When it comes to styling your pubic hair, rest assured that every wax down there is as unique as the woman sporting it.
Whether you want to walk on the (moderately) natural side, or you want to be as bare as the day you were born, Brazilian or bikini waxes are both completely customizable to your own personal preferences.
But first, you need to know what you're getting yourself into.
For starters, understanding the difference between the two is key. That's why we tapped a few of the most in-demand aestheticians to share their wisdom and get you prepped for your next wax.
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What’s the Difference Between a Brazilian and Bikini Wax?
As its name suggests, a regular bikini wax only removes the hair that falls outside the panty line and what would peek out of a regular bikini bottom, explains Gina Patek, education manager at European Wax Center.
A Brazilian wax, on the other hand, goes one step further to remove all hair from the front pubic area, as well as the back, and in between the buttocks to achieve what Patek calls “a completely nude look.”
Patek notes that while a traditional Brazilian wax is hairless, you can still opt for a “neat triangle, strip, or square” design on the front.
How Do You Prep for a Bikini or Brazilian Wax?
“The best preparation is to make sure the hair is not short,” advises Miranda Boci, an aesthetician at Tenoverten’s Tribeca salon. “Some clients come in after having shaved two or three days ago, which simply makes it impossible to wax the area.”
A good rule of thumb is to wait until hair is ¼ inch long — about the length of a sprinkle — to head in for a bikini or Brazilian wax.
As with any waxing appointment, the standard rules still apply with a bikini or Brazilian: steer clear of aspirin the day before your appointment, as it can cause excess bruising. You should also avoid heavy exfoliants, which can leave skin raw and increase sensitivity.
However, using a gentle, film-free (meaning it doesn’t leave oil or other residue behind) scrub 24 to 48 hours in advance of your appointment helps to remove dead skin cells, advises Hanna Naranjo, an aesthetician at NYC’s Haven Spa, and makes the whole process more effective.
What Type of Wax Should Be Used?
There are two main types of wax: hard and soft, which are sometimes referred to as stripless and strip wax, respectively.
Soft wax is likely what comes to mind when you think of waxing: it is applied to skin in a very thin layer and then removed with a strip of cloth or paper. However, with soft wax, pay close attention to your aesthetician’s technique: a new stick should be used every time it is dipped into the warmer — absolutely no double dipping!
Hard wax looks a lot like slime and is generously applied to skin in a thick, warm layer and pulled without a strip once it cools and hardens. “Generally, hard wax is better for sensitive skin and sensitive areas, like underarms and bikini,” explains Naranjo, who also notes that hard wax is often less painful. “But as always, everyone reacts differently, so we always recommend doing a test patch first to look for sensitivity.”
How Painful Is It Going to Be?
Real talk: neither a bikini nor a Brazilian is exactly a walk in the park, but there are a few things you can do to try to get at least a little comfortable.
“My biggest tip is to try and treat a Brazilian or bikini wax appointment as you would any other ordinary wax appointment,” suggests Boci. “I talk a lot and I find that the more I converse with clients, the less on edge they feel. It’s all about mentality. If you anticipate a negative or awkward experience, that’s what you will likely walk away with. Attitude is key!”
Boci also recommends sticking to one waxing specialist and building a rapport, so that after a few appointments, it won’t feel quite as awkward to be so… naked.
And remember: aestheticians are professionals who have likely done “hundreds or thousands of waxes” says Naranjo. To them, seeing your privates is just another day at the office.
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What Do I Need to Know About Aftercare?
After a Brazilian or bikini wax, you should expect skin to be a little red and tender for about 24 hours.
If you experience discomfort, Naranjo recommends placing a cool compress on the area or applying a bit of aloe, but be sure to stay away from anything with dyes or perfumes. And if your skin tends to be on the sensitive side, take an extra precaution and skip the gym, pool, and ocean for about three days, as the friction from the tight clothing can cause irritation.
How Long Will It Take for My Hair to Grow Back?
Everyone’s growth cycle is different, but most people can go anywhere from three to five weeks before they need to book another appointment.
Bonus: getting regular waxes will reduce the amount of hair that comes back, so think of it as short term pain for long term gain.
Can I Do Anything Else to Slow Down Hair Growth?
Depending on hair type, there are aftercare products that can help to slow down the regrowth of hair between waxes. The Slow It Down Body Lotion from European Wax Center uses narcissus tazetta bulb extract as its key ingredient, which goes straight to the hair’s root to take effect.
As for natural hair-reducing solutions, Boci remains a skeptic: "I wish I could say home remedies like applying lemon juice were effective, but to my knowledge, there’s no proven way to slow it down," she shares.
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