“Hey Grandma, do you know what a Brazilian wax is?” my housemate asks. Her grandma shakes her head to say no. Well, “It’s when they wax everything ‘down there’”, she informs Grandma with a snicker as if trying to shock her. I’m a little uncomfortable at this point being the first time I have met this lady. Although she seems like a sweet little grandma on the surface, I am informed on the drive over she will most likely behave because she doesn’t know me… “Oh I don’t need that, I’m all bald down there” ever since my surgery nothing grows down there. “Bald as a cue ball”, her husband chimes in with a grin.
This is but one of many conversation starters used by my sophomoric friends to talk about what I do for a living. Yes, I’m a waxer, among other things. I own a small (yet lovely) studio called “Absolutely Flawless” located at 2340 NW Westover Road in Portland, OR where I am a licensed esthetician and massage therapist. I provide services such skincare consultations, facials, body wraps, massage and full service waxing. This includes Brazilian Waxing, and yes (I can hear the gasps beginning to form), as an equal opportunity waxer; I wax both women and men.
So what is a Brazilian? In short, a Brazilian wax is when the hair is removed from the genitalia via the root of the hair follicle. On the female, the hair is removed from the outer labia and a small “landing strip” or triangle is left remaining on the mound above the labia. On the male, the hair is removed from the shaft of the penis, as well as the scrotum, and a patch is left behind the shaft on the skin that covers the bladder area. The hair is also removed from the anus and the buttocks on both the male and female. Some people even like to have shapes created in the hair that is left such as Horseshoes, stars, hearts, etc. A completely bald wax is often called a “Hollywood Wax” but there are many other names depending on the technician.
A Brazilian wax hurts a little, but (as was explained to me by my Brazilian waxing mentor) “the pain is “transitory””. The pain can be lessened by a few key things. First, take a couple of Ibuprofen about 30 minutes before waxing. This helps to lessen both the pain, and any swelling that might be involved. There are also topical products that can be used to numb the skin before hand, but the jury is still out on if they really help enough to make them worth using. Secondly, regular waxing is essential. Over time, with regular waxing, the hair follicle will have less and less of a grip on the hair to be pulled and the hairs will come out more easily. The skin will be less sensitive if this is done every 4 weeks (another reason to wax frequently is that you may even experience less hair growth over time). In addition, don’t wax within 3 days the three days prior to through the three days post menstruation while your body is more sensitive to pain. Most women instinctively know this, but many surprisingly don’t think about it and how it relates to waxing. The horror stories I have heard on this matter are another blog within itself and I just won’t go there. That’s why my policy is no Brazilian wax during menstruation – period (no pun intended)!
One thing that I find to be crucial in lessening the pain of a Brazilian is to simply take a Zen approach. The less you fight anything, the less resistance you will have. You know it’s going to look and feel great, and you know you will have less ingrown hairs and more days of smoothness, so sit back and relax. Remember to breathe. Tensing up throws the body into a “fight or flight” mode constricting the blood vessels as well as the muscles of the hair follicles (this is why when you are afraid, the hair on your body stands up). Not only that, if the follicles tense up, there is a chance the hair will break instead of being pulled out and then there is a very good chance of getting an ingrown hair once it curls up underneath the skin and can’t find its way out of the follicle. Recently, I had a client who kept trying to sit up every time I even laid the wax down on her. She would jump before I even pulled the wax. As a result, her skin was looking very angry and the wax took much longer than it should have, the ordeal was strenuous on the both of us. If you just focus on breathing and whatever your happy place is, it goes by much faster and is much less painful.
Finally, exfoliate regularly, but don’t overdo it. I supply topical products that can help to exfoliate the skin and prevent ingrown hairs. By using a topical exfoliant a couple of days before waxing, the thin top layer of skin is loosened around the opening of the hair follicle also making the hair easier to remove.
One day my mother said jokingly (sort of) “I can’t believe my daughter does this for a living”. We both had a laugh about that, but the truth is, I wear it like a badge of honor. I am a perfectionist Virgo and I am really good at what I do. My Brazilian clients are some of my most loyal ones and it would be way more difficult to survive in a recession without them. They know that they will get a thorough waxing, at a fair price, and most importantly, that they will feel comfortable and maybe even have a laugh or two because after all, it’s simply wax, hair, and skin.