I've been receiving a bunch of questions on all things "Brazilian," so I thought I'd take the opportunity to ask Wendy Allred—Bliss Spa Education Manager— for a proper waxing tutorial. (After all, their spas keep the likes of Liv Tyler, Uma Thurman, and Kate Hudson looking their best.)
How often should you plan on waxing?
Whenever you’re feeling… shall be say… totally bushed? But usually every 3-4 weeks, depending on how obsessed you are about someone seeing stubble.
How long does hair have to be before you wax? Which waxes work best where?
Bliss’s Poetic Wax removes hair that is as short as 1 MM long! It literally shrink wraps the hair and pulls it right out of the root without sticking to the skin. You can use it for eyebrow waxing, on your upper lip, bikini line, legs and underarms. Best of all, once you've waxed, you should have at least three weeks of full-on fuzz freedom before even a follicle peeks through. I’ve never seen a razor or depilatory that gets to the ‘root’ of the problem like waxing does.
Whether you wax at home or have it done in a salon, what should you do ahead of time to prepare your skin?
In my opinion, at-home waxing is the way to go. It doesn’t dry or chafe your skin like shaving, and you don’t have to deal with a caustic chemical (hey, if it’s strong enough to dissolve hair…do the dermatological math…) that might have irritating after-effects.
The best prep for at-home waxing is exfoliating, which rids the skin of dead cells and allows the hair to break through the surface.
What is the long-term effect of waxing? Is it true that the first time you are waxed is more painful than subsequent waxings?
Regardless of the method, the benefit of hair removal is smooth, hairless skin. I swear by waxing, but some people find it too painful or are intimidated of trying it themselves. I find that both shaving (which can cause knicks) and depilatories (which usually smell foul) are more prone to cause stubble and ingrowns.
Hair grows back at the same rate whether you shave, use a depilatory or wax. The difference in regrowth awareness comes from the fact that hair removed from the root (which sits deeper in the dermal layer) doesn’t reach the skin’s surface as fast as hair that’s been cut (shaving) or dissolved (depilatory creams) off at just the surface. There is also some speculation that waxed hair will grow back in thinner, because over time, the root weakens and builds up scar tissue, and blood can’t reach it in as high quantities as it did previously.
Waxing Pros: It lasts for almost a month, and is relatively inexpensive in comparison to other methods of hair removal. You can do it anytime, pretty much anywhere, on almost any hair. With a little practice, you can even do it yourself so if you’re the shy type, you don’t have to worry about feeling overexposed.
Waxing Cons: It is operator and product dependent. Go to somebody who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and you could end up bruised and blotchy. Go somewhere where they don’t use the greatest wax (some brands are seriously sticky and have a high melting point) and you could also be exposing yourself to another plane of pain.
What are the most common mistakes women make at home when waxing?
— Do not under any circumstances, wax sunburned skin, as it has a tendency to come right off! Think about it... red chapped raw hairless legs don't look much better than red fuzzy legs. Wait for a normal skin tone before waxing.
— Also, never wax yourself if you are taking accutane or using retin-A. Both of the above medications are keratolytics and increase the rate at which you skin exfoliates. If you take a chance and wax, you may remove skin as well as hair! Don't do it!
— Never attempt to wax a tricky or very sensitive area (especially the bikini line) without practicing first on your forearm or leg. Make sure your hand is steady with the spatula, so you don't accidentally take off an eyebrow.
— Read the directions that come with your wax carefully. Don't try shortcuts. The people who write the directions have been doing this stuff for years. They know the procedure.
— Practice makes perfect! The more confident and coordinated you are, the easier is will be to wax. Practice on a large and flat area of your body (or recruit a friend to do it with) until you've mastered the technique.
— When you pull on the wax, pull parallel and low to the body. If you pull wax directly up, you take the chance of bruising yourself. Keep it tight! Stretch skin while applying wax and apply in small controlled sections to ensure perfect results. Slow but steady!
— Also, after waxing, don’t forget to apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher-freshly waxed skin is very sensitive to sunlight.
What can be done at home to make waxing less painful?
Some people like to take an anti-histamine before waxing to prevent bumps or irritation. Also, some waxers swear by a pre-treatment Advil or two. (Consult with your physician if you have any questions.) If you’re really afraid of even the slightest pain, and you can get your doctor to prescribe you EMLA (which, after 20 minutes, totally numbs the surface of the skin), you can use it pre-treatment to really nix any possibility of pain.
Is waxing more painful during your period or pregnancy? Why?
Don't attempt waxing the three days prior to, and the first three days of your menstrual cycle. You skin is much more sensitive at that time, and waxing then can be much more painful. (Did we say painful?)
What should be used to prep/treat the area?
Pre-waxing, we suggest A gentle antiseptic cleanser with rose and chamomile removes surface bacteria, perspiration and make-up prior to hair removal that prepares the skin for wax application and prevents ingrown hairs.) We also use pre-and post-waxing rose & chamomile oils—pre-waxing (to prevent sticking) and post-waxing (to calm and soothe).
If you're thinking of trying to keep up with your waxing at home, we suggest grabbing a Poetic Waxing Kit from Bliss. You'll get enough lavender wax, with pre and post accessories, to take care of a few 'scruffy areas' that can't wait for your next spa visit!
How can one avoid ingrown hairs?
The primary cause of ingrown hairs is hair being trapped beneath the skin’s surface. The best remedy is exfoliating, which rids the skin of dead cells and allows the hair to break through the surface.
Bliss’ Ingrown Hair Eliminating Peeling Pads are phenomenal at keeping ingrowns at bay. They contain salicylic and glycolic acid to exfoliate and green tea extract and oat extract to soothe skin and calm irritation and redness.
For additional information on Bliss Spa products or services, visit BlissWorld.com.