Brazilian Wax: What to Expect and How to Prepare
I've been getting Brazilian waxes for over four years now, so I've seen it all. I've been a nervous first-timer, I've been waxed by bad estheticians, I've changed spas, and I've also had really great waxes.
When I was new to the waxing process and looking for information about what to expect, I found that there wasn't a lot out of information out there. Hopefully sharing my experience and expertise will help people who are interested in getting waxed.
For the First-Timers
Before you get a wax there are several things to consider, including:
- Which spa to choose
- How much you should pay
- What to do before you go
- How to take care of your wax afterwards
Here are my suggestions regarding what you should do, and some of these suggestions are based on what I actually did.
Does a Brazilian Wax Hurt?
Brazilian waxes will hurt. Also, you will be laying on a table with your private parts exposed to a stranger, so be prepared for that and accept that the whole process can be awkward.
Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let me fill you in on something: the whole process really isn't all that bad. Any type of waxing will hurt because your hair will get pulled out by its roots, but it won't be so bad that tears will stream down your face. You'll definitely be able to walk afterwards. Yes, there are some horror stories, but those are exceptions, not the norm.
When thinking about whether or not you can handle a wax, just think about how much pain you can tolerate. Have you ever had any other kinds of waxes before? What about other painful beauty practices like getting piercings or tattoos? What did you think of the pain associated with those procedures?
When you figure that sort of thing out, talk to the esthetician when you walk in. You should also let them know if you are ticklish on your thighs or if you have a serious fear of your skin ripping off. They will most likely provide some information that will help you calm down.
Is the Brazilian Wax Process Embarrassing?
You won't be able to avoid showing your privates to the esthetician who waxes you. Disrobing and revealing some part of your lower body is just a part of the process that you will have to accept. Either you'll know your waxer or you won't. Just don't make it weird. Estheticians have typically seen a lot of people (and other things) so they won't make the process weird. Remember that they're professionals.
How Do I Choose a Spa?
When I was looking up places to go for my first wax, I didn't have any friends that could give me suggestions. We were all college freshman and none of us had ever been waxed before. Also, most of the people at my college were from out-of-state, so it was hard to get recommendations for a good local spa that provided waxes. I just ended up going to a spa that was closest to me at the time. It worked out well enough, but ideally you wouldn't have to do it that way. Here are some better ways to choose a spot:
1. Ask Your Friends
My first suggestion is to ask around. If you happen to have a friend that has had a wax or a friend that is an esthetician, then you're in luck! That friend can answer your questions and recommend places to go. If you have a friend who is an esthetician, they may even be able to give you a discount on your wax or some other good advice.
2. Look Up a Place Online
My second suggestion is to search for spas online and read customer reviews. Most spas have a website with a page that says "meet the staff" or something similar. Research the facility, its staff, its prices, and its list of services.
Find their head esthetician and see what kind of experience they have—having a lot of experience is a good sign. Also, note that I keep using the word "esthetician," which is the title of someone who went to school to learn how to care for skin and hair. You'll want to go to someone with that title to get the best quality of service and expertise.
As far as online reviews, you should take them with a grain of salt. One horrible review could mean that either the reviewer or the esthetician was having an off day. On the other hand, a great review could be from a friend of the esthetician. It's best to find a spot that has both a lot of stars and a lot of reviews.
Since spas also have other services, there may not be any reviews that are specifically about waxing, but don't be discouraged if that's the case. That doesn't necessarily mean anything one way or the other. Like I said, a lot of stars and a lot of reviews in general are still a good thing when determining whether or not to patronize a spa. Also, not every spa has a website. In that case, it's up to you to decide if you want to give it a shot or not.
How Much Should I Pay?
Keep prices in mind when you're searching for a spa. Waxes are a luxury, so they aren't cheap, but they shouldn't cost an extravagant amount of money either. I've paid as little as $35 (with a student discount) and as much as $65 for Brazilian waxes.
If a spa charged more than $65 then I couldn't afford a wax there, but if it was lower than $30 I'd be suspicious of the quality of service. I'm not the kind of person who needs to pay a lot for a product or service, but there are certain things I expect.
You wouldn't expect to pay someone $2 for a really involved, professionally-done hairstyle right? That's how I feel about cheap Brazilian waxes. A cheap price can mean that the quality of service you receive may also be cheap. You don't want to be serviced with low-quality wax or strips.
Since Brazilian waxing will affect your skin and it will be conducted in a sensitive place on your body, you should pay the price you think it's worth. Then again, if you go for a $15 wax and it turns out wonderfully, you shouldn't let the low price stop you!
You should experiment and try various spas, but I recommend that you start in the middle of the price range for the places near you that have good reviews. If they charge you more, chances are that they're investing in good wax and well-trained estheticians who know what they're doing.
