Beauty Is Pain

Beauty Is Pain

Does having your eyebrows freshly plucked inspire self-confidence? How about a bikini wax, or even a chemical peel?

There are many beauty treatments on the market today – and not all of them are painless. From lip waxing to getting a fresh tattoo, you may even wonder what possessed you to think these were good ideas in the first place.
We surveyed over 1,000 Americans about beauty treatments most worth the pain and compared them to other ailments. Is getting a bikini wax worse than having kidney stones? What about being stung by a bee? Or breaking a bone? Keep reading to find out.

How Much Does It Hurt?

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No one said staying beautiful would be easy. In fact, the entire beauty industry is expected to be worth over $500 billion by 2025. Of course, while serums and lotions may be a good way to keep your skin glowing and gorgeous, not all beauty treatments are easy to bear.

Of the over 1,000 people surveyed about what hurts the most, bikini waxing was rated the most painful, earning nearly a 4 out of 5 on our average pain scale. “Sex and the City” may have made bikini waxes chic and cool, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make women wince in pain after every session. Tattoos came in just behind bikini waxes (which should tell you just how painful those waxes can be) and were rated over a 3.5 on our pain-o-meter.

Other waxing options, like waxing the scrotum or upper lip, also earned high marks for being unpleasant, followed by getting a nose job.

Juice cleanses were rated the least painful of any beauty treatment, rated just under a 2 out of 5. While it may not physically hurt to go through a cleanse, you may experience some unfortunate side effects like diarrhea as you detox your body.

Is It Worth the Pain?

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So if beauty treatments hurt that bad, are they even worth it? According to participants, some definitely are.

People felt scrotal waxing was hardly worth enduring one of the most painful and unpleasant beauty treatments. However, they felt much better about bikini waxing, even though they rated this treatment as more painful.

While plucking facial hair wasn’t considered as painful as some other treatments, this was rated as a more valuable experience by those surveyed. Having facial hair plucked was even found to be less painful than eyebrow waxing but more likely to be worth it.

Tattoos, one of the only permanent beauty treatments on our list, were considered the most painful yet most worth the pain. Considering what people have to go through to get them removed, that’s pretty good news.

When Everything Hurts

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If you’ve never had some of these treatments done, you may be wondering how they rank in comparison to other painful ailments.

Thankfully, compared to giving birth, bikini waxing was nowhere near as painful. Similarly, kidney stones, being struck in the groin, and breaking a bone were considered more painful than many of the voluntary beauty treatments listed.

Waxing and tattoos were nothing to laugh at, though. On average, respondents considered waxing their nether regions or getting a tattoo as generally more painful than spraining an ankle or wrist, having back spasms, or being punched.

Juice cleanses were still the least painful beauty treatment, but were more painful than static shock.

Who’s Most Willing to Endure the Pain?

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For men and women, scrotal and bikini waxing were considered the most painful beauty treatments to suffer through.

And while tattoos were the second most painful for both genders, they were seen as beauty treatments most worth the pain. Having a tattoo can help people express themselves, and nearly a third of adults in the U.S. have at least one.

Except for tattoos, men didn’t find any of the most painful beauty procedures to be worth the discomfort. Women, on the other hand, were a little more open to unpleasant experiences. Upper lip waxing was considered more painful than liposuction for women, but totally worth it.

When Men and Women Aren’t Afraid of Pain

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Men don’t get to have an opinion on how much pain women experience when giving birth, but when it came to kidney stones, women had a slightly higher tolerance for pain than men.

Given differences in anatomy, men rated getting kicked in the groin as a more painful experience than women did. However, female participants said breaking a bone, back spasms, spraining an ankle, and even getting punched were more painful. Women even considered tattoos more agonizing than to men.

Among other beauty treatments women found more painful than men: upper lip waxing, nose jobs, electrolysis, and liposuction.

Pain Perspective, by Generation

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For baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, bikini waxing was seen as the most painful beauty treatment overall. Tattoos were also considered the second most painful procedure by all generations.

However, millennials felt getting a tattoo was slightly more painful than having their scrotums waxed, while baby boomers and Gen Xers said the tat was more painful than upper lip waxing.

Given the pain waxing can cause, all three generations said having facial hair plucked was most worth the pain. Lip waxing and eyebrow waxing were also worthy treatments. Baby boomers, though, were the only generation to suggest tattoos might not actually be worth the hype.

Experience the Pain While You’re Young

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Given the litany of beauty treatments on the market today, and the bizarre ways some of them can inflict pain, who’s really willing to try these grueling treatments for the sake of beauty?

Survey respondents in their 20s were the most likely to say the pain was worth it regardless of the treatment. Those in their 30s had a somewhat less favorable opinion of painful beauty treatments than those in their 40s, who were more likely to consider these procedures as worthy investments.

Participants in their 60s or older had the lowest tolerance for these voluntary procedures.

No Pain, No Gain

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To a certain extent, the pain is all in your head – but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel it. The pain associated with beauty treatments isn’t just an abstract construct, but it might not be nearly as bad as you think. In general, people who experienced waxing, plucking, and inking were nearly twice as likely (or more) to say it was worth it.

While only about half of people without tattoos thought the pain was worth the outcome, nearly 87 percent of people with ink knew the pain was a worthy investment. Over a third of those who never had their facial hair plucked thought it was worth doing despite the pain, but nearly 82 percent who did it felt otherwise.

Even with eyebrow waxing and juice cleanses, more than 3 in 4 people who experienced these things said they were worth it, while less than half of people who avoided the pain thought it might be worth the process. It’s true there might be some pain associated with these things – but some of that pain might really be all in your mind.

Dull the Pain

Regardless of age and gender, there’s no denying some of our favorite beauty treatments are more painful than we wish they were. From waxing to tattoos, maybe you’d rather twist your ankle or throw out your back than lay down for one of these experiences.

The good news is there’s a way to dull the pain if you’re unwilling to go without those waxes or fresh new ink. Zensa’s Tattoo Numbing Cream is maximum strength, with 5 percent lidocaine in its formula, and it’s safe to use around sensitive areas. Apply it before your procedure and soak in the effects for two to three hours afterward. Don’t experience unnecessary pain if you don’t have to. As for aftercare, Zensa's Tattoo Lotion ensures your skin heals optimally, while keeping your ink bright and new.


We surveyed over 1,000 Americans about their experiences and views of painful beauty procedures.

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