Make sure your hair is the right length
Consider going when you don't have your period
You can get a wax when you have your period. (Just make sure to use a tampon and give your waxer a heads up!) But most experts advise against it, especially if it's your first time. Three days leading up to your period and the days of your period, most people have a lower pain threshold, so the wax could hurt more, says Whitney Bowe, MD, a dermatologist in NYC and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical School.
Do your research and find a reputable salon
Of course, the salon you go to should be completely professional, sanitary, and doesn't double dip. Word of mouth and referrals are often the best way to find the right studio. If a friend has had a good experience somewhere, chances are you will too. And if all else fails, there's Google. When you arrive, trust your instincts. "You get that gut feeling when you walk in whether it’s a place that you feel comfortable going to or not," says Bowe.
Skip the exfoliants a few days before
Keep your skincare regime gentle in the days leading up to your wax. At most, do a very light exfoliation a couple of days before, says Roberts. Anything too harsh will irritate the skin, causing more redness and irritation after the wax.
Take a painkiller the day of your wax
Pain is the number one (and totally legit) concern most first time bikini-waxers have. And though it's unlikely to be as bad as you might imagine, the fact is, it can hurt or cause discomfort to varying degrees. To take the edge off, pop an ibuprofen or aspirin an hour or so before your appointment. "That sort of dials down the amount of inflammation you have on your skin," says Bowe. "You’re less likely to get red and inflamed and you’re more likely to tolerate it from a pain perspective."
Hit the salon in loose clothing
Leave your leggings and light skinny jeans at home and hit the salon in something a little lighter and looser."You don’t want to wear any really tight clothing or leggings that could cause any friction in the area," says Roberts, which can increase you odds of developing wax burn afterward.
RELATED: 4 Moves for a Bikini-Ready Body
Warn your waxer about any skin issues
If you have a mole or a skin tag, give your waxer a heads up. "Usually we see it, but it’s great if our client mentions it first," says Marta Grochowska, Haven Spa senior esthetician. This way, your waxer can wax around the mole or tag, tweezing any hair out of it while preventing extra irritation and inflammation. Have a sunburn or other skin irritation on the day of your appointment? Reschedule and wait for it to clear up so you avoid extra pain or irritation during and after the wax.
Be prepared for redness and bumps
Your post-wax bikini area won't look perfect straight away. "Right afterward, it doesn’t look smooth and beautiful. In fact, it looks a little bit like chicken skin," says Bowe. "It’s red and bumpy, and that’s normal." Don't worry: the chicken skin should disappear in hours.
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Stock up on hydrocortisone
Usually your waxer will apply a soothing cream to calm the area post-wax. But it can't hurt to have some hydrocortisone on hand as well. Dabbing your just-waxed skin will dramatically reduce redness and discomfort. Also, ask your waxer what post-wax products they suggest, says Grochowska. She can advise you on what would be best for your skin type. For anyone keen on their home remedies, cold milk is a natural irritated skin soother, says Bowe.
"The last thing I would recommend is taking a spin class right afterward," says Roberts. "I always say, 'I’m your excuse to skip the gym today,' because you want to make sure you don’t irritate the area any more." If you really can't go without your daily workout, do it beforehand. Just make sure to take a shower when you're done—your waxer will appreciate it!