I Do My Own Brazilian Waxes—Here’s How

1

I don't remember becoming aware of it (other than thinking I was slowly bleeding to death, and that I should just enjoy the last few days with my family rather than upset my mother by telling her about what was going on), but a few years ago, I morphed into a woman. Since then, I've tried to juggle everything I'd gathered that a woman should be doing—contouring and highlighting, eating chopped salads, never giving up on trying to learn how to French braid, getting bikini waxes—and also the fact that ultimately I shouldn't be doing those things because some branch of feminism said not to, right? Well, the one inarguable, baseline thing that ties us all together as women is the fact that we have vaginas, and even women who are fully au naturel must, to a certain extent, groom. Waxing is the optimal choice for those desiring less hair (more on this after my PSA opener), but the experience of getting a wax is probably the most uncomfortable scenario many women will willingly subject themselves to. Most don't realize that they can take these matters into their own hands—and dispelling this notion may be the very reason why God put me here.

Looking back, I guess I deserved to have that boiling wax dripped onto my crotch, which then sparked my avoidance of waxing salons entirely. It was karma for having used several different email addresses to obtain the "$25 Brazilian" offer exclusive to first-time customers at one of the five different waxing salon chains in the greater Austin area. Let’s jump right in with a tip: never penny pinch when it comes to your pubic hair. That applies to a few different scenarios, but here we’ll be talking about Brazilian waxes and why I do my own.

I began dabbling in being as naked as possible around age 19. At the time, I would wear bodysuits—just bodysuits. I believed the two layers of sheer fabric were opaque and therefore office-appropriate. If a dress came with a slip, I wore each piece independently of the other. My brief underwear had longer inseams than most of my shorts. I worked retail at an American Apparel around that time, and we were sent a box of loosely crocheted bikinis with no linings. While my coworkers considered this a defect and thought about sending them back to the warehouse, I'd never seen anything more perfect. I’m wearing it as I write this.

For my particular lifestyle, then, Brazilians are simply more convenient than other types of hair removal. You can count on around three full weeks of total smoothness before the week or so dedicated to letting your pubes grow back to waxing length. Shaving isn’t an option. Maybe my skin’s too sensitive, and maybe my follicles are freakishly virile, but my hair grows too fast to shave every day—and it’s painful. Prickly, freshly shorn nubs forcing their way out of my delicate upper-thigh skin results in nothing but ingrowns and itchiness, and to run a razor over that again is only going to make things worse. Plus, have you ever tried to shave all of your pubic hair? That must be terrifying for your vagina; it probably feels like the little brother in that scene from Edward Scissorhands when Johnny goes full-on slasher movie on the kid’s face.

As for the 'being hairy' option, I’ve no problem with pubic hair, I just prefer the feeling of a full Brazilian. For those who've never experienced this, imagine going commando in a summer dress. OK, now multiply that feeling by infinity. It’s freeing! Pubic hair is preventing your vagina from truly getting out and exploring this great earth. And your jeans will fit better, I swear.

Going to get a Brazilian, though, truly and fully sucks. To do this, you must swiftly become skilled at the art of swallowing your pride—Brazilian waxes are far more humiliating than any sort of doctor’s appointment. You’re in a room filled with blue fluorescent light, naked from the waist down, your body contorted into either a frog-legged spread, or with your ankles up by your face, and a there’s woman you just met, yielding a popsicle stick coated in hot wax, inspecting your…cavities, all while forcing small talk. It’s degrading, even when I’ve had a great aesthetician (I’ve found that the higher the cost, the fewer 2nd-degree burns). Plus, I always felt like an overgrown baby, like I was getting changed. Lying there bare, on the papered table—sometimes they even throw baby powder on you when you’re done. So weird. Not to get too preachy here, but humiliation shouldn't have to be a factor when it comes to personal grooming.

