The Bare Truth About Brazilian Bikini Waxes
They aren’t always safe, so don’t take it all off until you read this
When the weather warms up, thoughts turn to barbecues, beaches and, if you’re a woman, bikini lines. So it's easy to understand why Brazilian bikini waxes — a cosmetic procedure that uses hot wax to remove most or all pubic hair — have become so popular.
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One recent study found that almost 60 percent of American women aged 18 to 24 go “bare down there” by shaving or waxing at least sometimes. So do almost half of women aged 24 to 29. But are Brazilians safe?
In fact, there are some risks involved, experts warn. In 2013, researchers in Nice, France, announced a finding that made headlines: Of 30 patients who sought treatment for a sexually transmitted infection called Molluscum contagiosum, which causes benign but unsightly bumps, 93 percent of them had removed their pubic hair. A third of the patients also had some other type of skin problem, including bacterial infection and warts.
Though the researchers couldn’t prove that a lack of pubic hair had made the women’s skin vulnerable, there was a definite association. The conclusion: Going bare down there might raise a person’s chances of contracting skin infections.
In fact, on this side of the pond, the state of New Jersey nearly banned genital waxing altogether in 2009, after two women were hospitalized with post-wax infections. Brazilian waxing also carries a risk of burns, skin irritation, ingrown hair and hair-follicle infections.
Have your wax and stay safe too
Does that mean women should bid “adeus” to Brazilian bikini waxes? Not necessarily, says dermatologist Tabasum Mir, MD, owner of MirSkin Cosmetic Dermatology in Manhattan. “Brazilians aren’t risk-free, but with the right precautions, they can be safe,” she reassures. Follow her tips to minimize the chances of a bikini-wax boo-boo.
Go to a clean salon with a licensed, experienced staff. And look around: Check for disposable sheets on the waxing table, disposable gloves on the waxing technician’s hands and single-use wooden or plastic applicators for the wax. Don’t hesitate to ask the person who’ll be performing your Brazilian wax about her training.
“In the wrong or inexperienced hands, getting a Brazilian can result in burns, ripped skin, infection, and rarely, if the salon’s hygiene practices are poor, transmission of STDs,” Dr. Tabasum warns. Too many bad waxes could leave skin chronically irritated (which can lead to scratching, inflammation and infection) or [T4] .
Take control of temperature. Before the technician gets down to work, ask for test patch so you can feel how hot the wax is.
Watch out for double dipping. The person waxing you shouldn’t be putting the sticks back into the pot, since it can spread infection. It’s fine to politely ask her to use a new stick with each swipe.
Give your tush some TLC. “You’ve just exfoliated — removed a layer of skin — so treat the area gently,” Dr. Mir recommends. Wear loose-fitting clothing home from the salon and sleep without undies that night. (For extra protection from infection, apply a thin layer of antibiotic ointment at bedtime.)
Hands off the waxed area for at least three hours afterward. (No intimate contact either.) Keep the area dry and steer clear of hot showers or baths for at least six to 12 hours.
Don’t add insult to injury. Wait at least 24 hours before visiting an indoor tanning salon. Better yet, steer clear of tanning beds altogether.
Wait to work out. “If you exercise, perspiration will enter the open hair follicles and irritate the area,” Dr. Mir explains. “Give it a day or so before resuming your exercise routine.”
Not prepared to take all these cautionary steps? Going natural has its benefits: “Pubic hair does have a purpose. It provides a cushion against friction and protection from bacteria and other unwanted pathogens,” says Dr. Mir. But if you still want that smooth look — without risking salon side effects, “trimming pubic hair with a sterilized electric razor is an option,” she says.