How Much to Pay for a Wax
$20 - 50
$5 - 10
This is too little to pay for a wax (in most cases). This type of salon will most likely offer an inferior product, service, and results.
$50 - 75
$10 - 15
This is an average price for a wax. Of course, average prices will also vary depending on where you want to get a wax and where you live.
$75 and up
15 - 20% of price
High-end salons can charge more for a wax because of their reputation, atmosphere, etc, though the basic quality might not be that much of an improvement on a mid-range wax.
How to Prepare for a Brazilian Wax
This is what I get the most questions about from my friends. They always want to know what to do before getting a wax. Here are the main things that I do:
- Use the toilet
- Wear deodorant
Those are the basics, but there is a bit more to it than that. There are a bunch of things you can do to cut down on the potential pain and make everything go more smoothly.
1. Be Clean
I've never worked in an industry where I deal with people's bodies, but I'd assume that whoever is dealing with your private parts wants the area to be clean. Estheticians wear gloves when they're servicing you, but they don't wear nose plugs if you understand my meaning.
Plus, a warm shower will open up your pores so the hair will come out easier. If you have to use the bathroom, it's okay to do that right before you walk in for the wax. It's better to not have to worry about holding it through the procedure.
2. Be Calm
You don't want to be stressed out when you're getting a wax. If you are tense, you're more likely to flex your muscles which will make the hair hurt more as it's coming out.
I like to calm myself by taking a shower, but there are other ways to relax like meditating or listening to soothing music. Find something that works for you. I'd also recommend that you forego getting waxed if you're having a bad day. A lot of places will allow you to reschedule, but you should try to alert your spa as soon as possible if you need to miss or reschedule an appointment.
3. Wear Comfy Clothes
It doesn't really matter what you wear on top, but I suggest that you wear some loose-fitting and breathable bottoms. For my first time, I wore sweats and some regular panties, and that worked for me. I've gotten to the point that I don't need to wear sweats anymore, but I'm always careful with my choice of bottoms.
Your skin will be sensitive afterwards, so if you wear something tight it will probably rub against and irritate you. I wouldn't recommend wearing a thong (even a well-fitting one) because there may be wax residue on your skin afterwards, and that can get weird. For my top, I tend to go with something breathable and sleeveless because I always sweat when I'm getting waxed. It's not because I'm nervous or in pain, it's just how my body reacts to the process.
4. (Optional) Take Pain Relief
You can take an over-the-counter pain killer about an hour or so before your appointment if you're worried about the pain. I've never needed to take a pain killer beforehand, but doing so helps for some people.
Should You Get a Brazilian Wax When You're on Your Period?
The short answer is no. Don't get waxed on your period. It's awkward for the esthetician. It can also be much more painful for you, and it's just not fun. You're more sensitive when you're on your period and the pain will be amplified. It can also get very messy, and neither you nor your esthetician wants that.
What to Do (and Avoid) After Your Wax
The aftercare process for a bikini wax is different for every person because estheticians' practices vary. The tips listed below aren't rock solid rules. They're just guidelines.
Avoid Vigorous Activity
The first time I got a bikini wax, my esthetician said I should avoid doing any intense leg workouts for at least two days. It wasn't because of the pain, though. It just wasn't a good idea to get really sweaty down there after the wax.
You can determine whether or not you will follow this rule for yourself. I usually give myself the day after to relax, and then I get right back into my crazy work out practices.
You need to exfoliate once in a while to keep from getting in-grown hairs. Ask for exfoliating suggestions at the spa. Usually, I just use body wash that has scrubbing beads in it, and I like to make sugar scrubs.
Some people are more prone to in-grown hairs and some people aren't. That said, it's also just a good idea to keep clean and prevent dead skin from building up down there. Plus, it's often been my experience that there will usually be some wax residue on your skin afterwards. There's usually only a small amount that's leftover, and estheticians usually wipe it off after waxing you, but it's a good idea to get the remaining wax off your skin when you get a chance.
Salon Secrets: What to Expect During a Brazilian Wax
13 More Tips for Getting the Best Wax
- If you're especially sensitive, you can try using a numbing cream. For most people this is probably unnecessary. Ask your esthetician to recommend specific brands and demonstrate how to use the creams effectively.
- Your hair should be 1/4 inch long before you get it waxed. If it's longer than this, the esthetician should trim it. If it's shorter (or if you got waxed in the last six weeks), you should wait a bit. Generally you should stop shaving three weeks before getting a wax.
- Exfoliating before a wax can help ensure that dead skin cells don't prevent your hair from being pulled out by the root.
- You're least sensitive to pain in the days right after getting your period, so schedule your appointment for then. At the very least, avoid going right before or during your period.
- Avoid tight clothing, scented lotion, and direct sunshine on your private parts right after getting a wax.
- For your first time, consider getting a standard bikini wax so you can get an idea of how the procedure will feel.
