Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off. Wax on, wax off. Who would have ever guessed that The Karate Kid’s basic training instructions could also apply to a more intimate part of the body?
Known as bikini waxing, it’s a technique for pruning pubic hair into various shapes and styles (as well as testing your threshold of pain). Whether you want a little hair taken off, a lot, or all of it, there’s a bikini waxing style that’s perfect for you.
Getting Ready for Waxing
Prepare yourself by letting your pubic hair grow a quarter inch from your skin (about the size of a grain of rice). This will significantly diminish discomfort when the hair is pulled off at the salon. Be sure not to shave, or the wax won’t grab the hair.
A good rule of thumb is to stop shaving about two weeks before your appointment. At least 30 minutes prior to waxing, take an over-the-counter painkiller. Request hard wax (also called stripless wax). It grasps the hair, not the skin.
The esthetician will try to distract you from the procedure by engaging you in conversation. If you’re excessively nervous, you can also focus on coughing, holding your breath, humming, or wiggling your toes.
Equipped with these tips and tricks, you can follow this guide to some of the many bikini waxing styles available.
Classic Bikini Wax
This is the wax job favored by newbies, as well as women who regularly want to freshen up. A classic bikini wax, also called an American wax, removes hair that’s playing peek-a-boo with your panty line, hairs on the upper thighs, and hairs under your belly button.
The technician will generally follow the line of your underwear or bathing suit crotch to capture any renegade hairs. If you’re going away on vacation, bring the bathing suit you plan to wear, so the esthetician can remove hair accordingly. This waxing procedure is fast and one of the most painless available.
At the other end of the pain threshold is the Hollywood wax. More excruciating than any other wax, the Hollywood removes all of the hair from your genitals and your buttocks. This is an intense procedure that's definitely not for newbies, but countless women swear by it once they get accustomed to it.
Full Bikini Wax
This type of waxing indents the sides of the pubic hair more deeply than a regular bikini wax. Additionally, it can include waxing hair on top to create a more defined triangle. This is for those ladies who still want some hair but desire more demarcation than a clean-up.
With a Brazilian wax, all of the hair is removed from the bikini line in front to the rear end. Depending upon your artistic preferences, a small strip of hair—triangle, heart, any shape you want—is left on your pubic bone.
Women who love thongs or want to be nearly hairless in both the front and back could opt for the Brazilian. Avoid choosing intricate shapes, though. Your aesthetician may have to wax against the grain of your hair growth, causing ingrown hairs.
If you have a perplexing “happy trail” (a line of excess hair running from your belly button to your pubic area), the Brazilian Plus will help you move forward with your plans to wear a bikini. The Brazilian Plus includes a full Brazilian Wax plus removal of that pesky belly fuzz.
For those of you who are less masochistic, there’s the French wax. It removes all the hair in front, other than a small strip, and stops right before your behind. Choose this type of waxing if you want your pubic region smooth, but you don't want to take any hair away from your backside. And, no, swearing in French won't make it hurt less.
This is another one that will appeal to you ladies seeking artistic expression. Called the landing strip, it requires all hair to be removed, other than a vertical line. You can make the line as thin or as thick as you want. You can also experiment with removing almost all of your pubic hair and having the remainder turned into a heart, an arrow, the KISS logo; heck whatever shape you want.
Brazilian and Bikini Waxing for Men
Just like women, men also have woe about hair down below. Make sure you go to a licensed professional who has experience waxing men’s pubic area. These are the main styles of male waxing.
• BSC (back, sack, crack). This needs no explanation. The back is an optional part of this particular style of waxing. The hair is removed (carefully!) from the area between the scrotum and rear end.
• Bikini Line. The bikini line is basically the same as the female bikini waxing. Stray hairs that may stick out of swim trunks and underwear are eliminated in a minimally invasive waxing.
• Bikini and Strip. Again, a landing strip, or a more creative shape of your choosing, is created with this type of male waxing.
• Full Brazilian. This one is the whole ball of wax, so to speak. Front, back, under—they’ll all be smooth and hair-free.
Pros to Bikini Waxing
Not only does bikini waxing tidy up any pubic regions that you consider unsightly, it also has benefits that are more than skin deep.
• Bikini waxing promotes healthy skin. It exfoliates dull, dead skin cells and removes hair from the root, promoting a soft, revitalized surface.
• Your hair will grow back thinner and finer because the roots have been weakened or destroyed.
• Removing hair from the root means it will grow back much more slowly than it would after shaving. Shaving only cuts hair below the skin’s surface and doesn’t affect the roots.
• You can have a bikini waxing if you’re pregnant.
• You can have sex only 24 to 48 hours after your treatment. It can also heighten genital sensitivity.
• Having less hair in the pubic zone is hygienic.
• Waxing can last up to six weeks.
Do’s and Don’ts Before Waxing
• Don’t ingest caffeine or alcohol (I know, I know—it’s a cruel world) before your appointment. Both tighten your pores, making your skin’s surface more resistant to waxing.
• Don’t tan your target area 24 to 48 hours before your session.
• Don’t schedule a waxing within three days before your period, when your skin is ultra-sensitive.
• Do let your technician know about any medications you’re taking, such as antibiotics or topical pharmaceuticals including Retin-A or Differin gel. They may have a negative interaction with waxing. Sometimes a doctor’s note is necessary for proceeding with a waxing if you are taking medication.
• Do wear comfy cotton panties (loose “granny panties” would actually be helpful) and sweatpants to reduce chafing after your appointment.
Just as there are hairstyles for your head, there are hairstyles for your genitals. Wear them proudly and gleefully. Above all, wear them privately.