Grooming as BDSM and D/s


Most of BDSM and kink skills focus on techniques for different types of play (e.g., flogging, spanking). However, the world of BDSM is much boarder than scenes in a dungeon. Simply daily activities may be modified to be protocols, promote intimacy, and reinforce power exchange roles.


Grooming is a great place to start to think about transitioning from a daily chore to a power exchange or kinky part of your life. We all engage in forms of grooming from brushing our hair to shaving our legs to how or if we wear make-up. For most people these decisions are personal areas of control. This is why teenagers love to dye their hair, wear goth-style make-up and such to rebel against their parents. It is also the basis for many eating disorders. Deciding how we treat our own body is a way of enforcing some bodily autonomy.


Deciding to relinquish control over certain aspects of grooming or assert power over anther person through making these decisions for them is a very intimate form of power exchange. The way we look, smell, and present ourselves in the world impacts the way others treat us. Because of all these things, I’ll go over some things to think about before deciding to incorporate grooming into your D/s or BDSM.


Realistic Precautions

Grooming is a big deal. Even if you don’t spend a ton of time thinking about your look, your hair, your make-up, or your appearance, other people do. In fact, wearing too little or too much make-up can impact both salary and mobility in the workplace for women. There have been several incidents in the past five years of teachers or co-workers complaining about the smell of coconut oil on a Black employee as a reason to file complaints or fire an individual. While racist to the core, something as simple as choice of moisturizer can have very real-world consequences.


Before agreeing to give over or accept power over someone’s grooming, partners need to have a big conversation about how this could impact their lives. The person controlling grooming decisions needs to be able to take into consideration: weather, health needs, work/career needs, family interactions, social interactions, and their own availability to make these decisions in real time.

When discussing what aspects of grooming you wish to incorporate into a dynamic, consider:


- Which aspects of grooming will the D-type take control?

- What are the work implications of the requests?

- How will weather factor into any decision?

- Are the special health needs?

- How will both people address any concerns or issues which arise in the process?


For a worksheet on negotiating grooming rituals, please sign up FOR FREE to be a member of the site and go to “Member Resources.”


Health Concerns

Many folks begin to exchange power over grooming rituals without considering health implications. Something as simple as shaving or waxing can have a big impact on a person’s health. For example, many people have very sensitive pubic areas. If they have any sort of immune issues, when this area is waxed or shaved, they can develop ingrown hairs, boils, and other painful conditions. Black and Arab men can have difficulty with close facial shaving, developing deep cystic acne or ingrown hairs. People with diabetes need a high level of foot care including regular pedicures, moisturizing, and fungal sprays. Be sure to discuss your personal health-based needs for grooming before giving over any power in this area.


Work and Family

Your D/s dynamic does not exist in a vacuum. Most of us have family, friends, and work situations we need to be presentable for. Each job, religion, and cultural group you are part of influences your look. For example, if you are in a religion which dictates women cover their hair, your partner will need to take this into consideration for grooming power. If you are an erotic dancer, you may be required to wax your pubic hair to meet licensure standards in your area.


When it comes to family and friends, you need to decide how comfortable you would be explaining a grooming change. For example, if you are male and your Domme asks you to shave your underarms, would you be comfortable going to a swim party at a family function? Of would the lack of underarm body hair be difficult Or embarrassing to explain?


Where to Start

Grooming is a huge area of our lives. It covers everything from how often we brush and floss our teeth to what we wear and if we have hair or not. The best advice for all forms of new kink is to start small. Choose something you want to give control over which will not make a huge difference in your life. For example, the color or style of underwear you wear every day. See how it goes for a couple of weeks and then decide if you want to continue to relinquish control or if you need to re-evaluate things.


The considerations are not just for the person relinquishing power. Taking control over grooming can be time and energy consuming for a dominant. While some decisions require little energy (e.g., demanding a submissive shave their armpits), decisions over daily outfits requires daily investments of time and energy. If you are assuming power over a person’s grooming, be realistic about how much energy you wish to invest in this.


