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Last updated: Feb 02, 2022
6 min read

Getting a Brazilian wax: everything you need to know

felix gussonemolly knudsen

Medically Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD

Written by Molly Knudsen, MS, RDN

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

There are many choices when it comes to styling your hair—pubic hair included. One such choice, the Brazilian wax, involves removing all of the hair “down there,” and it’s considered one of the more extreme personal grooming techniques.

If you’re thinking about getting a Brazilian—or already have that first appointment booked—here’s what you need to know about Brazilian waxing and what to expect when you head to the salon.

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What is a Brazilian wax?

A typical Brazilian wax includes the removal of all hair from the pubic region—from the front of the pubic bone to the labia, to the inner thighs, and lastly, to the area around the anus (Obst, 2019). 

It offers a completely bare-down-there look. But you could also choose to leave a little hair (commonly known as a landing strip) on the front of the pubic bone if you prefer. It’s completely up to you. 

Brazilian wax vs. bikini wax

While people often use the terms Brazilian wax and bikini wax interchangeably, they’re actually two different types of waxing styles. Unlike a Brazilian wax that removes all public hair, a bikini wax only removes the hair from areas that may peek out of the sides of a bikini or a pair of panties (Obst, 2019).

How to prepare for a Brazilian wax

If you’ve made the decision to get a Brazilian wax, make sure that you book an appointment with a spa, salon, studio, or wax center that employs licensed estheticians (skincare professionals). 

Once you’ve done that, here’s how to prepare for your appointment (AAD, n.d.):

  • Ensure proper hair length: At least ¼-inch of hair growth is optimal for waxing. If you show up to an appointment with less than ¼ inch, there’s a chance your esthetician will encourage you to make an appointment for a later date once your hair has grown out. 
  • Avoid tanning within 48 hours: Sun exposure can alter skin sensitivity, and waxing studios recommend avoiding sun exposure before waxing. 
  • Nix alcohol and excess caffeine: Waxing professionals and studios may also recommend avoiding alcohol and too much caffeine before an appointment, as alcohol and caffeine may also increase sensitivity. 
  • Consider some over-the-counter (OTC) pain relief: Taking some OTC medications like ibuprofen about 30 minutes before your Brazilian wax may preemptively help curb pain associated with waxing. 
  • Wear loose-fitting clothes: Your pubic region will thank you for wearing breathable cotton underwear or loose bottoms after the appointment. Wearing too snug of underwear may cause more irritation to an already sensitive area post-wax. 

What to expect during your Brazilian wax?

Each waxing location operates a little differently, but the end result is the same. Some places may have you in, waxed, and out in 20 minutes, whereas some locations may budget 30 minutes to an hour for a Brazilian wax appointment. 

Overall here’s what you can expect:

  1. The first time you check-in, the receptionist may have you fill out a waiver and a quick questionnaire asking about medications, allergies, or past waxing experiences. 
  2. You will get undressed from the waist down (waxers may or may not leave the room for this) and then hop on the table.
  3. Your technician will prompt you on how best to position your legs, will likely ask a few questions like whether or not this is your first wax, and will confirm the type of wax you’re getting (let them know if you want any strips of hair left).
  4. The technician will then cleanse the area to ensure it’s properly primed for the wax and may also apply a pre-treatment (often a powder). 
  5. Now, it’s time for the actual hair removal! Your technician will apply hot wax to your skin (let them know right away if the wax feels too hot), allow it to cool, and will then quickly remove it in the opposite direction of your hair growth (Kang, 2021). They will either use soft wax (which requires a cloth or paper waxing strip for removal) or hard wax (which doesn’t).
  6. Once the waxing is complete, the technician will go through with tweezers to snag any stray hairs. 
  7. Lastly, they may apply an after-wax treatment to help calm and soothe the area.

Once the waxing is complete, you can get dressed, pay and thank your technician, and get on with your day!  

Does a Brazilian wax hurt?

It’s never painless to have hair ripped out of your body, and the pubic area is pretty sensitive in general. So, yes, a Brazilian wax may hurt. But the level of discomfort can be highly variable depending on your pain tolerance (Farage, 2019).

