Skincare » What’s a Brazilian Wax?

What’s a Brazilian Wax?

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A fresh hairstyle can be a fun way to boost your spirits and feel great about your appearance. And not to get too personal, but that doesn’t only apply to the hair on your head. Whether you’re dreaming of a beach vacation, trying an intimate new look, or craving change, an appointment at a wax salon might be the ticket to feeling like you’re ready for anything.

Except you probably have a few questions first. Like, what can I expect to look like after a Brazilian wax? How long will it last? And on a scale of “just a pinch” to “was that childbirth,” how much will this hurt? Don’t worry — we’ve got the answers to your most personal questions about a Brazilian wax.

What’s a Brazilian wax?

When it comes to styling your nether regions, you’ve got a range of options to choose from. Whether you rock every bit of your natural hair or prefer to go completely bare, your comfort with your body is the sexiest part of your style.

If you do choose to visit a wax aesthetician, you may find yourself faced with options that sound more like vacation destinations: the Brazilian, the French, and the Hollywood. Here’s what to expect from a variety of styles:

  • Natural. Hair patterns vary from person to person, but you can generally expect mature hair to cover your mons and spread out on either side to about the midpoint of your thigh. Some people have a “happy trail” of coarse — curly hairs leading up toward their belly button — while others have a triangle hair pattern.
  • Bikini. This wax touches up the sides, giving some definition to your triangle and stripping hairs that are likeliest to peek out the edges of a bikini brief.
  • French. This wax focuses on the front and sides of your bikini area and often leaves a small patch of hair behind. A rectangular “landing strip” is popular, but you can also ask for other shapes (e.g., mini triangle).
  • Brazilian. This popular option takes your wax to the next level. The wax aesthetician will create a relatively small, neat shape of hair and wax the hair off your labia and booty. Yes, this means waxing between your cheeks. Some salons take off all hair, but most leave either a landing strip or a triangle patch in the front. 
  • Hollywood. Get ready to feel smooth as an egg because this wax is coming for every bit of pubic fluff you’ve got. Front, back, right, left, up, down, across — prepare to recreate a game of Twister to help the aesthetician get everywhere. You’re going bald, babe.

A Brazilian is one of the more flexible options since you have some say over what shape you’d like for your patch of hair in the front (some salons treat Brazilian and Hollywood the same, so check in beforehand to be clear on what you’re receiving). Some salons might even offer special stencils if you’re feeling a diamond or heart shape.

Does waxing hurt?

Let’s be real: You’re using heated wax to rip out hairs that think they belong on your body. It’s going to be at least a little uncomfortable. But nowhere near as painful as a sugar wax. 

It’s not as bad as you think. The wax itself shouldn’t be hot enough to feel painful or a burning sensation. Your pubic hair is thicker than the hair on, say, your arm, and the skin on your labia is more sensitive, so that combo means a wax strip rip hurts more than ripping off a Baid-Aid.

Pain tolerance varies from person to person. Still, generally speaking, you’re looking at brief, sharp bursts of pain that might remind you of a sunburn slap, cat scratch, or similar sudden, sharp pain that typically subsides quickly. The first time is the worst because hair regrowth is often sparser and somewhat finer. You can also minimize pain with a few prep steps.

How to prepare for a Brazilian wax treatment

Getting ready for a Brazilian can make a big difference in how much pain you experience and how easy it is to care for your skin afterward.

Before a Brazilian, avoid the following:

  • Intense exercise. Coming in with flushed, sweaty skin or sore muscles could set you up for a more painful experience.
  • Tanning. Tanning is technically a form of skin damage (sorry), so your skin may feel more sensitive.
  • Caffeine or alcohol. Sorry, no liquid courage! These stimulants can increase skin sensitivity and pain. Alcohol can also act to thin your blood and make you more prone to bleed during your wax.

Before a Brazilian, try these steps:

  • Wearing a tampon. Speaking of bleeding — you can still get a Brazilian wax if you’re on your period. You’ll need to wear a cup or tampon. Just remember to tuck the strings in (you don’t want them to get yanked accidentally!).
  • Letting hair grow. Hair needs to be about a quarter of an inch long to stick to the wax effectively (think: the length of a grain of rice or an ice cream sprinkle). That usually means skipping shaving for about two weeks before your appointment.
  • Exfoliating. Skip harsh scrubs, but a gentle exfoliation about 24 to 48 hours before your appointment can help the wax work better on your skin.
  • Speaking up. Let the aesthetician know if you’re a first-timer, on your period, or have anything else going on that can increase skin sensitivity. Technique makes a big difference, and a good wax professional will let you take a quick break and do what they can to minimize discomfort.
  • Taking pain meds. An ibuprofen before your appointment might help with the pain.
  • Relaxing. A chill mindset might help you feel braver about facing temporary discomfort and letting a stranger see you from every angle. Wax pros have seen genitals of every shape and size. They’re not here to shame you but help you feel your best.

What to expect during a Brazilian wax

A Brazilian wax typically takes about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how well you handle the session and how skilled the aesthetician is. You’ll strip entirely from the waist down, and the aesthetician may ask you to change positions during the session to make it easier to access different areas.

A Brazilian wax can be done with hard or soft wax. Hard wax only uses the wax, and it’s a thicker formulation that sticks to your hair (and not your skin) more easily. Translation: less pain makes this an optimal choice for bikini waxing. One caution, though, is that hard wax requires a minimum hair length, so giving in to a quick trim or shave before your appointment might mean hard wax can’t work correctly. Soft wax uses a thinner, stickier layer with a cloth strip overtop. Soft wax can be sticky enough to take the top layer of skin as well as the hair (ouch).

How to make a Brazilian wax last

Proper care after your wax will help your skin look and feel great. Any kind of wax can leave some redness or irritation behind. A little aloe and a warm (not hot) shower can feel soothing. 

Skip swimming or a workout for at least 24 hours after your wax. (Rest days are good for you anyway.) It’s also a good idea to take a day or two before a bedroom workout, if you know what we mean. Basically, give freshly waxed skin a chance to settle, so you’re not as susceptible to more irritation.

A Brazilian wax can last for about 3 to 4 weeks, so you’ve got plenty of time to enjoy smooth skin. Good skincare before and after can reduce your chances of ingrown hairs and irritation. If you go for repeat sessions, you might see hair growth lessen over time, making it easier or less painful to maintain your look.
Ultimately, what you prefer to do with your hair down there depends on what makes you feel good and confident so you can love your body as it is. Whatever your style, taking care of your skin can help you acheive the best results.