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The "Brazilian Wax" (Or, What to Expect When You Sign Up to Get One)

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The Richard Nolan-Neylan/Getty Images

Brazilian bikini waxes were introduced to New York in 1987 by 7 Brazilian-born sisters (the J Sisters). The Brazilian remains a popular hair removal method in the US.

Brazilian waxes differ from regular bikini waxes because hair is removed in the front, back and everything in between. A "landing strip" is typically left in the front, but some clients opt for everything removed.

The "Brazilian" has prompted many below-the-belt beauty trends including "Vajazzling," a temporary crystal tattoo placed in the bikini area (See "What is Vajazzling") and Vatooing, temporary ink tattoos for the nether regions.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 15-30 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Most waxings occur in a private room with a door. You'll be left alone to remove your pants and underwear and you'll be asked to lie on a table with clean paper or sheets. It is possible that you may be provided with a paper thong and if not, you can ask for one.
  2. Because you only need 1/4 inch of hair for the wax to grab onto, your waxer may trim pubic hair to the correct length. A general rule of thumb is that hair needs to be a quarter-inch if it's fine, a half-inch if it's coarse, according to Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare spas. Any shorter and it's too hard for the wax to grab onto. You'll be sent home if hair isn't long enough. (Been there, done that).
  3. The waxer will liberally apply talcum powder to the skin. Talcum powder keeps hot wax from sticking to skin.
  4. The best waxers are fast, which means less discomfort for you. The waxer will dip a wooden waxing stick into a pot of hot wax and then spread it onto your skin and hair. She will then apply a cloth strip over the still-warm wax, pressing firmly so the cloth, hair and wax adhere to one another. When the wax has cooled, she will pull the strip off, in the opposite direction of your hair growth, pulling the hairs out by the root. You might request a hard wax, which is thicker and is peeled off when cooled. It can be less painful, according to Barshop.
  5. If the waxing is too painful, ask the technician to apply strips to smaller areas at a time.

    Waxing usually starts in the front and moves toward the back. You may be asked to help hold skin taut.

  6. Since the Brazilian means everything off except for a "landing strip" in the front, don't be surprised when the technician removes the hair between the buttocks. Yes, hair grows there. If you want to be completely bare, this is called a "Hollywood" wax.
  7. Once the waxing is complete, the waxer will tweeze any stray hairs and she may trim the remaining landing strip, or even create designs (if there are patterns for this, I do not know where they exist). Some women even opt to dye the remaining pubic hair.
  8. The waxer may spread soothing lotion over the waxed areas. If you later develop bumps, redness or ingrown hairs, gently exfoliate the area with a body scrub and then smooth on a lotion or cleanser with alpha hydroxy acid (it sounds like it will sting, but it doesn't). I also hear great things about Bliss ingrown hair eliminating pads. To keep ingrown hairs at bay, exfoliate the area in the days leading up to your appointment.
  9. Don't forget to get the name of the waxer so when you make another appointment you can get the same person so you don't have to bare all for another complete stranger (wink). Typically, you'll need to wax every 2 to 4 weeks and trust me, the first time hurts the most. The more you do it, the less painful it becomes.

Tips:

  1. The procedure, like any waxing, can be very painful the first time, but frequent visits usually cut down on the pain factor as does 2 Advil taken an hour before your procedure. You can also apply a topical anesthetic, such as "Relax and Wax No-Scream Cream," 45 minutes before the procedure.
  2. The downside of a Brazilian wax... while it lasts 3-6 weeks, the hair will grow back -- albeit finer and lighter -- and you'll have to do it again.
  3. Hair has to be a certain length before it can successfully waxed. Hair needs to be a quarter-inch if it's fine, a half-inch if it's coarse.
  4. You may experience red bumps or ingrown hairs, caused when hairs grow curled under the skin. Avoid ingrown hairs with regular exfoliation and a scrub that contains salicylic or glycolic acid. Treat existing ingrown hairs with an acid-based solution. Good ones include Vaniqa, by prescription. Get rid of burns or rashes with a hydrocortisone cream, which soothes irritation.
  5. Book the appointment for at least a week after your period. "It's best to wax midcycle, right around the time you're ovulating," says Jodi Shays, owner of Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Los Angeles, in Allure Magazine. As for the embarrassment factor -- we like to think getting a Brazilian can't be any more embarrassing than a typical visit to your gynecologist's office. These technicians have seen it all before.
Related Video
Hair Removal: See the Waxing Technique

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