I find it more womanly and powerful to DIY most beauty things. Dita Von Teese and I are very similar in that way. But while she’s wearing a silk fringe kimono, making cocktails and dyeing her hair blue-black, I’m in a poly-blend athletic grey sweatshirt, splayed on the floor in front of my makeup mirror ripping globs of wax from between my legs. (I said “similar.”) I’ve been doing this for years now and can give myself a full Brazilian with less discomfort and a better end result than if I’d gone to a spa. The first, and most crucial step is…

1. Buy the right wax. I’ve tried a few, and have finally found a wax that works so perfectly, I will never experiment with another for as long as I live: GiGi Brazilian Hard Body Wax. It comes in two formulas, one for microwave use and one to use with a wax warmer, which is sold separately. While you’re at it, buy some applicator/popsicle sticks (I prefer the large, slanted kind) and find your tweezers.

2. Make sure nobody is home. I’d rather have a drunk mug shot released online for the world to see than have a single soul walk in on me waxing my vagina. As you’ll find, it’s an emotional experience—a journey, between you, the nerve endings in your crotch, and nobody else.

3. Heat the wax. At one point in college I had neither a microwave nor a wax warmer, so I heated the aluminum container in a shallow pot of boiling water. This was a terrible idea. I recommend investing in a wax warmer, as it’ll keep the wax consistently heated while you work, and I find it to be less messy.

4. Make sure your hair is the right length. Aim for around ¼ inch of growth. Too short, and the wax won’t be able to grab the hair enough to pull it out at the root. Too long, and you’ll be in massive amounts of pain because you have little-to-no control over which tangled and unruly hairs the wax grabs onto as you apply. If the hair is longer than a ¼ inch, trim it shorter with an electric trimmer. I like the Schick Quattro TrimStyle Razor. It has a razor on one end and a battery-powered trimmer on the other—it's sort of like CatDog.

5. Pre-clean. Either with soap and water in the shower, drying thoroughly, or with GiGi’s Pre-Epilation Cleansing Lotion. It’s mostly isopropyl alcohol, so it’ll evaporate away without having to rinse. It helps the wax really grip the strands of hair.

6. Stir and test the wax. You should be doing this constantly while you work. Again, the wax warmer is best for keeping a consistent, safe temperature. Take an applicator stick and stir the pot, scrape off excess wax and dab the inside of your wrist to test—you’ll know if it’s too hot.

7. Smear the wax on your hair. Work in sections—I start with the inner thighs and work in and back. (That’s when the makeup mirror on the floor starts to come in handy. This is so weird talking about this on the internet!) For the hard wax, apply as thick as you would peanut butter on a slice of bread. Each smear should be about an inch wide and up to three inches long—and always in the direction of the hair growth. Let the wax sit for about 30 seconds to harden a bit; you should be able to hear a tapping noise when you hit it with your fingernail. That’s what’s great about this wax—it’s basically hard plastic, and once it’s on, there’s only one way to get it off...

8. Rip. Pull the section off in the opposite direction of the hair growth—do your best to try to hold the skin beneath the section taut while you pull away to lessen the pain. It will be excruciating, that I can guarantee. I think it was Carl Jung who said, “There is no coming to consciousness without pain,” so this will be a transformative experience for sure. Also, remind yourself that the wax will come off no other way—it’s not going to melt away under warm water if you change your mind. There’s no numbing cream, or spray, or OTC pill that will dull the sensation, either, so don’t waste your money. But hey, when you’re all done, this will only heighten your sense of accomplishment. The most brutal areas, I find, are the most sensitive—so, the ones that feel the best during sex. The back region hurts the least.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for as long as you can stand it. Remember, the back hurts the least, so it’s all downhill after you de-fuzz around the labia. Tweeze any stray hairs. Yeah, that part sucks, too.

10. Remove wax residue. You’ll probably still have small pieces of wax stuck in your crevices when you finish. GiGi’s Wax Off lotion on a cotton ball will take care of those.

I use the in-shower mittens to prevent ingrown hairs by exfoliating the waxed areas. And I wear high-cut leotards, too-tight jeans, and stand on glass-floored observation decks as much as possible over the following three weeks to make the horrifying experience worthwhile. Because, though copious amounts of physical pain are a factor, Brazilian waxes are right up there with changing the oil in my car and my taxes as things I'm utterly proud to do for myself.

