Bikini vs. Brazilian Wax: Your Guide To Different Wax Styles
You’re not alone if you find bikini waxes intimidating. Anticipation about the potential pain or letting a stranger see this part of you undressed is a universal experience – and often the worst part of the process. To ease some of this anxiety, educate yourself on the bikini wax process and the (often confusing) studio jargon to help you feel more confident and make the experience less overwhelming. Remember that knowledge is power. Take a deep breath, and rest assured that no professional waxer is judging you.
Decide your desired results ahead of time. While your waxer will consult with you about different options, knowing the difference between a bikini and Brazilian wax and the common styles of each can help you better communicate what you’re looking for and make it easier for your expert to meet your expectations.
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Here’s your full guide on the different bikini and Brazilian wax shapes, what to know about each wax type, what to expect and the most important tips to know before and after your bikini wax.
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Bikini vs Brazilian Wax: What’s The Difference?
A bikini wax removes all of the hair that would be visible when wearing underwear or a bathing suit bottom. Depending on the style you choose, bikini waxes can include just cleaning up the sides or going further inward to eliminate most of the hair surrounding your lady bits. A Brazilian wax leaves (nearly) the entire region bare and involves removing hair from the front, back and sides (sometimes the legs, too, but more on this later).
Different Bikini and Brazilian Wax Shapes:
Standard Bikini Wax
A regular bikini wax removes the hair around the bikini line, including the sides, upper thighs and some off the top. As the name suggests, this bikini wax ensures that there’s no hair sticking out of a traditional bathing suit bottom or bikini-style underwear. Consider getting a regular bikini wax if this is your first appointment or you’re looking to tidy up the area.
Because it’s minimally invasive, a standard bikini wax will be the least painful option among the common bikini and Brazilian wax shapes available. If you’ve been dreading a bikini wax for some time, try this style on your first return visit to ease your nerves and hopefully motivate you to get back into a consistent waxing routine.
Full Bikini Wax (Triangle Bikini Wax)
Also called a triangle bikini wax, the full bikini wax takes more hair off down the sides (near your lady bits) than a regular bikini wax with a more defined, trimmed-down triangle shape at the top. The full bikini wax is the perfect option for someone seeking a more bare look without committing to a Brazilian wax. In terms of pain, a full bikini wax likely will offer a middle ground between a standard bikini and a more comprehensive bikini wax (see below) or Brazilian wax.
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French Bikini Wax (Landing Strip)
Known as the Landing Strip or the French Bikini wax, this type of bikini wax takes all the hair off the front (and sides) except for a tiny strip– typically in a rectangular shape. A French Bikini provides a more hairless look without touching the back or leaving you completely bare. Consider this style if you want a virtually hairless look (and less pain) focused on the front and don’t want to commit to a Brazilian wax.
Mini Brazilian Wax
Also known as a deep bikini wax, the mini Brazilian wax is a hybrid between the landing strip and a full Brazilian wax. Essentially, this wax shape is the same as a front-only Brazilian wax. All of the hair is removed from the front and sides without touching the back. Consider a mini Brazilian wax if you want to take a landing strip wax to the next level without feeling more exposed. This modified Brazilian wax is a great option for a hairless look that doesn’t require any attention to the back. The waxing process for this style will be similar to a bikini wax. The pain level should be similar (if not the same) compared to a full Brazilian wax.
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Full Brazilian Wax
A full Brazilian wax leaves the front, sides and back regions nearly bare. This style removes all the hair front to back (yes, all the way through the buttocks) and down the sides with the option to leave a bit of hair at the top if desired. A full Brazilian wax is consistently one of the most popular wax shapes (although, the land strip wax shape has grown in popularity in recent years). Consider a full Brazilian wax if you prefer thong-style swimwear or feel more confident with a virtually hairless look. Given the results, it should come as no surprise that a full Brazilian wax will have a relatively higher pain level than a bikini wax.
Hollywood Wax (or Sphinx Wax)
While similar to a full Brazilian, the Hollywood wax leaves no hair behind – at all. This wax shape is perfect for individuals who want to be completely hairless. Due to its clean look, the Hollywood wax should be the most painful type of wax available (although not too different from a typical full Brazilian wax). Never get this wax style if it is your first time getting any type of bikini or Brazilian wax. Try a mini or full Brazilian wax (or both) before opting to get this style. Working your way to a Hollywood wax will make you feel more comfortable with this more invasive process required for the best results when the time comes. Otherwise, this wax might be very painful and feel like a shock to the system.
