Let's get one thing straight: There’s no right or wrong way to handle your pubic hair, and what you choose to do (or not to do) is totally personal. That said, waxing—a popular form of hair removal—isn't exactly a standard dinner-table topic, so most people looking for some tips re: their first-time wax tend to get their information from the internet. The problem with that? When it comes to Brazilian and Hollywood waxes, people often conflate the two, and this can very quickly become a problem when, come waxing time, you ask the technician for something you don't actually want.
True, both Hollywood and Brazilian waxes involve the removal of most of the hair down there, but there is, in fact, a difference between the two. We tapped the wisdom of Uni K Wax founder Noemi Grupenmager along with Helene Marie, waxing pro at European Wax Center.
Meet the Expert
Ahead, learn the difference between a Hollywood wax and Brazilian wax.
What Is a Brazilian Wax?
A Brazilian wax leaves a small strip of hair (triangle-, square-, rectangle-, or oval-shaped) at the front of the pubic area while removing all surrounding hair, including the hair on your backside. Your next question may be, how does this differ from a basic bikini wax or a French bikini wax? Grupenmager explains: "A bikini wax is where we wax your panty line and across the top, so if you are wearing a bikini, it prevents any hairs from peeking out. A French bikini wax is just another word for a Brazilian bikini [wax], but without the buttocks. Your waxer will take off most of your pubic hair in the front, leaving a small triangle or rectangular strip."
What Is a Hollywood Wax?
Unlike a Brazilian wax (which leaves behind a strip of hair), a Hollywood wax is when all of the hair is removed—from the front to the middle and all the way to the backside, leaving you entirely bare. Both Grupenmager and Marie explain that a Hollywood wax is actually just another term for a full Brazilian bikini wax—the former term was adopted at some salons because of the service's popularity in Hollywood.
It's particularly important to keep the differences in mind when deciding on a salon and a treatment, not solely because price points vary for different styles (although that is a big factor), but because a simple clean up of hair that's outside the underwear will be less time-consuming than going full-throttle and removing all of the pubic hair. A Hollywood wax takes more time, and possibly a different technician, than a bikini line wax does.
What Is the Waxing Process Like For Each?
The process of a Brazilian wax can differ depending on where you go. "Specifically, at Uni K, it begins with a preparation of the skin with our natural pre-depilatory toner. Once the skin is prepped, we apply Uni K powder (100 percent corn starch) and we proceed to apply thin layers of our all-natural, gluten-free wax, which is always applied at body temperature. Our pine-based proprietary elastic-wax formula is created with pure, honest ingredients for optimal comfort on the most sensitive skin," explains Grupenmager. "When the waxing process is finished, we apply a cold pack to close the pores and protect the skin with our post depilatory bikini gel."
Hollywood waxes are essentially done the same way, with the addition of waxing your backside. Keep in mind that if you're new to waxing, it's most comfortable to work your way from a regular bikini wax to a Brazilian, and then to a Hollywood. Waxing your bikini area bald from the get-go has the potential to cause a little more pain and irritation than you may have bargained for. (Don't worry, it gets easier over time.)
Marie warns to avoid exercising or wearing tight, sweaty clothes immediately post-waxing. "Your skin is so fresh after a wax and the pores are still open and susceptible to bacteria," she says. "Instead, just take it easy the rest of the day." And when it comes to taking care of the delicate skin in between visits, Marie recommends exfoliating and moisturizing every day. "Exfoliating helps to remove excess dead skin, while moisturizing helps keep the healthy skin nourished," she explains.
Unlike shaving, waxing removes hair from the root. That said, Grupenmager says that touchups are usually needed every four to six weeks if you want to keep it bare down there.
Shop Waxing Care Products
Whether you choose a Brazilian wax or a Hollywood wax, here are our favorite products to keep in your arsenal.
Specifically designed for the pubic area, this weightless oil keeps ingrown hairs at bay while softening the skin.
Marie recommends this exfoliating gel for its ability to slough away dead skin cells with a powerful (yet non-abrasive) formula.
Slather on a light layer of this ultra-soothing serum to offer some relief to bumps, burns, and irritation.
Nervous about the ouch-factor? Give yourself some peace of mind with this over-the-counter numbing cream pre-wax.