Everything You Need To Know To Prepare For Your First Bikini Wax

If you've never had a bikini wax, you might be nervous and have no idea what to expect — aside from a total stranger yanking your pubic hair out at the root. When you put it that way, it doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun. However, it's not nearly as bad as you think, and it can actually be much more beneficial than other methods of hair removal.

For example, the results from shaving don't last nearly as long as a bikini wax, and it can involve a bunch of risks like razor burn, cuts, ingrown hairs, and infection. Although waxing isn't completely risk-free, it's usually safer than shaving as you're less likely to get ingrown hairs or knick yourself. According to Cosmetics Business, waxing can even exfoliate your bikini area by removing dead skin cells and cause your hair to grow back thinner and slower.

Of course, there aren't any medical benefits to removing your pubic hair, and there's no reason you should do it if it's not your own personal preference, yet it's become incredibly popular. In fact, a 2016 study found that the majority of women practice some form of pubic hair grooming, with only 16% claiming to leave the hair be. In this study, women who removed their pubic hair said they did so to feel clean, attractive, and to please their partners. Whatever your reason, book your appointment with confidence by learning everything you need to know to prepare for your first bikini wax.

Choosing the right wax

Many salons let you choose which type of wax you want used, which can be confusing when it's your first time. From soft wax to hard wax and sugar to chocolate wax, you might be tempted to base it on how strong your sweet tooth is that day, but there's a better way to choose the right one for your bikini wax.

Firstly, soft wax is usually not recommended for a bikini wax because although it's usually cheaper, it can be much more painful. For a good example, think of the waxing scene in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." This type of wax has a higher chance of adhering to your skin during application, and when yanked off can take layers of your skin with it, causing more irritation and redness. Hard wax on the other hand, is what you'll want to opt for when treating more sensitive areas. This thicker wax will adhere to your hair, not your skin, for a more comfortable hair removal experience (via Healthline).

If your salon offers chocolate, fruit, or sugar wax, the choice is completely up to you, but be warned that these services are often pricier. These waxes have become popular due to the vitamins and antioxidants they contain, and sugar wax has been praised as a natural wax substitute for those with sensitive skin (via Vogue). Pick your poison, but the important thing to remember is to choose hard over soft — especially for your first wax.

Find your bikini wax style

Bikini wax styles constantly evolve, but which one is right for you? Think about why you're getting waxed; are you trying to impress someone, or do you want to keep things trimmed and manageable down there? You'll have to specify which style you want when you book your appointment, so it's a good idea to make sure you know the difference between the bikini wax styles.

A standard bikini wax is highly recommended for beginners or those looking for light maintenance. This style takes a little off the sides and top, or anything that would be visible when wearing a standard bikini, and is usually the cheapest option. You also have the full bikini wax, which takes your standard wax a little further in, but still leaves some hair.

Then, things start getting a little more intermediate and are best left to those who have been through the process at least a couple of times. The French bikini wax will remove all of the hair from the front except a landing strip, which is a fun choice if you're looking for some style but want them to leave your behind alone. The Brazilian wax will take it all off, aside from a very small front patch, and the Hollywood wax removes it all — from front to back, you'll be smooth (via Byrdie). There's also fun shapes to try, but for your first time around, we recommend you keep things simple.

You'll need to arrive with some hair down there

If you're accustomed to regular grooming, letting your pubic hair grow out may feel strange if you're about to pay someone to remove it all again. You'd think giving your wax technician less hair to deal with would make the process easier, right?

Not exactly. According to Healthline, it's recommended that your hair is around one-quarter of an inch long when you arrive for your appointment in order to see the best results. (This is about the size of a grain of rice, for those who don't want to break out the measuring tape.) If it's any shorter, the wax may not adhere properly to your hair and instead tug at the skin, making for an uncomfortable experience. Your technician may even ask you to come back when it's grown out enough, which would be a waste of a trip. On the other hand, your hair could actually be too long to wax, too. Any longer than half an inch can be difficult to treat and will need a quick trim beforehand.

Don't do it yourself though, as your technician is experienced and will know exactly how much to cut away. Aim to book your appointment for around two to four weeks after your most recent hair removal to give your hair enough time to grow, and try not to feel tempted to touch up using your razor in the meantime. Too long is better than too short.

