To paraphrase 2010 Bruno Mars, "Your butthole's amazing, just the way it is." In a bare-everything world where our bits are often exposed, it's understandable to get curious about bleaching your booty. Rest assured, it's totally normal for that area to be darker than other parts.
Dr. Jessica Shepherd, a Chicago-based OBG/YN, put it bluntly: "It's your assh*le. It's supposed to be that colour for a reason." Plastic surgeon Dr. David Shafer explained further: "Anus skin comes in all colours. That's because the skin of private areas experiences friction when walking and moving and is typically in a warmer environment, exposed to sweat, moisture, and anything else that could be irritating in one's stool."
But at the end of the day, like Dr. Shepherd said, it is your assh*le. "If you want to [bleach] it, and it makes you feel comfortable and better, do it," she said. Before you lighten up, here's what you need to know (and more, probably) about the treatment.
What are you bleaching, really?
Let's be clear: unlike bleaching your butt hair, this process dyes your actual skin. "Anal bleaching is aimed at lightening the pigmentation in the skin, not the hair," Dr. Shafer said.
Plus, this is strictly a cosmetic procedure — should you lighten the area, you're not really treating or fixing anything. "Anal bleaching treats pigmentation, a symptom, not friction or irritation, which is the cause," she added. Because of this, if you want to ride off into the sunset with a forever-lightened tuchus, you're going to have to keep going back for appointments, like you would with waxing or sugaring any other body part regularly.
What can you expect from the appointment?
The first step is to get thee to a professional. While there are over-the-counter anal lightening serums and creams, we beg you to not put those on your body. "If used on the wrong skin type, condition, or concentration, the skin can actually get darker," Dr. Shafer said. Worst-case scenario, a bad reaction to those products can lead to scarring or contracting on the anus.
"It's your assh*le. It's supposed to be that colour for a reason."
Dr. Shafer's practice offers a bleaching peel, which takes 30 minutes total. As for how to prepare for such a procedure, the surgeon's in-house esthetician Graceanne Svendsen tells us you should book an appointment either five days before the start of your period or five days afterwards. It also helps to shave your booty beforehand, and Dr. Shepherd advised to keep everything "clean and dry" immediately before your appointment. Just like you would with a Brazilian wax, wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear to let the area breathe after the appointment.
If you have any skin condition — even if it lives on your face, far away from down there — speak up. "You want to ensure that there's nothing [the technician is] missing that might increase your chances of having a complication," Dr. Shepherd said. It begins with a lactic acid peel, which exfoliates the skin. As the name implies, lactic is often found in sour milk or dairy products like kefir, yoghurt, and cottage cheese and works well for sensitive skin. After that comes a brightening peel, which lightens skin pigments. You'll go home wearing a butt mask you can wash off later.
Will it hurt?
According to Dr. Shepherd, the actual process itself won't hurt — but its side effects might. "I would definitely refrain from any sexual activity for three to five days if you have an irritated anus," she said. "This is because you don't want to keep irritating it or potentially expose yourself to other infections."
If your anus feels irritated in the hours following your peel, you can apply a cold pack. If it's burning, you can smear on some petroleum jelly to help things calm down. Keeping the area dry will help to heal things quickly. However, if things have not improved in a week, you should see a healthcare professional. "If you have a fever, discharge down there, feel tender to the touch, or can't go to the bathroom or feel pain while doing so, then you definitely want to go to a doctor to have it looked at," Dr. Shepherd said.
Who should not try anal bleaching?
"You don't want to solve one problem but cause another," Dr. Shafer said. Because of that, you may want to skip anus lightening treatments if you have an active infection in the area, an STD, or other rectum medical conditions. The main takeaway? This is a personal choice that you shouldn't feel pressured into doing, but it won't hurt. "Most doctors initially would say, 'Oh, don't do it,' but if you probe further, they'll admit there's no real harm to your health with anal bleaching," Dr. Shepherd said. "It's just not necessary." It's kind of like what Bruno Mars said: "If perfect's what you're searching for, then just stay the same."