Everything about Brazilian waxes you've been too embarrassed to ask

Hi, I'm Amy and I have been getting Brazilian bikini waxes bimonthly for almost 20 years. Yes, the Brazilian. The one where the waxer removes all of your hair. All. Of. It. I never, ever skip an appointment, because I love the result. If you've never had one, but you're interested, this handy dandy guide will answer all of your questions. All. Of. Them. (Especially the most embarrassing ones.)

Does it hurt?

This it the most popular and most pressing question regarding Brazilians, understandably so. Every time a friend joins me for her first Brazilian I get asked, at least 187 times, about the pain factor. How much it hurts will depend on your personal tolerance and your own pain threshold. Still, it's not agonizingly painful a la Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. If you have a good waxer who uses the right technique, and pulls the wax off quickly and efficiently, you'll live. A BBW scores a 2 out of 10 on my pain scale, but I have been doing Brazilians for almost two decades. You can take an Advil approximately 30 minutes prior to your appointment to stave off pain.

How, exactly, does it work?

Waxing is waxing, wherever it's done: a layer of heated wax is applied to the area, muslin strips are placed over that and then pulled back, ripping all of the hairs out. You can also do a sugar wax, where an organic paste comprised of sugar and water is rolled over the area, yanking hairs out. Strips are not used in true sugar waxing. The waxer can trim the longer hairs with cuticle scissors and shape a patch of hair into a landing strip or a triangle, which serves as a sexy mile-marker to the promised land. Or your esthetician can remove every last strand, if you dare to bare completely.

How long does it last?

The more often you wax, the longer it lasts. With frequent waxing, the hair seems to thin and take longer to regrow. With consistent waxing, veterans like myself can go seven or eight weeks before I need to go back. Even then, it's usually for a touchup and maintenance. Many salons recommend waiting at least four to five weeks before returning because the hair should be about a half-an-inch long for your next wax.

Can I wax while having my period?

Yes, you can get a Brazilian bikini wax while you are on your period. But you must wear a tampon...no ifs, ands, or buts. Since you can be more sensitive than usual during your menstrual cycle, you might want to consider taking that over-the-counter pain pill I mentioned. I also recommend wiping down with a baby wipe before hopping on your waxer's table...just 'cuz.

Do they really take it all off?

Yes! While you can choose to leave a landing strip at the top of your labia, the waxer can and will get all up in your lady parts to remove all hair. Full disclosure: I have laid on my back and been rolled into a ball with my ankles at my ears so that my waxer can get every last strand. The waxer usually treats the area between your butt cheeks, too.

What do you do about ingrowns?

Ingrown hairs are the worst. They are the bumpy blight on your otherwise beautifully smooth and hair-free bikini area. Those can be plucked during your session. Post-waxing ingrowns can be pulled with a tweezer, as long as you do it carefully and sanitize. To avoid ingrowns, you can apply a lotion or serum. The popular European Wax Center chain even sells a product that is supposed to prevent this painful result.

Is it awkward?

No, your waxer is not silently judging you or your nether regions when you are on their table. Brazilian bikini waxing is their job. Most of them love what they do and take pride in beautifying your bikini area. Every waxer I have used—from the famous J Sisters in New York City to sugar-waxing indie estheticians to the corporate European Wax Center chain—has been an utmost professional. They don't make me feel uncomfortable. They treat it like waxing your eyebrows.