A Brazilian wax removes hair from everywhere down under and is getting more popular every year for Carnival, in tandem with costumes offering less and less coverage.
It's not to be confused with a bikini wax, which removes the hair from your panty line so when you wear a bikini, it's a smoother feel and visual.
Now that you know the difference, let's get to the details.
I'm playing mas for the first time in several years and my costume leaves very little to the imagination, but that's one of the evolutions of mas, so I'm not complaining. My sister recommended that I get a Brazilian wax, and my editor, on hearing this, decided our readers would benefit from hearing about the experience.
So here I am, baring it all for the world.
I'll be honest, I was afraid of the Brazilian wax on many levels. On one hand, I have a low tolerance for pain. One hour before going to my appointment, I listened to my friend tell me about the convergence of nerves in the pubic region and why hair removal would be obviously painful. I didn't find this helpful. Sometimes the truth isn't best.
Also, outside of sexual activity, I don't casually expose myself to other adults. It just seems awkward and uncomfortable.
Despite my trepidation, I walked from our office to L'Image Parfait and met with aesthetician Christy Joseph.
Joseph has been waxing vulvas for about ten years. She's seen and touched so many, she can't give an estimate.
While Joseph said as people get more and more conscious about hygiene, waxing has been getting more popular, she also said the demand for the service increases exponentially at Carnival time.
My first question to her was: "Will this hurt?"
Her answer? "Yes. But not as much as you think, and it will get better."
I have no proof that it will get better. At the time of writing this article I successfully underwent one, and had also booked an appointment for a second.
"The biggest misconception is the pain," Joseph told me. "I used to over-exaggerate the pain factor so when my clients actually did it, they would feel some relief when they realised it isn't that bad. The thing is, the pain isn't there all the time. It stings. Then it stops."
Joseph acknowledged that the level of pain is different for everyone, though, so bear that in mind.
Aside from the pain, Joseph said the other concern was the discomfort about opening up. And yes, you will end up spread-legged, on a table with a hand pressing against your pubic mound. I hope you aren't shy.
Fortunately for me, Joseph made it a priority to distract me and I wasn't at all uncomfortable during the process.
"Women tend to feel they have an ugly vagina and they also ask me about it sometimes. There is no such thing. A vagina looks like a vagina. There are differences, but none of them are ugly. I really try to help women get comfortable, because it is very intimate. If I could wax in the dark to make them comfortable I would, but that isn't an option."
Joseph led me to a room, asked me to strip from the waist down and told me to cover myself with a towel. She left while I followed her instructions, despite the fact that within minutes she would see more of me than most people had ever seen.
She talked me through it and when I asked if I could video call my friends during the process, she said yes. I did a quick group call and it began.
Joseph placed the wax on the area below my navel and asked if the temperature was comfortable for me. I confirmed and braced myself as she placed a strip of linen and quickly pulled away. I winced. My friends giggled. The pain wasn't as bad as I expected. I could do this.
Next, she moved to the areas nearest my thighs and repeated the process, explaining as she went along.
The awkwardness from her touching my vulva was quickly replaced by the sting of hair being removed.
When it was time to remove hair from my labia majora (outer folds of the vulva), though, the pain was difficult to tolerate.
While Joseph used regular wax for the other areas, she used hard wax in this area. This, she said, is recommended for people who are new to waxing and people who are a bit more sensitive. Hard wax is allowed to dry enough to firm up, and unlike regular wax, which goes on the skin, hard wax sticks to the hair itself.
If your aesthetician goes this route, brace yourself. It hurts. It's over quickly and the pain doesn't last.
But it definitely hurts.
After cleaning up some stragglers, I was done. Or so I thought.
Joseph asked me to turn to the side so she could remove hair from my butt area and... I won't go into much detail here, but I will say this was the least painful part. It didn't hurt.
After, Joseph used a cold compress, which she said would help close my pores and soothe me, then told me about aftercare before leaving to let me get dressed.
Joseph shared these aftercare tips.
-Avoid underwear for the first night. It's best to allow a free flow of air for maximum comfort.
-Three days later, exfoliate your labia majora and bikini line. This helps you avoid ingrown hairs. Exfoliate once a week afterwards.
-Use cold water when showering. It helps close your pores.
- You may want to schedule your next appointment in a month. If you become a regular waxer, you can wait longer in between waxes.
How to exfoliate
To exfoliate your newly-nude lady bits, scoop a bit of your scrub (which can be store-bought or home made; just make sure it's gentle) into your hands. Use your hands or a soft washcloth to gently scrub along your bikini line and vulva (NOT your vagina) and then let the mixture sit on your skin for three to four minutes before rinsing.
The area is naturally sensitive, so make sure to not over-exfoliate by scrubbing the mixture too hard on your skin. This could leave the skin red and painful, as well as leave the bikini area vulnerable to sun damage.
Although there are many commercial exfoliation products available for purchase, it's easy and inexpensive to make your own at-home ingrown hair scrub with pantry ingredients such as sugar. The sweet stuff works better than other abrasive ingredients (such as salt) because its granules are small and less damaging to the skin. Sugar is also a natural humectant, so it attracts and retains moisture in the skin.
For the bikini and vulva areas, you'll want to use a gentle exfoliant like brown sugar. Combine 1 cup of brown sugar with 1/2 cup of olive or coconut oil. Add essential oils, such as lavender or peppermint, for fragrance. Store the scrub in an airtight container for about four weeks.