What to Expect With a Brazilian Bikini Wax

Learn How to Reduce the Pain of Waxing

Hot wax on a stick (hair removal)
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Are you thinking about baring it all and going with a Brazilian bikini wax? It's a popular waxing style for the bikini line. It will leave you completely hairless (even on your bum), though it often leaves "landing strip" of hair in front.

Brazilian waxes do come with pain, though many women say it's worth it and that it gets better with each session. If you're a waxing newbie, it's typically advised to begin with a basic bikini wax because they tend to be less painful and allow you to dip your toe in the water, so to speak. But if you're ready to jump all in and go with a Brazilian, here's what to expect. 

What Is a Brazilian Bikini Wax?

Brazilian bikini waxes were introduced to New York in 1987 by the J Sisters, seven Brazilian-born sisters. The Brazilian remains a popular hair removal method in the United States.

Brazilian waxes differ from regular bikini waxes because hair is removed in the front, back, and everything in between. Sometimes a "landing strip" is left in the front, but many clients opt for the "Hollywood Wax," where everything is removed.

What Happens When You Arrive

Most waxings occur in a private room with a door and take between 15 and 30 minutes. You'll be left alone to remove everything from the waist down and lie on a table covered in clean paper or sheets. You may be provided with a paper thong and if not, you can ask for one.

The paper thong may make you feel more comfortable, but with a Brazilian, your modesty is going to be tested. The waxer is going to see everything, so you may choose to forego the paper thong. We like to think that 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.

How Much Hair Should You Have?

A general rule of thumb is that hair needs to be 1/4 inch (about the length of a grain of rice) if it's fine, and a half-inch if it's coarse, according to Cindy Barshop, owner of New York City's Spruce & Bond spas. Any shorter and it's too hard for the wax to grab. You'll be sent home if your hair isn't long enough.

You also don't want your hair to be too long, because this makes it more painful. You can help the waxer out by trimming your pubic hair with an electric razor before you go in. If your hair is much longer than required, your waxer may trim your pubic hair to the correct length.

The Brazilian Waxing Process

Your waxer should wear gloves during the wax and she should never double-dip the wooden waxing stick into the wax. Instead, she should use fresh sticks for each application.

Waxing usually starts in the front and moves toward the back. You may be asked to help hold skin taut. Be sure to let your waxer know if you want a landing strip or everything off.

There are hard wax and soft wax processes that can achieve the same look. Most salons use soft wax and use this method: 

  1. The waxer will liberally apply talcum powder to the skin. The talcum keeps hot wax from sticking to skin. 
  2. 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 in the direction of hair growth.
  3. She will then apply a cloth strip over the still-warm wax, pressing firmly so the cloth, hair, and wax adhere to one another.
  4. When the wax has cooled, she will pull the strip off, in the opposite direction of your hair growth. This quick motion pulls the hairs out by the root. If it is too painful at this point, ask the technician to apply strips to smaller areas at a time. If it's unbearable, you might have ​to ask them to stop completely.
  5. Since the Brazilian means everything off except for a "landing strip" in the front, don't be surprised when the technician removes the hair from between the buttocks. Yes, hair does grow there. You may be asked to turn over and lie on your stomach or you may be asked to kneel on the table and don't be embarrassed if you're asked to hold your cheeks apart. The good news is, this part isn't painful for most people.
  6. Once the waxing is complete, the waxer will tweeze any stray hairs and she may trim the remaining landing strip, or even create designs. Some women even opt to dye the remaining pubic hair.
  7. The waxer may spread soothing lotion over the waxed areas.

Just as you would your hairstylist, you'll want to tip your waxer at least 20 percent. Consider adding more considering the intimacy of the process. Of course, if you weren't satisfied with the job she did, you should speak up or ask to speak to a manager. 

How to Cut Down on the Pain

Waxing, in general, can be very painful, especially your first time. Be sure your waxer knows to be gentle with you if you are susceptible to pain or if this is your first time.

Here are a few tips to cut down on the pain:

  • If you are new to waxing, we don't recommend starting with a Brazilian. Try a regular or high bikini wax instead. After a few sessions, you'll find the waxings are much less painful. Then you can graduate to a Brazilian.
  • 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.
  • Get waxed regularly every three to four weeks. If you wait longer or only get waxed a couple times a year, it will be much more painful.
  • Find a salon that uses a "hard wax." When used correctly, it can be much less painful than the commonly used soft wax. Once applied, hard wax hardens as it cools, shrink-wrapping individual hairs. The wax is then gently pulled off. 
  • You can apply a topical anesthetic, such as Relax and Wax No-Scream Cream, 45 minutes before the procedure. But some pros swear numbing creams don't work.
  • It is recommended to take a couple ibuprofen or acetaminophen an hour before your wax. 

Post-Wax Care

Before you leave the salon, be sure to ask your waxer for any aftercare tips she may have. It's best to be proactive against any potential side effects from waxing. You'll also want to avoid anything that can irritate the skin for a few days. That includes wearing loose clothing, using fragrance-free products, and no rough sex, hot yoga, or sweaty workouts.

If, after the wax, you 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 (the word "acid" makes it sound like it will sting, but it doesn't).

We 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.

The Importance of Regular Waxing

The downside of a Brazilian wax is that it only lasts three to six weeks. The hair will grow back—albeit finer and lighter—and you'll have to do it again. Veterans of the Brazilian swear that the first time hurts the worse and that the pain dramatically lessens with the more waxings you get.

According to Melanie Gilliland, European Wax Center’s education director, there are few things more important than sticking to a regular waxing schedule. "Getting waxed religiously every three to four weeks—throughout the entire year, not just during the bare-all summer months—is the secret to both less pain and better results,” says Gilliland on the Refinery29 website.

Why every three to four weeks? That's typically the exact time it takes for your hair to hit that magical 1/4-inch length. If you have coarser hair, or hair that doesn't grow fast, you may be able to hold off up to six weeks.

One last tip: don't forget to get the name of the waxer. When you make another appointment you can get the same person and you don't have to bare all for another complete stranger.

The Future of the Brazilian

In 2014, the New York Times reported that the popularity of the Brazilian may be waning, as more and more urban women adopt an "organic lifestyle of cold-pressed juice and barre classes." This healthful lifestyle, it seems, jives more with a full bush, then a pulled bush. However, in some circles and areas, the trend remains as popular as ever.

As for trends, the "Brazilian" prompted many below-the-belt beauty trends over the years. These include "Vajazzling," a temporary crystal tattoo placed in the bikini area and Vatooing, temporary ink tattoos for the nether regions. Both of these trends (and many others) seemed to be a passing thing. However, you never know what the hot new thing will be next!