13 Brazilian Wax Tips for First Time Bikini Waxers in 2020

Deciding what to do with your pubic hair is a personal decision that’s absolutely nobody’s business but your own. If you love (or simply don’t mind) your hair, great! Keep it! If you’re into bikini trimmers to keep your hair neat and tidy, fantastic. You do you. But if you’ve been readin’ up on bikini hair removal and have decided that a Brazilian wax is something you want to give a try for the first talk, I’ve gotchu covered with every answer to all your possible questions—including, yup, is it really that painful? Keep reading for all of the facts, with expert insights from Gabrielle Ophals, cofounder of Haven Spa in NYC.

What is a Brazilian wax?

According to Ophals, a bikini wax involves removing the hair that’s about 2-3 inches past your bathing suit line. A Brazilian wax takes it a step further and removes all the hair from your labia, above the “split” or clitoral fold (where your skin starts to divide and you find your inner labia) and between the buttocks. In layman’s terms, it removes allllll the hair down there.

What is a full Brazilian wax?

I know I said a Brazilian wax is when all the hair is removed, but you can also choose to leave a thin strip (a landing strip, if you will) or a small triangle in the front. Ophals says a Brazilian just means all the hair is removed from the labia and buttocks. If you choose to go completely bare, that would be what some people refer to as a “full Brazilian wax.” The difference is minimal, and it all comes down to personal preference.

How is a Brazilian wax done?

Other than the area that’s being waxed and the yoga positions you have to get into, a Brazilian is kinda like any other body wax treatment: a layer of wax is applied to your clean skin, and then it’s quickly peeled off, along with your hair. The esthetician will use either a strip wax (a hot wax that requires a strip of fabric placed on top), or a hard wax (a thick wax that plasticizes as it cools and removes hair without a strip), or a combination of both. While hard wax is more common to use for Brazilian waxes because it’s slightly less painful, strip wax is better for gripping smaller, finer hairs that the hard wax leaves behind.

Do Brazilian waxes hurt?

How do I put this lightly: They hurt pretty freakin’ bad the first time you get them done (but tend to get easier to handle the more you go). Not only is it a sensitive area to begin with, but Ophals adds that some skin (like the inside area of the outer labia and the top portion above the cleft) is thinner and even more sensitive, making waxing it particularly more intense. But hey! Apparently the butt area isn’t all that bad, so there’s that.

How can I make my Brazilian wax less painful?

Ophals says some patients take the recommended dose of Advil before they come in if they’re really sensitive; however, she doesn’t recommend numbing the pain with a few shots of liquid courage beforehand, so save the alcohol for later. The whole process takes about 10 to 30 minutes, so although it can hurt, it’ll be over soon enough. As backwards as it sounds, the only real way to make your Brazilians less terrible is to just keep getting them. According to Ophals, the longer you’ve been waxing, the less painful they become, because the hair follicles become weaker and some even stop growing back altogether.

How much do Brazilian waxes cost?

It can depend on the location and the wax used, but Ophals says the average cost of a Brazilian wax typically ranges from $50 to $80.

Can you wax your bikini area yourself?

If you’re anything like me, there seems to be a direct correlation with the amount of time stuck at home and the amount of confidence you have in yourself to take on an DIY project that you otherwise would have never attempted. But step away from the at-home wax kit for just a sec while I go over all the reasons you should reconsider using it for a DIY Brazilian wax.

Ophals says the most common thing that goes wrong when waxing yourself is bruising, because you can’t get the right angle for ripping the strip or wax off by yourself. But that’s not all! You can also burn yourself if the wax is too hot or rip off your skin (!!) if the wax is too cool, which leads to scabbing, hyperpigmentation, and even scarring. So yeah. Leave the DIY projects for your clothes and tie-dyeing kits.

What should you not do before a Brazilian wax?

The number one thing to avoid before an appointment (besides stopping acne treatments that can make your skin thinner, like Accutane) is shaving. Ophals say your hair should be a quarter-inch long or as close to that as you can get. Any shorter than an eighth-inch long will be too short to wax, so don’t shave right before. Shower and rinse the area ahead of your appointment (yay, hygiene!), but don’t exfoliate or apply any lotions or oils, which could impede the wax’s ability to grip to the hair.

What not to do after waxing?

Hear me loud and clear when I say you’ll want to wear loose clothing to your appointment and avoid tight-fitting underwear or pants afterward to prevent painful chafing against the raw, tender skin. Ophals also says to avoid touching the area, and for the most part, don’t put any products on it. If your skin is still sticky or tacky from the waxy residue, you can use a little bit of unscented oil (Ophals recommends virgin organic coconut oil) to remove it. Give it a day before resuming your normal life or doing any (and I mean any) sweaty activities. Waxing in and of itself will exfoliate the skin plenty, so no need to do that for at least 72 hours.

Can hair be too long before a Brazilian wax?

If your hair is any longer than a quarter of an inch, trim it before your appointment. Any longer than that, and it’ll just hurt more (Ophals says you can thank torque and the ergonomics of pulling for that).

When should you not wax?

If you can, schedule your wax around your period. While you can still get waxed during your period (though make sure to call and ask ahead of time if the salon is cool with it, and always wear a tampon or a cup for the wax), you’re at your height of your pain sensitivity when you’re premenstrual, so why do that to yourself?

Can I trim in between waxes?

Ready for an answer that’s more complicated than your relationship?! The goal for Brazilian waxes is to be less painful each time. So to do that, Ophals recommends not trying to stretch out your appointments with shaving and trimming because you’ll keep starting over and reinforcing the strength of that hair at the root.

A Brazilian wax typically lasts three to five weeks (depending on how quickly your hair grows and how much hair you can tolerate) but you might notice hair creeping up sooner, especially when you’re first starting out. Why? Because not only does hair grow in different cycles, but also your pubic hair is really strong and prone to breakage the first few times you wax.

“When this happens, it seems like the hair has come out, but it’s actually broken off just below the surface of the skin, so it will immediately start growing in,” Ophals says. Since shaving removes the uppermost layer of skin, you don’t want to wax every week, so in the meantime, yes, you can trim to keep everything under control, but try to keep your appointments consistent.

Is waxing better than shaving?

Ophals’s a fan of waxing because the hair grows back softer after it’s removed (the hair has a tapered edge when it grows back as opposed to the blunt edge you get from shaving), but how you choose to handle your body hair removal is your decision. Weigh the pros and cons of shaving and waxing (or laser hair removal, for that matter), and go with whatever method works for you the best.

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