What Happens During a Bikini Wax?

It’s summer, and that means bathing suit. I want to try a bikini wax, but I heard it hurts. Is it safe? If so, can I do it at home? It’s kind of embarrassing to think about some stranger seeing me down there.
– Nora*

Waxing is safe, although people who use acne medications such as tretinoin and isotretinoin should avoid waxing because those medicines make the skin more sensitive. You should also skip waxing if your skin is sunburned — wait until the sunburn heals first.

Waxing pulls hair out at the roots. It's true that it can hurt a little — like a stinging sensation — as the hair gets pulled out, but it only lasts a moment.

You can buy home waxing kits in drugstores and beauty supply stores, but if you've never had waxing done before it's best to visit a salon. That way you'll know what to expect and you can see how it's done.

It's natural to feel embarrassed, but don't worry. Salons often do several bikini waxes each day, so the technicians are used to seeing girls "down there" (guys too, since some guys get waxing treatments). Some salons give clients small paper panties to wear. If you want to wear your own underwear, make sure the pair you choose are similar in shape to the line of your bathing suit bottom. You might also want to take along a pair to change into after the waxing is over in case some of the sticky wax gets onto your underwear.

Make sure that the salon you choose is clean and that the technician washes her hands well or wears gloves. Salons use hot wax that they "paint" onto your bikini area with a spatula. It feels warm but definitely should not burn (if it does, tell the technician right away). The technician will then press a strip of cloth-like paper over the wax and rip it off really quickly, taking the hair root with it.

You may notice small, red spots for a day or so after the treatment. These are a normal reaction. Be sure to keep the area clean by washing with a gentle soap and warm (not hot) water.

After visiting a salon, some girls try home waxing products. You can also buy pre-waxed strips that are easier to use than hot wax, although they can be less effective on certain types of hair.

The good thing about waxing is the results last longer than shaving because the hair is removed at the root.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: May 2009

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