Just Close Your Eyes and Think of England

Nov 29, 2011

Like many women, the bikini wax is foreign territory to me. But last week, I decided on a whim, to indulge in a Brazilian. Where this thought came from, what mental breakdown was responsible for it and why I didn’t talk myself out of it immediately are all excellent questions for which I have no answers. (I wasn’t even aware that I was capable of having a whim, let alone, acting on it.) But suddenly, there I was, lying on a massage table wearing little more than a white towel, laughing to myself about the absurdity of my predicament.

In the days since I punched my passport to Ipanema, several friends have interrogated me about the particulars of getting a Brazilian. Apparently, a lot of professional women have wondered about the process but have been too embarrassed to ask anyone. After all, most women with college degrees and IQs in the triple digits don’t want to admit that they endeavor to have anything in common with Paris Hilton.

(For the more modest among you, the rest of this post may fall somewhere between massive overshare and information that should only be discussed with a healthcare professional. So if you’re squeamish about such topics, stop reading, now.)

Despite whatever delusional state fomented this idea, I’d at least had the good sense to book my appointment at the Bliss Spa in the W Hotel. Because if you’re going to do something totally insane, isn’t it always better to do it under expert supervision? (Skydiving, cliff jumping, ripping the hair from your body using molten wax, etc.)

Cost: A full Brazilian at Bliss is $70 (The spa’s PR rep comped mine, however, no one at Bliss knew that I was a blogger.). The In-Betweeny wax costs $50 and uncovers more than a basic bikini wax (which only does the upper thighs and lower stomach), but less than a Brazilian. And a regular bikini wax is $35. All of them need to be done every 4-6 weeks.

Privacy Concerns: The level of exposure during a bikini wax is second only to the level of exposure during a gynecological exam. Thus, I thought I would be horrifically uncomfortable, but the technician, Shae, was really good at distracting me and putting me at ease.

It was still awkward (how could it not be?), but it was better than I expected. Shae is incredibly friendly, and as she told me, “Loves first timers.” So just strike up a conversation, and it’ll be over before you know it.

Pain Scale: Having never waxed my bikini-area before, I had no idea how much pain to expect. But I was hoping that I wouldn’t pull a 40-Year-Old Virgin and start screaming Kelly Clarkson’s name. Awkward.

The wax used at Bliss is the same Poetic Wax that they sell in stores. It’s a hard wax, so it doesn’t pull the skin with the hair. This is good news for those of us with sensitive skin or a low threshold for pain.

I had been advised by Miss M to take two Advil before my appointment, and I’m sure that that helped, but on a scale of 1-10, I would rate the pain a 3.5. It wasn’t cupcakes and roses, but I learned a long time ago that beauty is pain. You either have the stomach for high heels, hair removal and squeezing into skinny jeans or you don’t.

After Effects: This is where the rubber meets the road. To avoid any unsightly post-waxing effects, I’m using exfoliating, salicylic acid wipes to prevent ingrown hairs. So we’ll see how that process goes. But frankly, the prospect of regrowing the hair is more daunting than the idea of removing it was.

All in all, going Brazilian wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable or painful as I imagined that it would be. Of course, I had imagined that it would rank somewhere between being interrogated by the Stazi and watching election returns in Florida, so there’s that. But pain, in most cases, is a mental game, so it will only be as bad as you let it be.

As for Brazilian waxing, I don’t think I’m converted. I plan to go back to Bliss for a regular bikini wax, maybe more if I head to the beach this winter (as is my hope), but it just doesn’t feel like me. There are just certain things that I didn’t need to know about myself, and this is one of them. And frankly, it’s drafty.


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  1. Ellie says:

    Second the rec for Karina at Aveda. She was awesome.
    My first waxing experience was horrible. It took forever, the girl had no idea what she was doing, I was bleeding and half the time she didn't pull anything off when she yanked, so it was a horrible feeling with no benefit. Can't believe I got it done again, but glad I gave Karina a shot.
    Hard wax is the way to go. OTC painkillers help. Don't drink alcohol, it makes you more likely to bleed. I think every woman should at least try it once!

  2. Aline says:

    Go to Maria at Best Wax Center in Georgetown. She's only $50, fast, professional, and amazing. My first time was with her and I'll trust no one else in those nether regions. Good luck, ladies!

  3. V says:

    I loved this post because I've been thinking about going for a Brazilian for a while but can't work up the courage! I have a friend who bled from hers…that pretty much sums of my terror surrounding the experience.

