“Brazilian Rush—the very sexy feeling a woman gets from touching the smooth, soft part of the body that has had a Brazilian wax.”-BrazilianRush.com
And the area that has had a Brazilian wax is the pubic region. Yes, that’s right—almost completely bare from the front to the back, with only what are called “landing strips” (a thin line of hair on top and on either side) left behind or sometimes nothing at all.
The Brazilian-style waxes have been in existence since Ancient Greece, but were popularized in the United States in the late 1980s via the famed J. Sisters (Jocely, Jonice, Joyce, Janea, Juracy, Jussara, and Judseia) Salon in Manhattan. Brazilian waxes were popular in Brazil because of the very, very tiny bikinis Brazilian women are known for, but now, because of the sisters, it’s popular all over the country.
“It’s probably more intense than any doctor visit you’ll ever have,” laughs Lorraine Ruggiero, a certified South Florida esthetician (a skin care specialist who is licensed to give facials, massages, body wraps, waxing, and much more). “You’re in a well-lit room face down with someone paying all kinds of attention to your pubic hair.” But it’s not a scary experience.
What Do You Think?
For a while, there has been great discussion among feminists about waxing and Brazilian waxing. Many claim that it makes a woman’s nethers look like those of a twelve-year-old girl, or that too many women do it to please men. On the contrary, more often than not women do it just to please themselves. Another myth about Brazilian waxing is that it’s only done by hookers, strippers, and porn stars, which Ruggiero says is a huge misconception. According to Ruggiero, it’s a merely clean feeling and it really makes a difference in daily life. But, as with anything, some ladies love it and some ladies don’t.
“Being raised in the tropicalia of bikinis and short skirts that is Miami, I’m going to say I generally feel good about [Brazilian waxing]. I don’t think there’s anything worse than seeing a forest peaking out from a girl’s hooha at the beach. NOT WHAT I CAME THERE TO SEE. So of course, if I expect fellow women to keep it tame, I’m going to expect it of myself. There are alternatives and it does hurt like hell! But I think it’s worth it. I get them when I can.”-Krizia, Carnegie Mellon University student
“When I think of Brazilian waxing, it just seems really painful to me and I don’t think I would prefer the look.”-Erin, Robert Wood Johnson graduate student
“I think the idea of a Brazilian is hot ... as long as it’s not the version that gets rid of all hair, because I think that’s kind of prepubescent-looking. However, I am terrified of getting myself waxed. I feel like the pain would be unbearable. If I could do it without the pain, I’d totally be down. Oh yeah, and the fact that I don’t have $50 to spend on my vagina.”- Anna, Columbia University graduate student
“I am a pale person, and I also have really aggressive body hair so normally I would have to shave every day and that gets to be painful very quickly. I think having it all taken off would be really nice too, but only for bathing suit season.
Aesthetically, I thought I looked a little goofy, like my crotch had this rogue sideburn, but it was really more for the practicality of it than the look. My “luvahhh” liked it; I think it was more that it was different, you know, change it up a bit, than the fact that there was less hair.”-Shannon, Carnegie Mellon graduate student
“I’m pretty indifferent about it I guess. I don’t think I’d be able to stand the pain to actually go through with it (a la the chest waxing scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin), but I feel like it has better results than shaving—I probably wouldn’t do it unless it was a VERY special occasion or absolutely necessary.”- Sara, Carnegie Mellon University student
And What Do Guys Think?
“As far as area maintenance in general: I’m for It … just trim it, as a courtesy. I think it’s ridiculous for a guy to expect a girl (or all girls) to be completely hairless all the time, but it’s also ridiculous for a girl to think it’s okay not to trim at all … as for being with a girl who’s fully waxed ... yeah, I like it. But sort of as a special treat, a once-in-a-while thing. Like a cigar. Great if it’s done sparingly, to celebrate, but kinda weird and maybe a bit creepy if you do it all the time.”-Todd, Carnegie Mellon graduate
“The two best parts about women are softness and delightful fragrance. Anything that increases net softness (in this case, by removing coarse pubic hair) is a Great Victory for everyone involved.”- Alex, University of Florida graduate student
And check out what HC’s Real Live College Guy, Jason, has to say on the topic here.
Know Before You Go
First of all, fear not, ladies! Don’t worry about your esthetician seeing you “down there.”
