that much dearer than waxing and you are getting a progressively permanent result.
Pros and cons? You need to have very dark hair. if your hair is red, brown, or blond, waxing is your best option. Also, you need to shave the area before your first and possibly second treatment. This is because all the hair above your skin is already dead and we are targeting the root of the hair, so all the surface debris needs to go. That said, the PTF treatment eliminates or softens a lot of the remaining stubble and you won't experience the normal amount of itchiness associated with shaving.
Usually around the third treatment, you will have so little hair coming through that a full shave is not necessary and if it needs trimming, I can do so on the treatment table.
I always recommend a base regime of 6 treatments one month apart, after which we start to taper off your treatments to the point where I might only see you every year or so for a top up.
If you want to find out all about permanent hair reduction, including prices, check out the Rockhampton PTF Hair Removal page.
We'll, that's pretty much it. I hope you found the information above helpful.
If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to call or use the handy online form on the contacts page. You can also leave comments in the Disqus section below.
In the Knowledge Base, you can find more articles that delve into the human condition.
Have a brilliant day.