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If you’ve never had a bikini wax before, chances are that you’re probably not terribly excited about it. In fact, the process can seem incredibly daunting and uncomfortable, but going into your appointment armed with some basic information can make the experience a lot less unnerving. By the time you’re done, you’ll have found it quick, relatively painless and totally worth having a smooth bikini line.

Let us at Essence of Beauty in Ottawa demystify the experience of your first bikini wax with some insider tips.

It doesn’t take any effort to prepare for your appointment.

You should exfoliate on a daily basis to reduce the incidence of ingrown hairs on the days leading up to your appointment. While you might feel slightly self-conscious about existing hair on your bikini line leading up to the day of your wax, you should resist any urge to shave. The hair needs to be at least one-quarter of an inch for the wax to catch the hair and leave a clean, smooth bikini area behind.

Prepare yourself for some discomfort.

You might not like hearing this, but the first bikini wax is the most painful one you’ll go through. This is because the hair is still rooted firmly inside of the skin. Hair follicles are larger than the pores of your skin, so when the wax tears the hair away it causes small ruptures to the pores, causing pain. This can sometimes cause a small amount of bleeding. Don’t be alarmed-this isn’t uncommon or dangerous.

Once this first bikini wax is over and done with, the next ones won’t be nearly as uncomfortable. The hair follicle becomes much thinner after that first wax, causing the hair to slide right out of the skin.

Make waxing a part of your routine.

Every four to six weeks, depending on how quickly your hair grows, you should schedule follow-up appointments for additional bikini waxes. It is not at all recommended to shave or trim the hair in-between waxes so that you get the best results possible from the process. If you stick with this routine, you’ll likely notice a serious difference in hair growth as time goes on. After the first two appointments, there’s a very good chance that your hair growth will be reduced to half! If you stick to waxing for an extended period of time, you may experience similar results to laser hair removal.

Prepare well on the day of your appointment.

Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever thirty minutes before your wax is recommended by many professionals to clients who worry about the discomfort and pain that is associated with waxing. You should do your best to relax in the hours leading up to your appointment by doing things that you enjoy and take your mind off of the anxiety. If you can, you should consider booking your appointment in the morning, because the body is more relaxed right after waking up. It can actually be more painful to go in for your wax after a long and stressful day.

Women opting for bikini waxes should be aware that for the three to four days leading up to one’s period causes the skin to become more sensitive, which induces more pain and general discomfort.

Know what to expect when you’re at the spa.

Not everybody’s cool with baring it all to their waxer, no matter how professional and courteous they are. But don’t worry-many spas have disposable underwear that can be worn to make you more comfortable. Almost all spas allow for you to wear your own underwear if that’s what you’ve decided is best for you, but bigger underwear patterns such as boy shorts are not ideal. The waxer needs to be able to navigate the area quickly to get the best and least uncomfortable wax for you.

Using either hot wax or hard wax, depending on the practices of the spa, the professional you’ve scheduled your appointment with will first tidy up the bikini line as well as front to back in a series of strips. How coarse your hair is can change the amount of strips used by your waxer, as well.

A lot of professionals immediately soothe the skin with something like a cool baby wipe, and alcohol may be used to disinfect the recently-opened pores.

An experienced waxer can get you back out the door and onto the rest of your day in as little as ten minutes.

Care properly for your fresh wax.

Do not touch the bikini area for at least thirty minutes after your wax. This gives the body time to regenerate the natural oils that are necessary to fill up the glands in that area. Make sure to avoid any perfumed lotion or soaps for up to 24 hours afterward, as the introduction of these products to your sensitive skin can cause painful and unsightly rashes.

While it’s a good idea to exfoliate in preparation for your wax, it’s not wise to exfoliate immediately after it. In fact, you should wait at least five days before exfoliating the waxed area. This is because waxing removes the top layer of dry skin, which needs a few days to rebuild itself. After this period is over, you can exfoliate the area with a loofah or gentle brush every other day or so without causing any additional damage to your skin.

Consider the hygienic benefits of waxing.

If you’re still on the fence about whether having your bikini area waxed is worthwhile or not, you should be aware of the hygienic perks that come with it. By removing the hair via waxing, the glands attached to the hair are damaged, thus decreasing the sweat and odor generated by that area. It also keeps feminine discharge from clinging to hair that would otherwise be there, helping to keep you feeling cleaner for longer.

This might feel like a lot to remember, but there are tons of people who make this a routine in their lives for a reason. Just take a deep breath, relax, and follow the above guidelines for the smoothest experience-and bikini line-of your life.