Illustrated by Jihyang Lim


What You Should Know Before Your First Bikini Wax

Tips and tricks for smooth sailing (pun intended)

Before I begin, I know that there are many of you already out there who love waxing. You are fearless human beings and prefer it to shaving; you schedule your appointments on the reg. You are reading this article right now thinking, Huh? Waxing is no big deal. Well, rest assured, the rest of us out there are scared shitless at the thought—including me, clearly. This piece is for us.

Some of us prefer to be bare, while others prefer a full-on bush, with many falling somewhere in between. All are normal and beautiful—I just happen to prefer being bare. Being that my Italian-American heritage has blessed me with thick, dark body hair that grows back practically overnight, shaving every day was starting to exhaust me—it was annoying to keep up with and left my skin feeling irritated. With that being said, I finally decided to try out wax.

I booked my appointment on the most appropriate day of the year: the inauguration of Donald Trump. What other way to soothe my depression and anxiety toward the inevitable end of the world as we know it than to have a complete stranger rip hot wax off of my lady parts? Sometimes, a girl just has to feel something.

I really went for it, too, opting for a full Brazilian, which means they go for everything from front to back—and yes, they really get in there.

I pretty much went into it blind, not reading too much up on the whole experience beforehand. Well, with the help of the wonderful Nandi Wagner, lead esthetician at Bliss Spa in Manhattan's SoHo, I made it out alive. (Okay, I’m totally exaggerating; it’s really not that bad). She gave me a few tips on what people should know before coming in for their first time, so that they're not totally clueless, like me. Click through below to find out what this expert advises.

Have some patience

If you plan on converting from shaving to waxing, you’ll have to have a little patience. “A good deal of wax newbies are not accustomed to waiting weeks for sufficient hair growth before removing it,” says Wagner. “Give yourself three to four weeks after shaving before getting that first wax.”

Yes, this means you’ll have a be a little hairy before you can be bare, but the results are well worth the wait.

It's slightly uncomfortable, but not that painful

I’m not going to lie to you, waxing isn’t exactly enjoyable. Still, while it’s definitely a bit uncomfortable, it’s not that bad. 

“Generally, a bikini wax is no more uncomfortable than a teeth cleaning,” says Wagner. “While everyone has different pain tolerances, the very first wax is always the most painful. With regular visits, the pain quotient decreases because less hair grows back over time—and for many women, it grows back finer. Keep a standing appointment with your esthetician every four to six weeks to keep pain to a minimum. If you’re still concerned about pain, take a couple of Ibuprofens 30 minutes prior to your appointment to reduce any discomfort or inflammation.” 

Whatever you do, don’t take a courage shot before going. Drinking alcohol before a waxing session can increase sensitivity and bleeding. Plus, it really isn’t going to mask the pain at all.

Wagner left me with an important piece of advice—that I should schedule my next appointment after my period. I like to think I have a high tolerance to pain (nothing could possibly hurt more than my sternum tattoo, right?) but every time she ripped off a patch, I would jump. She told me that because I was expecting to get my period within a few days, I was extra sensitive. She recommends scheduling an appointment five to 10 days after your period ends for the least amount of sensitivity. Noted!

Make sure the hair is long enough

Alert: This tip is very important. Wagner says that your pubic hair should be at least a quarter of an inch long in order for the wax to adhere to it effectively. “When the hair is too short, your esthetician may have to go back over areas multiple times, leading to more discomfort for you.”

I totally didn’t wait three to four weeks after shaving to go, which means I wasn’t anywhere close a quarter of an inch. It made the process of getting everything more difficult. While Wagner was still able to remove most of my hair, it took a couple tries and going over certain areas more than once. 

Take extra care of your skin afterward

Wagner recommends avoiding anything that can cause irritation for at least 48 hours prior to waxing, such as harsh scrubs and exfoliants. More importantly, you’ll want to avoid anything that can irritate you post-wax, as well. “Skip strenuous exercise on the day of your waxing,” she says. “Extra friction and sweat can cause irritation and bumps post-wax.” She also says to avoid anything else that can cause excessive sweating, like hot yoga and saunas.

Was I bummed to have to reschedule my infrared sauna session I had later that night? A little bit. Was I happier to be all smooth and soft and not have to worry about getting a weird rash or bumps from excessive sweating? Yeah, duh.

Ask your girlfriends for advice

Chances are, at least one of your girlfriends has gotten a bikini wax before. Ask them everything. Find out where they go and what esthetician they trust, have them give you the rundown on how they prepare for an appointment and ask them what to expect. “There may be an amazing esthetician they can recommend you to,” says Wagner. “It’s very important to feel comfortable with your esthetician, and going to one has your BFF’s seal of approval can help to calm your nerves and increase your courage.”

Schedule a consultation beforehand

If you’re really feeling unsure about the whole thing, it never hurts first meet with an esthetician beforehand. “Don’t be reluctant to go into a spa or salon and schedule a brief consultation,” says Wagner. “The esthetician can test the wax on you, let you know how to prepare for a waxing service, and answer any other questions you may have.”

Overall, you just want to make sure you feel comfortable—as the session will put you in a vulnerable position. If you're able to make jokes and laugh with your esthetician as she's ripping wax out of your ass crack (graphic, I know, sorry), it really does makes all the difference. 

Regardless, you got this—it’s really not so scary after all.