Everything you’ve wanted to know about a Brazilian wax (but were too nervous to ask)

Let’s get it out of the way right off the bat—yes, it does hurt. But its bearable (and worth it).

LET’S GO TO BRAZIL

I decided on a whim to get a Brazilian wax because, why not? If I’m being honest, my interest in Brazilian waxing was piqued when I saw Carrie Bradshaw do it on Sex and the City back in the early aughts (okay, fine when I finally saw it, it was solidly in the 2010s). I’ve been cooped up at home for a year—it was time to try something new and spontaneous.

If you’re reading this, you likely are considering getting a Brazilian wax for the first time and wondering what to expect. Read on for my first time experience.

WHAT IS A BRAZILIAN WAX?

During a bikini wax, the hair on the sides and top area along the bikini line are removed. During a Brazilian, your entire pubic area is waxed bare (!). A Brazilian wax removes all the hair from your bikini area (top, sides, and front), and those hard-to-reach areas in the back. Let’s think of waxing in terms of the retailer Bed, Bath and Beyond. If a bikini wax is Bed & Bath, a Brazilian is definitely the Beyond. In a Brazilian wax, all hair below the belt is removed. From seam to seam, for lack of a better phrase. However, if you want to leave something I’m sure you can. Just talk to your waxer about what you want and be sure to have clear expectations.

DOES IT HURT?

I’m not going to sugar coat it—it does hurt. Certain areas hurt worse than others. At some points, I would say it was a solid 8. Other times, it was more like a 2 or 3. I’ve been told the first wax is the most painful and they become progressively more tolerable as you go back consistently. I’ll keep you posted when I go back in four weeks.

“Have you had a Brazilian before?” she asked me.

“No, but I’ve had bikini waxes,” I replied.

“Oh, okay. This is…nothing like that,” she joked.

WHAT’S THE PROCESS LIKE?

I’m no waxing virgin. I’ve been waxing my own eyebrows and upper lip for an entire decade. I’ve waxed my own legs, my own armpits and even had the privilege of waxing other people on occasion (I waxed my friends brothers leg in high school, much to his chagrin, and it was some of the most fun I ever had). I had never been to Brazil, though.

I arrived at my waxing appointment and had to fill out some paperwork before we got down to business. My waxer, Carrie, explained the process to me and made sure that I understood what was going to happen and felt prepared. Before she stepped out of the room so I could undress, she handed me a feminine wipe to clean myself off with and a towel to put on my lap before she came back into the room. I appreciated the 60 seconds of modesty before she examined every inch of my anatomy LOL.

Full disclosure: if you’re a super modest person or embarrass easily, this probably is not gonna be your thing. Within 10 minutes of meeting Carrie I was laying on my back with my knees to my chest so she could wax my butthole. So yeah, things escalated pretty quickly. I was probably most nervous about waxing the back, since having hot wax applied to my a-hole seemed like it would be excruciatingly painful, but somehow…it wasn’t? As soon as I knew it wasn’t painful, my concern immediately switched to the amount of wax that seemed to be pooling between my buttcheeks. “Can your ass accidentally get waxed together?” I wondered to myself. The answer could possibly be yes, but thankfully I didn’t find out that day.

I transitioned to butterfly position (laying on my back with the soles of my feet touching each other) and Carrie slowly worked her way to the front (top?), applying wax in sections, letting it dry, holding the skin taut and then pulling it off. The wax pulls the hair out by the root. She actually showed me some of the strips and I was both amazed and horrified to see all the little white bulbs that form the base of the follicle. No wonder it hurt so much.

The most painful areas for me were the lips and the FUPA (I imagine this eloquent piece of writing will win me a Pulitzer one day). There were times when it was so painful, I would actually just start laughing. I felt very much like Steve Carrell in 40 Year Old Virgin. Thankfully, if you apply pressure to the area as soon as the wax if pulled off, you feel the sweet, sweet sensation of relief.

Once all the hair has been waxed off, your waxer will likely go back in and tweeze any hairs that were left behind. Some hairs aren’t caught by the wax because if you’re accustomed to shaving, your hairs aren’t all in the same phase of growth. Carrie warned me that some people find this extremely painful and ask to stop, but I honestly barely felt it.

We wrapped up the wax by applying some cortisone cream to calm the skin down and viola! We were all done.

HOW LONG DOES IT LAST?

Carrie said that most people can go 4-6 weeks between waxes, with 5 weeks being the sweet spot. Like most things in life, everyone will be slightly different and the time needed in between waxes will vary from person to person.

HOW TO PREPARE BEFORE AN APPOINTMENT

I honestly did not do a single thing to prepare for my appointment. My friend Andrea advised me to take some ibuprofen about an hour beforehand, which probably would have been smart, but I forgot. The most important thing is to not shave! Your hair should be at least as long as a grain of rice. Too short and the wax won’t be able to grip it, too long and I think it becomes more painful. It’s like Goldie Locks for pubes — it has to be juuust right.

POST-BRAZILIAN AFTER CARE

Immediately following a wax, Carrie told me to avoid hot showers and/or baths, vigorous exercise, tight fitting clothes (like my beloved Align leggings) and sex. She instructed me to make sure that I moisturized the area with normal lotion (something I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done?) and also make sure that I’m regularly exfoliating—but not too soon since the wax itself is exfoliating.

TL;DR

I’m not sure what it says about me that when I wanted to try something new, my brain went to a Brazilian wax. It was painful and a little bit awkward, but the results are worth it. I will definitely be doing it again! Do you get waxed? I’d love to hear your experience!