Brazil is the motherland of waxing. Brazilian women wax EVERYWHERE, and I do mean EVERYWHERE. The famous Brazilian Bikini Wax is so named for a reason! In addition to the bikini area, Brazilians also regularly wax their legs, under-arms, eyebrows, and upper lip areas. Getting waxed on a regular schedule is considered a vital part of a woman’s beauty regimen, and many Brazilians have standing appointments with their favorite waxers at salons that they visit monthly (at the minimum). Another plus is that waxing in Brazil is incredibly inexpensive, so Brazilians have the advantage of being able to afford regular upkeep. It can get quite expensive in the United States, but in my opinion is still worth the investment.
Plenty of women in the United States do wax consistently, but this is usually limited to the bikini area, eyebrows, and upper lip. Since no American woman likes to be visibly hairy, most Americans rely on shaving for the legs and underarms instead of letting their hair grow out long enough for a wax. Brazilians feel differently, though, and most of them HATE shaving and think it’s a terrible solution to a “hairy” situation. It is a known fact that hair grows back thicker and darker from shaving but lighter and finer from waxing, so Brazilians much prefer growing out a little peach fuzz in between waxes to dealing with coarser hairs in between shaves. Additionally, while many American women include leg-shaving as part of their daily shower routine, Brazilians can’t stand the inconvenience of having to deal with it all the time. When it comes to underarm hair, Brazilian women have become adept at either hiding their growth (which becomes pretty minimal anyway, after a few months of waxing) beneath sleeves or simply not being bothered by it at all. Since most of you are probably comfortable with waxing anywhere BUT your private parts, this post will focus on just that: the terrifying and elusive bikini wax.
What’s very important in waxing (especially around the lady-bits!) is the type of wax that is used. Brazilians favor using hard wax, which is usually brown or tinted green (I saw a pink version once!) instead of strips, and I have to say that I agree. Hard wax is far superior because, in a nutshell, it hurts WAY less and is more effective in fewer swipes. The waxer heats up the wax in a small bucket or pan so that it is gooey and liquid-y and sticky, then uses a popsicle-stick-like tool to apply it over the desired area. After letting it cool and harden over the hairs for about a minute, she will check to see if it’s set and she’ll remove it by pulling it off against the direction of hair growth. The best waxers pull the wax off REALLY fast and in general help get the whole affair over with quickly.
If you’ve never tried it before, don’t be scared of waxing! Brazilian women are actually SHOCKED when I tell them that many American girls prefer to shave “down there” because they’re scared of the pain from a wax. I think Brazilians don’t have this fear because most of them start waxing as soon as they hit puberty and start to grow hair, so by their teens and twenties it’s no big deal. But in all seriousness, which seems safer? You twisting and reaching around with a razor blade and a compact mirror trying to reach the areas you can’t see, or a trained professional with full access and a soft substance that can’t possibly nick you? I think we all know the answer to that one.
The other problem many Americans have, of course, is with showing a complete stranger their private parts. To this, all I can say is get over it. It will always ALWAYS be a woman waxing you, unless you’re in some sketchy place, and she’s got lady-bits too! Besides, if you start to see the same person regularly she won’t be a stranger anymore. Americans are, in general, much more conservative and squeamish when it comes to their bodies than Brazilians are. When you’ve gotta strip down in front of somebody else, remember that they have a naked body too, they have their own insecurities, AND now here they are having to look at somebody else’s birthday suit. If you act confident and comfortable, they’ll be more comfortable too and everyone can get along well enough, with or without clothes on.
You might also be embarrassed that you look different “down there” or that she’ll judge you by the amount of hair you grow or the kind of underwear you wear (post to come soon on appropriate undies, by the way), but I guarantee you that she’s seen so many vaginas she won’t even be fazed by, or care to comment on, yours. Plus, you can feel really lucky that things in Brazil aren’t the way they used to be (mostly). I remember, back when I first started waxing, that you’d walk in and there would be a room with 4 or 5 beds and you’d lie down on one, remove your pants, and chit chat with all the other pants-less ladies in the room while someone ripped hair from your body. As much as I prefer the new “private room” system, I have to say it kind of took the edge off when you had someone to commiserate with.
In Brazil, once you find a waxing salon and waxer that you like, you tend to stick with her. Many women develop relationships with their waxers similar to those that we develop with our hair-dressers. You’ll come in, get ready, lay on the table, and gossip about your boyfriend or her brother’s miserable wife until the ordeal is finished. Brazilian waxers have discovered, I think, that a little conversation goes a long way in distracting you from the pain. And I’m not going to lie… It hurts like hell. But to be honest, bikini waxes hurt a lot less than underarm waxes! So let that be a comfort. Also, if you take a couple of Advils about 45 minutes before, that will help with the pain and inflammation too.
So what will it look like when you’re finished? Well, that’s really up to you. There are two and a half levels of bikini waxing. The first, and easiest to swallow, is the bikini wax, where you simply wax the sides of your “area” so that when wearing a bikini no stray hairs will poke out around the edges. The second is the full Brazilian bikini wax, which means everything goes and you’ll be totally hairless. The little half-level, which in fact many Brazilian women prefer, is to remove everything but leave what’s called a “landing strip” — a small triangle or rectangle of hair above the vagina for aesthetic purposes, so you don’t look completely bare. It’s your choice! There was a fad a while back to leave shapes, like hearts or stars or your boyfriend’s initials, of hair on your hoo-ha, but to be honest I think that’s really odd and so do most Brazilian women. However, it’s your body so do what makes you happy!
One thing that I should probably mention is that when you ask for a full Brazilian bikini wax it will often include “doing the back,” which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s always optional though, so you can politely decline if you’re uncomfortable. If you say yes, the waxer will have you either turn to the side and lift up your butt cheek or have you lie on your stomach and spread your cheeks apart so that she can reach those little hairs “back there.” It sounds terrifying and sadistic, but in the spirit of becoming more of a Brazilian woman, I say go for it. It hurts way less than the front area and is over much faster.
There have been some articles here and there about the dangers of “double-dipping” the waxing stick into the wax. Here’s an article with more information about that. Personally, I’ve never really noticed or been bothered by it, and most Brazilians haven’t either, but if you’re concerned about germs and possible bacteria you can always ask them to use a different stick every time.
You also have the option of doing it yourself at home, though this prospect terrifies me. Here’s a funny post about a woman who did try it at home, with some girlfriends, and ended up having a pretty good experience. I personally would not do this myself, but if you’re on a tight budget, have superhero courage, and have SUPER great friends, it could be a good alternative to shelling out the cash for a trip to the salon.
That’s it! That’s all you have to know to be fully informed as you ask yourself the eternal question, “To wax or not to wax?” I, along with millions of Brazilian women, fully encourage you to give waxing a try. Here’s some more info on what to expect during and after a wax appointment and a list of waxing survival tips. Remember though, if you prefer to go au naturel then that is your decision, and more power to you! Figure out what your preference is and go for it, but don’t let a fear of waxing stop you from testing out the preferred method of almost all Brazilian women. If you do decide to try it out, find a good, reputable place that uses hard wax. My favorite go-to in the United States is Elizabeth Grady. The price is steep ($75 for a full Brazilian bikini wax) but they do a phenomenal job and it’s worth it.
Short and Sweet Recap:
Brazilian women prefer waxing to shaving because it reduces the overall appearance of hair. They wax all over, and especially in the bikini area. Don’t be afraid to try a wax! It hurts A LOT but is worth it in the end. Make sure to find a reputable place and be open to their suggestions, you’ll leave the salon hair-free and feeling super smooth.