—Annie Kreighbaum

Photo by Elizabeth Brockway.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Jessica Rose

    You are a brave women doing your own bikini waxes...you have my total respect...;)

    http://vodkaandarose.blogspot.co.uk

  • Babou

    Oh my ! Such courage !
    Before my laser sessions I used to wax off everything but never with hard wax. I had it done a few times at the beauty salon to make the hair lighter and then I used Nair pre packaged sugar wax strips. Worked very well and the fact that the was can be dissolved in warm water made it less frightening.

    Anyhow, I bow down to your courage, flexibility and talent...

  • Jaclyn Parsons

    This is so great! Thanks Annie.

  • crying

    waxing the outer regions are alright, but when it comes to the center..

  • Lindi

    I have also been waxing myself for years (the 2 years in beauty school definitely helped perfect my technique!) but a great tip to alleviate the pain of ripping off the wax is to breathe OUT as you rip - this is much the same philosophy as child birth! It really does help but defo make sure you are home alone so as not to freak anyone out!! Happy waxing xx

    • gingeryogini

      OK, clearly you're an advanced self-waxer. I'm still working on ripping without taking skin off -- on my legs

  • R

    Throwing this reminder into the void: not everyone with a vagina identifies as a woman, and not all women have vaginas.

    • Twix

      Most do.

  • http://www.wernerbeauty.com/ Teckie

    You forgot a step: Down (at least) half a bottle of wine beforehand to significantly reduce the amount of pain. I literally laughed out loud reading this. Especially number two.

    • http://intothegloss.com/ ITG Annie

      Yes, inebriation makes any apprehensions before the rip kind of fade away. But it also makes you swear loudly throughout.

  • Anna

    I think one of my biggest fears in life is that something will happen to my beautician.
    She is perfect, it only costs 10 Euros and she is so quick, it lasts about 8 minutes!

    • Amy Mills

      um, can I ask, what city do you live in?!

    • milica

      Mine too!:) It's less than 5 euros in Belgrade,and lasts 5 minutes..I just do it every month after my period,that way it lasts longer,has something to do with hormones...

      • nina

        where in belgrade? PLEASE share!

    • Jessica TeBeest

      This has been one of my favorite things about living in Europe. Affordable and usually amazing waxes, yes please!

  • Moly

    Hilarious and crazy informative. Thanks a bundle!

  • Alix

    Anybody who quotes Carl Jung while referencing their labia is a winner in my book!

  • Kira

    I used the Bliss Poetic wax at home kit, complete with cleanser and oil and thought I was going to pass out from the pain. Never again! At home waxing is not for the faint of heart! Annie, you're a warrior!!

  • kelly macintyre

    this is hilarious. love the catdog reference

  • Jenny W

    omg! I could NEVER do that myself. the most I did was the wax strips and they hurt like a !@#$ so I just let the professionals do it, it's better when I don't know when it's coming.

    • Leetoki

      Agreed. The anticipation is the killer!

  • Elle m

    Quoting Jung in an article on waxing, need I say more? Loving this.
    Thank you! These guidelines were very much needed.

  • Kelly Marjorie

    This is awesome, I love it - and reminds me I need to invest in a wax warmer! I've been using an Australian brand wax, forget the brand name but it's fairly popular where I am - it's microwavable, but it takes me so long because I need to reheat it several times during a "session". It does wash off with warm water (and then leaves spots of pink wax on my shower floor) which I would prefer than it not! One tip I have would be to use something like baby powder (I use arrowroot powder instead) before hand - I read that it helps the wax from grabbing at the skin, not sure if it's completely accurate but it definitely made it hurt less. I have no problem with most of the pain there - back and underneath - but often chicken out when it comes to the front!! Maybe I need to work from front to back instead?! Funny I can do my own brazilian, but by Christ I cannot wax my legs for the pain!!!

    • Robin Sparkles

      I'm the same way! The back and underneath are whatever, it's the top that absolutely kills me. I don't know what it is about that. I usually do it first just to get it out of the way.

  • Genevieve

    It's not at all a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but a question of fact. And thank you to R for making this very important point.

  • Guest

    FINALLY!! News I can use. Thank you!

