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Decoding the Difference Between a Brazilian and a Bikini Wax

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Main image – Damirkhabirov/Adobe

Is it just us or are all the different bikini waxing methods starting to merge into one big blur? 

You name it, there’s a bikini wax for it. Hollywood wax, French wax, Brazilian wax, wax on, wax off (ok the last two are a dance move but can you blame us for getting confused?) 

If you’re anything like us, you need the bikini wax terminology decoded. Because at this point, we don’t know if we’re waxing or dancing. 

Luckily, we spoke to Stacey Laricchia who is a renowned aesthetician and founder and chief creative director of waxing franchise The Birthday Suit. She told us there are two ‘standards’ – the bikini wax and the Brazilian wax.

Within those two main types though there’s a whole load of variety and she’s on hand to explain.


The difference between a Brazilian wax and a bikini wax

Put simply, the difference between a Brazilian and a bikini wax is the amount of hair removed.  In a bikini wax you can expect a general neatening of the pubic area (ie removing any hair that might otherwise be visible when wearing a bikini).  Meanwhile, in a Brazilian wax you can expect anything up to all hair from your vulva and butt removed.


Waxing products ready for a Brazilian or bikini wax

Image – Anna/Adobe


The different types of bikini wax 

Regular bikini wax:

Ok, we’ve all heard of this one. Stacey explains; “There are so many different names for waxing, many of them are ‘old school’ and some are more popular than others, depending on what region of the country you live in,” she begins. 

“The bikini wax means [hair is removed] approximately two inches outside of where your bikini bottoms might lay (panty line). This includes both the top area of the bikini and the lower inner thigh area.” 


Illustration of bikini waxFull bikini wax:

Meanwhile, a full bikini wax include the same areas plus as much off the front of your bikini area as you’d like (but not your butt area).


The different types of Brazilian wax

Brazilian wax:

This one’s for those who want a little extra de-fuzzing. It typically includes, “the labia area, pubic bone (mound) and the butt strip,” according to Stacey.

She adds, “Some guests like to leave a ‘landing strip’ or a triangle. Just a little something so they are not completely bare.” 

Exactly how much hair is left over- and what you do with it- determines what type of Brazilian wax you go for.

Here we break down the different types of Brazilian wax around.


Illustration of Brazilian wax

The Hollywood wax:

Apparently there is some confusion (yes, more!) between this and the Brazilian. But Stacey to the rescue; “Years ago, a Brazilian wax meant a full intimate wax while leaving some sort of hair on the pubic mound, and a Hollywood wax meant taking it all off,” she explains. 

She says that while this is still the technical difference between the two waxes, some people now use the terms Brazilian and Hollywood interchangeably.

“This is why it’s essential to clarify with a Brazilian wax client, “are we taking it all?’”.


The French wax:

This is the posh term for ‘landing strip’ where the hair is removed higher on both sides but not the labia or bottom area. Anymore hair removed than this and it becomes a Brazilian. 


Illustration of French wax


So, romance isn’t dead! This is pretty much self-explanatory – your fuzz in the shape of a heart. And Stacey’s seen it all. “Everything from a heart to someone’s initials,” she says. And don’t forget to select your colour. “Neon, tie-dye, striped – you name it, that request has come in!” 

*Requests explanation on how a tie-dye bush can be achieved immediately*


The vajazzle:

This is when a woman’s pubic area is decorated with jewels, glitter and crystals. “It was huge back in the early 2000s but slipped away as fast as it showed up,” says Stacey. 

Made popular by the TV show ‘The Only Way Is Essex’, apparently the vajazzle is now making a comeback. “Suddenly clients are asking if I can put coloured stones on their skin in the area I just waxed,” Stacey explains.


How long does each wax type take?

This will depend on how much hair you have to remove as well as on your aesthetician’s technique but expect to spend around 10 to 20 minutes having a regular bikini wax and 15 to 30 minutes having a Brazilian.


The types of wax

Most aestheticians will use hard wax on the bikini area as it removes the need for wax strips and is typically slightly less painful as it attaches to the hair, not the skin.

Other types of wax include sugar wax, soft wax or chocolate wax.  You can always discuss with your aesthetician which one may be best for you when you’re booking your wax.


Wax ready for doing a Brazilian wax or a bikini wax

Image – Elena/Adobe


Does a Brazilian wax or a bikini wax hurt more?

How much either wax hurts really comes down to your own pain threshold, as well as factors like the type of wax used, where you are in your cycle, and the experience of your waxer.  

Some people might find waxing slightly uncomfortable while others might find it painful.

