Lying down on a bed in a salon, in front of a beautician you may have never met before, half-naked – and anxious about the amount of pain you’re about to experience, while your pubic hair is ripped from your skin – is not exactly a joyful experience for most women. And if it’s your first time getting your nether regions waxed, it’s even worse. But, it’d be a lot less awkward if you knew exactly what to expect. We ask hair-removal experts about bikini wax etiquette and all your waxing questions.

“Don’t be scared,” says Tracey Smith, founder of hair removal brand Ashmira Botanica. “It can be daunting the first time you have a bikini wax, but remember you won’t be the therapist’s first client, they will have done millions of waxes before you.”


“Research who you are going to,” advise the Waxperts – aka Ellen Kavanagh and Trish O’Brien, founders of Waxperts Wax. “Are they trained in the treatment you want to get done – i.e. intimate waxing? Do they use hot wax for all bikini waxes? Never get strip wax on the face, underarm or bikini – it’s way too harsh for the delicate skin on those areas. A hot wax, or peelable wax with a prewax oil, is what you need to be asking for.”

And that’s not all. Even if you’re a regular waxee, there might be mistakes you’re making when it comes to your ‘lady garden’ maintenance.

Bikini wax etiquette

Beautician prepares wax for a beauty treatment.

Here, our experts answer the most commonly asked bikini-waxing questions…

Are there any products you shouldn’t use before or after a bikini wax?

“Yes, don’t put any oil, moisturiser, shower gel, creams or fake tan on your skin pre-treatment, as they may affect the efficacy of the wax,” Smith says.

“Afterwards, you are restricted with what you can do or apply for 12 to 24 hours,” say the Waxperts. “For example, no fake tan, no hot showers, no exercise. If you’re unsure of anything, ask your therapist before you leave your appointment. The last thing you want is to have an adverse reaction.”

How long does hair have to be for a wax to be effective?

“We say as long as a grain of rice!” the Waxperts advise. “If you’ve been shaving, try and leave it as long as you can, three weeks would be ideal. If you’re a regular waxer, every 4 to 6 weeks is perfect for repeat appointments.”

bikini wax etiquette

Should you trim your hair before a bikini wax?

“If the hair is very long, it is advisable to trim it,” say the Waxperts. “Don’t use a razor or hair removing cream though. Just use scissors or clippers and be careful.”

But Smith disagrees: “Don’t bother trimming before you get waxed. If there is hair that’s very long, your waxer will trim it.” So it just depends if you’d rather do it yourself, or leave it to the experts.

“It’s usually too long when it starts to curl,” says Beautician Libby Herdman. “I advise trimming before, with nail scissors or something. On your legs, it probably would never get that long if you’re a woman.”

Libby also says that first-time waxers are usually hairier, so this might be something you want to think about. But never be embarrassed about how hairy you are, she adds.

Is waxing painful?

“Obviously, some people are more sensitive than others – and there’s not much you can do to avoid that,” says Smith. “I believe breathing out quickly before the wax is removed does help, but in a professional salon with a good therapist, there shouldn’t be too much discomfort.”

The Waxperts agree that going to someone who’s well-trained means the process won’t be as painful, and that taking paracetamol before your appointment could have the opposite effect.

“Believe it or not, painkillers can make it worse, because if there’s caffeine in them, it will make your skin more sensitive. The same goes for your cup of coffee, so skip it before you get waxed. Anticipation is really what can make it seem more painful, so try and relax.”

Can you go for a bikini wax if you’re on your period, or is that a major no-no?

“I would definitely encourage a customer to wait until after their period for an intimate wax,” says Smith. “Mainly because you’re more sensitive during your period, but also, it’s easier for the therapist.”

“You can, just wear a tampon,” say the Waxperts. “You may be a little bit more sensitive, but you can still get waxed.”

Libby agrees: “Yes, you can have a vagina wax when you’re on your period,” says Libby. “But just a shout out to all the girls out there, please tell your therapist before she starts waxing – in case she pulls the tampon out.

“The little tampon string can be tucked up, and then when you put the wax on, it [could] attach to the string. So then, when you pull the wax, the string can get pulled which pulls the tampon out.

“That’s only happened to me just the once,” she adds. “I usually see the string and then just say, ‘Oh, are you on your period?’ And then I say, ‘OK, I just won’t wax the inner hair then’. And I also always make sure to say, ‘It will be a bit more painful, just to let you know’. That’s because you’re more sensitive when you’re on your period.”

What’s the difference between regular, Brazillian and Hollywood waxes?

“A regular bikini wax is basically a tidy up, and you’d keep your underwear on,” explain the Waxperts. “For intimate waxes – like Brazilian and Hollywood – you’d need your underwear off, as they both remove most of the pubic hair, including [inside] the bum. A Brazilian wax leaves a strip on hair in the front and a Hollywood leaves no hair at all.”

