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Because Your Friends Don’t Want to Talk About Bikini Waxes

By Amalah

Hi Ames,
Some time this year I bought Vicky’s IPEX bra, which was probably overpriced but still, really nice. I liked it a lot. Then, when the IPEX demi came out I was totally stoked and I bought two more. I now have 150 bucks invested in bras WHOSE STRAPS WON’T STAY UP ON MY SHOULDERS.
Now, I’ll admit, I don’t have the most prestigious posture in the world. And then I’ll quickly add that I have scoliosis and one shoulder is lower than the other and the whole rounded shoulder thing is REALLY NOT MY FAULT.
Perhaps I should also mention that my size is 34D. I don’t know it that’s pertinent, but I’m throwing it out there just in case.
Lately I’ve been embarrassed to notice that I spend an inordinate amount of my day at the office pushing my bra straps back up onto my shoulders which is TOTALLY NOT COOL. So my question is, is there a classic, smooth bra (like the IPEX) that will stay up on my shoulders? Am I destined to wearing tank-back sports bras???? (Please say no.) Are there secrets and hints that I’m missing? And why can’t ALL tops have those fabulous little string-and-snap bra straps? God, I’m so glad you’re here.

Okay, first? Let us discuss Why Bra Straps Do That.
1) Wrong cup size. If the cup is too small, the straps will wear out quickly and start slipping. So if you notice that you’re constantly yanking up straps on bras after just a couple months of wear, try going up a cup. However, if the straps are sliding from the start, the cup might be too big since the straps are going to gap a little in front and never get the proper, um, traction, I guess is the word I want.
2) Cheap-ass bras. Yep. Too much polyester and not enough elastic. Moving on.
3) Old n’ busted bras. The straps will stretch out long before there’s visible wear and tear on the rest of the bra. So once the straps start sliding, just toss it, as no amount of tightening will fix it.
4) Itty bitty teeny weeny skinny mini little wittle straps. Yes, they are cute. No, they will not stay up as well as wider straps.
5) It’s not you, it’s me. Sometimes? Certain bras just don’t fit you. You can have the right size and pay a damn fortune for them, but they will never be right for your body shape.
The straps on demi bras, for example, tend to be father apart than regular bras. Add in your sloping shoulders and ding ding ding! I think we have your problem.
Stay away from demis (I can’t wear them either) and look for bras with straps that sort of angle towards your neck, if you can dig what I am laying down here. Don’t buy bras with the super-skinny straps, and of course, it never hurts to get re-measured. (Just don’t get it done at Vicky’s, because I am SORRY, MISS D-CUP TEENAGE SALESGIRL THANG, YOU ARE NOT COMING WITHIN 10 FEET OF MY POST-BREASTFEEDING BOOBS WITH THAT MEASURING TAPE, NO WAY NO HOW.)
Oh wise Amalah,
I went out and bought the famous foundation brush. And foundation even, which I have never before worn.
I don’t wear make-up much. Pre-foundation purchasing, I would pat on face lotion, brush on some powder, add rouge, smear on some eye gunk, add mascara, and call it good.
Now I don’t know what to do. I am pretty sure the foundation goes on *after* the lotion, but then I get lost. Do I still need powder? If I leave it off, I look a little . . . shiny. But, if I put it on, it looks really. . .thick. Caked on, even. And this is with the sheerest foundation I could find.

