Keeping your body sleek and hairless is no easy task – you know that. But what you may not know are the pros and cons of increasingly popular Brazilian waxes. Named for the place that evokes images of sand, surf and teeny tiny bikinis, a Brazilian wax is designed to keep your most intimate areas hairless, or near hairless, for extended periods of time. Some swear by the practice, but nearly everyone has a desire to swear during the specialized treatment. It can be quite uncomfortable and the financial cost also can sting too.
Brazilian waxes grew in popularity in the U.S. after the show "Sex and the City" put a focus on them. Soon everyone was interested in achieving a perfect bikini line. Still, the hair removal technique, which is available at countless spas, also has received its share of negative press, as well. The state of New Jersey considered a ban on Brazilian waxes and some have suggested that the industry needs to be regulated more closely.
At its core, a Brazilian wax requires three things: a trained aesthetician, wax and cloth. But that doesn't mean it's easy or pleasant. You need to know what to guard against, what you'll likely experience and how often you'll need to schedule an appointment at your local spa. Click ahead to learn the skinny on getting bare.
You Want Me to Wear What?
When you arrive for your bikini waxing appointment you'll be handed a small garment – a very small garment. It's really more of a paper thong. The tiny piece of paper, which is attached to a piece of elastic, is meant to cover only the strip of hair that will remain. You'll be asked to lie on a table wearing nothing from the waist down but the disposable G-string. Since longer hair is difficult to remove with wax, you may be given a trim. Once the trimming is complete, your aesthetician will ask you to move your legs to better expose the areas which require waxing.
This Is Going to Sting
Let's be honest – waxing hurts. But there are several ways to minimize the discomfort. Ask your aesthetician if there's a topical anesthetic cream she can apply for pain relief. Talk about the type of wax she plans on using. Soy-based hard waxes are best because they stick to hair but not skin. Consider taking an anti-inflammatory in advance of your treatment. In addition, help your aesthetician when you can. If she asks you to pull the skin taut, it's in your best interest to do so. It's easier to remove hair from taut skin than relaxed, loose skin. And finally, relax as much as possible. Resisting what's to come will only make you more uncomfortable.
What to Watch For
A trained aesthetician is key to a successful Brazilian wax. Ask your friends for recommendations. Steer clear of too-good-to-be-true bargains and amateur-looking spas. The wax you aesthetician uses shouldn't have been used in previous appointments, because of the obvious threat of spreading germs and disease. The same goes for the tools she'll be using during the process; it's vital that they're sanitized between appointments. If your aesthetician doesn't wear gloves or test the temperature of the wax on her own skin first, you're not dealing with a professional. Take your $75 and go elsewhere.
Brazilian waxing is not a highly regulated industry. Asking questions of your aesthetician and picking a clean salon is up to you. The state of New Jersey considered banning the practice before ultimately deciding against the move. Microorganisms can live in "double-dipped" waxes, which lead to disease and infection. A poorly trained salon worker who has to repeat the procedure in the same area over and over can cause bruising in sensitive areas. Broken skin in the bikini area could require hospitalization, antibiotics and even surgery. This is by no means the norm but such cases have been repeatedly documented. Understand the risks before you make a Brazilian waxing appointment.
Brazilian Waxing Has Benefits
By now you may be asking, "so why would I want to go through that procedure?" While there can be some unpleasantness during a Brazilian waxing, it has multiple benefits. A hair-free lower body appearance will allow you to hit the beach in a bikini without being self-conscious or flaunt that sexy lingerie. Unlike shaving the bikini area with a razor, Brazilian waxing keeps your skin stubble-free and you won't have to think about re-growth for several weeks. Since the hair is literally pulled from the shaft, you'll get the longest lasting, smooth results with a Brazilian wax.
Many people regularly undergo a Brazilian wax without complaint. Your skin sensitivity and the professionalism of your aesthetician can make all the difference. With a little research and a bit of discomfort, you could be hitting the beach Brazilian style.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Barba, Alicia. "Nonlaser Hair Removal Techniques." eMedicine. May 27, 2008. (Accessed 8/17/09)http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1067139-overview
- Bouchez, Colette. "For Women Only: Best Options for Hair Removal." WebMD. Feb. 9, 2007. (Accessed 8/17/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/features/for-women-only-best-options-for-hair-removal?page=2
- Cardellino, Carly. "Do bikini waxes spread STDs?" Shape. August, 2009. Findarticles. (Accessed 8/17/09)http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0846/is_/ai_n32429307/
- Freeman, Hilary. "Your Life: A Bikini Wax Ruined My Sex Life." The Mirror. June 1, 2005. HighBeam Research (Accessed 8/17/09)http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-132898254.html
- Goins, Liesa. "Fuzz Busters." Women's Health Magazine. July/August 2006. (Accessed 8/15/09) http://www.womenshealthmag.com/beauty-and-style/shaving-and-waxing-tips?page=1
- MSNBC. "N.J. Scraps Plans to Ban Genital Waxing." March. 20, 2009. (Accessed 8/17/09) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29797548/
- MSNBC. "Ow! Beware of bikini wax mishaps." Aug. 4, 2009. (Accessed 8/17/09)http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31144530/ns/health-womens_health/
- University of California, Santa Barbara. "The Brazilian Bikini Wax." SexInfo. 5/31/08. (Accessed 8/25/09)http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/article/the-brazilian-bikini-wax