Skin Care

By Erika Hilson Palmer

Historically, there are some things people cannot agree on: war, religion…waxing. OK, maybe that’s a stretch, but the idea of waxing has definitely raised a few eyebrows over the years (no pun intended!); and there doesn’t seem to be a Switzerland when it comes to waxing either–as far as I’ve noticed you’re either die hard for it or pretty damn afraid to go there. And of course, there’s always the discussion of what you’re actually going to wax – eyebrow and upper lip waxing seems pretty benign these days. It seems you can get anything waxed from the basic eyebrow, leg, upper lip to what is now becoming more common yet still somewhat “exotic,” such as the bikini wax or the mother of all waxes…thee Brazilian bikini wax. In New York, you can pretty much get anything waxed in most any salon – hair to bare in 60 seconds. In other cities, depending on what you’re looking for, you will either be able to find someone who does the waxing, or you can always buy the waxing products and make it an “I’m staying at home on a Friday night” affair. Whether you’re simply looking to get rid of that oh-so-unwanted hair or you’re looking to make a “statement,” here is a roundup of some of the finest salons New York City has to offer (and what products they have to sell if you either don’t live in NYC or you prefer to rip off your own hair).

J. SISTERS
Jocely, Jonice, Joyce, Janea, Juracy, and Judseia – ladies and gentlemen, meet the J. Sisters. These Brazilian born sisters are the mothers of, yes, you guessed it, the Brazilian bikini wax. Just to clarify, the Brazilian (as it is colloquially called) is pretty much a bikini wax on super drive. It is essentially a normal bikini wax with only a little “landing strip” of hair left or nothing at all (a.k.a. the Full Monty of waxes). Keep in mind that even if you leave the strip of hair, everything else is gone (yes, everything including the lips, ass, and any other part down there that you may not realize ever had hair) . These sister’s got their training in Brazil from the time they were teenagers and working in the salon that their family owned. Believe it or not, their specialty was initially manicures and pedicures, and it was only in 1994 that they decided to introduce waxing into their list of salon services.

According to Jonice, the youngest sister and spokeswoman for the salon, the sisters didn’t know how their now signature waxing technique would be received by American (and in particular New York) clients. She notes that in Brazil, the bikinis are small and that because of that, waxing is a part of their culture. Well, one thing is for sure – the amount of hair left “down there” would certainly be hidden under one of those famously itsy-bitsy teensy weeny bikinis they sport. At first, people were afraid that this wax wasn’t for “normal” women, and that it was more for the playmates that graced the pages of Playboy Magazine. The sisters knew and believed that the wax would be a freeing experience, and they came up with the name “Brazilian” with the thought that it would allow women to feel more comfortable trying it thinking that it was something that was clearly a part of the Brazilian culture (which in certain ways it is). Well, the service has definitely caught on with clients ranging from students, to homemakers, to playmates, to business professionals, to celebrities including Naomi Campbell, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Sarah Jessica Parker. Some OB/GYN’s are suggesting that their pregnant clients consider getting Brazilian waxes because it can cut down on hair allergies that may develop during pregnancy (and probably makes them feel pretty damn sexy around month eight or nine).

The famous Brazilian wax goes for $55.00, and they don’t even offer regular bikini waxes. Of course, they do the basic legs, arms, brows, upper lip, etc. ranging in prices from $75.00 for a full leg wax to $20.00 for an upper lip wax. Like Bliss, the J. Sisters sell their waxing products at their website (www.jsisters.com) or by calling (646) 733-9748, so you can get the full Brazilian feel right in the comfort of your own home (and comfort’s important when you’re ripping hair off that area of the body!). A Brazilian Bikini Wax Mini-kit, which includes an 8oz bottle of natural pine wax, a 4oz bottle of Aqua Azuline pre-wax oil, muslin strips, and wood spatulas sells for $29.99. You can also buy each of these products separately, depending on what you need to refill at any given time. And just remember…Brazilian itsy-bitsy bikini sold separately.