(The Semi-Famous Among Certain Crowds Foundation Brush Entry.)
As tediously demonstrated in that entry, foundation does indeed go on AFTER your lotion.
The shine could be the result of a couple things. It could be your foundation, because “sheer” does not always equal “matte.” It could be your skin type. Or a greasy lotion. Or you could be applying too much foundation and your skin is weeping excess oil because it can’t breathe.
And so, for all of the foundationally challenged, I present the Five Commandments of Foundation:
I. Thou Shalt Moisturize. Look for an oil-free or “matifying” lotion. (I know! The cosmetic companies are just plain making words up now.) Something with SPF 15 is good too.
II. Thou Shalt Not Roll Your Eyes at the Idea of Primer. (Groan.) Yes, I have been suckered in by the Smashbox Photo Finish primer. But it works. Especially if you have an uneven skin tone or fine lines. Or if you are just kind of challenged when it comes to applying foundation evenly. My sallow eye-bags and I are particularly fond of the color-correcting primers.
III. Thou Shalt Use a Foundation Brush and a Most Excellent Foundation, and Lo, Thou Shalt Use a Small Amount of the Most Excellent Foundation and the Most Excellent Foundation Shall Be of the Oil-Free Variety. And holy HELL, make sure it matches your skin tone. Foundation does NOT exist to make you look tanner. Or paler. I remain a fan of Sue Devitt’s 70% water triple seaweed gel foundation.
IV. Thou Shalt Cast the Excess Shine Out of Your House with an Oil-Absorbing Sheet. And if that’s not enough, brush on a small amount of translucent powder. TRANS. LU. CENT. You don’t want to double-up on color. That equals cake face.
V. Thou Shalt Wash Your Foundation Brush Well, For it is Pleasing to the Pores.
Dear Amy,
So I would like to say I have this highly important and oh so relevant question regarding make up or how to make my hair stay straight but I don’t. Mine is a little more personal but hey, we’ve listened to you talk extensively about your nipples so I figure the ice is long since broken.
I moved to Florida a few months ago from New England and gained the ability to be at the beach year around for the most part. My problem (yes, I know, how could this be a problem) is that I’m use to only having to be swimsuit ready for a few months at a time and after several months of, dare I say, self-grooming, I have exhausted all the drug stores home wax and hair removal kits. I think I would like to go to someone more professional in hopes that it would cut down on the frequency and perhaps the amount of time spent in my bathroom.
However, I am extremely shy and am somewhat horrified by the thought of someone else waxing me. I can’t bear to google “bikini wax etiquette” so please help! What should I expect and I will I ever want to go back.
Thank you, Oh Wise Amalah, for any help you can give me,

The very first bikini wax I ever got was a Brazilian. So “there.” Consider the ice shattered now.
Some places, for a regular bikini wax, will let you keep your underwear on. Some places won’t. Some waxers will drape a towel over your stomach to offer some misplaced modesty, and some waxers will tell you their entire life story while you grit your teeth and tensely stare at the ceiling and say things like, “Oh really? The whole cow? Isn’t that something!”
It’ll hurt worse the first time. Your skin might get red and bumpy. Use a diaper rash cream or Monistat’s Itch Relief Care afterwards. But yes, over time, maintenance will be easier and your hair will grow back slower.
Oh, and you tip 20%, preferably in cash.
Do you have any idea why every woman wants to “eat [my] baby”? When did this all start, what does it all mean, and why is it just women who have a fascination with eating children?

Um, have you TASTED a baby lately? Women want to eat babies because babies are DELICIOUS. Those meaty little fat rolls on the thighs? The chubby cheeks? And the toes! MY GOD, the toes!
I’m sure someone out there has published a Highly Important Study about our primordial urge to re-wombify our children as a protective measure, or about some species of primate who sometimes gets carried away while cleaning its mashed-banana-covered young and accidentally swallows them whole, but I am blaming it on the simple fact that my baby tastes like butter deep-fried in chocolate sugar.
If you would like to submit a question, email Amalah at [email protected]. By submitting a question, you agree to allow us to post your question here on

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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I totally wanted to ask the wax question. Thank you, Amalah.


I worked at Vicky’s and my training at bra fitting involved our boss telling us to read the chart on the wall that provided us with very “helpful” diagrams. After I measured people and they were wearing sizes such as 34-A and 36K, I gave up and would fake measure them and then just guess their size. I got pretty good at it, I could generally get someone their size on the first shot. In college friends would come over (and bring their friends) and I would tell them what size they would wear before they went shopping. I have… Read more »

Heather Barmore

That bra question/answer was superb and now I shall go to Nordstrom. (I’m assuming Nordstrom is a good place to be measured. Is it not? Should I do Saks?)


Nordstrom is an excellent place to get measured. (Although since I know Heather is local I shall also recommend Sy-Lene in Friendship Heights.)
You can also totally do it yourself, of course. And I also recommend that you NOT buy like, a dozen new bras right after getting measured. Buy one bra and make sure it’s right before accepting the new size.


i too used to work at VS- and i remember hearing about this little thing that helps keep your straps from slipping and is great when wearing sleeveless shirts.
might be worth a look…


TendSkin works wonders on bikini lines to prevent ingrown hairs, which are by far more painful and annoying than the searing pain of the wax. I highly recommend it. Also, I recommend *waiting* with underwear and/or pants on to find out what the waxer wants. Once, I bared down to NOTHING, as per my last waxer, and when the new bikini waxer entered, she was all flustered, “Um, ah, well! No pants! How nice! But, um, ah, I use your underwear as a guide, so, um, ah, can you, uh, ah, put them on?” I was humiliated. And pantless humiliation… Read more »


