Like most twenty-something American women, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time since puberty self-grooming. And for me, that meant shaving my legs, armpits, and lady bits. Why would I dish out money to experience the unnecessary pain of waxing when I could just pay $10 at CVS for a handy dandy razor? And thanks to my northeast location with a lack of viable beach days, I was looking at the need to groom just a handful of times a year at most.
That is, until boyfriends and later my fiancé came into the picture. This meant upping my grooming game to shaving once a day-or at least several times a week. Ugh! The upkeep, the razor burn, the precision, the whole shebang was exhausting. That’s when the concept of waxing my pubic hair started to sound like a really, really good idea. I had friends who swore by Brazilian waxes-they booked them religiously and wouldn’t go back to shaving if you paid them.
So, I figured “What the hell?” and embarked on a journey to align myself with the other brave, bold, and empowering females who’ve trekked along the path of least resistance when it came to grooming their hoo-ha. I booked my first Brazilian wax.
First off: What is a Brazilian wax?
Most of us are more familiar with the concept of a bikini wax. It’s when an esthetician uses hot wax to get rid of the hair that would be visible if one were to wear a bikini bottom. The Brazilian is basically the same deal-just removing more hair. A Brazilian includes the strands along the vagina lips and in your behind. You can opt to leave a triangle or landing strip of hair on top. Or, you can go fully bare. Introduced back in 1987 by a group of Brazilian sisters (yes, really), the Brazilian has remained the most popular hair removal method in the U.S. today.
The prep: You gotta let it grow.
For someone who’s been shaving down there for the better part of my life, I was very uncomfortable with the concept of having to grow it out. The ideal length for waxing pubic hair is a quarter-inch, which meant I couldn’t use the razor for nearly three weeks. Luckily, I had just that amount of time until my hubby-to-be returned and my cats are thankfully not judgmental.
The first few days weren’t bad at all. It was just like any other time I got lazy. But after about a full week, it started to get super uncomfortable. I’m talking itchy, irritated, and even painful. How do the women of the world rocking the bush wear leggings? Or, dare I ask, tights? Even my jeans rubbed my crotch the wrong way. I did my best to ignore it, but found myself readjusting nearly every time I sat down.
Courtesy of HBO
Word on the street: Ask everyone you know.
To make sure I was properly prepared for my Brazilian experience, I polled my friends. Had they ever done it? How badly did it hurt? Would I get through it? And to my surprise, nearly all of them had been waxed. And the consensus: “Hell, yes, it will hurt.”
I collected a laundry list of suggestions for dos and don’ts from my friends. Here’s what they advised:
- Let the hair grow as long as possible (the longer, the better).
- Down a generous glass of wine an hour or so before (but not more than one pour or I’d be more susceptible to bleeding, which my nurse friend told me).
- Take two ibuprofen tablets a few hours ahead of my appointment.
- Bring some wipes so I’d feel clean while some random lady was up and around my crotch.
- Ask for hard wax, not soft. The difference? Soft wax is done with cloth, while hard wax is removed sans strips-it just hardens on the skin and then is removed.
- Don’t work out afterwards because the area would still be super sensitive.
Spoiler alert: I forgot nearly everything they told me. Since I knew I couldn’t workout after, I squeezed in a quick boot camp at a studio near the waxing spa. In the midst of rushing to break a sweat, change, freshen up, and get to my appointment on time, mostly all of the advice from my kind friends went out the window-no ibuprofen, no wine, and no anxiety meds. Gulp.
It’s true: Brazilian waxes DO hurt like hell.
When I arrived for my appointment at the Eve Salon and Spa in NYC, a bubbly, 5-foot woman named Lara with a super-thick Russian accent grabbed my hand and started to bring me down a long hallway-in the opposite direction of the exit. There was no turning back.
She took me into a room and told me to strip down completely below the waist. I have to say it was a little weird. The only time I’ve done something like this is at my ob/gyn appointment, and even that makes me nervous and uncomfortable. I told her I was extremely nervous and that it was my first time. She smiled and nodded with an assuring, “Yes, I can see that. No worries!”