- Hard wax is gentler than soft wax. Find out which kind your salon uses.
- In general, women find the butt to be the least sensitive part of the wax. The lower abdomen is the most sensitive (mons pubis), and the area right around the vagina is between the two.
- If you're in a lot of pain, tell the esthetician and they will do what they can to make you more comfortable.
- Don't get waxed if you have a sunburn.
- Do not use ice to try to numb the area. That will make the pores close up, and that will make hair removal extra painful.
- Ask the esthetician to explain how it's going to go down. Usually, they apply some baby powder to remove excess moisture and oil from the area. Then they apply some warm wax to a popsicle stick. They spread it on a small area, put down a strip of paper, rub it in the direction of hair growth, and then pull it off in the opposite direction of hair growth. Then they will rinse and repeat the process until all the hair is gone.
If the thought of putting wax on your privates and using it to pull hair off your body seems intolerable, or you've tried Brazilian waxes and disliked the process, then consider trying other hair removal methods, including:
Sugaring is a centuries-old hair removal method. During the process, a wax-like paste made of sugar, lemon juice, and water is used to remove hair. The sugaring process is similar to waxing in that you will apply the sugaring mixture to your body hair and use it to pull the hair out, but it is a more gentle process than waxing. Sugaring is more gentle because the mixture only sticks to hair, whereas waxes will stick to hair and skin. This means that when the paste is pulled off your body it will only pull your hair. Wax will pull at your skin a bit. Sugaring is a more gentle means of removing hair and exfoliating skin. Some spas that offer waxing also offer sugaring.
Shaving is the process of cutting off hair with a razor. It doesn't last as long as waxing and sugaring because it only removes hair above the skin. Waxing and sugaring remove hair at its roots, so either of those processes will enable a person to wait weeks before they need to remove more hair. Shaved hair can grow back after a few days. Shaving comes with the added risk of causing cuts, bumps, and ingrown hairs.
Depilatory creams are made of chemical mixtures that dissolve hair so it can be wiped away. While the creams are thorough and effective, most people dislike using chemicals to remove hair (especially on sensitive body parts). When depilatory creams are left on for too long they can burn skin, so use them carefully. While depilatory creams can be used to tidy up bikini areas, they should not be used to perform full Brazilian hair removals.
Epilators are machines that contain several sets of rotating tweezers. The tweezers will grasp hairs and pull them out of their roots. This may be painful and it is akin to tweezing dozens of hairs at once. Epilation can be a thorough alternative to shaving, waxing, sugaring, and depilatory creams, but it can also be very painful.
Fun Facts About Waxing and Hair Removal
Here are some fun facts about waxing for the curious cat in all of us!
- According to the 2013 Journal of Urology, 80% of college students remove all their pubic hair.
- A 2008 study found that most women between 18 and 49 remove some or all of their pubic hair.
- According to a 2013 study from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas, only 8.6% of women from 16 to 40 years old had never groomed their pubic hair.
- In the UT study, the majority of women said they groom with razor and shaving cream, scissors, or hair removal cream. Only 16% of people said they waxed.
Why Do Women Remove Their Pubic Hair?
In the 2013 UT study, 73% of women said they groomed to get a neater, cleaner look. 40% said that they did it because pubic hair is unattractive, 27.3% said they did it because clothing styles demand it, and 26% said they did it to please or arouse their partner.
I hope my advice has been helpful. Remember these aren't hard and fast rules. I just wanted to help out people who are looking for information. If you have any questions, feel free to comment and I'll try to answer questions in a timely fashion. Good luck with your wax!
Have you ever gotten a wax before?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
How long does a Brazilian wax last?
It depends on your hair growth. If your hair grows slowly, the wax could last in the neighborhood of six weeks. If your hair grows faster, it will probably last for close to four weeks. As you have more waxes, you'll get a better idea of how long they'll last for you.Helpful 18
Does waxing the butt area hurt?
I have found and heard that the butt area hurts the least for women. However, for men, getting a Brazilian wax around the butt area may hurt more.Helpful 16
I had a C-section just over four months ago. How would they wax the area where my C-section scar is?
This question is better put to your esthetician. They can give you a much more specific answer on how that is handled. I imagine it has a lot to do with how well the area has healed.Helpful 6
How young is too young to start bikini waxing?
There really is no hard number. Generally, if there is an age restriction at a specific salon all you have to do is ask the salon. I would suggest waiting until late teenage years, at least seventeen, maybe sixteen at the youngest. I didn't get my first one until eighteen (when I was in college), for perspective.Helpful 3
How long does it hurt after getting a Brazillian wax?
That really depends on you and your pain tolerance. It stings in the moment, and might be a little sensitive once you're done, but I wouldn't say that it actually hurts for any significant amount of time. It could be sensitive for a day or two at the absolute most.Helpful 3