Bikini Wax, What To Know Before You Bare It All
Serious beach and bikini season is upon us, and for some women, the only way to show up at the pool or the ocean is after they have had a bikini wax. Before you decide to bare it all, there are some things you should know about a bikini wax, including the Brazilian bikini wax.
What is a bikini wax?
The term “bikini wax” refers to the removal of pubic hair in and around the pubic area (also known as epilation), usually by women but also by men, using wax. Although a bikini wax is a popular way to remove pubic hair, other methods are also employed, such as shaving, use of depilatory creams, trimming, and sugaring (see "An alternative to bikini wax" below).
Not every bikini wax is the same, and the names given to the different types circumnavigate the globe: American, French, and Brazilian wax are common names for various forms of waxing. Of these, the Brazilian wax is the most extreme because it typically involves removing all hair, front and back, from the pelvic region.
Other types of bikini waxing leave varying amounts of pubic hair, and so the risks associated with hair removal are not the same for all forms of the procedure. But there are risks nonetheless—as well as pain.
Risks of bikini waxing
Pubic hair exists for a reason: to protect the mucous membranes and sensitive skin of the genital area. Removing the hair takes away the protection. When wax is used to remove the hair, the process can also strip away tiny pieces of skin (ouch!), which then places individuals at risk of ingrown hairs, folliculitis (infected hair follicles, and skin infections, such as cellulitis and staph.
Do you have a chronic condition or disease such as psoriasis, diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, eczema, or HIV? Then you are at greater risk of infection, and a bikini wax should be marked off your to-do list, according to Linda K. Franks, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the New York University School of Medicine in a recent Women’s Health article.
A case of life-threatening Streptococcus pyogenes and herpes infection was reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases concerning a 20-year-old Australian woman with type 1 diabetes who had a Brazilian bikini wax done at a beauty salon. Although there are few formal reports of such cases, women should be aware that a bikini wax can be dangerous.
To be safe, it is best to consult your healthcare provider before having a bikini wax, whether you do it yourself or you visit a facility.
About bikini waxing
Speaking of facilities, if you and your healthcare provider do determine it is safe for you to consider a bikini wax, be sure to choose a facility staffed by licensed cosmetologists or aestheticians who are trained in waxing. Even then, there is no guarantee you will not experience side effects from the procedure.
A professional bikini wax should include the use of hard wax, which does not stick to the skin and thus reduces the risk of infection. Another type of wax, speed wax, is easier to use but it can damage the skin.
If a technician is performing the bikini wax, be sure she does the following:
- Sanitizes her hands before starting the procedure
- Checks the temperature of the wax before applying it to your skin
- Uses a new spatula for each application of wax. Reusing a spatula exposes you to possible bacteria contamination
- If you are doing your own bikini wax, you should follow the same basic safety measures.
After your bikini wax
After your bikini wax, use an over-the-counter antibiotic cream and a 1% hydrocortisone cream to protect against infection and inflammation. These products should be applied for several days after the waxing.
At the same time, check the waxed area for signs of infection. You should see a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you develop fever, cuts or sores, peeling skin, a burning or itching sensation, or inflammation. Tiny bumps may develop, indicating ingrown hairs that can easily become infected.
An alternative to bikini wax
If you really want to be bare down there and would also like to reduce your risk of infection and reduce the pain, then sugaring may be a good alternative for you. Sugaring pastes contain natural ingredients such as sugar, water, lemon juice, and glycerin, with essential oils in some products.
You can buy sugaring kits or even make your own paste. Sugaring as a way to remove pubic hair has several advantages over traditional bikini waxing, and the technique is discussed in an upcoming article.
Bikini waxing is a painful cosmetic procedure that can expose you to a variety of health risks. If you have any questions about bikini waxing at all, consult your healthcare provider before taking the plunge, whether you want to do it at home or at a professional facility.