Bikini Wax Pain: What's Normal--And when to Walk Out

by Ramona Emerson

David StesnerDavid StesnerIt's awkward enough to call a manicurist out on a bad paint job, but imagine doing that for a botched bikini wax. Pantsless and prone is not exactly the ideal recipe for getting up the gumption to say, "You're not doing this right!" But at the same time, it's the service where you have the biggest need to speak up if something's not right--so it's vital to know what's normal pain (let's face it, this is no hot stone massage) and what crosses the line.

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I started thinking about all this when my friend, we'll call her Jen, told me about her recent Brazilian wax. It was so painful, she stopped the aesthetician and asked what was going on.The waxer's reply was something along the lines of, "Waxing hurts. Don't be a baby." And so, even though Jen was no wax virgin and knew it wasn't supposed to hurt this badly, she sucked it up for the sake of politeness. She was left with bruises, scabbing (yes! scabbing!), and a generally unhappy pelvic region.

So here are the basics on what's normal and what's too much: "Scabbing is probably because she got burned," says Liliyah Vaysburg of Stark Waxing Studio. "If the wax actually feels hot, it's probably too hot and could burn. You should tell the aesthetician right away." The bruising was most likely caused by the aesthetician failing to stretch the skin enough. Waxing-related bruising shows up right away--if you start seeing broken blood vessels, "I would just say to stop," Vaysburg says.

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While discomfort is a necessary part of the waxing process, the bulk of it should be limited to the procedure itself, and a wax that's done correctly shouldn't feel tender after the first day. "If it's the first time, your skin might be a little bit red and a little bit sore, but there shouldn't be any marks on it. Usually my clients tell me that that within 20 minutes they feel fine," Vaysburg said. I'm definitely giving Jen her number.

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