  4. lisa says:

    I got the In-Betweeny wax at Bliss this summer and loved it. It was my first time getting waxed “down there” and I it definitely wasn't as painful as I thought it would be. The Brazilian is too bare for me but the In-Betweeny gets rid of anything that might show in a swimsuit, which was my primary concern. I might go back for swimsuit season but Nair is a really good substitute in the mean time.

  5. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    In addition to a couple of advil beforehand, I recc a couple cocktails before going for the first time. That's what I did and it greatly helped with the awkardness of it all. That said, I did it once and never went back. I don't wear a lot of swimsuits tho

  6. missy says:

    I love waxing. I figure if I'm going in to have most of it removed, I might as well have all of it removed, so I only get Brazilians when I go in (I've been only to Bliss). I have also used the poetic wax on my own, with moderate success and only slightly more pain than with a Bliss technician. The downside is that it can be really messy. I had wax everywhere.

    Because the cost is high and making the time to go and get my nethers waxed is an easy thing to procrastinate, I have switched tactics. At Sephora you can buy a Bliss (really, Philips) bikini trimmer set. The epilator has the same effect as waxing: removing hair from the root, although it can be time consuming. Your first pass at it will seem painful but I find that I quickly get used to it. It won't get everything like a Brazilian, but you can do a pretty good job and use the other trimmers for the rest.

    One last thing: I find that the ingrown hair problem goes away over time. I don't know if it's a scam or if repeated hair removal makes it less of an issue but I never use those pads anymore. On occasion, maybe, a bit of body scrub to keep things clear (but starting about 2 days after waxing to allow sensitivity to go down) because I do get 1-2 ingrowns from time to time.

  7. R says:

    My first wax was when I was 38-weeks prego and that area was no longer accessible to me. I've now done laser hair removal and can say it is well worth it. Definitely it took more than the 6-treatments for me but it is so very much easier. Highly recommend the investment.

  8. Fla Gal says:

    Living in Florida, bikini waxes are a must. I find that the wax chains such as European Wax Center or Uniwax are a cheaper alternative to Bliss or similar spas. This year for the first time I bought a “wax pass” that allows you to pay in advance and it ends up averaging to around $40 for a brazilian. The wax is the same as the kind at Bliss and is relatively less painful. After getting regular waxes for the last year, I can say that the hair definitely grows back slower and less dense so there is an upside to the pain!

  9. Jez says:

    I too get my Brazilian done at Bliss Spa! Being Brazilian, I am highly critical of how this is done at other salons and I can tell you, without a doubt, that Bliss Spa ( the one I go to is in NYC Bliss 49) is the best place to have this done. Not only do they use the best wax available, the staff is incredibly friendly. Olga is amazing. She also gives you a lollipop at the end of your session 🙂 I experience no in-grown hairs or irritation. But then again I exfoliate the area before and after.

    Just a note: You don't have to wax all of your hair off. I don't like feeling like a pre-pubescent girl so I prefer the landing strip option ( It feels very strange to say this to a bunch of strangers on the internet). So don't think the wax has to remove every bit of hair you have.

  10. BC says:

    I've been getting Brazilians done for years and I love it. Even when I was a lowly staff assistant, I would skip runs to the grocery store to afford them. The first time hurts the most, but if you go regularly and don't shave in between, it gets so much better. And the more often you go, the less hair grows back, so you have less of a problem. I love it because everything just feels so soft and smooth and clean. I've always gotten lots of compliments from boyfriends over the years. They said it was so much better, and I really have to agree.

    If you're looking for a more affordable but quality option, I always went to Michelle at Bang Salon at the Verizon Center. They run $50, so with tip you can get out of there for under $70. She's really nice and not at all awkward. I haven't been in awhile because I started doing them at home instead. I think everyone should try it at least once!

  11. amy b.s. says:

    thanks for sharing your experience. as someone with sensative skin, i always have to psych myself up for a bikini wax and even then, the aftermath of the redness and bumps is maybe not worth it. plus, i don't really trust anyone around here…

  12. Hm... says:

    Though I haven't gotten a wax in a while, I'm with BC on her preference for feeling “soft and smooth and clean.” I shave everything because I can't stand the regrowth between waxing sessions. Though being bare “down there” is now my personal preference, I started in high school because that's what everyone else did (which I suspect was probably at some point up the chain influenced by guys and porn). I just graduated from college, and all of my roommates were in the same boat as me.

    So, fellow CHS readers, I'm curious. How did you select your style?

  13. Ali says:

    You girls have got it all wrong! Why wax when you can semi-permanetly (a hair spouts occasionally) remove it with laser. 10 waxes a year will cost you $450+, and you can laser for the same price and never waste your time going to and from a salon! Best decision I have ever made.

