Waxing isn't exactly a standard dinner-table topic, so most people looking for a first-time wax tend to get their information on the subject from the internet. The problem with that is, when it comes to Hollywood and Brazilian waxes, people often conflate the two. This very quickly becomes a problem when, come waxing time, you ask the technician for something you don't actually want. Yes, Hollywood and Brazilian waxes both involve the removal of most of the hair down there, but there is, in fact, a difference between the two.
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.
The process can be different depending on where you go, says Grupenmager. "Specifically, at Uni K, the process 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," she explains. "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."
So how does this differ from a basic bikini wax or a French bikini wax? "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," Grupenmager says. "A French bikini wax is just another word for a Brazilian bikini [wax] without the buttocks. Your waxer will take off most of your pubic hair in the front, leaving a small triangle or rectangular strip."
Fun fact: "Men are the fastest growing demographic in the waxing industry," Grupenmager says. "According to a study published in JAMA, men are gaining on women when it comes to grooming their pubic hair. Eighty-five percent of our male customers come in for a bikini service; at Uni K Wax we call this a commando."
What Is a Hollywood Wax?
A Hollywood wax is when all of the hair is removed—the front, the middle, and all the way to the backside, leaving you entirely bare.
Bikini, Brazilian, French—you're getting a world-class crash course on waxing here. And that brings us to the famous Hollywood wax which is actually just another term for a full Brazilian bikini wax, according to both Grupenmager and Marie. 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). Just cleaning up a little bit of hair outside the underwear is going to take way less time and product than thoroughly removing all of the pubic hair. A Hollywood wax takes more time, and possibly a different technician, than a bikini line wax does.
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. Fortunately, it gets easier over time.
"Waxing removes hair from the root, so the new hair growth is weaker and sparser than if [you] shaved," Grupenmager says. She adds that touchups are usually needed every four to six weeks if you want to keep it bare down there.
Immediately after waxing, "Do not exercise or wear tight, sweaty clothes," Marie says. "Your skin is so fresh after a wax and the pores are still open and susceptible to bacteria. Instead, just take it easy the rest of the day."
She adds, "Between visits, you should be exfoliating and moisturizing every day. Exfoliating helps to remove excess dead skin, while moisturizing helps keep the healthy skin nourished." She recommends their Reveal Me Body Exfoliating Gel ($40) and their Paradise Strut Body Lotion ($18), available at European Wax Centers.
You never should feel locked into any one kind of bikini wax. At the end of the day, go with your personal preference.
Gaither TW, Awad MA, Osterberg EC, Rowen TS, Shindel AW, Breyer BN. Prevalence and Motivation: Pubic Hair Grooming Among Men in the United States. Am J Mens Health. 2017;11(3):620-640. doi:10.1177/1557988316661315