  • Tails

    Hell yes! I just started "brazilianing" myself this past year. It not only saves money, but it's truly the greatest sense of pride and accomplishment to make it through all the pain and contorting, sounds somewhat sick I know. The result is addicting! Don't forget the tequila shot and to blast your favorite hard rock to power you through the rips. That's my tip.

  • lw

    Honey, it is 2014.
    This is not really an issue of agreement, it's more about respect and validation...like, trans bodies + lives still exist with or without your paltry approval (and--gasp--some probably engage with this amazing beauty site and its DIY waxing tutorials).

  • Nimo

    I admire you so much Annie! I'm going to try this after I invest in a wax warmer. My attempts with wax strip have been SO unsuccessful.

  • CC

    Great writing on such a touchy subject! I had also had the same experience (that is, traumatic). In my case it's not only the louse job that the etheticians do (I tried about 6), or the outrageous price - it's also that I have a few, erm, body peculiarities and post-kidney surgery scars that every freaking ethetician here in my European village asks me every time. So, anyway, I started doing half-brazilian (how is this properly called? not sure) with sugar paste at home myself, bought all the pro supplies - and voila - no more stupid forced talk explaining my body to anyone, quick and very top notch results for 1/4th of the price. Btw, I would always notice that the salon estheticians leave a lot of hair, I guess they're not feeling very comfortable looking in that direction too closely :) This problem was also solved. Oh, and I chose sugar paste because it's less painful for me and also because I am VERY messy. I'd have drops of wax on my bathroom floor, towels. Or drop waxing strips waxed side down. And it's so hard to get that stuff off. Sugar easily comes off with water.

  • Tara Howisey

    WHEW! I'm sweating just reading this! Never had a Brazilian or DYI'ed it....yet. GiGi's sounds like the way to go. For SURE.

  • lux

    THANK YOU!!! Get so tired of hearing people refer to their twat as a vagina, when any goof knows that's the hole. Geez.

  • Guest

    Why would a guy be surprised by either? And why would a woman care?

  • Fabs Babs

    3 Words: Laser Hair Removal. After 13 years of getting Brazillian waxes, I gave up and went with laser. I curse myself for not doing this years ago. Christine at The Skin Spa in Soho is great.

  • http://instagram.com/funshine_sky bunnygrrrl3000

    "I’d rather have a drunk mug shot released online for the world to see than have a single soul walk in on me waxing my vagina."

    omg ANNIE YOU'RE KILLING ME. I just died from LOLOLOLOLing

  • leaveittoapro

    Y'all. Do not wax yourselves at home unless you want about 1000 ingrowns, a bunch of bruises that look like someone poked you with a pencil, torn skin or burns in the shape of the wax you applied. There should never be any "ripping" - it's a strong pull, and the key to a good brazilian is your waxer applying significant pressure to the skin to prevent bruising and broken hair & skin - impossible to do to yourself. It will be painful, but I'm sorry, excruciating is not what it should be.

    I'm a brazilian waxer and there is so much more to good brazilian waxing than this. I'm not profiting off telling you not to do this, and you should listen to me. I went to school and then apprenticed to be good at what I do, and I know people who have trained and apprenticed who are not good enough to give brazilians. I see people's undercarriage very jacked up from bad brazilians, on the REGULAR.

    I'm not claiming that it's impossible to do, I'm claiming that the vast majority of people are going to hurt themselves attempting it and either scare themselves away from brazilians forever or come to people like me to fix it. Much like piloting airplanes or dental work, brazilians are best left to the professionals. I love you guys ITG - and still do - but this is not the best advice I'm sorry!

    • cpgreenwood

      Yeah, I tried one small strip once on myself and got a really dark bruise the size of a peapod, all the blood pooling near the surface. (That was really fun to flaunt during my Caribbean vacation.) I blame it on not holding the skin taut enough and ripping fast enough, but I haven't been brave enough to try it again...

  • Genevieve

    You need to read the article again--you missed the sentence R's comment refers to.

  • Me and Baby E

    I died laughing reading this, you did a great job making a painful subject amusing as hell! I just may give it a try...tho it still terrifies me.