“There are many more options, so make sure you have a conversation pre-wax with your therapist, to ensure you both understand which removal you want,” says Smith. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone!”

“There’s also the Australian, which is, ‘all bush and no outback’, which is when you just get rid of the bum hair,” says Libby.

How do you prevent ingrown hairs, and what’s the best thing to do when you get them?

“Ingrown hairs occur when the hair can’t get out of the skin properly. This could be from dead cells on the skin blocking it, or wearing tight underwear or clothing where the pressure prevents the weak hair breaking through the skin,” the Waxperts explain.

“The best way to treat and prevent them is by gentle exfoliation. Our Waxperts Wonder Pads are perfect for treating and preventing ingrown hairs, as they contain salicylic acid.”

bikini wax etiquette

Waxperts Wonder Pads, Cloud10Beauty.

Do I have to wash before a wax?

If you’re worried because you’ve been at work all day and you’re going straight to the salon afterwards, be aware that most should provide female intimate wipes on the bed when you arrive. It’s not part of the bikini wax etiquette that you definitely have to shower first, but the wipes are a must.

“If not, you could pack them in your bag just in case for yourself,” suggests Libby. “And it’s not because we think you’re smelly – it’s because everyone sweats.

“People shouldn’t be embarrassed to use the wipes to clean themselves. It’s not like you’re the only one I’ve left them for, it’s because I want everyone to have a clean vagina before I touch it. I also think people just feel more confident if they’ve cleaned beforehand,” she adds.

How can you make it less painful?

Bikini wax at the salonHot liquid. Silhouette of girl that lying on couch while going to do depilation

Libby’s main advice about waxing? Take an ibuprofen beforehand. Some companies and salons even sell numbing cream.

“My advice would also be to have the wax mid-cycle,” says Libby. “So, not a week before your period and not on your period – when you’ve been off your period for a week, a week-and-a-half.

“Also, make sure you exfoliate before. And don’t have a hot bath before, or a hot shower, because the heat on heat will react.”

Libby adds that the type of wax used is also important. “Always make sure your therapist is using hot wax, not warm wax, because hot wax hurts a lot less,” she says. “Hot wax is where its like actual wax that dries and then you flick it off. Warm wax is the wax where you use a strip. When it’s hotter, the hair follicles open so your hair comes out easier.

“If your therapist is unable or does it wrong, you might bruise or be burnt or cut. But this is unlikely. And they will probably ask you to hold the skin tight as they wax, which will help prevent bruising.”

Any waxing horror stories?

Libby remembers one particularly painful waxing incident she witnessed when she was training. “This girl had just had a wax – when we were training and all just practised on each other. She thought she was putting ‘after-wax’ [solution] on her vagina but it was surgical spirit. She was crying with pain.”

Libby adds: “People have farted in my face – that happens quite regularly. I think it’s because you lift up your leg and the air goes out. And because people are nervous.

“Oh, and there’s a man who sits there while I wax his wife, which is weird. Every time, he’s always there.”

But Libby says that, whatever happens, you have to not react. “One time I was waxing this girl, and she said, ‘Wait a minute’, and checked to see if she had come on her period. I had to just carry on.”

How often should I get a wax?

“It depends on hair growth because everyone’s hair grows differently,” says Libby. “But probably every 4 to 6 weeks.”

But, she says, it’s true that the more you wax, the less painful it gets over time.

“It’s because your hair grows back sparser,” she explains. “So some of the hair follicles start to die off and it becomes less painful because there’s less hair, and it’s not as coarse. If you’ve been shaving, your hair will be coarse, but if you wax, it’s like a new hair growing so it’s fluffy and soft.”

And it’s important not to shave in between treatments. “If you’ve had a wax every 4 weeks for a year, and then you shave once, you go back to square one,” says Libby.

Do you get asked to do weird shapes for a wax?

Libby says she has been asked to do a lot of hearts, because “you can dye it pink and have pink hearts, which looks quite cool, actually”.

But there’s been one slightly more unusual request. “One person asked me for a flamingo, but I wasn’t sure how to do that!” reveals Libby. “I thought the neck would be too skinny. And I didn’t know how to do the beak.”

There really is no bikini wax etiquette here – ask for what you’d like, and your beautician will do it if they can. Just make sure it’s nothing too explicit or uncomfortable.

Is it awkward getting naked in front of a beautician?

“I think, just get to know your therapist and make sure you find one who is confident,” Libby says. “When my clients come in, I just act like it’s nothing, and just say directly, ‘Can you take your pants off and get on the bed?’ Then people don’t feel so weird about it. If you’re really shy about it as a beautician, people don’t want to just take their pants off.

“Some beauticians do prefer clients to keep their pants on. But I think it’s easier and quicker for the client if they take them off.”

DIY bikini wax

Want to try doing your own bikini wax at home?

Best-selling electric bikini wax warmers

Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!

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Last update on 2021-07-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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