J. Sisters
35 W. 57th St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10019
Salon: 212-750-2485
Cust. Service: 646-733-9748
http://www.jsisters.com

BLISS
Bliss is probably one of the most appropriately named salons in New York City. Anyone who has stepped into either Bliss SoHo or Bliss 57 knows that, although you’d rather be at Bliss for a fabulous massage or facial, you are almost equally as excited to be getting…waxed. No, I’m not joking. Why? Because wax is the word at both the Bliss SOHO and Bliss 57 locations. You can get anything waxed from your lip and chin to your precious hoo-hoo. So why is the Bliss wax so borderline enjoyable? Wax is the word, ladies. Depending on what you’re getting waxed, the Bliss experts use either a chamomile wax or a lavender wax, both of which are special “low-temperature” waxes that come from Lycon in Australia, meaning, well, not much other than you’re going to have to trust me that these waxes actually hurt less than other salons’ waxes.

The lavender wax is used for particularly sensitive areas of the body, like the “&$*@%#! that hurts” bikini line (and the “oh, I may very well die this hurts so badly” Brazilian). Lavender wax is referred to as a “hard wax,” and is removed from the skin without the muslin strips that have been known to rip off a few skin cells along with that pesky hair; and it is applied over a layer of pre-waxing oil, which is designed not to stick to the skin and only to the hair that it is removing. This “shrink-wrap” effect (which allows the hair to be ripped out from the root), along with the fact that the wax lets your skin remain in tact actually reduces the amount of pain that is usually associated with “sensitive area” waxing. And I will speak for women all over the world when I say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you….”. . . The chamomile wax is designed to remove hair from larger and less sensitive areas of the body (like your gams). It is a gold wax that has titanium dioxide, gold platelets, and of course, chamomile, which is all of course very soothing. This wax is removed with muslin strips (the wax is sensitive enough so that your skin will actually stay on your legs) for a “quick one, two, three, bada-bing bada-boom there you go you’re leg is now hairless” wax. Bliss prices range from $15 for a lip or chin wax to $110 for a full leg with Brazilian. Obviously there are many waxable parts in between, and whichever parts you get waxed, I am pretty sure you’ll almost enjoy it.

Let’s face it, in between waxes sometimes you wish you could do a “touchup” to those areas that tend to get noticed more than others (like your eyebrows, upper lip, bikini line…). Bliss sells their lavender wax in a special take-home kit called Poetic Wax (Kit, $40; refills, $19; Kit and refills, $50). It comes with everything you need for that classic “oh God, that hair has to go now” moment, and it comes in a cute cup you can use to heat up the wax.

It’s also a smart idea to buy an ingrown hair/red bump eliminator if you’re waxing your bikini line (Brazilian style or OG style) like the Poetic Wax Ingrown Eliminator ($25) or Tend Skin (4oz, $20; 16oz, $50). Both serve to exfoliate the skin around the bikini zone so that you don’t experience that nastiness that we all wish would just go away. They work really well, and you and anyone who may see your bikini area will notice a difference. All of these products can be purchased online at the Bliss website.

Bliss SOHO
568 Broadway, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012

Bliss 57
19 E. 57th St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10022

Bliss US Central Booking: (212) 219-8970
http://www.blissworld.com

COMPLETELY BARE
Although waxing is still shunned by some, it’s not remotely as uncommon as it once was, especially the Brazilian (which now people tend to be more excited about than put off by). So, in a world where waxing is becoming so common it’s earning a place among discussions at the water cooler, how it’s all about a spa’s or salon’s “specialty” or “gimmick” that draws in clientele. Completely Bare Spa is no different, and has definitely come up with their own specialty trademark. Among the basic waxing services that they offer (which range in price from $18 for an upper lip wax to $120 for a men’s back wax), they have something called the completely bare wax, which is differentiated from the Brazilian bikini wax. The completely bare wax is exactly what it says: it leaves you completely bare like the day you were born whereas they leave a classic “landing strip” of hair with the Brazilian. Of course you could always go with a normal bikini wax, but now I’m starting to think, “What’s the fun in that?”