Yes, you'll be somewhat exposed — but don't be embarrassed

This is probably the most dreaded part for any bikini wax newbie but be rest assured that everyone feels this way their first time. The thought of flashing your bits to a total stranger probably doesn't sound appealing, but it's something you eventually become used to. If it's any consolation, you may be allowed to leave your underwear on if you're only going in for a bikini-line wax. The caveats to this are that you'll be tasked with moving it to the side as the technician works, and your underwear may become ruined in the process due to the messy nature of the wax (via Popsugar).

Any other type of bikini wax will likely require you to remove the clothes from your lower half, but you shouldn't be embarrassed because your technician has literally seen it all. The more extensive the wax style, like a Brazilian or Hollywood, the more your technician will see. You may also be required to maneuver into awkward positions so the wax can get into every crevice; this is why your first bikini wax should be a simple one. If you're feeling shy about this aspect of the appointment, know that you aren't alone, and after a few appointments, it'll feel as normal as any other appointment.

Communicate with your waxing technician

Being open and honest with your technician is the only way to ensure a positive experience. If you have questions about the bikini wax before or during the appointment, speak up — even if it feels like a dumb question. There's no reason to clam up around this person who's about to be up in your business, because they're an expert who's done this several times before. It is a good idea to make it known that this is your first bikini wax, as your technician can be prepared for your heightened levels of uncomfortability or pain compared to seasoned clients. They will also be able to communicate with you on what to expect and how they need you to position your legs, for example.

You don't have to keep up the chatter during the wax, but speaking up if you're experiencing too much discomfort can make the process go smoother. You can also ask them to guide you through what they're doing or have them reassure you when the process is nearly finished. Ultimately, finding a way to relax during the appointment will lessen the pain and make the whole experience fly by. According to Groupon, many clients prefer to read a magazine or work from their phones while they're being waxed. Along with openly communicating with your technician, it's up to you to decide what will make you feel the most comfortable, as this is what will help get you through your first appointment.

Prepare for some pain

The bikini area is one of the most sensitive parts of your body to wax due to the nerves' proximity to your roots (via Byrdie). So, if it's your first time, expect some pain. Everyone's pain tolerance is different, and it typically becomes less painful the more regularly you wax, but it can take some practice before you master the silent, teary-eyed nonchalance of frequent waxers. Luckily, there are several things you can do to alleviate the pain of having your pubic hair ripped out at the root.

According to Marie Claire, you can apply hydrocortisone or lidocaine at least an hour before your appointment to numb the area. You can also take an Ibuprofen or Advil about two hours beforehand, which can lessen the inflammation and sensitivity you'll experience with waxing. Avoiding excess caffeine and alcohol in the hours leading up to your bikini wax is important as well, as they can heighten the sensitivity of your skin and set your nerves off.

Once you arrive at the salon, you may be feeling nervous still, but don't back down yet. During your appointment, relaxing your muscles and taking a long deep breath, exhaling as the wax is removed, can help with pain as well. Some of the discomfort you'll experience is psychosomatic, which is part of the reason your second, third, and fourth appointment won't hurt as badly — once you've been through it, a lot of your anxiety will dissipate, and so will the pain.

How to prepare beforehand

To have a great first bikini wax, there are several ways you can prepare well in advance before the day of your appointment rolls around. Beginning 48 hours before your wax, you must avoid tanning, stay out of the sauna, and all bathing should be done with warm water — hot water can dry out your skin and increase sensitivity to the area. To avoid dry skin and sensitivity, be sure to moisturize regularly up until the day of your appointment. You can also help your wax go smoothly by exfoliating the skin gently 48 hours before your appointment, which removes any dead skin cells (via European Wax Center).

On the day of your bikini wax, take a shower. Not only does a freshly cleaned bikini area help the wax adhere to your hair, but it's considered hygienic and polite. Additionally, the heat (even from a lukewarm shower) will open up your pores and allow your hair to be pulled away with less force. Don't exfoliate your pubic hair on the day of, as this can cause unnecessary sensitivity, and forgo your usual moisturizing routine, as any additional lotions or oils can keep the wax from sticking to your hair (via Beauty Image USA). If you can, aim to go to the bathroom before the appointment as well. You're more likely to tense up if you need to pee, especially if you're naked from the waist down, which will make relaxing much more difficult.

