Waxing for Beginners: Dos and Don’ts

Updated June 2018
Kat Crookshanks
Bob

Thinking about getting your first Brazilian wax? Let’s get one thing out of the way: here at Tidy Kitten, we’d never dictate what a woman should do with her body hair, especially down there. In fact, we believe no one should dictate a woman’s personal grooming — not her boyfriend or society or Gwyneth Paltrow. Hair removal is a deeply personal choice.  

That being said, the general consensus around the Tidy Kitten office is a hearty yes to hair removal. Some of us just like to keep our bikini areas neat, others prefer to go fully bare, no one likes shapes (tacky, and not in the mesmerizing Tom Ford for Gucci way). Obviously, there are several different methods to choose from: the big three are shaving, waxing, and lasering. Here, again, though, the Tidy Kitten team is unanimous — waxing will always be our preference.

Why waxing? Well, let’s eliminate some of the other options first. Shaving is the cheapest and most immediately painless method, but it’s also really unsexy: it’s precarious, imprecise, and if you’re not on top of upkeep, shaved hair regrowth is painful and itchy. Feel the sharp stubble on your calves when you forgo a day of shaving? That, but on your v. Lasering is the most expensive and most painful option, plus its efficacy depends on your skin tone and hair type. If you’re lazy about upkeep, though, lasering might be the right choice since the effects are (supposedly) permanent.

Meanwhile, waxing is a happy medium in terms of pain, price, and upkeep demands. Maybe it’s because some of us have been getting waxed for a decade, but our monthly wax has become a favorite self-care ritual. It’s up there with regular mani-pedis and wearing nice underwear on the list of small, but effective ways of making us feel both pampered and like we have our shit together, even if we spent the weekend watching too much Netflix instead of hitting the gym.

Have we won you over to Team Wax? Here are some Dos and Don’ts to make your wax as smooth as possible.

Do: Your research

In most urban areas, you can find salons exclusively focused on hair removal — in our experience, your best bet for a reliably good wax. Read reviews on Yelp, not only for the salons generally, but to identify which estheticians seem to be favorites. Ask your girlfriends for their advice (feel free to pretend you just need an eyebrow wax). In Tidy Kitten’s hometown of San Francisco, we’d recommend the Stript boutiques — we’ve been to a number of their locations, seen a number of different estheticians, and always felt safe and well-cared for.

Things to look out for specifically? What type of wax the salon uses and their policy on double dipping. For the former, we strongly urge you to visit only those salons using hard wax rather than strip or soft wax, especially for the bikini area. Hard wax is a lot more gentle on sensitive bits. As for the latter, find a salon that advertises a strict no double-dipping policy to ensure you’re getting the most sanitary, healthy experience possible.

Do: Put down the razor

If you’ve been shaving up til now, stop. Specifically, stop two weeks before your wax appointment. You’ll need around two weeks of hair growth, or a quarter-inch, for the wax to take hold effectively. Don’t worry if you have more than a quarter-inch, though: your esthetician will likely trim the hair with small scissors first.

Don’t: Show up hungover, on your period, or without having showered recently

If there’s one way to make waxing unbearably painful, even for old pros like us, it’s showing up hungover. Somehow — maybe the dehydration? — it makes the pain about a thousand times worse. Being on your period also increases your pain sensitivity, but it’s also just rude. As is subjecting your esthetician to unshowered funk. Most salons provide a baby wipe so you can freshen up immediately before your wax begins, but that should be treated as a complement to a shower within the past 12 (ideally 6) hours, not a substitute.

Do: Take an Advil 30 minutes beforehand

Self-explanatory.

Don’t: Think the esthetician is judging your body

They aren’t. Your esthetician is a professional who likely loves their job BECAUSE of the role they play in helping women of all shapes and sizes feel good in their skin. And if that isn’t a comfort, remember that these women spend their days looking at dozens of vs — is it really likely that yours is so remarkable they’d judge? Of course it isn’t. The only reason your esthetician might judge is if you failed to follow our shower rule or if you’re rude in some other way.

Do: Take deep breaths

We won’t lie and say your first time waxing is going to be a walk in the park. Our Dos and Don’ts so far are designed to minimize your pain, but there still may be a moment or two where you’re tempted to shout, “Stop! I don’t care if my v looks like it’s suffering from male-pattern baldness right now, I’m leaving!” Trust us, though: the pain only lasts for a second or two, and when you see the end result, you’ll know it was worth it. Be sure to tell your esthetician this is your first-time, so they can coach you through it. One quick tip is to breathe in deeply and then exhale when they do “big” pulls or go for the extra-sensitive bits.

Don’t: Skimp on tip

No matter how much your esthetician loves their job, they did just spend 30 minutes up close and personal with your v. Tip generously — at least 20%.

Do: Follow after-care guidelines

These include avoiding high temperatures — hot showers, saunas — for 24 hours after your wax. You should also avoid working out for 24 hours to prevent the spread of bacteria when your skin is extra sensitive. In the weeks before your next wax, make sure to exfoliate your bikini area gently a few times a week. Avail yourself of products to prevent ingrown hairs, as well: we’re partial to Penchant Bare’s treatment.

Do: Get on a schedule

Most estheticians recommend getting waxed every four weeks. This isn’t just a sales tactic: getting on a schedule means that, over time, there will be less hair to wax, and the experience will become exponentially less painful one month to the next. Plus, a lot of salons will offer a special price if you come back regularly or schedule “maintenance” appointments.