  14. I wax, because shaving is too harsh on my skin (I know that sounds weird, because waxing involves, well, hot wax, but there you have it). I've gotten a Brazilian a few times, and the pain really wasn't that bad, and my husband loved it. But I still prefer to leave a little bit there. I also recommend Bliss. They do a great job!

  15. Kaylee says:

    I have been getting Brazilians regularly for years. I have to say that you made a great choice by going somewhere with hard wax. I can definitely tell the difference and the hard wax is definitely less painful. I also agree that popping a few Advil or Aleve (not Tylenol, which isn't an anti-inflammatory) about an hour ahead of time is a great idea. I have to disagree with Dr. Jean Grey's suggestion to have a few drinks beforehand. They may help a bit with any feelings of awkwardness, but the alcohol will increase the blood flow, making pain worse.

  16. Jessica says:

    I'm surprised I am the first woman mentioning Tammy at Polished (on Wisconsin in Georgetown). Full Brazilian in 6 minutes for $35. I've been going for 3 years, and would never go to anyone else.

  17. Jes says:

    I think I'm gonna book my appointment with Tammy right now!

  18. KRF says:

    I have been waxing (bikini, deep bikini, and Brazilian) for over 10 years and I believe its worth it. Over time, you will grow less hair back and when you do it will be thinner and finer. I have also found that over time I could go longer in between waxing. I am due to have my first child any day now and waxed throughout my entire pregnancy.

    I agree that you must find a quality wax technician. I go to Jacqueline at Citrine Salon and Spa in Silver Spring, MD. The pricing is far better than other places I used to go to and she does a very good job. Citrine uses Dermologica skin care products, which I swear by, so its a great fit.

  19. BN says:

    Laser hair removal is the way to go. Less painful (though not by much) than a wax, and after 6-8 sessions, you're done for life.

  20. DH says:

    I used to get Brazilians and definitely agree with BC about loving it, but I recently bought a couple Groupons to get laser removal and so far, so good. (Go to a place with a GentleLase laser, my dermatologist recommended this type and it's been awesome on my sensitive skin.) It's more money upfront than waxing, but definitely cost-effective in the end, less painful each time, and SO worth it – no more hassle!

  21. RW says:

    I second the earlier recommendation for Michelle at BANG at the Verizon Center. I've been going to her for nearly two years now, and have sent more than a few friends her way.

  22. Francine says:

    “Frankly, it's drafty.” I howled.

  23. E says:

    Question for the commenters: how much do you tip? I've been going someplace on and off for years and the woman owns the place herself. The brazilian is $60. Sometimes I tip, sometimes I don't…though I always tip if I go somewhere and my technician is just and employee. 10%? 20%?

  24. danii says:

    I've been to Tammy before. She's quick, she's cheap… but you get what you pay for. I went twice, first time no real problems, but the second time -oy ve! Maybe it was me, maybe it was the wax, but I had the WORST ingrown hairs. It kind of looked like some horrid sti.

    I recommend Karina at Georgetown Aveda for ANY waxing you need! I started going to her for my brows, and she noticed right away my sensitive skin and need for hard wax. The cost of her Brazilians are competitive, $60, and she does an amazing job. I use “pore restore” for a few days afterward to ward off the ingrown hairs.

    Another Aveda g-town plug- I've since been seeing Abla for threading because I started using some rx acne cream on my face, which makes it too delicate for waxing. She's amazing too.

    I agree with another commenter, the ingrown hairs will be less the more you go, and I noticed that the hair isn't coming back as quickly. I wish my paycheck allowed me to get these on the reg!

  25. Kristen says:

    Thank you for posting this. I actually scheduled my first Brazilian last night. The appointment is this Saturday, and I'm definitely anxious about being that exposed. But, I'm also looking forward to being hair free!

  26. KT says:

    Any more recommendations for places to go in the DC area? In particular, maybe arlington or NoVa?

  27. KLM says:

    Try “sugaring” instead of waxing. I get a full Brazilian at Maria Body Image in Old Town for $40 – and have found it less painful than waxing. For ingrown hairs (which I get if I shave in-between), I use CVS' “skin soothing roll-on treatment.”