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Brazilian South Wax
This type of wax combines a full Brazilian and leg wax into one treatment. Selecting this style can save you time or an additional visit to the studio for a leg wax. If you typically shave your legs, consider trying out this combination to save your skin from razor bumps and extend the time between your leg hair removal sessions. While it might extend the time of your session, this extra body treatment should be less painful than a Brazilian wax - making the package’s efficiency worthwhile.
How To Prepare For A Bikini or Brazilian Wax:
Find an Expert: If possible, get a referral from a trusted friend or family member. Do your research, read reviews and call the studio to ensure your esthetician has all of the required licenses. See if the environment and demeanor of the staff seem inviting and informative. Comfort is key to having a smooth (and less painful) waxing experience, so it’s important to feel relaxed in the space. Seeing a well-trained esthetician also makes it less likely for you to experience preventable and uncomfortable side effects, such as skin irritation.
Hair Length Matters: Make sure that your hair is long enough to be waxed. Professional waxers require the hairs to be ¼-½ inches long to perform a bikini or Brazilian wax.
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Be Cycle Conscious: A bikini or Brazilian wax will be more painful in the days leading up to your period. While you can technically get a wax during your period, it will probably be a better experience for you and your esthetician if you schedule your session around your cycle (especially for your first wax appointment).
Stay Clean: Exfoliate 1-2 days before your wax and shower either the night before or the morning of your appointment.
Minimize Pain: Don’t drink caffeine or alcohol within 24 hours of your wax. These substances are blood thinners, dehydrate your skin and increase its sensitivity. Apply Zensa Numbing Cream around the bikini area for around 30-40 minutes for best results. Never numb the area with ice (this method will tighten the skin).
Best Bikini (or Brazilian) Wax After-care Practices:
Maintain Skin Hygiene: Keep your skin routine simple and consistent. Only use fragrance-free and chemical-free body products. Shower with lukewarm water a few hours after and in the days following your bikini wax. Apply a moisturizing lotion like Zensa Healing Cream after getting out of the shower (and as needed throughout the day) for optimal hydration.
Expect Bumps & Swelling: Small red bumps commonly occur around the bikini area. This mild skin irritation comes from swollen hair follicles and should disappear within a couple of days after your wax appointment. Use a cold compress (ice pack) or aloe vera gel to soothe the skin to decrease swelling or itching. Make sure to exfoliate before your wax to keep this side effect to a minimum.
Stay Dry & Out of The Sun: Avoid baths, saunas, sexual activity, high-intensity workouts and swimming for at least 48 hours after your bikini or Brazilian wax. Limit any activities that include friction or sweating. Wear loose-fitting clothing to your appointment and for the next few days. Your empty hair follicles make your skin more sensitive to excess moisture, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria, fungal and other skin infections. For at least 48 hours, keep the area away from direct sun exposure. Your skin is most vulnerable to sun damage during this stage of the healing process and can result in hyperpigmentation, skin dryness or similar sun damage.
Read more on how to prepare, what to expect and the best after-care practices for bikini waxes.
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How painful is a bikini or Brazilian wax?
Everyone’s pain tolerance and experiences differ. As a general rule, the more hair you remove during a waxing session, the more painful the bikini wax will be. Your first bikini or Brazilian wax will hurt the most. Over time, the hair will grow back thinner and the waxing process will hurt less. Do your best to relax during the wax. Tightening your muscles from stress will create tension and make the wax hurt more.
How much do different bikini or Brazilian wax styles cost?
A bikini line to a Brazilian wax should cost around $25-$75 on average. However, the price of a bikini or Brazilian wax will greatly differ among various locations and studios. Always ask about the price for a particular wax shape. Removing a little extra hair can come at a relatively higher cost and will surprise you if you don’t ask ahead of time.
How long does a bikini or Brazilian wax last between appointments?
It is recommended to go at least 3-4 weeks in-between bikini wax appointments. The general timeframe to go between bikini or Brazilian wax appointments is 3-6 weeks (or however long it takes for your hair to grow out to a ¼-inch length). If you plan on getting regular waxes, don’t shave in-between appointments. It is recommended not to shave the bikini area for around 2 weeks before a bikini or Brazilian wax. Keep this in mind when scheduling your first bikini wax (ever or for the first time in a while).