Weeks of no hair in hard-to-shave areas are a huge benefit of Brazilian waxing. But the process can also come with some less-than-desirable side effects that last long after you leave the spa, including ingrown hairs. In more serious cases, women experience chemical burns and bleeding, which can result in scarring, or they contract infections or sexually transmitted diseases [source: Barba, MSNBC: Bikini].
Wax temperature and the type of wax used are just a couple of factors that can lead to lead to discomfort or even skin damage. Think about it: Wax is hotter than most of the things you put anywhere below your belly button, so if the temperature is even slightly too high, it could cause some lasting pain. How the hair is removed during a wax makes a difference as well. If the aesthetician doesn't properly prepare the hair by making sure it's the right length, wax may have to be applied to the same area multiple times. The resulting bruises and stinging from the repeated trauma to your skin can last for days [source: Freeman, Goins].
In a worst case scenario, it is possible a Brazilian wax could lead to more long-term medical problems, including illness. If not properly sanitized between uses, the tools used for waxing could spread any number of diseases or skin conditions from one person to another. Since Brazilian waxing is not as highly regulated as some other industries, spa technicians who are not licensed have been accused of "double dipping," or using tools more than once before sanitizing. The reason this is especially bad is that microorganisms can live in the wax and be transferred from visitor to visitor [source: Shape]. An infection as a result of broken skin in the bikini area could land you in the hospital, and some women in this situation have had to undergo surgery when antibiotics and pain killers didn't resolve the infection [source: MSNBC: Bikini].
Of course, many people regularly get Brazilian waxes and never have any negative experiences. It's up to you to understand the risks and decide if this approach is right for you. Read on for much more information on hair removal techniques.
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