As a woman, you should feel completely empowered and free to make whatever grooming choices you feel comfortable with! There’s no ‘wrong’ way to handle body hair, whether lasering it all off or keeping it completely ‘au naturale’. The important thing is that you’re making that choice for yourself, not for society or only your partner.
Of course, we’ve all internalised patriarchy and have been conditioned by social norms so I guess no beauty regimen is ever completely performed for ‘yourself’, be it makeup, waxing or cosmetic surgery. But that’s a debate better left for another day.
Even if you do decide to go the hair removal route, there’s a range of ‘styles’ to choose from: the bikini wax (only your bikini line), the Brazilian (the top, or the ‘mons pubis’ if you will along with the back and bikini but not the middle), a landing strip (speaks for itself) or even some articulate design (you may recall when Sex and the City’s Samantha was shaven into a lightning bolt by her trainer). But, popularised by pornography and the media, the ‘Hollywood’ wax (code for ‘everything off’) has been gaining momentum.
Every style of wax is perfectly valid depending on your preference. This is a safe space for all waxes, okay?
Before I had ever gotten a wax, I mistook the ‘Brazilian’ for the ‘Hollywood’, and immaturely presumed no one would spend money on anything other than baby smooth hairlessness. I was left wondering why she didn’t take it all off when I thought that’s what Brazilian meant. The first rule of waxing is to get your terminology right.
I started waxing regularly about 5/6 years ago and, through sometimes painful trial and error, I’ve found the perfect formula for prepping and caring for your wax. I’m definitely not an expert or aprofessional so please do your own research alongside this.
But it’s safe to say that the six years’ worth of awkward chit chat with different waxers has given me some top tier waxing hacks.
1. Exfoliate, Exfoliate, EXFOLIATE (pre-wax)
This is the one golden rule that any wax cannot go without. Before your wax, make sure to take a warm/luke-warm shower (also for added hygiene reasons) a few hours before your wax and exfoliate the dead skin cells using a gentle but high quality exfoliator, such as Murad’s Hydrating Exfoliating Cleanser, so your hair can grown above the surface. Leave it on for a couple minutes before rinsing off with warm, not hot, water (it’s also great for the face). After your wax, wait 1-2 days before exfoliating (the first 48 hours are very important to prevent ingrowns). The do this 2-3 times a week in your shower.
Although I do this more rarely, after your shower you can use a cotton pad and dab on a tiny bit of ‘Ingrow Go’ exfoliator (try it on a bit of skin first, and if you have sensitive skin rinse it off after a few minutes). If you do get ingrown hairs, try to resist the urge to pluck or pick at them yourself- leave it for your waxer to do next time. Don’t do this 48 hours before your wax.
2. Don’t sweat it- literally
Make sure you don’t exercise at LEAST 24 hours after a wax. 36-48 hours is even more ideal. The movement will produce sweat and, because waxing opens your pores, this can lead to an accumulation of bacteria in those pores and lead to public enemy number one: ingrown hairs.
3. Avoid tight clothing
Don’t wear tight clothing for the next few days and make sure you wear something loose like a skirt or loose-fitting pants to go to your appointment.
4. Don’t have sex…
…Or you will get pregnant and die. I’m obviously joking, of course. For many, the whole point of a wax is so that their partner can appreciate the silky smoothness of their hair-free skin. But make sure you leave 2-3 days ideally before you schedule a d (or p) appointment. Just like exercise, the friction against your skin and the likely sweat which may occur will be detrimental to your pores, which can cause irritation and ingrown hairs.
5. Shower BEFORE a wax and NOT after
Never take a bath 48 hours after a wax. You can shower about 8 hours after a wax, but it’s better to leave it for the next morning because your hair follicles are open and this will cause excess moisture, irritating the skin and clogging pores. To be safe, up to 48 hours after your wax rinse off using cold water to close your pores.
Before a wax, make sure to use warm/lukewarm (not hot) a few hours before your wax so that your skin has time to completely dry off and your body temperature can be normalised.
Naturally, a wax will leave your skin very red and possibly sensitive in the first 24-48 hours. The best way to soothe it is using Aloe Vera gel, and if you want something creamier opt for this Dr. Organic Hemp cream. If you get bumps or ingrown hairs, you could use a tiny bit of tea tree oil. But make sure you only place it at the top (not anywhere near your vagina). Don’t put anything on your skin before your wax so that it’s fully clean- only do so after.
6. Don’t shave between waxes
If you can help it, it’s best to refrain from shaving and instead pluck stray hairs until your next wax. By making hair stronger, shaving will defeat the progress of waxing, which in contrast makes hair much thinner, softer and sparser over time. I’ve built up such a ‘tolerance’ for pain from all these waxes and my hair has gotten so thin/sparse that plucking doesn’t even hurt (much). Also make sure your hair is long enough to be waxed off. That’s why waiting around 4-6 weeks between appointments is ideal.
7. Calm your nerves
Don’t fear the pain. Contrary to what you might think, a few glasses of wine won’t make it more tolerable; stimulants in the system can cause skin to be extra sensitive to waxing because alcohol thins your blood. The process flies by much quicker than you’d think (max an hour). Making some convo with your waxer always helps pass the time and distracts from the fact that they’re unblinkingly staring into your nether regions.
The first time feeling that exposed might seem daunting, but it’s so professional and comfortable. They literally see those parts every day and are not at all judgemental. If it doesn’t feel that way, make sure you switch salons.
8. Don’t skimp on your wax
I’ve found that a good Hollywood wax should be at least £25.00. The salon has to be squeaky clean and they need to be using hot wax (never strip wax), pulling in the right direction of hair growth.