What to Control

The point of taking control or relinquishing control over an area of grooming it to meet the goals you and a partner have as a couple. These can include:

- Wanting to re-affirm your position in a power relationship

- Humiliation/Degradation

- Alleviating an s-type’s anxiety about certain decisions

- Increasing the intimacy between the partners

- Feeling in control/out of control for erotic interactions


Decide on what the purpose is prior to choosing what area of grooming to control for an s-type.


The worksheet for Grooming in Kink/BDSM is available for FREE to site members.


Types of Grooming for Kink/BDSM

Grooming to Affirm Power Exchange

If you are looking to reinforce power exchange dynamics in a D/s relationship, choose a form of grooming that is not part of the s-types current rituals. For example, changing body hair choices is a great start. This is more than just pubic hair considerations. Culturally, shaving legs and underarms is seen as very “feminine” and not shaving is “masculine.” Additionally, in most work, religious, and family groups, these choices will not necessarily be noticed. This makes giving over decisions about these things an ideal place to start as a form of affirming power positions.


Asking a male submissive to shave their legs or underarms is a great way to make a man feel like he is giving over control, as very few men in western cultures do this as a routine. Everyt ime the s-type shaves these areas, it is reaffirming his choice to submit to a D-type’s demand. Every time the D-type sees their submissive shaved as requested, it is a sign the dynamic is in place.


Humiliation/Degradation

If humiliation or degradation is part of your dynamic, altering grooming standards provides a myriad of options. For example, if your submissive takes great pride in well-manicured fingernails, requiring them to go without painting their nails would be a simple way to start. The same is true if a submissive wears make-up daily and feels awkward without it. If you require them to show up to date night with no make-up, this may quickly put them into the headspace for a humiliation scene.


If you are controlling things like how often they brush their teeth, bath, or other aspects which could impact how others interact with them, it is best to limit these controls to times immediately before you interact for a date or erotic encounter.


Alleviating Anxiety

Anxiety about pleasing a dominant is common. Taking control over decisions causing distress to the submissive is a way to caring for them while staying within a dynamic. For “Daddy” dominants, this is a wonderful way to further the dynamic.


A common area of anxiety is dressing to please your partner. If an s-type struggles with this, try starting with the D-type dictating dress for date nights. If that works, the partners may want to expand what types of dress the D-type takes control over and how the s-type demonstrates compliance. If you live together, this type of daily decision making will require less energy than if you do not live in the same household. If you live apart, will you require your s-type to send a picture confirming compliance? How will you take into consideration the weather, what they need to do that day, and what is clean?


Increasing Intimacy

Not all grooming rituals have to be about control. Primates regularly participate in grooming rituals to forge bonds in groups. We have largely eliminated this as adults in humans. Reintroducing mutual grooming rituals can be a great non-sexual way to connect.


One way to connect is to require a submissive shave their partner. This may be their face, legs, or other parts. It is an act of trust and intimacy to allow someone else to use a razor on your body. Learning to give a straight-razor shave or wax a partner’s legs shows commitment and concern for both the D-type and the relationship.


Showering together is another great way to promote intimacy. You do not need to be a fan of shower sex to like showering together. Being together in hot water, soaping each other’s backs, and just enjoying a bit of time together naked promotes a significant amount of intimacy.


On the more extreme end, branding or tattooing a partner can be a way of literally “marking your territory.” Regardless of how long you have been a couple, how strong the relationship currently is, I strongly discourage people from getting someone’s name tattooed on them. These tattoos are nearly universal regrets. Instead, using symbols and other imagery may be more appropriate.


Headspace for Erotic Play

Setting grooming rituals for erotic play is a great way to get partner’s into the right head space. These rituals can include everything from body hair choices, to make-up instructions, to clothing choices and collaring. Participating in grooming rituals prior to engaging in play sets both partners on the path to entering the right head space for an amazing scene.


Bottom Line

Grooming as part of your kink can serve many different purposes. Figure out what the limits and partner’s needs are first. Then discuss what the purpose of these new rules or rituals should fulfill. Start small. Check in regularly. And enjoy the new areas of kinky control!


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