Brazilian Vs. Bikini Wax: The Difference Between The Spa Treatments

It seems not many people choose waxing over shaving, especially when it comes to one particular region: the bikini area. Instead of waxing, they opt to shave weekly or even daily, often leaving irritated, bumpy skin behind and ingrown hairs unchecked. Because yes, waxing is painful, and shaving is definitely easier. But are the results the same? The answer is no. Waxing is undoubtedly the choice that will leave you with smoother, longer-lasting results. 


But if you are reading this, that can only mean you know all this already and are interested enough in getting your bits waxed despite the potential pain (you know what they say ... beauty is pain!). But which one should you go for — Brazilian or bikini wax?  The terms Brazilian wax and bikini wax are sometimes used interchangeably, yet these are two completely different services. As such, there are several factors you'll want to know before booking your appointment. 

What is a bikini wax?

If you've ever worn a bathing suit without shaving or waxing your pubic hair, you will notice the hair tends to have a mind of its own. While some people don't mind some hair showing on their bikini line, many are insecure about the hair sticking out of their bathing suit bottoms. If shaving is too much of a hassle and the only reason you want a wax is so you can comfortably wear a swimsuit, a bikini line wax will be perfect for you.


According to licensed esthetician Gina Petak, a standard bikini wax "removes the sides of your bikini and a little off the top—anything that is shown outside of a regular bikini coverage" (via Byrdie). This specific waxing service is typically known as a "bikini line" wax, which is the standard style of bikini waxing.

Many salons also offer a full bikini wax as an add-on to waxing the bikini line, "where you can remove as much or as little hair as you like in the front," notes Petak. This waxing service is different in that it also typically removes hair from your labia and pubic bone. If you are looking to wear smaller bathing suit bottoms or are just worried about an accidental slip, you may want to ask for a full bikini wax.


What is a Brazilian wax?

When a Brazilian wax is adequately done, practically little to no hair will remain on your entire pubic area. This heavily differs from a bikini wax, as with even the most intense bikini wax, hair will usually remain around the anus, buttocks, and upper thighs. Getting a Brazilian wax instead of a bikini wax is truly a personal preference for having less hair.


There are two main types of Brazilian wax, one purposefully leaving more hair than the other. The French wax is what you would ask for if you would like a small "landing strip" of hair to remain on the front of your pubic area. Some people even choose a specific shape or design for this patch of remaining hair. "It's a little tighter than a traditional bikini wax, plus it also gets your backside," waxing expert Angelica Sele tells InStyle. "It is for those who want to be groomed, but still want a little hair."

A Hollywood wax is what many people would consider a traditional Brazilian wax, as it removes all of the hair in your pubic area — yes, all — including your buttocks, anus, and upper thighs.


Does a Brazilian wax hurt more than a bikini wax?

One of the most common fears of waxing is the pain it may cause. The pain level of waxing is relative, though the consensus is that both bikini and Brazilian waxes are far from comfortable. Anywhere on your body with lots of nerves is generally the most painful to wax. But which one is more painful? 


"Patients tell me that the most painful areas for waxing are also the most sensitive, especially in the pubic area," dermatologist Dr. Loretta Ciraldo tells Byrdie. Knowing this, we can conclude that a Brazilian wax is likely to hurt more than a bikini wax due to the sensitive areas it touches.

Unfortunately, ripping hair from the skin will never be comfortable. "Anatomically, the hair root is close to the nerve root," Ciraldo explains. However, a traditional bikini wax may hurt a bit less than a Brazilian wax as it is not focused on the most sensitive parts of the pubic region.

Which one is right for you?

If you're considering either a bikini or a Brazilian wax and have no previous experience with either, choosing can be hard. Should you wax it all? Or should you hold back and only do the important bits? It can be intimidating, but in our experience, it only takes a couple of tries to lose all the fear. 


A bikini wax is a great option for those who want to wear bathing suits without the worry of hair sticking out. Bikini waxes are also great for beginners who are nervous about the pain. "A majority of my first-time clients will start with either a bikini line or a full bikini," licensed esthetician Monina Wright tells Greatist

A Brazilian wax is the right choice for people who wear cheekier bikini bottoms or typically take the razor to every bit of the genitalia when removing their hair in the shower. Not only will you likely feel more confident in smaller bikini bottoms, but you won't have to worry about hair getting in the way of the sun. 

Hard vs. soft wax

All wax is not the same. There are two main kinds — hard wax and soft wax. There is no "right" wax for bikini or Brazilian waxing, as it depends on personal preference. However, since the waxes have different benefits, a particular wax type may be preferred for a specific service.


