Half naked and freezing in a pottery studio in Northern New Mexico, I stoke the fire below a double boiler of drugstore wax. Once again, I’m preparing for the task I’ve vowed to never repeat: the DIY Brazilian.
I agree with everyone else on this topic — like electrical wiring and blonde highlights, brazilian waxes are best left to the professionals. But I’ve just moved from the West Village to a farm in the boonies (it’s amazing what love and rent increases will do to a girl), so it’s up to me to maintain the bikini line to which I’m accustomed. The full spectrum of torment from self-wax includes more than just pain and patchiness. Similar to killing a chicken for dinner in lieu of picking up rotisserie, at-home wax leads to all manner of questioning… Do I really want to look pre-pubescent? Is that an extra row of lips? Could I craft a star-shaped landing strip? Wait, why am I doing this?
For me, the last one’s easy. Sure, my boyfriend will appreciate it, but more importantly, with so much change afoot I need to feel like I’m taking care of myself, and right now that includes a bit of vanity.
As always, the inaugural strip goes well. Marveling at the efficiency of hard wax and my deftness with a tongue depressor, I realize that Mom was right, I definitely should have gone to beauty school.
But soon enough I’m frozen in crisis. The phrase ‘my lips are sealed’ takes on new meaning after an ambitiously large swath of wax shifts offsides. I can either rip off each crumbly, over-hardened bit of wax (along with a tuft of hair, if I’m lucky), or submit to a life in which my see-you-next-Tuesday is forever sealed shut. Mulling over my options, I hobble to the kitchen for a glass of wine.
Half a bottle later, I’m largely wax-free and warming up to lowering my expectations. Hubris’ homely partner, cognitive dissonance, sets in–I don’t really need to do a full Brazilian, I can just trim the rest, right? Within the hour I throw in the towel, left with a bikini line that looks less Brazilian and more mange-ridden.
To be fair, these circumstances are highly unfavorable; I maintain that the DIY wax is possible. If you’re just looking to tidy up before the beach, or if you–like me–think underarm shaving is a nuisance, at-home waxing is totally viable. Regardless of one’s yoga practice, though, a Brazilian is tricky. My singular successful Brazilian required reinforcements and flexible sense of propriety. (Were I to write that essay, it would be titled ‘Waxing Diaries, Pt. II: Why my sister sucks, my boyfriend’s amazing, and I’m a terrible partner.’)
For those brave souls eager to be hairless, or at least less hairy, I’ve listed some tips below so that you may avoid the pitfalls of my experience. If you have suggestions of your own, please share those too. Barring a miracle in the form of free laser hair removal, I expect I’ll be down this path again.
1. Use a good, hard wax. I like Nad’s Brazilian & Bikini.
2. Don’t be a hero–this is going to hurt more than the salon, and even those with high pain tolerance can benefit from an Alleve or two.
3. Trimming makes everything easier; you don’t want to catch an errant hair
4. Leave a little extra wax to grip at the end you’re going to pull; longer nails help to get the first bit of wax up, too.
5. Don’t get over-zealous; work in small areas to avoid pain, uneven wax cooling, and accidentally sealing your hoohoo shut.
6. Be realistic; you’re not likely to emerge with a professional grade wax, and unless you have someone to help, the back’s going to be a motherfucker.
7. And lastly, if you’re looking for a ½ inch margin to confidently don swimwear, consider the tweezers. Trust me. It’s quicker, more reliable, and less demoralizing. Get a good pair of tweezers (not the 20-year old pair your mom keeps around) and remember that unlike waxing, you pull in the direction of the hair growth.
With that, I wish you all courage, good luck and Godspeed.
Illustration drawn by Charlotte Fassler