Completely Bare also has a special item on their waxing menu called Completely Bare with a Flare. Ooh, a flair? Qu’est-ce que c’est cette flair? For $105, you can get a completely bare wax with a Swarovski crystal design put onto the skin that is now, well, bare. You can get practically any design you want put onto your tabula rasa, and the crystals will stay on for approximately ten days to two weeks. Aside from idle curiosity and intrigue, this might be a great thing to have done if you’ve got a special occasion coming up (wedding bells come to mind).

Completely Bare also sells an anti-ingrown product through their website (www.completelybare.com). The Bikini Bump Blaster ($32.00) attacks those pesky ingrowns and red bumps, and won’t exfoliate away your pretty crystals (if that’s what you went for). Unfortunately, you can’t buy any of CB’s waxing products online (or their Swarovski crystals), but that might just be a great incentive to treat yourself to their services when you’re in the New York area. But, buyer beware – if you happen to mention to anyone that you went all out and got the completely bare with the flair, don’t be surprised if you get a lot of requests to see your piece of art. Hey, it could be fun.

Completely Bare
764 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10021
Salon: (212) 717-9300

103 5th Avenue,
New York, NY 10003
Salon: (212) 366-6060
http://www.completelybare.com

No matter which way you choose to get your wax on, there are some certain things that you should remember. First and foremost is that if you’re going to wax at home, BE CAREFUL. You’re dealing with hot wax, and once it goes on your skin, it’s got to come off somehow, and that usually involves ripping it off so you want to be sure it doesn’t get anywhere that you don’t want it. Miss Bliss (a.k.a. the founder of the Bliss salons) has some great tips for at-home waxing in the Ask Miss Bliss section of the Bliss website. Some suggestions she has are:

1. Don’t wax right before your period (three days or so prior to the big, bad day). Waxing hurts enough as it is, and your skin tends to get more sensitive right before your period. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the waxing if it’s about that time of the month. You’ll be so much happier of a person if you do.

2. Make sure that you test the wax on a not-so-sensitive part of the body, like an arm or a leg, before you try it on a super sensitive area like your coochie pop. If you’re allergic to the wax, you really don’t want to find that out when it’s involving one of the most sensitive areas of your body.

3. Don’t wax sunburned skin. When sunburned skin gets waxed, it tends to rip right off. No, not the wax, the skin. You think that hair is unattractive, wait until there’s no skin there. This is one of those instances where you and your hair should be one (at least until tan sets in).

4. Along the same lines as number three, never wax if you are taking Retin-A. It’s essentially a super exfoliant, and waxing Retin-A’d skin can have the same effect as waxing sunburned skin, which isn’t pretty.

5. Read the directions! Usually at-home waxing kits will come with instructions of some sort. Believe it or not, not reading instructions isn’t just a problem that your boyfriend suffers from when he’s trying to put something together that has “some assembly required.” I, along with thousands of other women, suffer from “instructionitis” (the fear or inability to read instructions). You don’t want to suffer the repercussions of “instructionitis” when it comes to your waxing. Trust me. Reading those directions will be so worth it in the long run.

For other great tips, you can always check out Miss Bliss’s Q&A’s at http://www.blissworld.com. Whatever you decide to do regarding your waxing, make sure that you love it and enjoy it because that’s really what’s most important. And one tip from me to you…no matter what kind of wax you use or what kind of special technique is applied so as to reduce to pain associated with waxing, it still hurts. There’s nothing you can do about it. But, like the saying goes – no pain, no gain. And it couldn’t be more true. Hey, whoever said being beautiful (and hair-free) was easy.

Originally published July 2003
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