Only the bravest of souls willingly choose to go for a Brazilian wax. It’s not exactly a *fun* time, but afterwards, you’re ready for bikini season for weeks on end. Whether it’s your first time (though, we’d recommend starting off with a regular bikini wax before graduating to the Brazilian) or you’ve been waxing for years, knowing how to make the process less painful is always a plus.
Below are 12 tips for making a Brazilian wax much, much more bearable.
Skip the Coffee
Sure, there are few things in this world we’d skip caffeine for, and a Brazilian wax is one of them. The stimulants in coffee can make your skin extra-sensitive, so switch to decaf for the morning and drink a cup after your wax instead.
Although the goal of waxing is to remove hair, the process also exfoliates your skin. Use a body scrub about two days beforehand so that there isn’t any extra dry, dead skin hanging around that can make it harder for the wax to grab hairs.
Invest in Numbing Cream
Do not—we repeat, do not—use ice to numb the area before waxing, because it will tighten and close up your pores, making the waxing much more difficult. Instead, use a numbing cream about 30 minutes before your appointment to help dull the pain.
Go Right After Your Time of the Month
Your pain threshold is higher just after your period ends, so plan your appointment for a few days after your time of the month.
Fourty-five minutes prior to your appointment, take two aspirin and drink a glass of water. That way, by the time you’re getting waxed, you’ll be fully prepped.
Soak in a Warm Bath First
If you have the time, soak in a warm bath for about 20 minutes before the appointment to open up your pores and soften the hair, which will make the waxing easier.
This is quite possibly the hardest thing to do, because your natural reaction will be to hold your breath and tense up when your body knows there’s going to be pain. Instead, make a conscious effort to breathe deeply, exhaling a long breath when the wax strip is being pulled.
Make Sure the Hair is the Right Length
Too short and the wax won’t be able to pull the hair, but too long means it will need to be trimmed first. As best you can, make sure the hair is about 1/4 inch long before your wax. If, for some reason, the waxer does not trim the hair, the waxing can be even more painful, so be sure to ask.
Wear Loose Clothing Afterward
For about a day or two after the wax, wear cotton underwear and loose pants or skirts so that the area can breathe and not be irritated by fabrics.
At least three weeks prior to waxing, stop shaving, which can make the hair more resistant to wax.
Don’t Wax If You Have a Sunburn
Sunburn is enough of an irritation to the skin to begin with, so avoid getting a wax if your skin feels at all burned.
Turn and Cough
The same way that breathing and releasing helps, turning your head to the side and coughing just as the wax strip is about to be removed will distract you from the pain. To feel a bit more comfortable with this, you can tell your esthetician you plan on doing so, so they’re not caught off guard.
A version of this article was originally published in May 2015.