I think it's safe to say that any woman who prefers to remove her body hair has contemplated but ultimately feared professional waxing — especially when it comes to the ultra-sensitive bikini line and genital area. At least I know that was the case for me after witnessing Steve Carell scream his butt off in The 40-Year-Old Virgin as a kid. For that reason (and a few others), I've avoided waxing technicians like the plague my entire life.
But this year, for the first time, I made the mistake of buying a white and high-cut bikini for swimsuit season, which means that any and all hair around my private parts will surely be hyper-visible if left untouched. I knew it was finally time to bite the bullet and find out if having all my down-there hair ripped out was really all it's cracked up to be. Enter the European Wax Center, which offered to provide my first Brazilian wax service — EVER.
Before I start, let me clarify what a Brazilian wax actually covers and what I did to prepare for mine.
I've roughly highlighted in pink the area a waxing professional covers during a Brazilian service on this diagram because I'm obviously not showing you mine, perverts. This includes the labia, pubis, perineum (yeah, the spot just above the anus), and just a little bit of your butt crack. You can go completely bare or request that the specialist leave a triangle or landing strip at the top.
You'll notice that the upper thighs are not included here, contrary to what I initially expected. The specialist will get all up in the creases between your thighs and genitals, but if you want additional waxing on the upper and inner thighs, you'll need to book a bikini wax instead, which covers those areas.
All I really needed to do to prepare for my waxing session was to grow my hair out to the recommended quarter of an inch — I stopped shaving that area for about a week before my appointment. If you're already working with longer pubic hair, a specialist can trim it for you during your appointment, so you don't really need to worry about that, either.
I got my Brazilian wax as a courtesy from the European Wax Center, which operates a little differently from your average spa or salon.
You can book a one-off Brazilian waxing service ($59 before tip) if you like, but reaping the full benefits of the European Wax Center requires buying a Wax Pass. You can pay 25% less if you pre-pay for any six waxing services at once, or you can pay a flat rate of $752 to unlock unlimited Brazilian wax services for a whole year.
And if you're really dedicated to remaining hairless (can't judge you there), I can promise you're probably going to want one of the passes. According to professionals, waxing becomes less painful, and your hair becomes less stubborn and fast-growing the more you get waxed consistently.
After arriving at a downtown Manhattan EWC location, I was quickly ushered into a room that, to my surprise and initial confusion, looked akin to a doctor's appointment room.
Whereas I was expecting a low-lit, relaxing day spa scenario, the EWC's private rooms are actually far more clinical-looking with bright lighting, white walls, and paper-lined waxing beds. But that's how it should be, because you want whoever's waxing your hoo-ha to have a clear and well-lit view of what's going on around your downstairs mixup. You also want everything to look and be as clean as possible, and my private room did.
It's at this point that I should also talk shop about waxing specialists and their requirements. Where I live, in New York state, it's legally required for all waxing professionals to hold an esthetician license, and to get one of those you need to complete courses on state law, skin physiology, diseases, infections, sanitation, and (of course) hair removal. So all the EWC employees are more than trustworthy.
That being said, requirements might differ depending on where you live. Do a quick Google search for "your state + waxing requirements," and you'll probably feel way more at ease about literally placing your genitals in a stranger's hands.
Then came the part I was most fearful of: My waxing technician told me to drop trou while she prepared the wax for my ~bits~ in the opposite corner of the room.
I was honestly way less afraid of genital pain than I was exposing the most intimate part of my body to a complete stranger. But that's where logic comes into play for people like me who are terrified of being physically vulnerable, or are hesitant to get semi-naked as a result of prior body shaming.
I just had to briefly think to myself, "This woman sees tons of hair-covered genitals on a daily basis — whatever I've got going on down there will not affect her in the slightest." And it didn't! As I'd hoped, she approached our waxing session the same way my gyno approaches my annual pap smear: professionally and without even a hint of judgment. This is another reason the Wax Pass is a great idea too; it gives you the option to book consistent appointments with the same technician, so you can build a more trusting/comfortable relationship.
And now's the part where I talk about what you're really curious to know... how much it hurt.
The pain of Brazilian waxing is definitely sharp, hot, and rather intense if you've never waxed that area before or have a generally low pain tolerance. However, the moment you get your pubic hair ripped out sucks way more for some areas of your front-bottom than others.
So now, on a scale of one to "KELLY CLARKSON," I present to you a definitive ranking of how painful each nook and cranny was to get waxed:
Perineum + anus area: 3
Pubis + clitoris area: 6
Thigh crease: 7
Outer labia: 8
The labial area sucks the worst because it's really hard for a technician to rip off the wax in one smooth motion; expect sharp tugging motions there. I contemplated asking my technician to warn me before pulling at the wax, but in hindsight, I'm glad I couldn't anticipate the pain as much. I suggest simply taking deep breaths through the nose and exhaling hard out the mouth when your technician is just about to let it rip.
Still, the entire session took six or seven minutes tops, and the sharp pain dissipated within seconds afterward.
For the following 24 hours or so, my skin was red and slightly itchy, but it quickly gave way to the smoothest skin I've ever seen down there.
Those of you who frequently read my stuff already know I have dark, thick, and coarse body hair that kind of has a mind of its own — for me to finally achieve a hair- and bump-free bikini area for the beach without needing to shave every five minutes (not exaggerating there) practically felt like a miracle.
I'm not so dedicated to hair removal that I see myself doing this consistently year-round, but now I definitely see the benefits of going in for a few sessions during the summer or whenever I just feel like I need a cleanup. And I am surely not as afraid of baring my all to a professional, which makes me feel oddly more comfortable with the most intimate parts of my body.
If you're curious to know more about the European Wax Center, or want to book an appointment slash buy a Wax Pass, you can do so at waxcenter.com. I know I want to again.