For many thousands of years, starting as far back as 4000 BC, women have been practicing body hair removal. European and American women started this practice more often in the 1940's when bathing suits began shrinking. As the bikini became more popular, there began to be more of a demand for effective body hair-removal. There are a variety of hair removal options of course: shaving, plucking, hair-removal creams, waxing, and laser hair-removal.

This article focuses on waxing options and trends, especially for the San Diego area (where bikini season is most of the year, for better or worse). The goal is to share options, trends, do's and don'ts – to help you make the best choice for you, in this growing popular practice that is currently found at most day spas.

What is Waxing ?

Waxing involves preparing the area – whether the eyebrows or the bikini area – by trimming the hair to less than 1 inch in length (if needed), and then applying talcum powder. The hair needs to be at least 1/4 to 1/2 inches in length, so the wax can effectively attach to the hair. The purpose of the talcum powder is to prevent the wax from sticking to the skin.

Next warm, melted wax is spread on the area, and strips of cloth are pressed into the wax. The goal here is for the cloth and hair to stick to the wax.

Once the wax hardens (usually within just a few minutes, depending on the type of wax used), the cloth strips are removed with a swift pull, in the opposite direction of hair growth. This will help in removing the full hair follicle with its root.

Any remaining hairs can be tweezed by the esthetician. Waxing keeps hair away from the treated area for 3-6 weeks, but keep in mind: hair must grow back to the 1/4 to 1/2 inch length before it can be waxed again. Many women report seeing hair growing back thinner and finer each time.

Waxing is not pain free. Taking an ibuprofen a half hour prior to waxing, or using No Scream Cream (cost: around $ 20), can help minimize discomfort or pain. Red bumps or ingrown hairs may result from waxing. These can be preceded with exfoliation, or treated with an acid-based solution or hydrocortisone.

Types of Waxing :

Eyebrow Waxing:

Also known as eyebrow shaping, this is just what is sounds like. Less painful than waxing in the bikini area, this is often most women's first foray into the world of waxing. Many women choose to have their eyebrows sculpted in their day spa of choice, rather than at a traditional hair salon. For a larger section of eyebrow removal, waxing can be a preferred option over individual hair-plucking.

Leg Waxing:

This is often chosen as a substitute for shaving the legs. Some women purchase a leg waxing kit and use it at home, while others opt to get their legs waxed in a day spa or waxing salon. There is often a choice of getting a half leg wax or full leg wax. Which is chosen may depend on if you are looking to have smooth legs for wearing a dress, or for wearing a short skirt or bikini.

Bikini Waxing:

This is meant to make the skin around the ever-shrinking bikini coverage area free of body hair. As most women's bikini area skin is much more sensitive than other areas, asking your esthetician to use smaller strips of clothes (at least for the first time) is recommended. There are different options for a bikini wax: the American bikini wax (leaving a triangle of pubic hair); Playboy waxing (leaving a “landing strip” of pubic hair); or full Brazilian waxing (removing all pubic hair – front and back).

Brazilian Waxing:

This means waxing to remove all body hair from around and above the vagina, and also from inside and around the butt crack (to use a commonly-understood term). Many believe this trend was popularized as women started to wear thong bikinis (popular in Brazil), and did not want to show body hair in the front or back. The actual origin of this term and style is more likely to be a group of 7 Brazilian sisters, who helped grow the trend in their New York City waxing salon in the 1980's.

Other areas that are commonly waxed include: toes, back, arms, lip, chin, and underarm.

A Good Waxing Salon :

There are hundreds if not thousands of waxing salons in San Diego. Do not just choose the cheapest waxing salon in your closest strip mall. You will most likely regret it if you do. Ask around, read online reviews, and ask for their staff's qualifications. A truly professional waxing esthetician wants to give you the look you want, with minimal discomfort. Tell them if you have any requests or apprehensions prior to the waxing procedure. If you like your esthetician, make sure to ask for them again next time.

You are the paying client; it's your body. Research, and then get the treatment and service you deserve.