Instantly she started to grab for the wax, and I took the opportunity to ask her for hard, not soft-just like my friends had suggested. To my request, she gave me a very abrupt horizontal shake of the head with a hard-and-fast, “Your hair is too short.” Crap. Lara explained how the soft wax would work. She’d put a little bit of the hot wax over the hair of my vag, place the muslin cloth over it, and then rip in the opposite direction of hair growth.
To show me what it would feel like, she sampled only a small area first towards my bikini line. Holy hell, it hurt. Lara looked at me in surprise, “That hurt?” she asked. “Yes-was it supposed to?!” I responded. She explained that because this was my first time, I had virgin hair that had never been removed. She said it would definitely hurt, but that she would do the rest very fast and it would be over before I knew it.
Courtesy of NBC
The next patch was more central and high-about five inches below my belly button. This area hurt a bit less but still, the pain took my breath away. She started for the next area, and I had to ask her to pause for a second. What the hell did I get myself into? I could not believe the amount of pain that accompanied each strip. Lara stopped for a moment and kept her cold hands over the area she had waxed. She couldn’t believe the pain I was in. “I worked out just before I came because I knew I wouldn’t be able to work out after,” I told her. She smiled and shook her head. Apparently, you’re not supposed to work out before your wax either because your muscles are tense, heated, and more sensitive than when they’ve been sedentary for hours. Great… Lara’s new game plan? Take this nice and slow and let me tell her when I was ready for the next strip.
About a half hour, it was time for me to turn over and get into Child’s Pose position so she could get at my behind area. I have to say, this might have been the easiest part of the whole experience. After just 30 seconds, she was finished with that whole area and back to the frontal region where she still had a little to go. I braved it through and thought about the ginormous glass of wine I would pour myself when I finally made it home to my apartment. “All done!” she announced, as my 45 minutes of laying down on the table spread eagle came to a close. She covered what was left of my downstairs area (and dignity) with baby powder and sent me on my way. I glimpsed downward and saw so much redness. I put on the rest of my clothes and grabbed my bags.
Stock up on ice and wine to ease the pain.
Courtesy of HBO
As I walked out of the salon and headed towards the subway, I texted all of my friends the same thing: Why did you let me do this!? They all had similar responses: Aww that bad? But doesn’t it feel so smooth? You’ll love it in a week.
Once I got home and chugged my glass of Cabernet, I decided it was time to come face-to-face with my lady parts. I grabbed a mirror and started inspecting the area that looked relatively familiar to when I’d shave-except for the vast redness, inflammation, and sensitivity that covered the entire area. I was still in so much pain. Lara told me to use cortisone cream. It didn’t really help. The only thing that made it feel better was a bag of ice, more wine, and Sex and the City reruns.
The next morning I was thankful to feel significantly less pain. While I was still very bruised, it didn’t feel as raw as it did the night before. I covered the area with some cortisone cream before getting dressed.
One week later: I’m finally starting to understand.
The pain lasted only two days, and once it dissipated I was able to fully grasp the beauty of the Brazilian wax. No hair grew back! One week later and not a single strand in sight. For someone who was used to shaving every single day, this was good news indeed. I couldn’t believe how free I felt. I loved how smooth, silky, and sexy it felt down there without having to spend five minutes grooming during every shower. Sex was better, my clothes fit better, and everything felt easier. Finally, I was able to understand why people got Brazilian waxes in the first place. It was surprisingly-kind of, maybe…okay, definitely-worth it.
So, would I do it again?
I made a second appointment before I left the spa, and I’m planning on keeping it. Yes, the pain of my first experience was brutal, but they say it gets a whole lot easier the second, third, and fourth time around. “The hair grows in less coarse and in less amounts after it’s been waxed before,” Lara told me. “Once you’ve gotten over the initial experience, it’s not that bad.”
Is it worth giving round two a try? Yes. It’s amazing to not have to worry about shaving every day. But another thing to consider is the price point. Most Brazilians range anywhere from $50 to $70, so it’s certainly not cheap. Is worth the price of not having to spend 30-60 minutes a month grooming downstairs? 100 percent. All in all, I’m glad I experienced the Brazilian wax at some point in life-especially before childbirth, which will be much worse.
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