I second the Nordstrom’s bra fitting plan. I was fitted by a wonderful women, Noreen, at the Annapolis store. I have the same slipping strap problem. Noreen listened carefully to what I wanted and what problems I had, and brought me many different brands to try on. It turned out that I was wearing the proper size, but not the right style. I ended up w/ a seamless DKNY style, which I love, which fits perfectly and which doesn’t slip. re: ingrown hairs from shaving or waxing – If you can’t find Tend Skin, Paula’s Choice Skin Relief works very… Read more »


RE the waxing question: some places will do a “bikini line” wax, which basically cleans you up and goes in a bit to make sure nothing comes out. It’s not as deep (or painful) as a regular bikini wax, but it allows you to wear a bathing suit without any problems. Plus, it’s way cheaper (my place in Miami charges me $12).


I went just last weekend to Sephora and purchased said foundation brush AND the Sue Devitt’s 70% water triple seaweed gel foundation (but I had to get mine in the pump, the nice Sephora lady told me the tub has been sold out in the lightest color for weeks and they don’t know when they will get more.) It totally rocks and Amalah — you chnaged my life! Re: bikini waxes. I found the Tendskin did not work on the irritation and horrid ingrowns. I just gave up waxing all together and now get lasered. It hurts and its hella… Read more »

Mary Craig

Funny, my baby tastes like pork chops and taters.


My bra straps used to always fall down – rounded shoulders are my problem too. Then I got professionally fitted and started wearing real (i.e. expensive) bras and it made a WORLD of difference. I was buying a 36Ds but my real size was 32F. So my problem was that the straps were just too far to the side because the band was too big. Go get a real fitting! And be thankful you live in the US. Here in Canada I have to go to speciality stores and spend $100+ to find my “weird” size.


ahhh… the bikini wax. I know it well. I’ve been getting waxed since I was 15, so I’ve been to every kind of place, and experienced every kind of waxing imaginable. Amalah is right (of course) about the multitude of methods and process. At my current salon, they provide paper panties and Sweet Spot wipettes to all waxees. My biggest piece of advice is to be very clear about the area you want waxed. For example, I like the top waxed a bit, since my bikinis are pretty low-cut. This isn’t really standard procedure, so it only happens if I… Read more »


Also! Waxing! As with any time you decide to let someone else wax, massage, or otherwise do something that’s supposed to be “nice” for your body, I highly recommend splurging on that first visit. Pick a place you know is nice and clean, and even a bit schmancy, like a Bliss Spa or something. Yes, there other, less expensive places to go, but for your first experience, the pampering really helps ease nervousness.


Thank you, thank you, thank you for the answer to the bra question! Those straps! Aaaargh. I suspected it was cheaply made bras that were the culprits, but I’m thinking the cup-size issue has some merit (what with the pregnancies & nursing & all). So glad Smackdown is back!

Real Girl

LOVE the Smashbox foundation primer! And silicones can tend to mattify skin, so it might work with the oilies too. Also, if you have oily skin, you can get away with moisturizing only your dry spots. Or you can try a matte sunscreen, like DDF Organic SPF 15. (Their Organic one is the most matte.)
And if you’ve had your legs waxed before, I personally think the bikini area is less painful that that. Although maybe I’ve got particularly ouchy legs!


Oh, and I meant to ask: if instead of foundation you use a tinted moisturizer, do you use fingers or brush?


I try to avoid using my fingers to apply makeup whenever possible, but I’ve never used tinted moisturizers so I don’t know if a brush would be appropriate. Anybody else have an opinion?


I use tinted moisturizer, and your foundation brush testimonial has convinced me that I need to get one. I will try it and report back.


OK, I bought a foundation brush to use with my tinted moisturizer. Here’s the deal: it applies WAY more than you are probably applying using your fingers. This resulted in a very oily looking face the first time I tried it. This morning, I skipped my regular facial moisturizer and used JUST the tinted moisturizer. Perfection. Great coverage. Love the foundation brush.


Oh, Amy….I’m so glad the Smackdown is BACK! I had no idea so many other people suffered from the bra strap problem. As for bikini waxes – I do the Brazilian and let me just say that it is MUCH less painful if you keep it maintained. The longer the hair, the worse it hurts. If you’re going for the first time, you might trim it up a bit first. A good tech should make you feel at ease. But let’s face it, a bikini wax is no time to get modest. Just remind yourself that she’s used to it… Read more »