With just 4% of women under 35 in the UK leaving their pubic hair untended, intimate hair removal is an extremely and increasingly lucrative industry. According to the 2016 Cosmo/ YouGov poll, 47% of this age group opt for a full Hollywood (all off). In terms of national identity, it's certainly a strong look.
As we breathe through the pain and try not to tense up on the table, waiting for those sweet words, "Right, all done, now lift your legs up and pull the cheeks apart," what else goes through our minds? Do we muse on the female condition? Or just think about that afternoon meeting? And more importantly, what's she thinking? Has she really seen it all before?
Relationships with intimate waxers are something else. They've likely seen you in more detail and under brighter lights than anyone in your life. In Argentina, it's common to kiss and hug your bikini waxer before you go in, for her to hold your hand after a painful strip, use comforting words, and a little fan to cool the area.
As we're talking about body hair in all its glory on Refinery29 this week (#HotFuzz), we decided to book in for an intimate wax with our favourite professional. From how far the average bikini line goes, to the strange artistic requests she's received, we asked her everything we could think of about pubic hair and vagina discrepancy, while breathing through the pain.
How long have you been a beautician?
Almost 10 years.
Do you like doing bikini waxes?
Yes, it’s one of my specialty areas. I use a really good wax which is fairly painless, and people like that.
How many vaginas do you see a day?
About 10 a day.
Are all vaginas different?
They’re mostly the same. I’ve only seen a handful of very different-looking ones… I need a moment for that, you know?
How large is the average pubic hair area? How far outside of the knickers do pubic hairs generally go?
Most pubic areas stay within the knicker line, I would say that’s the ‘average’. But then some people have hairs which go onto their thighs. But usually, it’s pretty hidden under the knickers.
How often should you really have waxes?
I recommend my clients come back every four weeks. If you leave it longer than that, your hairs can get really long, so if that’s the case, I ask my clients to prepare for their wax by trimming before they come in.
What is the best way to trim hairs?
Just pull the hair off your skin and cut off whatever goes over your fingers.
How many times do you have to have a wax before it stops hurting? Does that ever happen?
After three sessions, you will feel the difference in your hair growth and your pain, but only if you do it every four weeks.
How bad is shaving and hair removal cream really?
It’s bad in that it affects your waxing. If you shave or use hair removal cream, your regrowth is all over the place. So you basically don’t get the full benefits of waxing if you shave in between. And it’s not cheap to get a wax, so if you’re shaving in between, you aren’t getting your money’s worth.
In general, are you judging half as much as we think you are?
I’m not a judgemental person. I’m a professional. I don’t talk about clients afterwards unless it is really an unusual case. Or if someone turns up and they haven’t prepared themselves, and they’re quite smelly. That sort of thing doesn’t happen every week, it’s quite rare, so when it does I might moan about it with a colleague or close friend but it’s just the same as moaning about any difficult or unpleasant situation at work.
Any horror stories?
I’ve had one or two clients who haven’t prepared themselves before they come. One or two clients have had poo stains on their bum. That actually pisses me off. I tend to not talk to those people much.
Do people come in with tampons in/ get waxed on their period?
I personally don’t mind doing a bikini wax if someone has a tampon in. As long as they’re clean around it. They usually tell me that they have one in, and that’s courteous. But if it’s a new client and they haven’t told me and they just expect me to be ok with it, I find that quite discourteous. I don’t chat much to those clients.
How many people have innies versus outies?
More people have innies than outies but both are normal.
How many people get their asshole waxed?
The majority. The odd one might say, ‘Oh no, that doesn’t bother me’ but most people get it done.
How many people have Hollywoods/ Brazilians/ just the sides?
Maybe 60% get Hollywoods, everything off, a lot of younger women prefer everything off. Older ladies, maybe 30+, like a bit of hair – most get a thin strip on their Brazilian. And then the odd younger girl asks for a triangle.
Do people ever ask you for shapes?
Yes. One girl wanted me to do a Playboy bunny. I haven’t had training in that, I don’t know how! I declined.
How old was she?
Mid-20s. A few clients tell me they want a certain shape because that’s what their boyfriend or husband likes. Things like, ‘My partner likes a thin, straight strip, so do that please’ or ‘My partner likes everything off’. Which makes me feel weird because I think women should wax for themselves, if it makes them feel good or clean or whatever, not for a guy. If you want to remove hair, do it for yourself.
What kinds of things do people tell you about while they’re getting waxed?
All sorts of things. I have a relationship with all of my clients, so we talk about anything and everything. There are no limits. Which makes sense. It’s an intimate thing, it’s called ‘intimate waxing’ and if you’re comfortable enough to get your vagina out, you’re comfortable enough to talk about everything.
Do some people feel the pain more than others?
It really just depends on people’s pain thresholds. Sometimes when you’re due on your period, or you’ve just come off, you can be more sensitive to pain. That’s normal. I have a few clients who scream. It’s torture for them. They hold onto my arm and push my arm while I’m trying to pull off the wax. Or they’ll grab onto the bed.
Do you think it’s more painful for women of colour?
It can be if the hair is coarse, thick and curly. For example afro hair can hurt more, just because it’s stronger hair. But some people have fine hair and still find it very painful.
How to actually stop ingrown hairs?
It really depends on the person’s aftercare. If you wax regularly, I’d always recommend doing an exfoliation once a week with an exfoliation scrub just using your hands, don’t use a glove, as it’s a sensitive area. And moisturise the area daily. If you cycle a lot, or you work out a lot, the friction can cause ingrowns, especially if your hairs are getting weaker and weaker from waxing, that can cause ingrown hairs too. And if you moisturise too much, or too little, or your moisturiser is too thick, all these things cause ingrowns. Most people though suffer from ingrown hairs, it’s normal.
What's the one thing you wish people would do before they come for a wax?
I just wish everyone prepared. Going to the toilet before they come into the room, and cleaning themselves. I go over the area with a cleanser anyway, but I think it is the client’s responsibility. If you’re coming from work, or whatever, then just wiping yourself down makes a big difference for me.
What do you learn about women doing this job?
You can’t be judgemental. I love meeting new people. I want my clients to be comfortable and that is my responsibility. I have to be professional, as well as outgoing. My job is to make people feel comfortable and give them a good experience, and of course, a thorough wax.
More From The Hot Fuzz Series:
The Secret History Of Hair Removal
This Is How Much Time & Money We Spend On Hair Removal A Year
Laser Hair Removal Made Me Hairier
Let's Get Real About Body Hair
We Are All Hairy Beings – Male, Female, Cis Or Trans
Conversations People Have With Me About My Body Hair
What It's Like To Date With 'Excess' Facial & Body Hair