I do not like bikini waxes.
Of course, if you are someone who has ever gotten a bikini or Brazilian wax before, this is not a statement that you are likely to find all that controversial. Disliking bikini waxes is akin to disliking the sensation when the edge of your sleeve gets a little wet when you’re washing dishes, or disliking anyone who finds Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to be “just OK”– that is, it’s just something that people do. Because, like, of course bikini waxes suck. Having a stranger try to make small talk with you as they apply scalding hot wax to your vulva and then rip out every single hair follicle that is attached to it is something that, in addition to being objectively painful, also feels both unnatural and deeply condescending. I am a naturally hirsute lady, so I have long been used to the disconcertingly pleasant sensation of hot wax being applied, followed by hard slap-like pain of it being removed and, while it is possible to get acclimated to the pain, the awkwardness of the whole thing never really goes away.
But. A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to visit Wax Club NYC (which is, as its name implies, is a waxing salon in New York City), where I got a bikini wax that was, somehow, not the worst thing that has ever happened to me. In fact, it ended up being almost enjoyable.
Don’t make fun of me! I’m about to tell you how to actually enjoy your bikini wax, too, right after my disclaimer that you don’t have to get anything waxed this summer if you don’t want to. Despite the fact that most images of “summer bodies” imply that they all have to be super-taut, tanned, and waxed free of any stray bit of hair below the eyebrows, you don’t have to buy into that. Your body will be ready for summer in whatever state it’s in right now. Promise. But, if you do get a wax, you need to make sure that it’s as good of an good experience for you as it can possibly be. So, check out these things that need to happen every time you get a bikini wax:
1. Make sure the place you’re going to has good reviews:
I gave a yelp review once.
In my defense, it was my first bikini wax.
— Northern Lights (@PinkCamoTO) May 23, 2016
Now is not the time to buy a super-cheap Groupon for a place that has mediocre reviews. No disrespect to Groupon, but, like, this is your vagina we’re talking about–you need to check and see that people say that the salon is clean, the waxers are receptive, and the overall feel of the place. So, read some Yelp reviews, and try to go to place that has a 4.5 rating or higher.
2. Don’t shave right before:
Your hair needs to be at least a quarter of an inch long before you get waxed. So, depending on how fast your hair grows, you’re going to need to wait two to four weeks after shaving before you get any hair waxed off. I’d shaved the week before, and my waxer called me out on it. (Not in a mean way! Just in, like, an all-knowing way.)
3. Ask what kind of wax the salon uses:
You want them to be using hard wax–not soft wax. Soft wax requires muslin strips to be pulled off, which makes it more painful and less effective, but hard wax hardens around the hair by itself, so it yanks hair out more cleanly.
4. Take some ibuprofen before you go:
for all ma ladies out there, pop an ibuprofen thirty min before getting a brazilian wax and it'll barely hurt #lifehackswithjohanna
— johanna banana (@johannnamae) September 29, 2016
No matter what kind of wax is being used, it’s still going to be a little painful–take an ibuprofen about thirty minutes before your wax to reduce pain, irritation and inflammation.
5. Make sure you aren’t on your period:
— E (@MrsSquattingJ) June 9, 2016
You obviously can get a wax if you’re on your period–no salon will turn you away simply because of it–but you tend to be more sensitive to pain when you’re on your period, so it’s not ideal. And, if you do happen to be on your period, make sure you’re wearing a tampon, since you aren’t going to be wearing underwear while yo’re getting it done.
6. Don’t drink coffee right before you go, either:
I always find that caffeine makes me more sensitive to pain, so try not to hit up Starbucks on your way to the salon.
7. If you work out, do it before you hit up the salon:
Most waxing places will advise that you don’t exercise too soon after getting waxed, since friction of your workout clothes against just-waxed skin can cause some pretty nasty irritation. So, if you’re the type that simply must work out every single day, just do it
8. Shower before you go:
If you're not coming straight from the shower to get a bikini wax, do your waxer a favor & pre soap a towel to wash up w right before.
— Khaleesi (@SlimTheSaavage) March 11, 2017
Especially if you work out. You don’t have to do this (your waxer will probably wipe you down with a baby wipe beforehand anyway), but you’ll feel less self-conscious if you’ve showered a few hours before you get waxed.
9. Talk to your waxer about exactly what you want before they get started:
Bikini waxing doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all. Think about what you want down there (all bare? A landing strip? Full-bush Brazilian?) and let your waxer know. If you’re not sure, they’ll be able to guide you through some options–just know that it’s totally up to you, and you can tailor each option to fit whatever needs you have.
10. Be prepared for there to be wax…not on your vagina:
I didn't know a bikini wax included my butt crack. I'm pleasantly surprised.
— actually amy lee (@brikathryn_) July 7, 2016
Your waxer isn’t going to do anything you don’t want them to, obviously. But you should be prepared for them to offer to “clean up” hair on your inner legs, lower belly, and even the inside of your butthole. (I know. But that’s standard in most Brazilian and bikini waxes, believe it or not.) Don’t want them to do any of those things? Just tell them no! It’s no biggie.
11. Ask them to walk you through everything:
My waxer walked me through each step of the process, which was really helpful–I knew exactly what she was about to do, and if one thing would be more painful than the last thing. If your waxer isn’t doing this already, ask them to! They’ll be more than happy to do it, and it’ll make the experience a lot better for you, too.
12. (Try) not to feel awkward about it:
bella thorne really snapchated a video of her getting a bikini wax,,,, someone take her phone please
— sav (@bexsaIIegories) May 4, 2017
Trust me when I say that your waxer has seen it all. Your vagina is far from the weirdest thing they have ever seen, and, even if it is (which it isn’t), they’ll be enough of a professional not to say anything about it.
13. Make sure they take care of you afterwards:
After the wax, they should wipe you down with a disinfectant and use some sort of powder and/or lotion to minimize irritation. You can also perfomr your own aftercare with some of the tips above.
Have you ever gotten a bikini wax? Do you have any advice to share? Let us know in the comments!