These days, the world is your oyster when it comes to your hair down there. The nether-region strand spectrum ranges from Barbie-doll hairless to ‘70s-full (as shown in recent American Apparel ads and on the last season ofGirls). But whether you choose a shag or a Charlotte, a professional wax is a good way to ensure no unsightly razon-burn bumps or single stray hairs peek out of the bottom of your bathing suit.
Still, it doesn’t matter how advanced you are in the Brazilian arts, we get that it can be a nerve-racking experience. Here, our favorite bikini-waxing specialists share what they wish they could tell you before you lie down on the table. (Hint: You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Unless you show up drunk. Don’t do that.)
1. No one is judging your ladybits.
First thing’s first, “don’t be nervous about the way your vagina looks,” says Spruce & Bond specialist Krystal Cordova. “We see all sizes and colors on a daily basis. Our job is to make you look and feel better about it!” After all, it’s a bikini wax, not an audition to be a pubic-hair model. Everyone who walks in is a “before,” no?
2. It’s not really as bad as you’re expecting it to be.
If you’re a newbie and anticipating pain levels that revel that of Steve Carell’s character in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” know that a bikini wax certainly isn’t a paid vacation, but it’s likely going go better than you think. “For first-time waxers especially, the buildup of anticipation before you get in the room is the worst part,” says Shobha Tummala, founder and CEO of Shobha. “If you’re seeing a pro, the ‘act’ itself will be much faster and less painful.”
3. Don’t come straight from spin class.
“Come in clean, like brushing your teeth before a dental exam, but more along the lines of prepping for your annual exam at the gynecologist—tidy up your bikini area,” says Tummala. “At Shobha, we have rosewater freshening cloths in the room just in case.” She notes that the drier the area is, the better the wax will adhere and the better the results will be. “If you know you’re a sweater when it comes to physical activity, most likely you’ll be a sweaty betty in your bikini parts as well,” she explains. Wiping the area of other natural—and completely normal—bodily fluids like discharge is appreciated as well.
4. Go easy on the booze.
A glass of wine to temper your nerves before is one thing. But showing up plastered is a different story. “Don’t come into your appointment drunk, it will only make your blood thinner and more sensitive to pain,” says Cordova. There’s also the fact that’s just kind of rude. For example, Los Angeles-based owner of Pink Cheeks Salon, Cindy Thorin, once had a client arrive so drunk, she didn’t know what to do. “I told her we had to take off her pants, not her underwear if she didn’t want to,” Thorin recalls. When the woman couldn’t get them down on her own, Thorin had to help her. (Don’t worry she came in to apologize for it—along with some other embarrassing things that happened—a few days later.)
5. Pee before your appointment.
If you’re nervous, prewax jitters can lead to a nervous bladder. “Make a pit stop in the powder room first, because undressing and then re-dressing once you realize you have to ‘go’ slows things down and adds more hassle for you,” notes Tummala. She says this is a common occurrence: “Oftentimes, after disrobing from the waist down for a bikini treatment, you might feel a little colder, which can intensify the need to pee. Also, during certain parts of the treatment the skin is pulled taut, so even a light press on a full bladder can be uncomfortable.”
6. Don’t shave.
“Hair needs to be ¼-inch long to be pulled by wax from the hair root,” says Exhale Spa aesthetician Angela Marinescu. She says that after shaving, it takes three or four weeks for hair to be the best length to be waxed. “On those with blond hair, it takes about two to three weeks, dark hair takes longer because the roots are stronger,” she says.
7. Seriously. There’s no such thing as being too hairy.
“A lot of clients get embarrassed about their growth if its been awhile,” Cordova says. “I’d rather wax overgrown hair than a two-week-old shave. It’s easier for the specialist and less painful for you.”
8. Timing matters.
Don’t schedule a wax five days before your menstrual cycle, during, or immediately after. “Your body is especially sensitive during this time period,” says Marinescu. If you’re sensitive or it’s your first time getting waxed, she adds that taking Advil half an hour prior to your appointment will help. Or you could try these other reader-approved painkillers.
9. Maybe don’t book a spin sesh after your wax either.
“The friction in tight yoga pants can cause irritation,” says Marinescu. Additionally, “you should avoid any physical activity 12 to 24 hours after your wax,” Cordova says. “The less heat you bring to the area, the better!” Steering clear of another—more private—athletic endeavor can be beneficial as well. Aesthetician Elana De Damian of Elana De Damian Skin Care suggests holding off on getting busy post-wax for at least 24 hours. And while we’re at it, cross these other things off your to-do list too.
10. Be vocal.
“If you have a specific idea of how you want your bikini to look like, speak up!” Cordova says. “Transparency is welcome.” Cordova says she and her team can create clean edges “like a tapestry” or just clean up what’s visible outside of your bikini.
11. Resist the urge to do recon work postwax job.
“If ingrown hairs appear after your wax, don’t pluck them,” advises Cordova. “Let us handle it.” If you pick at your ingrowns with your nails, you risk scarring and infection. “We have tons of bacteria underneath our nail beds,” she says.