You never forget your first time.
When three members of InStyle's beauty team confessed they had never gotten a bikini wax before, the statement was met with a resounding, "WHAT?" For the sake of investigative journalism, we sent each of our editors to try out a hair removal treatment of their own for the first time ever. Assistant Beauty Editor Dianna Mazzone went for the hair removal laser, Beauty Writer Erin Lukas opted for a traditional wax, and Associate Beauty Editor Marianne Mychaskiw attempted sugaring, only to have to switch mid-treatment to the OG formula—more on that below. Keep reading to find out how each of our editors fared, and if they'll eventually go back for round two.
1. Erin Lukas, Beauty Writer
I haven’t held out this long on getting a wax because I’m shy about a complete stranger getting up close and intimate with me—it’s because I’ve only heard how painful it is. When I was seven, I went with only one ear pierced because I thought it hurt too much for the piercer to do both sides. Considering my track record, I assumed waxing my private area wasn’t for me and have stuck with my tried-and-true razor, but I was still willing to try it once.
Surprisingly, my first bikini wax experience was almost painless. Allie at Eva Scrivo Salon was extremely friendly and put up with all of the terrible jokes I was making to calm my nerves. Since your first wax usually hurts the most, she worked in each area slowly in case the pain was too much for me, and used a combination of Repêchage SeaSmooth Artisan Seaweed Wax, and hard wax on some areas where my hair was too short. In total, the whole thing took about 10 minutes and for the most part, only hurt slightly more than an eyebrow wax. My only gripe is that I wish I had more taken off. I’m probably one of the only women in history to ask their waxer to do more, but I do appreciate Allie’s consideration in that she refused to wax more because she wanted to make sure my skin wasn’t irritated by the wax afterwards—and it wasn’t.
2. Dianna Mazzone, Assistant Beauty Editor
I turned to the big guns—literally—for my first-ever professional hair removal sesh. I’d heard about hair-reducing lasers in passing, but the cost (around $300-$900 per treatment, depending on the body part in question) and the pain factor kept me from pulling the trigger. But, for the sake of journalism, I booked a session at N.Y.C’s Spruce & Bond.
It’s not super common for the bikini line to be the first place a client tries laser, my aesthetician (who, by the way, could not have been kinder or more professional) explained. Most people like to try it on a smaller area like the armpit before shelling out the big bucks. But I was on a very-specific mission—which is why a few moments later, I found myself half naked on a plush-topped table clutching a Spruce & Bond-branded stress ball.
As my aesthetician got started, I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of pain involved. By nature, hair removal lasers use heat to target—and eventually destroy—hair follicles. But more advanced lasers, like those at Spruce & Bond, have a cooling tip that emits cold air milliseconds after the heat is applied, so any aftermath was fleeting. (Though, yes, things did get slightly more uncomfortable—but still not painful—in more sensitive areas.)
It only took about ten minutes to treat the whole area, and I wasn’t left the least bit red. In the days that followed, nary a hair sprouted. Only about a week later did I notice any growth—and much slower growth than normal, at that. To really commit to the process and see long-term reduction of anywhere from 80-95%, pros suggest undergoing at least five treatments. I think I’m going to go for it: Not having to worrying about my bikini line for the rest of my life sounds pretty darn good to me.
3. Marianne Mychaskiw, Associate Beauty Editor
I'm 27 years old, and I've never had a bikini wax before.
Don't get me wrong, I was never one to knock the technique, but years of working with my trusted Gillette Venus made me a master at navigating that sensitive area, and reported pain from the wax aside, I didn't want to bother with the monthly appointment due to laziness. I'm at the age where I'm closer to 30 than I am to 21, but a bikini wax almost seemed like a rite of passage that would allow me to break through that Britney Spears barrier into womanhood. You know—not a girl, not yet a woman. With that and loads of consulting from my friends who were better-versed in the arena, I booked my appointment for a sugaring treatment at Hibba Beauty in Soho for a Brazilian. I figured if I were going to do it, I would go all out, and my friend Peachy did tell me that sugaring was much more gentle than the traditional wax. Not that I had anything to compare it to, of course.
My technician Renu could not have been more lovely, and sensed that I was a little nervous after I told her it was my first time, so she took extra time to explain the entire process to me. As I lay there, more exposed than I was at my yearly check-up, there was just one problem: my hair was too short for the sugar wax. She said she would attempt it, but one strip in, we had to switch to the wax.
I won't lie—it hurt so bad. Of course, this wasn't because of anything Renu was doing. I cannot stress enough how wonderful and patient she was with me as I squirmed and sweat through the entire paper lining on the bed in the treatment room. We laughed, we joked, we talked about our weekends, and I felt like we really bonded, you know? She worked in medium-sized sections to ease the pain, would apply powder periodically to soothe my skin, and kept telling me that I was doing great. This was my first time, and I was doing great. I've had doctors who have been far less encouraging, but to be fair, most people would be more courageous than I was faced with a flu shot over a first-time bikini wax.
At a certain point, the room began to spin and I started questioning if I'd make it out, though I'm probably being dramatic—the entire process took about 15 minutes. Renu threaded a few of the stragglers that were too short to be yanked off, which was also pretty intense, then explained that when I came back in a few weeks, we could try sugaring and it wouldn't be as painful. She gave me a few tips for after-care, and I hobbled out of the salon and onto the street, probably resembling a penguin from Happy Feet or Madagascar or whatever CGI animal movie is out at the moment. Shopping was the immediate thing that would calm me down as I texted each of my friends with, "YOU LIED!!!! IT HURT!!!! BUT I KIND OF LOVE HOW IT LOOKS??"
Agent Provocateur was only a few blocks away, and although I didn't really feel like dropping $600 on a bra and panty duo, I wanted to see how Renu's handiwork looked in some very overpriced and very sheer lingerie, despite still being red and sore. As I stood there, admiring myself in the dimly-lit dressing room, I questioned: would I do it all over again? Oh hell yeah.