5 Truths About Bikini Waxes


Don't worry about anything but your tan!
Don't worry about anything but your tan!
iStockphoto/Nina Matyszczak

Excess hair peeking out of your bathing suit may garner some unwanted attention at the beach. Keeping your bikini line bare is considered an aesthetic necessity in the summertime months (and many prefer it that way year-round).

The problem, of course, is that hair grows back—quickly. Shaving and removing pubic hair with a chemical depilatory only keeps hair at bay for a short period of time. If you're looking for something that will last a little longer, a bikini wax is a good bet.

Don't misunderstand -- a bikini wax can definitely be painful. But it also has its benefits. Hair grows back slower and sometimes finer, and you don't have to worry about nicking your sensitive bits. However, it's a little pricy, and if you're the modest type, a lot embarrassing. Still not decided? Here are five simple ways to have a better bikini wax.

Be Descriptive

Getting your bikini line waxed is like getting your hair cut: You have options.

A full Brazilian wax will take away every hair down there, including those in between your butt cheeks. It requires a bit of maneuvering on your part to allow the aesthetician access to everywhere she needs to wax. A modified Brazilian leaves a "landing strip" or small triangle of hair above the vulva.

A simple bikini wax just removes whatever would grow outside your underwear. There are several variation in between a bikini wax and a Brazilian and many aestheticians have different terms for them, so detail exactly what you want.

Preparation Equals a Better Appointment

A bikini wax isn't a spur-of-the-moment decision.

To prepare, you need to trim your pubic hair to about a quarter of an inch (6 millimeters). If you've been in the sun in the past day or two, put off the appointment -- sun exposure can make your skin extra tender and the procedure more painful. You'll also want to schedule around your period, usually the week or two afterward.

A tip from the pros: Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory (such as ibuprofen) before you head in. Some people also apply a numbing cream, but as with any other topical skin treatment, it could cause an allergic reaction, so don't go spreading it near your labia without testing it out.

You Can Go It Alone

If you find the price of a pro wax daunting, you can try to do it yourself (although we wouldn't recommend a Brazilian unless you're a contortionist).

Home kits come with wax, a spatula, and often cloth strips (with some, you just pull on the wax). The wax itself comes in two types: warm and cold. Cold wax is faster, but warm usually works better.

The issue with home waxing is that you are not a trained professional, so it takes a little getting used to. Some expert advice:

• Make sure that your skin is clean and dry. This makes the wax stick better.

• Spread the wax the same way your hair grows.

• When you're ready to pull, hold your skin tight and pull in the opposite direction of hair growth. You might be tempted to pull up, but instead, stay close to the skin.

There are Definite Benefits

When it comes to hair removal, you have to weigh your options.

As far as getting your money's worth, shaving is the cheapest, but you can see stubble in the next day or two. Electrolysis or laser hair removal is permanent, but it also requires several treatments and is quite expensive. At the minimum, laser hair removal for the bikini line would cost more than $1,500.

A bikini wax at a salon will usually run from $25 to $60. After a wax, it will probably be two weeks before you see growth. Waxing rips the hair out at the root and may damage the follicle itself [source: emedicine]. Why is that a plus? Hair can grow back finer and more sparsely.

Bikini Waxing Isn't Risk-Free

Your pubic hair has an important purpose: It protects you. Your delicate skin needs a buffer to keep away bacteria.

A bikini wax takes away that protection. For people with conditions that weaken their immune system, such as diabetes, Brazilian waxes aren't recommended. If you're otherwise in good health, the risks are scarring, folliculitis and ingrown hairs. It's also possible to pick up a staph infection, so if you notice skin irritation that doesn't look quite right or doesn't seem to be clearing up, call a dermatologist and get it looked at.

The risk of infection is the best reason to do research on the salon you're going to. Spotless conditions, no "double dipping" with the spatula, evidence of hand washing -- these are qualities any reputable waxing establishment should have. If you're uncomfortable with anything, speak up or walk out. A sleek bikini line isn't worth risking your health.

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