Waxing Wednesday: What is the difference between a regular bikini wax, a french bikini wax and a brazilian bikini wax?
On my menu I offer three kinds of bikini waxing: a standard bikini, a french and a brazilian. Other estheticians might have slightly varying definitions but I have some very easy to understand guidelines about what qualifies for each wax.
Standard Bikini: This wax will remove the hair that will fall out of a standard pair of underwear - Think upper inner thighs and just slightly more inward. Often clients will ask me to wax the top part of the pubic hair down half an inch or so just to make it look a little more shapely.
French Bikini: A french bikini is most delicately described as removing the hair that would fall outside of a pair of thong underwear. This wax style removes more of the pubic hair inward and from the top but does not encroach on the labia. It does, however, remove the hair around the anus.
Brazilian Bikini: In the most basic terms a brazilian wax is EVERYTHING. You can request a strip or a small triangle at the top of the pubis bone but the notable feature (and where the important skill set comes into play!) is that a brazilian removes the hair from your labia and around the anus.
Pro Tip: Your anus has very few nerve endings and as a result has a relatively small amount of sensitivity to hair removal. The most nerve endings are located at the top of the pubis bone (think where the "landing strip" reaches its lowest point). Coupled with the fact that most women have a dense growth of hair this is usually the most sensitive area.
You know you're in pain, you know there is something hard in your body causing that pain and you know that when someone kneads it in just the right way that pain releases (maybe after briefly elevating that pain higher) - but what is actually happening in your body? What is a muscle knot? My clients ask me this more than any other question - and the short answer is that we don't really know.
Many researchers believe that what we think of as knots are myofacial trigger points that occur when specific muscle fibers are continuously misused. For instance - bad posture or poor body mechanics in a task that is constantly repeated. This causes the muscles to contract in certain areas and also restricts blood flow.
I have often compared this to an old school telephone cord. As we stretched out the coils, released them back, twisted them around our fingers and tangled them up within themselves they would eventually become misshapen. The knots and tangles of the telephone cord are independent of any outside source. If the myofacial trigger point theory is correct then this is true of our muscles. We stretch them, bend them, overuse them and then the fibers tangle up on themselves.
However, according to the New York Times some researchers claim that "knots" rarely show up on body scans which leads them to believe that the pain would be more likely a misfiring of signals of nerves to the brain.
Even if that is the case, breaking up those neural transmissions so they can reform correctly is still the appropriate way to solve that problem. So while we don't know for certain what a knot is we do know that relief can often be found in the form of a well performed massage.
It seems unfathomable that after the drama, horror and embarrassment of your teenage years that suddenly, well into adulthood, acne would steer it's ugly head back your way. More than 50% of adults over the age of 25 suffer from adult onset acne. Below you will find ways to treat them without compromising your skin.
First, lets start by identifying where you're having your breakouts.
Chin/Jawline: These are hormonal breakouts and the most common form of adult acne I treat. Women will typically notice these popping up right before their cycle, when they're pregnant, after they give birth or anytime their hormones might be making a major swing in one direction or another. (If men are experiencing breakouts in the chin and jawline but are otherwise healthy this is probably an issue with shaving or regrowth of beard hair)
Forehead: Internally this can be a digestive issue, externally this could be a hair product issue.
Cheeks: If major organs are having issues then the cheeks are where we see the external result of that. However, clean your cell phone and wash your make up brushes before you send yourself into a health panic!
So what can you to treat it? Standard acne medication is marketed for teenage skin which is typically oily and pliable. As you age your skin becomes drier and doesn't have the same speedy healing abilities it once did. Typical acne treatments contain benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Both of these ingredients are great at killing the bacteria that causes acne but they also have the potential of zapping everything else your skin needs to stay balanced and look great. There are several approaches to treat the acne that are more appropriate for aging skin.
Retinol: This form of Vitamin A is great at killing acne bacteria as well as stimulating collagen and elastin to simultaneously heal the break out faster and counteract signs of aging. However, most forms of retinol can be very sensitizing and drying on the skin so it must be used in moderation and with proper precautions such as daily sunscreen and no facial waxing.
Glycolic: Glycolic is another antibacterial acid but unlike it's teenage acne fighting counterparts it is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid which means its holds moisture on your skin. This is great news for keeping skin looking youthful, feeling hydrated and looking plump.
Vitamin C: While not able to kill an active pimple, topically applied Vitamin C is a great defender for your skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that slows down the rate of free-radical damage and reverses DNA damage. The benefits result in the overall health and appearance of your skin and gently helps to make your skin stronger and more capable of fighting off those annoying bumps.
Preparing your skin before and after hair removal is an important component of a successful wax. Here are a few tips to give you the most long lasting and least painful waxing experience!
Your skin will be the most sensitive when your hormone levels are high. For most women this is the week before their menstrual cycle. The week following the cycle is the lowest point on the hormonal scale and as such will be the least uncomfortable time to receive a wax.
Taking an anti-inflammatory medication, such as ibuprofen, an hour before your treatment is a great way to keep redness and pain down, as well. It should go without saying but medication should only be taken if it is appropriate for you.
Most of the actual wax treatment is out of your control. Tensing your muscles only intensifies nerve function so try not to clench. I say try because I understand that wanting to be relaxed and being relaxed are not the same thing!
If your skin is red or painful for a few hours following the wax try icing the area to calm down the skin and reduce irritation. Hydrocortisone cream is also a great way to calm the area.
The best way to prevent ingrown hairs is to keep the area exfoliated. This can be done in a number of ways - a topical scrub or rough loofah are considered "mechanical exfoliation". Gentle acids, such as salicylic which dissolve dead skin cells, are called "chemical exfoliation". For more sensitive areas, such as the face and bikini area, I would recommend a body wash or lotion with a low percentage of salicylic acid. For the durable areas of your body like your arms, legs or back then a good loofah or tough scrub will keep those empty follicles clear so the hair won't get trapped on it's regrowth.
Hair grows in cycles so for best results get your waxing done every 4 - 6 weeks. After a few sessions you will find that all of your hair is being removed at the same time which means all of your hair will grow back at the same time. The result will be the maximum amount of silky smoothness!