Let’s not sugarcoat things: Your first bikini wax is a seriously daunting beauty experience. But knowledge is the first step to demystifying an experience that, like ripping off a Band-Aid, can both be quick, and, if done right, cause only minimal discomfort. There’s also the major upside of not having to worry about your bikini line this summer, which we guarantee will make all beach experiences considerably less stressful.
For proof and insider tips, we chatted with Iryna Richert, an esthetician and down-there expert, who breaks down the step-by-step basics of bikini waxing.
Bikini waxing step #1: Pre-appointment prep.
After you book your first bikini wax appointment, there are a few insider tricks to make this process as well, smooth and painless as possible. “Women should exfoliate on a daily basis because it reduces ingrown hair,” says Richert. “And if you’re planning on getting a bikini wax, you should not shave the hair first.” This is critical as hair should be at least one-quarter of an inch in order for wax to catch the hair and leave a clean bikini area once ripped off.
Bikini waxing step #2: Get your head in the game.
Brace yourself: The first bikini wax is the most painful one because hair is solidly rooted inside the skin, says Richert. Because the hair follicle is larger than the pores of your skin, when hair is torn away, it ruptures the skin pores, which can sometimes cause bleeding. The good news? “As soon as you get through the first time, during the next ones, because the follicle becomes much thinner, hair will slide right out,” she says.
For more tips to get a smooth and easy bikini wax, read on…
Bikini waxing step #3: Plan to be in it for the long haul.
The most crucial part of deciding to get a bikini wax for the first time is planning to stick with them regularly—with absolutely no shaving or trimming of the hair in between. Richert suggests scheduling appointments every four to six weeks, depending on how quickly hair grows back. “When we get the hair between four to six weeks, its still attached to follicle,” she says. “So when we pull the hair at that stage, we remove or kill the hair follicle and it most likely won’t grow back.” Richert says that most people will notice a significant difference in hair growth after the first two appointments, with hair likely reduced by half. If you stick with waxing—and only waxing—she says, “guaranteed in five years-time, you’ll have the result of laser hair removal,” where hair regrowth is reduced by three-quarters.
Bikini wax step #4: Morning of the appointment.
To help with pain relief, Richert recommends that clients pop two Advil tablets 30 minutes before their appointment. “Or if you’re coming after work all stressed out, have a shot of vodka!” she adds, laughing. “Whatever makes you more relaxed and calm, that’s totally fine.” She also suggests that first-timers should book their appointments early in the morning, as their bodies are not under as much stress after waking up, so their skin and muscles are more relaxed. “Everything becomes stiffer after a stressful day at work,” she says, explaining that tightened muscles jam the hair follicle, making it harder for it to come out. “And I still have to rip it off no matter what!”
Richert also recommends not coming in three to four days before your period starts, because skin is increasingly sensitive at that time. “I personally will take a client who’s on her period,” she says. “Just wear a tampon. And be prepared that it will be a little bit more painful.”
Bikini wax step #5: At the spa.
If you’re shy about stripping down for the treatment, most spas offer disposable underwear to wear during the waxing. Richert suggests wearing an older pair of underwear, if you’re more comfortable. “Just no bootyshorts—I need to get around down there!” If you’re unsure of the style you want shaped on your lady parts, Ritual Spa in Toronto offers a visual “menu” of bikini-hairline options: triangle, landing strip, V-shape. “Go straight to the Brazilian, don’t warm yourself up!” she suggests.
Using cotton strips and hot wax—that’s never double-dipped, she says— Richert cleans up the bikini line, as well as from the front to back, in about five strips, depending on the coarseness of hair (she adds that her clients are undressed, waxed and out the door in 10 minutes, with two to three minutes for actual waxing time). “If you have to be in pain, my personal opinion is to make it as fast as possible, rather than sit there for 45 minutes thinking, ‘How much longer will this take?’”
Richert prefers hot wax to hard wax, which is applied directly to skin, before cooling and peeled right off. “In my personal opinion, it doesn’t work as well as hot wax just because when hard wax dries on your skin, it most likely breaks the hair in half instead taking it out with the root,” she says, adding that while it’s not as painful as hot wax, when the hair is broken, it starts to grow beneath the skin—much like what happens with shaving.
Read on for post-waxing bikini line care steps…
Bikini wax step #6: Post-treatment care.
After each rip, Richert immediately applies a cool baby wipe to soothe skin. It also contains alcohol to disinfect vacant pores after hair is ripped away. Avoid touching the freshly waxed bikini area 30 minutes post-treatment so the body can reproduce natural oils to fill up those glands. “And do not apply any perfumed lotion for at least 12 to 24 hours after waxing,” she says, otherwise you risk breaking out into a rash. Richert also recommends waiting five days before exfoliating, as waxing removes the top layer of dry skin, which takes a few days to build back up. Afterwards, exfoliate with a loofah or gentle brush over towel-dried skin (or in the shower, if you have sensitive skin) every other day.
Bikini wax step #7: Remember the hygienic benefits of waxing.
Richert says that in the entire body, there are only two places where hair grows where it’s attached to special glands that reproduce odour: bikini and underarms. By removing the hair, the gland is damaged, which decreases sweat and odour and keeps the area cleaner. As well, female discharge goes directly on to underwear, instead of sticking to the hair. “It makes a huge difference in hygiene,” she says. To maintain your freshly coiffed bikini area, consider the I Love My Muff cleansing kit ($38, at the salon), a Canadian-made vegan line that contains an essential-oil enriched wash, spray, lotion and fresh wipes for lady parts-specific TLC.
Bikini wax step #8: Prep, wax, repeat.
Richert has three rules for first-timers to maintain as pleasant as pain-free as possible with bikini hair care: 1) no shaving or trimming hair in between appointments, 2) regular exfoliation every other day, and 3) scheduling appointments every four to six weeks. Her parting advice? “Don’t be afraid.”
To book your Brazilian Wax ($49) at Ritual Spa, 789 King St. W., call 416-306-0040.
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