Fact: If you say you don’t mind getting a bikini wax, you’re lying. There’s nothing fun about being in close quarters with a total stranger as they rip unwanted hair from your nether regions. Sure, we love the smooth end result but as soon as the surge of intense throbbing hits after the first wax strip is peeled off, we question if the next 15 minutes of misery is really worth it. Despite the unpleasantness, waxing is still a popular method of hair removal because of its clean finish that lasts longer than shaving. Since swimsuit season is nearly here, chances are you’ll probably hit up a salon for a much-needed wax. We turned to Nandi Wagner, technician at one of Bliss Salon’s N.Y.C. outposts for tips we should follow pre- and post-waxing to make the experience as bearable as possible.
1. Prep the Area
Wagner shares that prepping the skin is essential before heading to a wax appointment. “Before waxing, it is helpful to exfoliate to rid the skin of dead cells and allow hairs to break through the surface,” she says. A gentle exfoliator like Tata Harper Smoothing Body Scrub ($70; net-a-porter.com) will slough away dead skin without causing irritation to the area. Wagner also recommends treating the skin with an antiseptic cleanser like Cetaphil Antibacterial Gentle Cleansing Bar ($12; dermstore.com) to remove surface bacteria and perspiration from the area and prevent a post-wax infection.
2. Sync Your Appointment with your Cycle
Getting a wax right before your period may seem logical, but if you schedule an appointment the week before you’re due, you’re setting yourself up to undergo next level discomfort. “The best time to come in for a waxing service is about two weeks into your cycle. Your hormones are fairly balanced at that time and you can avoid any extra discomfort. While there's no ideal time of day to get your wax, I'm a fan of getting everything done at the end of the day. That way you can go home, relax, and enjoy your evening,” suggests Wagner.
3. Consider Your Wax Options
Two techniques are commonly used at salons: hard wax and strip wax. Hard wax, says Wagner is a good option for the bikini area because its works well on sensitive areas of the body. To ease up the pain threshold, Wagner recommends making an appointment at a salon like Bliss, who applies a layer of oil to the area before the hard wax, because it creates a barrier that prevents the wax from sticking to the skin, which can make waxing more painful. On the other hand, strip wax can be taken off more quickly without leaving any residue behind.
4. Mildly Medicate
Take a pain reliever within 45 minutes of getting waxed to numb some of the pain you’re about to undergo. But Wagner says to avoid aspirin because it thins the bloood, which can increase pain and the chances of bleeding.
1. Plan Your Wardrobe Accordingly
Don’t try to impress your waxer and save your frilly lace delicates for a more special occasion. “Cotton or seamless underwear is always best a day or so post-wax to allow the area to breathe and not be constricted or irritated,” explains Wagner. This also means forgoing the gym and your form-fitting workout gear. “Avoid waxing before any strenuous exercise or activity. This ensures you won’t irritate the skin or cause any ingrown hairs to develop,” she says. Wagner also recommends waxing two days before a beach vacation so that any redness has subsided by the time you step out in your swimsuit.
2. Take Action Against Ingrown Hairs
The best way to avoid irritating ingrown hairs is by exfoliating the bikini area no less than 24 hours after a wax. “The primary cause of ingrown hairs is hair being trapped beneath the skin’s surface. The best remedy is exfoliation, which rids the skin of dry and dead skin cells and allows the hair to break through the surface,” explains Wagner. She recommends using Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads ($38; blissworld.com), which are infused with salicylic and glycolic acid to exfoliate, and green tea extract and oats to soothe and calm skin.
3. Avoid Applying Fragrances
We all want to smell fresh and clean, but Wagner says to consider keeping powders or fragrances near the bikini area to a minimum to avoid redness and irritation.
4. Resist the Urge to Touch Up
It’s tempting to attempt to maintain your wax as soon as you see new hairs forming but Wagner cautions that not waiting long enough after your appointment before you shave or return to the salon, can make your next time even more painful. “The most common mistake is not waiting long enough between shaving/waxes. When the hair is too short the wax cannot adhere to it meaning your esthetician has to go over areas repeatedly to try and remove the hair which increases your discomfort. A quarter of an inch is the ideal length for waxing, or what you can pinch with the tips of your fingers,” she says. Another important tip to follow? Don’t shave 14 days or less prior to your appointment; you’re only making your technician’s job harder, and more uncomfortable for you.