  28. R says:

    The first time I got a Brazilian, the hair regrowing was awful (but no more awful than after shaving). I've been going for less than a year and already I can tell a difference. I don't have to go as often and the hair grows back MUCH finer. Might have to look into laser after seeing that cost comparison though…

  29. anon says:

    I used to go to Polished, but I had to stop once I realized she re-dips when she waxes. This is a really unsanitary practice. Imagine how many people you're sharing that big tub of wax with when dips the same stick in over and over again…

  30. Anne F says:

    Wow, I thought everyone under 35 got Brazilians (or something close). Who knew?

    I'm in my 40s and love them, but I've been trimming and shaving since I got my first hair down there, way back in the cretaceous pre-porn era. Otherwise I itch like crazy. My husband doesn't care one way or another, it's all about comfort and the aethetics of not needing to scratch there in public.

    For people who aren't' in DC, the best way to find a good waxer is through Yelp.

    Those of you who got lasered – how long is a session? How many did it take? I've avoided it, because it seems like it's too much time to have my nether regions exposed. I get a brazilian in seven minutes flat.

  31. KL says:

    This is kind of an awkward question, but I'm really intrigued and kind of want to start waxing down there (I barely wear bikinis and when I do, usually a little trimming is all I need). Do you all trim before hand or does it have to be a certain length in order for it to be waxed? May be a dumb question, but I'm a little lost on this whol ething.

  32. Belle says:

    KL-I think it has to be at least 1/4 to 1/2 inch long.

  33. Jill says:

    I've gone to Pro-Euro Hair Design in Foggy Bottom for years — Lidia is great. She has such a deft touch that once when I went after work I swear I dozed off on the waxing table. But they use hot wax and I'm curious about hard wax — can someone explain why it's better? Also Pro-Euro is $40 — where else in DC can you try a recommended waxing with hard wax for that ($70 — plus tip) seems pretty pricey to me.

  34. LE says:

    KT – Anh at Royal Essence (4767 Lee Highway – nearish to Ballston and East Falls Church) does an awesome Brazilian for $55. Their whole salon is great, though the nails are a little pricier than they need to be. The wax they use is gentle for the bikini area, but not worth it for the eyebrows. Make sure to get the packets of cream for after too!

  35. R says:

    Laser Hair Removal. I'm not in the D.C. area but have had extremely good luck with Groupons/LivingSocial deals for Laser Hair Removal. I'm now doing my legs because I think its so great. For me (very light skin, dark hair there), it took about 9 sessions for a good result in bikini area (20 min or so spaced 6 wk apart). The quality of the laser matters. For the beginning sessions (first 6), I used the so-called “pain-free” which is not pain-free but less painful. It is more like a wand that is waved over the skin (with ultrasound gel). The wand gets quite hot over time. The traditional method is more like a rubber band snapping. I did have much better results in underarm with the traditional vs the wand for whatever that's worth. The Groupon/LivingSocial deals all tend to have the traditional approach. Whether its the rubber band type or wand type is independent of the laser quality. You'll need touch-ups occasionally (depends on your result and whether you never want to shave). The hair for me that has come back in is lighter and thinner (although certainly not blonde and I'm about 3 years out from starting. I would definitely go the beach without shaving.

  36. xoxo says:

    Ive been to Polished to get waxed twice and it was the most painful experience ever! And on top of the pain I was left with 3 (maybe more) days of red bumps, not attractive. So I stopped going and returned to shaving. I recently took the plunge (after talking with a friend in gyno school) to get laser hair removal. While this process is extremely painful, after only 3 times I have almost no hair, no ingrowns, no razer burn or anything of the like. It definitely wasnt cheap, I got mine as a groupon for just the bikini line at $220 and then after going once and loving the results decided to upgrade for $450 to a full brazilian (I guess I enjoy feeling like a pre-pubescent girl). Im very excited to never have to worry about shaving/waxing again and at the price of up to $70 for the best quality waxing every 6 weeks and the pain/discomfort that will be avoided Id say its a justified investment! 🙂

  37. missy says:

    KL – I was scolded once for trimming on my own. My waxer could tell that I'd done it. So to answer your question: don't do it beforehand.

    Someone above asked about tipping. I generally tip $10 on a $70 wax but I don't know if that is a good rule of thumb. Am I being stingy?

  38. BC says:

    I was scolded once by my hairdresser friend for being a stingy tipper. I was tipping $10 on a $50 wax. She put it this way: do you think it's pleasant work stripping you bare down there? After that I started tipping $20 on the same wax, because I thought the quality was great and that she was charging below market rate. That might be a little much, but I think if someone's going to put the time and effort into waxing and then plucking out every hair, it's best to do more than the standard 20%. Of course, if it was terrible, don't tip or don't tip much. I've definitely left a wax without tipping because it was atrocious.

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