Since a Brazilian wax removes more hair however, as well as waxing of more sensitive areas like your labia, you can expect it to hurt more than a regular bikini wax.

If you’re concerned about pain levels, you can take some precautions like having an ibuprofen before your wax.


How much does a Brazilian wax or a bikini wax cost?

Another factor in considering which wax is better for you is the price of the treatment itself with a bikini wax generally cheaper.

In the UK, a bikini wax is generally around £17 and a Brazilian around £35.

In the US, a bikini wax typically costs around $41 and a Brazilian is between $50 and $100.


How to choose between a Brazilian and a bikini wax

Which wax is best for you comes to down to a few different factors.

  • Swimsuit:

It’s worth thinking about the style or swimsuit or underwear you prefer.  High cut leg?  You might want to opt for a Brazilian or Hollywood.  Full bottom briefs?  You can probably just go for a regular bikini wax.

  • Upkeep:

Maintaining a wax is a commitment and the more hair you remove, the more there is to maintain.  Plus, the more you waxer, the finer hair grows back, meaning that experts really recommend getting into a regular waxing schedule. 

So if you’re someone who tends not to keep to their beauty appointments, you might find the upkeep of a bikini wax less stressful.

Alternatively, just leave the Brazilian for particularly special occasions.

  • Pain levels:

If you’re someone who really struggles with the pain of a bikini wax you may want to consider whether you’ll find regular Brazilian waxes achievable.

  • Price:

The price difference between the two treatments is significant, adding up to hundreds a year if you stick to a regular schedule. 

  • Availability:

Not every salon offers Brazilian waxing, where most will at least offer a regular bikini wax.  If you’re having to drive miles to get to an appointment you may not feel a Brazilian is worth the effort.

  • Your preferences:

The most important one of all!  Choosing between a bikini wax or a Brazilian mainly comes down to which one you prefer. If you prefer some amount of hair you can choose between anything from a bikini wax to a landing strip, but if you like to be completely hair-free then there’s nothing stopping you going full Hollywood!


How to prep for your wax

The results you get will depend largely on how well you prep before your wax and how you look after your skin afterwards, according to Stacey.


Exfoliator to use before having a Brazilian wax or a bikini wax

Image – Irynamylinska/Adobe


There are some simple steps to follow to prep for your waxing appointment. 


Waxing aftercare

Look after your wax with some simple aftercare steps, including avoiding heat and anything which can irritate your skin for at least 24 hours afterwards.  This includes avoiding:

  • Tight clothing
  • Saunas
  • Jacuzzis
  • Steam
  • Hot showers
  • Sex
  • Working out

You can soothe irritation by using:

  • Cool compress
  • Ice packs
  • Cool shower
  • Soothing post-wax skincare


How long will your Brazilian or bikini wax last?

Either type of wax will typically last between around four weeks before you see regrowth.

They’ll start to last longer the more regularly you wax though, with Stacey saying some clients can stay hair-free for up to six weeks.

To get into a regular schedule though, she advises booking your appointments three or four weeks apart and to avoid shaving between waxes.


The takeaway

Whether you like the ‘just trimmed’ look or you’re a neon heart kind of girl, bikini waxing never looked so good! 

Bottom line? (pun intended…) There are so many benefits to bikini waxing. It’s fast – about ten minutes – plus waxed hair takes longer to grow back, you get fewer ingrown hairs and the skin is left super smooth.  If you’re not a fan of de-fuzzing using wax down there though, that’s ok too. We get it and know it’s not for everybody.

But while knowing your Brazilian wax from your bikini may seem confusing at first, when you break down what each one means, it’s surprisingly simple to identify straight away which style you’d prefer. 

Just make sure you’re clear with your aesthetician exactly what you want the results to look like. Otherwise, you could leave with a *lot* less than you came in with.


Meet the expert

Stacey Laricchia is a renowned aesthetician with more than 25 years’ experience and is the founder and Chief Creative Director of The Birthday Suit, the award-winning US-based waxing franchise bringing affordable luxury across the states.


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Beauty Editor

The former Beauty Editor of Glamour UK, Philippa has been a beauty and lifestyle journalist for over 16 years, picking up countless tips and tricks from makeup artists, hair stylists, dermatologists and celebrities. In that time she’s written for names like Cosmopolitan, The Sunday Times Style, The Telegraph, Grazia, Refinery 29 and Byrdie. Philippa lives in the UK with her husband, two children and their hyperactive cockapoo, Paddy.

Expertise: Makeup, hair care
Education: Oxford Brookes University

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