  • http://intothegloss.com/ ITG Annie

    In casual discussion, if you're not using a slang term, isn't the general area commonly referred to as a "vagina"? I've never heard a lady refer to her "vulva."

  • R

    The comment I took issue with was: "Well, the one inarguable, baseline thing that ties us all together as women is the fact that we have vaginas." I'm not critiquing terminology or technique but rather baseline/internalized assumptions about gender (though I understand that this was not the point of the article).

    • Stella

      I didn't see that the first read through. I am sorry.

    • K

      just a small thing... she's talking "sexe" you're talking "gender" - there's a difference.

  • keely

    oh god everyone, lilly doesn't agree! stop the presses!

  • keely

    i'm generally a modest person in terms of dress and such but for some reason getting a pro to do my brazillian has never bothered me. i figure they have seen some crazy stuff in their day so i can't be that bad, right?
    ps- anyone else faaar prefer sugaring to waxing?

  • manu

    JUST. DON'T.
    TRUE BRAZILIAN, AT HOME, WORKS LIKE THAT: PICK UP THE PHONE AND CHOOSE A DATE AT THE BEAUTY SALOON.
    Sério, gente! Virilha em casa é um assassinato!!!

  • Meredith

    This post was amazing - I'm 19 and I've been waxing myself since middle school (I was a ballet dancer, my mom wasn't going to beat around the bush - pun intended). She bought me this waxing kit which I've brought with me to college, and it is the best of all the types of wax I've tried. No one ever talks about DIY Brazilians, I really appreciate it!

  • sarah

    I won a trip to the ER doing this, and I had help. 8 stitches. Not fun. BE CAREFUL!

    • Leetoki

      8 stitches? Sweet jesu woman, what were you doing?

  • Erin

    OMG! I love this! I am a licensed practicing cosmetologist and normally I wouldn't recommend doing your own bikini wax let alone your own brazilian. But you clearly have been doing this for a while. The only thing I would say is use the GIGI pre-hon cleanser before waxing, not showering, Your skin is more sensitive after a shower and if you took a hot shower you run a risk of tearing your skin which is already very delicate in the pubic area. But bravo for doing this yourself!

    XOXO,
    Erin
    thevaughnlife.us

  • Neelam

    Story of my life!!

  • Anna

    How do you stop your neck from hurting after this ordeal? That seems to be my main discomfort (which is saying a lot).

    • http://lippiemonster.blogspot.com/ Krisella Chua

      I agree

  • http://intothegloss.com/ ITG Annie

    For the wax warmer versions, 5-6. For the microwave jar, 3.

  • Spritely

    "that little cho-hawk"

    This made me laugh far more than it should have...

  • ff

    ANNIE. You have the larger wax warmer, does that make any difference? What do you do besides using the exfoliating mitts for post-shred care? I'm gonna do it following your exact instructions + tequila. Why do I do everything you say?

    • ff

      Mother of god. I could not do anywhere on the labia. I don't know if I was being a pussy (hah) or what but not even Carl could get me through that. Tips regarding the sweet spot? Everywhere else (pits, legs, crack, surrounding V) looks amazing though. Grazie.

  • Lina

    Don't you think the "Well, the one inarguable, baseline thing that ties us all together as women is the fact that we have vaginas," bit was pretty cissexist and hurtful? Maybe I'm on the wrong site for expecting equality but please please be a little more sensitive. Not everyone who identifies as a woman has a vagina.

    • Justsayinback

      I just found this and am so impressed by the writer. Whether or not I ever decide to DYI a Brazilian wax, this article was decidedly entertaining and informative. As a reader, I missed the undertones of transgender discrimination and was under the impression that the writer was expressively relating "her" experience and procedure with a Brazilian on "her vagina" which I think she was using generically since no one really would ever wax the birth canal. Rather than taking offense or trying to cause dissension, you should read or write on how women without vaginas should DYI Brazilians. I would imagine the mechanics might slightly differ but could be equally informative and entertaining as this article if written as well.

  • Lina

    Not all transwomen do, and THAT is a fact.

    • Genevieve

      Exactly, thanks, Lina.