What you should bring to your appointment

Beyond your appointment confirmation, wallet, and maybe some reading material, you shouldn't need much else. However, wearing a breathable, loose-fitting, and ideally cotton outfit (at least on your lower half) will be a lifesaver. This extends to your underwear too, unless you decide to go commando for the day, as many experienced waxers do. You certainly won't want to be going home wearing any, as the friction and chafing caused will irritate your freshly waxed skin.

Glitter and Glow Studio recommends wearing a loose-fitting skirt and leaving the salon with no underwear on because the area will need to breathe. It's not incredibly important exactly what you wear, as long as it doesn't rub up against your bikini line because this can inhibit the healing process or cause rashes and ingrown hairs. If you don't have anything like this to wear, you may want to invest in a couple of sweatpants or skirts (especially if you're planning to make waxing part of your regular routine) because you'll want to keep the area ventilated and minimize as much direct contact to the skin as possible for around 48 hours after your appointment.

How your appointment will pan out

Depending on the salon you go to or the waxing technician you see, they may have slightly different ways of doing things, but generally, the process should be pretty straightforward. You'll arrive at the salon, where they should ask you to fill out a form. This is standard practice across reputable businesses, as they'll confirm your personal information and any potential medical history that may impact your treatment or previous treatments you may have received. Then, you'll be led into a private area and given some privacy to remove the necessary clothes to receive your wax.

Once you're on the table, your wax technician may ask questions to confirm your desired wax and style. They'll cleanse your pubic hair to remove any sweat, oil, or anything else that may impede the efficiency of the wax. Then, it's time to get waxing! They will likely apply the hot oil directly to your bikini area, but it shouldn't be so hot that it causes pain, so speak up if it does. Then, they'll pull the wax in the opposite direction from your hair in a quick movement, as many times as it takes to get to your desired style. Finally, your technician will tweeze any stray hairs and apply a soothing treatment to finish things off (via Ro). They should send you on your way with post-care instructions and the option to book your next appointment.

Taking care of your freshly-waxed bikini area

What you do in the hours and days following your bikini wax appointment is just as crucial as what you did before. Practicing good post-wax care is the best way to avoid complications and maintain your wax for longer. Again, there's a list of things to avoid, but you'll only have to limit yourself for no more than 48 hours after your appointment.

European Wax Center advises against contact with pool or seawater and hot tubs or baths for 24 hours following your bikini wax. You'll also want to skip the gym, tanning, and exfoliating the area for 48 hours, as you need to give your hair follicle a chance to close without irritating it further. This, unfortunately, means that you shouldn't have sex for at least 24 hours before your appointment, so if your wax is for someone special, try to coordinate a little bit ahead of time. Finally, it's important to ignore the temptation you might get to pick up that razor; shaving between waxes can irritate your skin, prevent it from healing properly, and make your next bikini wax more difficult. Three days after your appointment, gently exfoliate the area to encourage the hair to grow properly and keep from getting ingrown hairs.

When shouldn't you get a bikini wax?

Waxing isn't for everyone, so it's important to tell your technician about any medications you're taking or any conditions you may have. Those with certain skin conditions should be cleared by their doctor first, and if you see any broken skin, give it a chance to heal before you hop on the table. Diabetes or other conditions can be a factor that may prohibit you from getting this salon service, as having a compromised immune system can complicate healing (via Best Health).

You also shouldn't book your appointment yet if you have a sunburn or your period is due soon because this can make your skin extra sensitive. Some antibiotics and acne treatments can thin your skin or cause other issues that make you more prone to lesions, so many salons won't perform waxing services on people who take these medications (via Ro).

Red flags to look out for at the salon

You may be excited to finally arrive at the salon for your bikini wax, but compromising your health isn't worth overlooking the potential red flags. As soon as you arrive, put your eagle eyes on and have a scan around. If you see spatulas left in pots of wax, this could be an indicator of double-dipping, which is extremely unhygienic. Not using gloves or failing to have you fill out an intake form when you arrive aren't good either. If you've gotten to the bikini wax itself and you notice your technician is pulling the wax up and away from your skin, rather than back on itself, they may not be properly trained as this technique tends to be more painful and less effective. It may be too late to do much at this point, but you'll definitely know not to return next time (via Preview).

Because waxing involves opening up your hair follicles, there's the chance for bacteria to find its way in and cause an infection. Read some reviews and do your research before booking your wax because salons that follow appropriate protocols are less likely to leave you with a nasty infection. If you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or second-guess the hygiene of the salon, it's better to walk away than risk it.