We’ll be straight with you: Getting your first bikini wax is not generally a fun experience. That said, it’s a longer-lasting method to removing your pubic hair than shaving (with smoothness lasting for two to four weeks, rather than days, the Good Housekeeping Institute Beauty Lab says) making it a good option for those summer months when you don’t want to reach for the razor. But being aware of what you’re getting yourself into will help you get through it easier.
1. Hairs should be about 1/4 inches long.
A big mistake many women make before their first waxing session: shaving. Wax can’t pick up your hairs when they’re too short, so Queen Bee Salon & Spa owner Jodi Shays recommends trimming it to about a quarter of an inch. If you’re unsure of how long that is, just leave it alone. You can call the spa or salon beforehand and let your waxer know that you will need her to trim your hairs before your wax. For this reason, avoid shaving between waxes.
2. Determine what kind you want beforehand.
Here are a few of your options: A simple bikini wax, which only takes pubic hair off the sides of your bikini line, a Brazilian wax that removes all or nearly all of the hair from front to back, or a full-bush Brazilian style that removes all hair from the vulva and back but keeps a triangle in the front.
3. The time of the month matters.
4. Take a shower that day.
This may seem obvious, but it’s worth a reminder. You’ll feel less self-conscious and your pro will thank you if you suds up at least 24 hours before your waxing session. Even better, taking a warm shower (or bath!) right beforehand opens up your pores, making the actual process less painful. In the days leading up to your appointment, give your body a good scrub with a mild exfoliant, such as the GH Beauty Lab’s body scrub pick below. Make sure skin is completely dry before waxing, the Beauty Lab suggests, so the wax can adhere: Soak up any moisture with baby powder if needed.
5. Your lower half will be fully exposed.
Before your wax, you will have to strip off your pants and underwear. Some places offer disposable underwear for simple bikini waxes, but if you are having more hair removed than just on the sides, you will likely be completely naked.
The important thing to remember is that your waxer has probably seen hundreds of people’s pubic areas. This is just business for her, so don’t worry too much about exposing yourself.
6. It will hurt.
There are numerous treatments out there that claim to be “virtually painless” or “totally pain-free.” And some people who have been getting waxed for years, and are therefore desensitized to the pain, have insisted that hair removal “doesn’t hurt at all.” Spoiler alert: It does hurt. Waxes work by sticking to hair, removing it at the root when the wax is pulled off, the GH Beauty Lab explains. Unless you have the thinnest hair on the planet or zero pain receptors (or use a numbing cream, like the below, beforehand!), having hair ripped out of your body can be at least slightly painful.
7. And it hurts some people more than others.
A bikini wax isn’t a walk in the park for anybody, but for some, it’s worse than others. “Coarse and thick body hair is more stubborn to remove, so you may experience more redness in the waxed area,” Marta says.
8. Your waxer will get up-close and personal. Very personal.
Depending on how much hair you’re having removed, the experience may involve a lot of — for lack of a better term — spreading. In order to give your waxer access to all the spots you’re getting waxed, be aware that you occasionally may need to assist or move into awkward positions.
9. The hairs left behind may be tweezed.
Oftentimes, there are bikini hairs leftover from the wax that are removed using precise tweezers. Your waxer may ask you if you want them tweezed, or she may just start plucking without letting you know first. It’s a good idea to ask beforehand so you can be prepared.
10. You’ll look like a plucked chicken afterward.
Post wax, your skin is often red and irritated. Wear loose clothing to your appointment so you’ll be comfy afterwards. For the rest of the day, you should steer clear of applying too much friction (that means skip the sexy time!), lest you may wind up with even more irritation or ingrown hair in the waxed area. Good news: The redness should go away overnight.
11. Hydrocortisone cream can soothe your skin.
According to Marta, the fastest way to soothe post-waxing irritation is to apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream available at drugstores. “It calms inflammation, quells itchiness and reduces redness,” she says.
12. Let your skin heal before you hit the beach.
If you’re hoping to be bikini-ready by the end of your appointment, not so fast. Your skin deserves a breather after a bikini wax service. And since you just gave your bikini line a refresh, you might as well do the same with your bathing suit collection, right? Choose from these slimming styles and cheap (but seriously cute!) suits.
Shared from goodhusekeeping