Not so long ago, I worked for Charm Fashion Agency and my editor trusted me enough to let me write what I wanted. This is what she got.
There’s nothing sexy about at-home hair removal. Commercials romanticize it, depicting a woman reclining in foamy bubble bath with her hair tied up in an elegant chignon at the back of her head. She takes a sip of wine from the glass sitting on a bed of fluffy white towels, then s-l-o-w-l-y traces the razor up her leg that’s (always) a mile long. She smiles at the camera and laughs, and that makes all of us want to rush out and buy the newest sixteen blade razor that’s going to make our lives infinitely more convenient.
In reality, depilation is ugly. More often than not, it’s painful. But that doesn’t matter; as women, we’re expected to be smooth and soft and stubble-free.
To get that silky smooth baby-butt skin, we’re left with an extremely limited set of options. We can shave it, wax it, or literally burn it off of our skin with harsh chemicals. For some, laser hair removal and is an option. It doesn’t seem to matter how your hair disappears, as long as it does.
Since the waxing scene in 40 Year Old Virgin, more and more people have been flocking to estheticians asking for a complete body wax, or at the very least, a quick bikini zone clean-up. It seems that watching Steve Carell suffer for at the hands of a tiny Asian woman for his Man-o’lantern look denuded the populace of inhibitions. Now, you’re not hip unless you’re stripped.
For years, Lady Bic and I have been besties. Then fate stepped in and I began writing for Charm. That meant I had to throw my inhibitions to the wind and accept outrageous challenges, dignity be damned. When I asked my fiancé what he thought I should tackle for my first Beauty Double Dare, he just kind of waggled his eyebrows suggestively in the general direction of my lady bits.
“Really?” I asked. “That’s what you think I should write about? Why don’t I just send them all a big bucket of eyeball bleach while I’m at it?” He just grinned and went back to blowing up Elites with plasma grenades on his Xbox. After all, it wasn’t his hair being torn out.
So I pitched the idea to my editor, and the rest as they say is history. The next day, I found myself standing in the waxing aisle in Ulta, completely befuddled and bewildered. I couldn’t have been more awkward if I had been standing in an adult novelty store in a trench coat, perusing a rack of pleasure aids.
More than once, a sales associate came to check on me, asking me if I was still doing okay, and I have to admit that I really, really wanted to grab this well-intentioned woman by her perfectly ironed shirt collar and scream, “NO! No, I am not okay. Can’t you tell what I am looking at? I’m about to voluntarily inflict pain on myself so I can write about our society’s obsession with the pre-pubescent hairless look, and I’m SCARED.”
Instead, I just stood there, occasionally wincing involuntarily and muttering under my breath. After thirty excruciating minutes, I narrowed my choice down to the Nads Natural Hair Removal Kit ($20) because a) it was in my price range, and b) I vaguely recalled watching an episode of America’s Next Top Model wherein the contestants were subjected to a Brazilian via Nads.
If it’s good enough for Tyra, I reasoned, it’s good enough for me.
Don’t get me wrong. You don’t want to get your next bikini wax in some back alley hair salon, nor do you want to be thrifty with your at home version. If you’ve got the money to burn I recommend the Bliss Poetic At-home Hair Removal Kit (Sephora, $45). Originally developed for use in luxe spas, this low temperature, aromatherapy kit provides all the essentials you need to achieve that bare-down-there your significant other craves. (Except for the tissues you’ll need to wipe up all your pathetic tears and spilled red wine.)
But since I’m your typical mom who’d rather spend her dough on generic truck toy number 4023, I chose the Nads system. (And really? Nads? I know it’s a tribute to the creator’s daughter and all, but COME ON. I could barely suppress my giggles when I was buying the stuff.) Instead of springing for the additional waxing strips, I chose to visit my local fabric store and purchase one yard of muslin, which I attacked with my handy dandy pinking shears to create a slew of 2” by 6” strips.
Once I had my supplies, I had to wait a few weeks to do the deed, so I could, ahem, cultivate the forest. (This is the point at which my editor told me I could not describe my new situation as a 70s style porno bush. But I just did. So there.) Those fourteen days were some of the most uncomfortable in my life, not only because I was dreading the task ahead, but because I’m not used to being so… prickly. Ew.
Finally, the fabled evening arrived. I put the childling to bed early and broke out the finest box of Chardonnay that eight dollars can buy. I poured myself a couple of giant glasses, and prepared everything according the the manufacturer’s recommendations. Beforehand, I had toyed with the idea of making a Marvin Gaye playlist on iTunes, but I decided that someone crooning “Let’s Get it On” in a silky baritone while I ripped my pubic hair out by the roots would be too tacky.
So I sucked my breath and slicked the warm, maple syrup-like mixture. I applied the fabric strip, then rubbed up and down a few times for posterity. After stalling as long as I could…
Black spots danced at the periphery of my vision, and the floor swam frighteningly close.
Let me level with you. I’m familiar with pain. Thanks to my sadistic OB and his decision to completely turn off my epidural at an extremely critical moment, I delivered a baby with a thirteen inch gigantor -pumpkin head in what he laughingly referred to as ‘natural’ child birth. I’m no weenie.
Honestly, it wasn’t that awful, but it did make me question my sanity. And my decision to ever take writing suggestions from my fiance EVER AGAIN. At this point, I was perfectly okay living with a lone, deforested patch. But I carried on, strip by strip, until I was satisfied with my results. Mission accomplished.
Of course there were unsightly strays that the wax left behind, and there was no other way to rid myself of them than to attack the stragglers with tweezers. I’ll spare you the details, but I have to admit that now, thanks to a set of Tweezerman slant tweezers (Sephora, $20) and a 4X magnifying mirror, I’m more familiar with my nether regions than I ever thought I would be.
In the aftermath, I learned a few things. Chief among them is that I’ll never subject myself to that kind of pain in the name of beauty again. Many people tell me it gets easier with each subsequent waxing, but I don’t believe them. That’s like saying that having a second baby ripped from your loins is nowhere near as scarring as your first. Um, hello? Those people are liars. In the future, I’ll stick to my tried and true routine of shaving every couple of days, even if it is inconvenient. I doubt that anyone will give me grief about it.
But if you choose to try waxing, remember these tips to live by:
1)Take a anti-inflammatory like Advil or Tylenol a few hours before you make that first tear. This will help lessen your pain and prevent the swelling of your delicate, um, parts.
2) Remember to exfoliate the area you want to wax before you start. This will help prevent ingrown hairs and an embarrassing doctor’s visit. And don’t try to wax any hair that’s less than a ¼” long, because the wax won’t stick and you’ll just be tugging at your skin.
3) Always pull the waxing strip in the direction OPPOSITE of hair growth. This will vary over your entire hoo-ha, so pay special attention while you are spreading the wax.
4) Have fun with it. Some kits come with stencils. Get creative. It’s your va-jay-jay, and you should be proud to show off your hard work.
5) After you’re finished, apply a soothing cream. I like Bikini Zone Topical Analgesic Gel ($9, Ulta). This miracle elixir temporarily numbs the area, which will help you keep your hands off your newly bare happy places. Follow up by using Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads ($38, Sephora) which has alpha and beta hyroxy acids to stop bumps in their tracks.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy another box of wine. And a vat of chocolate. Because I think I’ve given myself a nice case of PTSD reliving this whole episode while I wrote it.