Bikini Waxing 101
From last week’s comments:
I would enjoy some bikini wax advice. I mean really detailed info. How long does the hair need to be before it can be waxed? How long are you hair-free before it starts growing back? How flexible do you need to be to get waxed? Anything you can do to make it less painful? Will I have red, irritated skin after? And how long will it stay red? Any bumpies?
I am obviously a wax virgin but I am going to Hawaii with my boyfriend for a week in May and I’d like to be able to skip bikini line shaving while there. Rachel
We aim to please here at the Advice Smackdown, so not only will I tell you everything I know about waxing, I recruited (which means = she sent email offering help, I accepted) Isabel of Hola, Isabel, one of my favorite people and AlphaFoxyMamas. We’ll get to her portion of the class in a minute. (She’s also got stuff to say about laser hair removal, so please don’t let your eyeballs roll back in your head during my blathering and miss out.)
First: I haven’t gotten a bikini wax in a couple years, but for awhile there (before Noah, back when I lived ONE BLOCK AWAY from a lovely spa and salon and had a pool to go to every weekend) I got waxed pretty regularly. And yes, I did the whole enchilada.
Now I’m lazy. And kind of too cheap to keep it up, even though I imagine it’s an expense Jason would gladly pony up for. Last summer I started using Parissa Quick & Easy Wax Strips and I think they do a smashingly good job for a home waxing kit. (I also used that Nad’s stuff ages and ages ago, and while it works GREAT when you first buy it, the product loses effectiveness very quickly and you end up with a big tub of useless goop.) The Parissa strips are just for your outtermost bikini line, though. If you want serious hair removal, you should — nay, you MUST — get a professional wax.
A couple lessons I learned, in easy listy form:
1) For a regular vanilla bikini wax, some spas will let you keep your underwear on (particularly if they’re teeny). Some spas will offer disposable panties. Some spas ask you to strip completely. The key is to LEAVE YOUR UNDERWEAR ON UNTIL THEY TELL YOU TO TAKE THEM OFF. They will tell you what to do, don’t worry.
2) Some spas consider a Brazilian to be completely bald, but some call this an “American” wax (also known as the Celebutard Limo-Exiting Special). The spa I went to would leave a small “landing strip” of hair with a Brazilian, so just tell your waxer what you expect before they start.
3) Yeah. It hurts the first time. And it will hurt everytime if you let your hair grow too long in between appointments. If you want to get waxed for a special occasion or vacation, I strongly advise that you DO NOT get waxed for the very first time the day before. You’ll be red. Some people even bruise. Go once a few weeks before, and then do a second maintenance appointment closer to your trip. After about my third wax, I barely felt anything.
4) How long a wax last is really different for everybody, since hair grows at different rates. I had to go about once a month to avoid irritation and ingrown hairs. There are a lot of products out there for post-waxing care — No Bumps and Tend Skin or Azulene Oil or even just a gentle diaper rash cream. Your waxer will most likely recommend her personal favorite.
5) Speaking of that: your waxer is a professional. She doesn’t care. She’s seen it all, and will try to put you at ease. She’ll talk to you like you’re just getting a haircut, but if she senses you’d rather just close your eyes and zone out, she’ll let you. It’s okay.
One last caveat before we get to Isabel’s advice — I know the idea of bikini waxing (particularly full-on Brazilians) skeeves some women out. I know some women are disturbed by the idea that their husband/boyfriend/whatever likes the bald thing, since doesn’t that make us look like a child? Well, not really — a sexually mature woman’s pubic area looks VERY different than a child’s, with or without hair. Really!
So there’s no need to scour his computers hard drive or call the FBI because he’s expressed a preference. Waxing leaves your skin soft and smooth and the whole area is just…clean. It’s comfortable. It smells nice. Even though I don’t have the patience for waxing anymore, I remember the appeal very clearly, and it goes waaay beyond anything sexual.
And now read on as Isabel attempts to fully convert you to the hairless side. Heh.
ISABEL’S COMPLETE GUIDE TO WAXING
The mantra for the world should be “hair free is the way to be.”