  • Leetoki

    The lady I used to see would do that area first then stroke my head and go 'sshh, shh, the worst is over' like a crisis counsellor. I appreciated it immensely.

  • Leetoki

    8. NOPE.
    Read the word 'rip' and promptly looked at laser reduction studios in my local area.

  • http://thefashion-six.blogspot.co.uk Emma Rose

    I laughed at the Edward Scissorhands comment! haha!

    http://www.thefashion-six.blogspot.co.uk

  • M.

    Did it for the first time by my self thanks to you, and weirdly enough, I like it ! Thaaanks !

  • Kell

    LOVED the CatDog reference lol. Going to brave it and try this at home. Yes it's weird talking about this online but you made me realize as women we are not alone in this brutal task ;) Thank you!

  • ciygirl6

    This was both hilarious, and informative. Thank you!!

  • SC

    This article is WILD. Love it insanely.

  • ellkaybee

    So last night I did my own Brazilian. Its costs me $70 at the salon so I though, why not? If I can do it then iits more cash in my pocket.

    I was actually really surprised at how little it hurt compared to what I was expecting. Don't get me wrong, in some spots it certainly was not plesant. However it was tolerable enough that I'm going to continue doing them at home. Thanks for the great honest article.

  • Kristen

    Great post! I love your writing :-)

  • http://tatteredtotaylored.blogspot.com/ Tattered To Taylored

    THANK YOU for sharing this! I have been wanting to go get a Brazilian for summer but have been too cheap. Luckily the gigi kit with the warmer and wax is on sale on amazon for $29! It will arrive on Wednesday so if you hear far away screams Wednesday evening, that will just be me.

  • Jen

    There is a numbing cream that helps a little. I call it a "band aid" cream. It does require a prescription. It's called lidocaine. It's used for cancer patients for their ports during treatment. I've known some women to use it for tattoos and piercings. I get best results by applying it 30 mins before and putting plactic wrap over to let it just soak into my skin. I work at a pharmacy and asked what I should try, and was told 800mg of ibuprofen (reduces swelling) and the lidocaine cream.

  • Lynae Schambeck

    I went to Sally Beauty Supply and by luck before even reading this article I bought The GiGi Brazilian Bikini Wax Kit, which included the Microwaveable wax, pre wax cleanser, preparation oil, wax remover & slow grow hair minimizer. It was only $17, so I thought, what the hell? I was kinda nervous about the pain, and by chance I came home and by chance read this article that mentioned GiGi. It made me feel a little better that the product seemed to be highly recommended, but I was still nervous! Until! That first rip! It hardly hurt at all! I will never use any other product at home as long as this one stays on the shelves. I am thoroughly happy and clean! :)

  • anon

    What kind of waxing strips ? Like theres some that are prewaxed is that ok with wax heated.too. ?

  • Hannah

    You are my hero, lady!! Good woman yourself! I've finally decided to take the leap and diy wax at home because I refuse to go through the humiliation of having someone else do it but I've tried every other method at one time or another and wax seems to be the only way to go. This is so informative! Thank you for your wisdom...this was as strange to read on the internet as I'm sure it was to write :) RESPECT!!

  • Kyra Willans

    You are hilarious and this entire article is so on-point. Thank you for this!

  • Urma

    What if its our first time? Any tips?

  • Tess

    An interesting read! Thanks for publishing it. I like your humour :) I wonder what a similar wax would be in Australia..

  • Bianca

    I loved this post! Shaving has always been a horrible experience so waxing even though excruciating, has been reinvigorating for me. I got my first Brazilian about a month ago from European Wax Center and LOVED how fresh and hairless I was after. I'm going to continue waxing at EWC but was wondering for future reference if I were to decide to start waxing myself, what pointers would you give to BEGINNERS making that transition? I hear it's very difficult to self-wax, especially for the vagina, and requires a lot of skill or else you're going to be in far more pain and use even more money. But as a broke college student self-waxing sounds like a great skill to save money!

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GiGi Brazilian Bikini Hard Wax
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GiGi Brazilian Bikini Hard Wax Kit
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Schick
Schick Quattro For Women TrimStyle Razor
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