And your overall perception of the pain may decrease with each wax you get. So, let your waxer know if it is your first Brazilian wax experience, and they will help guide you through the discomfort. 

Are there any side effects to Brazilian waxing?

There can be, but they’re typically mild. 

Wax is a mixture of beeswax, rosin, and potentially some additives like essential oils, chemicals, and preservatives, so it’s possible to have an adverse or even allergic reaction to some ingredients in wax (Kang, 2021).

Waxing may also damage or irritate the skin or hair follicles during hair removal. This results in red, inflamed skin, or even pimple-like pustules around hair follicles. Ingrown hairs, itching, and rashes may also occur (Obst, 2019; Kang, 2021).

What is the aftercare for a Brazilian wax?

With the right care after a Brazilian wax, you can help lower the likelihood of experiencing some of the side effects above. 

For the first day or so after the wax, you should avoid situations that may further irritate the already tender area, including anything that creates friction (friction further stresses skin). This means continuing with breathable underwear or loose-fitting bottoms, taking it slow when working out, and avoiding long showers or baths (AAD, n.d.). 

Who shouldn’t get a Brazilian wax?

Waxing is not recommended for everyone. If you have sensitive skin, are taking medications, or are receiving treatment for a health condition, you should check with your healthcare practitioner to confirm whether waxing is an appropriate form of hair removal for you. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) does not recommend waxing for people on certain medications that increase skin sensitivity, including (AAD, 2021):

  • Isotretinoin (an oral medication for acne, commonly known as Accutane)
  • Antibiotics
  • Topical tretinoin 

Common Brazilian wax FAQs

Now that you know what to expect, here are the answers to a few lingering questions you may have about Brazilian waxing. 

How much does a Brazilian wax cost?

The cost of a Brazilian wax can vary greatly depending on the studio and what part of the country you live in. They are more expensive than bikini waxes. Expect to pay anywhere between $55 to $80 before tip (sometimes even more). High-end spas and salons that offer waxing services tend to be on the pricier side.

How often should you get a Brazilian wax?

Waxing usually lasts a few weeks or longer. Depending on your hair, and its growth, your waxing technician may recommend scheduling another appointment between three and five weeks. Remember that hair needs to be at least ¼-inch in length for optimal waxing results, so as long as you give your hair enough time to grow out, you should be good. 

Consistent waxing may even reduce hair growth over time. So potentially, at the beginning of your Brazilian wax journey, you may be able to get waxed every three weeks. But if there’s less growth over time, you may be able to extend the period between waxes. 

Can you get a Brazilian wax during your period? 

Many people wonder whether they can get a Brazilian wax during their time of the month. 

And the answer is yes! However, many waxing studios will ask that you come to your appointment wearing a tampon or menstrual cup if you’re on your period. If those aren’t for you, it may be best to schedule your appointment for another time.

Making the choice to go fully bare

How you decide to groom or style your pubic hair is completely up to you. If you want to go fully bare down there, a Brazilian wax may be a good hair removal technique to consider. 

There’s no way to sugar coat it: your first Brazilian wax may be a little painful and a little uncomfortable. But you may find you enjoy it (at least the end product), or you may find this hair removal method is not for you. Do what works for you, and if that is a Brazilian wax, follow the tips above to help the process go as smoothly as newly waxed skin.

References

  1. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). (2021). 7 ways to remove unwanted hair. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2022 from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/hair/remove-unwanted-hair  
  2. American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). (n.d.). Hair removal: How to wax. Retrieved Jan. 22, 2022 from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/hair/how-to-wax 
  3. Farage, M. A. (2019). Sensitive Skin in the Genital Area. Frontiers in Medicine, 6, 96. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2019.00096. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6529533/
  4. Kang, C. N., Shah, M., Lynde, C., & Fleming, P. (2021). Hair Removal Practices: A Literature Review. Skin Therapy Letter, 26(5), 6–11. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34524781/
  5. Obst, P., White, K., & Matthews, E. (2019). A full Brazilian or all natural: understanding the influences on young women’s decision to remove their pubic hair. BMC Women’s Health, 19(1), 164. doi: 10.1186/s12905-019-0868-1. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6921585/