14 Ways to Make a Bikini Wax Less Painful

Updated 10/28/19

Bikini waxes can feel terrible, even downright masochistic at times, but I still continue to get them. It’s a personal preference—I feel more confident, clean, and even more powerful after a good wax. I don’t choose to do it for any romantic partner, it’s simply a choice I make for myself. Three cheers for self love (even if it can sting a bit), right? If you’re like me and opt to sustain a bit of pain for your beauty treatments, I’ve whipped up a guide (with the help of waxing experts from Spruce & Bond and Strip Ministry of Waxing) on how to make waxing way less uncomfortable, and possibly relaxing!

I’ve broken down my easy tips and tricks to perform before, during, and after your treatment. Keep reading, and you’ll be ready to make your next appointment free of anxiety.

less painful bikini wax
Michela Buttignol/Byrdie

Before

1. Use an exfoliation serum or scrub a few days before your wax. Spruce & Bond specialist Nikki Babian recommends the all-natural Whish product line because it works gently on the skin while still totally effective. Strip’s lead wax expert, Natalia Romanenko, loves the Malin + Goetz Peppermint Body Scrub ($35), and recommends using it to exfoliate the waxed area once or twice a week.

Malin + Goetz Peppermint Body Scrub $35
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2. Hard and strip waxes are less harsh on the skin. These methods are formulated to grip hair (not skin, ouch!) so even your most sensitive areas will see fewer ingrown hairs. “It’s created specifically for sensitive areas, and it opens up pores and follicles to ensure hair comes out easier, which reduces the pain and prolongs smooth, hairless results. Soft wax, with it’s stickier texture, is best used for less sensitive areas like legs,” says Romanenko.

Do not be afraid to ask your wax specialist what kind of wax they use, specifically if it’s hard or soft If you’re vegan, you can seek out professionals who use beeswax as well.

Do not be afraid to ask your wax specialist what kind of wax they use. This will tell you if it is hard or soft as well as if it is a bee wax (great to know if you are vegan).

3. Everyone has different thresholds of pain (think about how you react to a splinter. Do you scream in pain or calmly walk to the bathroom for tweezers? We support both reactions!). Your body is much more sensitive around your period, so it’s best to plan for a wax during a different time of the month. “Try not to wax at least five days before or during your period. A sweet spot is three to four days after your period, since a woman's pain tolerance is typically higher right after her menstrual cycle,” suggests Romanenko.

4. Although not everyone needs it, you can take a pain reliever 30 to 45 minutes before your wax. It will generally ease the pain and your mind.

5. Brace yourselves, because this is the most important tip I can offer you on your waxing journey: be very careful about cheap waxes and DIYs. There are certainly techniques and products that work and can be performed at home, but I’ve never been skilled enough to use them. Romanenko says, “To better the process, leave it to the experts who are strict about practicing safe wax etiquette to prevent any disturbing infections.”

During

6. Speed and efficiency is key when it comes to keeping pain at a minimum. Think about removing a band-aid—you want to do it as swiftly as possible. It’s best to have a specialist who can focus on technique and tend to your particular needs, ensuring the process can be as quick and productive as possible

7. I know it sounds strange, but try your best to relax your body while you’re on the table. If you release a bit on your inner control, the experience can actually be meditative! Romanenko adds: “Take deep breaths while you're being waxed, it will help clear your mind and reduce any tension before the next strip.

8. In the same vein, it might be helpful for you to distract yourself from the pain or awkwardness by listening to music or flipping through a magazine. The more normal waxing becomes, the less you’ll freak out. Maybe we should all share a waxing playlist on Spotify? Just a thought.

After

9. If you’re planning on hitting the gym, avoid working out for at least six to eight hours post-wax. Your skin will be most sensitive at that time, and that means rashes and irritation can occur, ultimately leading to more pain. We must avoid chafing at all costs!

10. Make sure to change into cotton underwear and avoid super-tight clothing for the rest of the day. “Cotton is definitely the way to go after a wax. Even though lace may be prettier, it can carry sweat and bacteria that will lead to infection or ingrown hairs,” explains Babian.

11. Let your hair grow back to a quarter of an inch (about the length of a grain of rice) before coming in for your next appointment. If your hair is too short, the wax may not be as effective and if it's too long, you could wind up experiencing more pain and discomfort.

12. Stop shaving! Shaving causes terrible pain and itchiness and it makes your hair grow back thicker. Once, I did a quick shave in a bind before a vacation and my specialist knew when I went back in for an appointment. It really makes a difference! “Once you start waxing, do it regularly (removing shaving from your beauty regimen) and your hair will grow much thinner—making for far less painful waxes thereafter,” says Romanenko.

13. Moisturizing after waxing will help to keep your skin hydrated, which will eliminate the potential for tearing and discomfort during your next wax appointment. And just like moisturizing, exfoliating helps to keep your skin soft and glowing. I’m partial to the Fur Stubble Cream ($38) for once the hair starts to grow back in.

Fur Stubble Cream $38
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14. While standing in a steamy shower might just be the best feeling in the world , don’t take hot showers or steam baths for 24 hours after your appointment. It’ll dry out and irritate your skin, causing redness, soreness, or both.

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