Hard wax is the most popular option for Brazilian wax. "Since hard wax only sticks to the hair, you can treat and retreat areas to make sure all of the hairs are removed without damaging the skin," dermatologist Dr. Hadley King tells Healthline. It hardens after it's applied, so all it requires is a tug with the hands to remove the hair. Since it doesn't stick to the skin, many people believe it hurts less on the sensitive areas that are affected by a Brazilian wax. 

Soft wax is applied with a spatula or stick and removed with a cloth strip. It also sticks to the skin as well as the hair, which can make it more irritating overall. While it's a great option for larger areas of the body, like the legs, using soft wax on the already irritation-prone genital area could be a painful combination. Some people may still choose soft wax as it is a personal preference, but with the evolution of hard wax, it seems to be the least popular choice.


How long does the hair need to be?

The hair length required for a proper wax job is often debated. Should you let it grow or trim it down? Can you let it grow out for months and show up au naturel? Can you shave between wax appointments?


These are all valid questions, especially if you have no previous experience with waxing your genital area. The truth is that the only thing you should worry about is your pubic hair being too short for the wax to grab onto, but it certainly helps to keep it trimmed between appointments.

The ideal length for waxing is between ¼ of an inch and ¾ of  an inch (via WebMD). On the other hand, if your hair is on the longer end of the spectrum, the process can be more painful. Stop shaving a few weeks before a wax appointment, and you should be golden!

Prepping for your wax appointment

Before showing up to your wax appointment, there are certain necessary steps to prepare. As mentioned, hair should be at least ¼ of an inch long. Though it can be longer, you may want to trim a little for your own comfort. 


Another thing to keep in check before a waxing appointment is personal hygiene. For everyone's comfort, it is always a good idea to shower before and after a wax appointment. Before showing up, take care to rinse well down there and gently exfoliate 24 to 48 hours before your appointment to prevent ingrown hairs.

Waxing professionals will also always warn against wearing lotion on the parts of your body you want waxed because wax sticks better to dry skin. If you want to lotion, wait until your post-appointment shower.

What should you expect from the waxing appointment?

If you've had your legs or armpits waxed before, getting a bikini or Brazilian wax shouldn't be too intimidating (although you may feel understandably tense with certain parts of your body exposed). Once you're bottomless and ready to be waxed, the technician will likely confirm what you want.


Here is where you can clarify your preferences or back out of a full Brazilian if you wish. You'll receive a little pre-wax cleansing and powdering to ensure the area is clean and dry enough for the wax to go on smoothly and for the hair to come off cleanly. 

Then comes the wax — and how that is applied depends on the type, as previously mentioned. Once the waxing part is done, any leftover hairs may get tweezed. You'll then typically get another quick wipe down and a complimentary soothing oil, which you can rub in yourself for comfort.

Bikini and Brazilian waxing aftercare

Once you've been waxed, aftercare is crucial to prolonging the smoothness. Although you will be given the opportunity to wipe off any remaining wax at the beauty parlor, it's possible that you'll still walk out of the place with some wax left over. If possible, try not to shower for the first eight hours. However, if it's needed, shower with lukewarm water and use a gentle soap. 


Don't exfoliate for two to three days, as the skin is already sensitive and plenty exfoliated from the waxing appointment. After, you'll want to apply a gentle oil or moisturizer to the area. You may also want to avoid sexual activity, depending on how sore you are. "If you've been waxing for a long time — and I mean Brazilians, labia and all, on a regular basis — then go for it," Jodi Shays, the owner of Queen Bee Salon & Spas in Los Angeles and Seattle, tells Allure. "You can probably handle having sex that night. But most people are quite red and sore ... it really depends on the person."

How long do the results last?

As far as results go — smoothness, ingrown hair or no ingrowns, period of time before the hair grows back, irritation — it all varies. Typically, waxing results for both Brazilian and bikini waxes will last three to six weeks, meaning you may notice hair growing somewhere within that timeframe.


Whether you're on the shorter or longer end of that range will depend on how quickly your pubic hair tends to grow back. Think of how fast you notice stubble coming in after a fresh shave. One or two days? Or, for some, just a few hours? That should give you a good idea of how long you should wait between booking appointments.

The good news? Waxing will always last longer than shaving will. Other benefits to waxing include fewer ingrown hairs, less irritation, and overall smoother results than other hair removal approaches will leave you with.