With summer literally upon us, you may be starting to think about your body hair (now that salons are finally back open after a long and fuzzy pandemic). Now, no one should ever feel pressured into getting rid of their pubic hair – it is wildly ludicrous that women actually pay good money to have hot wax spread onto their vulvas and have the hair ripped out of its follicle – but once you get over that, waxing can have significant benefits over other forms of hair removal.
But what if it’s your first foray into the world of waxing? Read on for a guide on what to expect and some tips to make it a less stressful experience.
I find shaving down there a big no. I got my first bikini wax when I was around 24, and despite it being eye-watering, I haven’t looked back since. Personally, I don’t think the hair down there is meant to be shaved, as I find the regrowth super sore and itchy. I had a moment of weakness once in lockdown and reached for a razor, but the regret was instant. The finish from a wax is just so much smoother, and I find there is something nice about handing over a bit of my personal care to someone else – it’s a bit like having my nails done, someone else is “responsible” for it.
Does it hurt?
I am the first to admit however that my pain tolerance is like for like with a toddler – I’ll beg for an ambulance for a papercut, mate. But I’ve found that the more consistently I have waxes, the less it hurts. Maybe it’s not so much that it actually hurts less, but the anticipation of it hurting becomes less extreme. I’d listened to a podcast about pain that suggests that you get the pain you expect, and I think that’s true. Basically, my body has learnt that it’s not going to die from a bikini wax, so I’m much more chilled out about it now. Plus, my waxing babe gives me all the latest gossip and we have such deep chats that I forget all about the pain. I almost look forward to it, and I always feel better and more like myself afterwards.
What are the benefits?
I spoke to aesthetic practitioner and wax specialist Des’Rae Clarke to give The Leopard a run down. She said: “Since the hair is removed from the root, waxing lasts longer than shaving or using hair removal creams. The hair will grow back finer and sparser over time, however how long this takes depends on your personal hair type and how well your aftercare is. From a cost perspective, you also might find that you spend less on a monthly wax than you do on razors or creams. I hasten to add however, that all pubic hair removal is purely for aesthetic reasons and has no medical benefits.
How much hair is removed?
Des’Rae says: “There are three main types of wax you can have. A Bikini wax is simply removing any hair you would see outside your underwear. A Brazilian wax goes one step further, removing the front and edges but leaving you with a landing strip down your vulva or “lips”; you can request a triangular or rectangular landing strip (some practitioners will do fancy shapes like hearts!). A Hollywood goes further still, and gets rid of everything, including the landing strip and the hair lining your bum cheeks.”
Is there different kinds of wax?
Des’Rae says: “There are also different wax textures. A soft wax is the one most people think about, where the warm wax is spread onto the skin, then a fabric strip is applied on top to remove the wax and hair. Hard wax is when the wax is left to go cool and hard and then is removed itself, without needing a strip. This is better for longer hairs. Sugaring is another technique that is similar to hard wax, but is a more natural solution that might be more suitable to those who are allergic to traditional wax, vegan or prefer it for environmental reasons. You should have a discussion with your practitioner beforehand to decide which might be best for you, but there shouldn’t be huge variances in price.”
What will happen during the treatment?
“On your first visit, your practitioner should introduce themselves and instantly put you at ease. You’ll be asked to take off your bottoms and underwear, so maybe wear something loose that is easy to put back on afterwards like joggers or a skirt. You’ll then be asked to lie on your back. Again, you should be made to feel comfortable. Don’t worry about discharge (it’s normal and natural), sweating (you will sweat, everyone sweats) or that you smell (you don’t, I promise!). If it’s your first time we expect you to be nervous – this is an incredibly intimate experience.
“The wax is likely to feel very warm on that first time, but that’s because you’re not used to it, it shouldn’t actually be burning hot. Wearing gloves, the practitioner will generally start at the top and work their way down, by spreading the wax with a wooden spatula, holding the skin taught and then whisking the strip/wax/sugar away. It should be in one swift movement. If they need, they’ll ask you to pull the skin at different angles so they can get to any hard-to-reach areas, but they will communicate this to you at the time. If you’re having a Hollywood, to get to the back you can either lay on your front and pull your cheeks apart, lie with your knees in the air, on all fours or on your side. No, it’s not dignified! But it’s not a big deal.”
Is there anything I can do about the pain?
“Yes, it will hurt. That first time, definitely. Similar to the concept of hypnobirthing, you can absolutely breathe through the discomfort. We don’t recommend taking any painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications beforehand, as this can delay the pain response until after you’ve left, which can be problematic. Don’t use numbing creams either, as this will block the pores. The worst thing you can do is stop and start however, as this just prolongs the pain, so it’s best just to grit your teeth and get it done. Allow an hour for any type of wax, unless you’re doing other body parts at the same time, in which case it’ll take longer. It’s also worth noting that you won’t get every single hair out on the first go, but this is to be expected.”
What happens after the treatment?
“When you’re done, your practitioner will pop some oil or lotion on you and you’re good to go. Your waxing aftercare however is as important, if not more, than the wax itself. After 24 hours, it’s essential that you exfoliate the skin using a gentle scrub as this prevents the build-up of dead skin and can reduce ingrown hairs. Speaking of, everyone gets ingrown hairs, so they aren’t impossible to get rid of altogether but exfoliating definitely helps – don’t tweeze them out! Keep the area clean and moisturised by using plain, gentle products – now is not the time for heavily scented Christmas gift sets. Good aftercare means better long-term results, and if you notice anything unusual, be sure to contact your waxer for advice.”
How often should I have a bikini wax?
“The ideal time to go back for your second wax is four weeks, as this is how the growth cycle of your hair works. Even better if you can time it around your menstrual cycle, as during your follicular phase you’re least likely to feel sensitive. Your second time is also likely to be less painful as you know what to expect now. If you are planning on returning, leave the hair to grow, so no shaving in-between waxes.”
How much does it cost?
“Prices from a qualified practitioner should be about £40 on average, and you should be able to see their qualifications and insurance on request. You can also ask how long they’ve been waxing for. Above all else, the person waxing you should make you feel as comfortable as possible. If it’s hurting, or they’re pulling too hard, don’t be afraid to communicate that with them and they should respond accordingly. If this isn’t the case, if you notice poor hygiene, or simply have a gut feeling that something isn’t right, then say so or leave. It’s your lady garden at the end of the day!”