“I don’t care about seeing you naked,” Ruggiero says frankly. Estheticians have trimmed so many hedges that they’re not fazed by anything anymore—except one thing.
“You don’t want to have your period,” says Ruggiero. While this may seem like common sense, Ruggiero has had clients come in on more than one occasion and unpleasantly surprise her with the red meanies. “I was not happy,” she says. It is important to pay attention to your cycle for more than this reason, though. According to Ruggiero, your skin is more sensitive mid-cycle, so take two Ibuprofen thirty minutes before your appointment.
And, of course, you need some hair! “We prefer at least a quarter inch of hair, maybe a little bit less. Some people come in having shaved three days before and we can’t wax them.” Having hair at least this length greatly decreases the number of ingrown hairs you might have, and you might have one or two after waxing, but when/if you come back in an esthetician can remove them for you easily.
At the same time, however, you don’t want hair that’s too long. “Up north if you wait all winter to get waxed you’re gonna be in some serious pain,” says Ruggiero.
The Hairy Details
When you go in to get a Brazilian wax, you have to first disrobe from the waist down. Yep, the whole shebang. “Some salons offer a paper thong or something like that, but most people just end up saying, ‘Oh, just take it off already!’”
Then, an esthetician like Ruggiero will first cleanse the area with antibacterial spray. Next, she’ll use powder on the area because it creates a barrier between the skin and wax for less pain later on.
After that, with gloves, she’ll apply the wax with a wooden spoon or tongue depressor then throw the depressor away. This is called the “One Dip Rule,” where after each swipe of wax the depressor is thrown away and a new one is used. Because the heat of the wax kills any germs anyway, the “One Dip Rule” is not a law but rather a hygienic practice some estheticians use to doubly ensure the cleanliness of the procedure.
Ruggiero will then put a strip of paper on top of the wax, rip the paper off, then throw that away as well. And she’ll repeat each of these steps until your nethers are hair-free—for the most part. If there are any strays, she’ll nab ‘em quick with a tweezer.
Ruggiero will then apply tea tree oil, known for its antiseptic properties, to your newly bald region to calm the redness that will likely appear.
After you get waxed, in any part of your body, you’ll want to stay out of the sun for twenty-four hours to prevent infection. “Just leave it alone and go about your life. No creams, no nothing. Maybe some powder if you want, but that’s it,” says Ruggiero.
You’ll start to see re-growth between ten and fourteen days, says Ruggiero, but when/if you want to go back for another go, you have to wait four to five weeks so the hair will be that necessary quarter inch length again. If you get it done more and more, the hair will grow back less and grow back finer. This happens because you’re actually ripping the hair out, including the hair follicle, each time. With shaving the hair is only being cut, so it grows back coarser each time and there’s a much greater likelihood of multiple, itchy, painful ingrown hairs.
Wax On, Wax Off
Ruggiero prefers to use hard wax, which is gentlest for the bikini area, “There’s no sticky residue,” she says. “So when you leave you can walk instead of having your legs stuck together.” Ruggiero will put the hard wax on thickly, about an eighth of an inch, “like you’re frosting a cake.” What’s nice about the hard wax is that if for whatever reason some hair doesn’t come off, she can layer some more on in the same spot.
Unlike hard wax, however, one can get sticky residue with honey wax, a cheaper (but much more painful) kind of wax that comes in a little pot and is ripped off with linen strips. This kind of wax cannot be used multiple times in one area or it will literally rip your skin off. Hard wax seems to be the best way to go.
But you really don’t want to do it yourself. “I wouldn’t advise it,” says Ruggiero. “When somebody else does it, you can’t see it. But when you do it yourself, you hesitate and then it’s more painful.
And minimal pain is what we’re going for here. “If you have a skilled person do it for you [i.e., a licensed esthetician and not your sister … unless your sister is Kourtney Kardashian], it should be no more painful than waxing your legs,” says Ruggiero. “When it comes to [waxing], you really get what you pay for.” It’s always better to have someone do a good job and pay a little more than get a mediocre job on the cheap.
So if you think this sounds like something for you, go for it. But at the end of the day, she says, “You gotta be brave.” It’s just like ripping off a Band-Aid. Kind of …
By Elyssa Goodman for Her Campus