As far as beauty maintenance goes, a bikini wax is its own breed of beast. We’ll tweeze our brows, file our cuticles, and exfoliate off an old spray tan, no problem—but the mere mention of hot wax near our nether regions has us hiding behind our trusty razors. But according to hair-removal expert Stephanie Kaulesar, Specialist Director at Spruce & Bond in New York City, there are certain misconceptions around waxing that shouldn’t drown out the benefits. “With waxing, you can go two weeks or more without shaving, and with very little maintenance,” she says. We needed more convincing, so we asked Kaulesar for tips on how to face our waxing fears.
You probably already know the harsh reality of what you're getting into when waxing: “When you wax you’re pulling hair out from the root,” says Kaulesar. "It’s not going to be entirely pain free.” Fear not, though, because there are ways to lower the pain index. The length of your hair makes a big difference, says Kaulesar, who suggests avoiding trimming until hair is the length of a grain of rice (around a quarter of an inch), which is ideal for hair to adhere to the wax. Researching your salon and the type and temperature of the wax used is also an important step. At Spruce & Bond, the wax is “formulated to to melt at lower temperatures, reducing the chances of burning, post-irritation, and breakouts,” she explains. Finally, good old acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help. “If someone is really nervous, we usually suggest taking either Advil or Tylenol 30 minutes before their appointment,” says Kaulesar. DIYing the job? We like Remington Smooth & Silky ($30; remingtonproducts.com), a hand-held device that prevents burns by heating wax to precise temperatures, and Completely Bare Salon-Quality Sensitive Areas Kit ($12, ulta.com), which boxes up everything you need to get pro-grade results at home.
For many women, the exposure aspect of a bikini wax is the most frightening. Getting into all the nooks and crannies can require contorting—in the buff—into positions similar to our fully-clothed plow pose in yoga class. It’s important to remember, however, that while your waxer is a specialist and a body expert, he or she is also a regular human being with similar insecurities. “Our goal is to make every client feel as relaxed as possible,” says Kaulesar. “Like they’re having a conversation with a girlfriend.” What’s more, waxing is not an “all or nothing” experience either, emphasizes Kaulesar. So, don’t be afraid to tell the specialist exactly what you want. “Hairstyles change and everyone’s preferences are unique. We customize our bikini treatments to whatever style makes you feel your best.” If all else fails, remember that you make it through a trip to the gyno each year and, exposure-wise, a bikini wax should be a cake walk compared to that.