After years of failed attempts at drug store brand hair removal products (depilatories, I’m talking to you) I was excited to finally find a product that worked (Nair at home wax, I’m talking to you). I admit the first time I used it I thought I was going to die. I screamed. It hurt. I ended up bruised. I also ended up with less hair down there. And I liked it. The end result was worth the pain. Completely. Each time after that hurt less and less. I swear.
Years later, after moving to a major metropolitan area, I decided to venture outside of my in-home waxing treatments and have it done professionally. (It must also be noted that my husband told me that for every wax I had done I could get a new pair of shoes. He was not above bribing me and I was not above taking the bribe.) I was very nervous about my first time going into the spa. I looked on line for waxing etiquette and couldn’t find any. I wasn’t sure what I should wear or if I should take anything before I went in. And of course the burning question “do I wear underwear”?
When I got to the spa, the (very professional) waxer put me in a small room with a massage bed and asked me to get undress from the waist down and gave me a pair of disposable paper panties to put on. Then the waxer left the room and let me undress in private. I climbed on the bed and put the towel she had given me over my sex-ay panties. The waxer came back in the room and proceeded to get started. The first thing she did was cut the panties off. I asked her why she gave them to me in the first place and she said it was to make me feel a little more at ease. I guess it worked. (For the record, they’ve never given them to me before. I’m pretty sure she would have let me keep them on, if I had asked.)
My first few times I just had the typical bikini wax done. (In case you don’t know, that means just the hair that would show if you are wearing a bikini.) It was so nice to have less hair, that every time I went back I was getting more and more hair removed. I was going back every 5-6 weeks and paying $55 a session (the first time is more expensive, while the following visits are called “maintenance”.)
About this time I decided to try laser hair removal. I heard a commercial on the radio talking up the joys and rewards of laser hair removal. It was $80 a session and they told me it would take about 6-8 sessions to have “permanent hair removal” of my bikini area. The first laser removal session was awesome. It didn’t hurt at all. They were complete professionals. The hair just naturally fell out after a few weeks. I went back in 7 weeks for my second session which hurt far worse. Far, far worse. Again, the hair fell out. I continued to go back every 7 weeks for the next year. My hair was growing back with less hair each time. It was working. I was happy.
That lasted maybe a year. Then the hair started to just fill in more and more. “Permanent” my ass. It was back in all of it’s glory and I wasn’t happy. I started to just get it waxed again. But this time instead of wasting my time with just a regular bikini wax .
The first few times I had been waxed I would leave a little hair just right there. But then I figured, why bother and had it all ripped out. I totally decided to go for a full on Brazilian wax. In case you don’t know what that means, it’s the removal of all of your pubic hair from your belly button to the small of your back. Yes, all of the hair. Okay, so having your back side waxed does involve getting into some odd positions, like holding your legs up like a dead beetle or getting on all fours. But again, this is a professional working on you. They’ve seen it all. Seriously, don’t be shy. The end result is glorious. No hair to bother with. No shaving and red bumps. No at home waxing. (Note to the sceptics, having the back side waxed doesn’t hurt. Odd, I know. But it’s the truth.)
After my first Brazilian wax I happily paid my waxer (and left a nice tip) and left with a smile on my face. I don’t have a big problem with ingrown hairs, but they do happen. I try to exfoliate everyday (you know, when I remember) and I also use No Bumps, which I buy online cheaper then they sell it at the spa.
I kept up my waxing during my pregnancy, even though it seemed to hurt a little more. My OB/GYN seemed very appreciate for being so clean down there and would even comment on it (in a totally non-creepy way). It also made my delivery so much nicer. They didn’t have to shave me at all for my emergency c-section. Hooray. Of course I did have to wait a little while after my c-section to go back for another wax. The c-section scar hasn’t made for any issues in my waxing career.
One thing I’ve forgotten to add is that I’ve even been waxed by a man. I admit I was a little taken aback when I showed up for my appointment and a male waxer was waiting for me. But don’t worry, he was very professional (and also gay, if that makes a difference. Which it probably does.).
So what have I learned from all of this? Go for the professional wax. Pay the money (include a nice tip) and enjoy the benefits of being hair free. If you can’t afford going back to a spa for regular maintenance visits, I would recommend doing it at home. Just make sure to keep it up. It’s easier that way. The most important thing I’ve learned is to go for the Brazilian. If you’re gonna do it, you might as well do it right.
Say it with me now; hair free is the way to be.