If you have a vagina (or any hairy body part), you probably shave or wax it. If you’re like me, you shave and wax. But this depends on the body part. You may ask, why do both? Why not stick to just shaving or just waxing? 

Well, waxing is expensive. And from experience, I’ve learned that not everything a dermatologist says about shaving versus waxing is universal (hint: everyone has different kinds of hair, skin, and reactions). 

And then there’s the problem of ingrown hairs, the bane of every hair remover’s existence. These pesky, unsightly bumps are hairs that grow inward, and back into the skin post-shave or wax. Depending on hair color, texture, and length, the ingrown can be large, small, painful, or pus-filled. And guess what? If you try to get rid of them without proper disinfection, they can get infected. Yeah, they’re not fun. 

So if you can still get ingrown hairs from both waxing and shaving, which one is better for you? Of course, it’s the more painful, expensive option: waxing. When you wax, the hair is removed by the root. When you shave, you cut the hair at the surface, leaving the hair within the follicle (this is why you see stubble and a bumpy surface). The more you wax, the thinner the hair will become, and over time, it will grow less frequently. The more soft and thin the hair is, the less painful the wax will be. The hair is also less likely to grow inward. 

I got my first Brazilian wax at the European Wax Center, and when the wax specialist explained this process to me, I thought it was too good to be true. I’d always been obsessed with maintaining my body hair; I have dark, curly hair, and I have always been envious of the smooth, hairless bodies we see in mainstream media. When it comes to hair removal, blondes really do have more fun.

To achieve the state of hairless nirvana promised by the European Wax Center, I didn’t shave my Brazilian area for two years. I waxed exclusively. Sure enough, the EWC was right. The hair grew back thinner than ever. I didn’t get stubble anymore, my skin became smooth, and the hair grew slower. There was even a whole patch of skin where the hair just stopped growing.

But it wasn’t worth the pain it caused my wallet. 

Brazilians cost up to $51, and although it saves you money to enroll in one of their Wax Passes, it still wasn’t cheap enough (despite the noticeable differences I was seeing on my body). In addition to paying for a Brazilian every four months, I had to buy body exfoliants, post-wax scrubs, and anti-ingrown wipes. These body products work like magic and even cleared my acne.  But if I decided not to replace my body exfoliant after running out (to preserve my dwindling wallet), an ingrown would sprout within the next two days. It was like clockwork. 

So imagine my frustration when I continued to buy the exfoliants, and still got ingrowns.  

Fed up, I went back to shaving. And guess what? I haven’t gotten an ingrown hair since. And this is despite the reasons why specialists swear by waxing instead of shaving

So what gives? 

My problem was that I didn’t maintain exfoliation on the waxed area because I was pinching pennies. But exfoliation is key; it doesn’t matter if you prefer waxing over shaving. If you don’t want to break the bank, there are plenty of methods and products out there. When you exfoliate before and after hair removal, you clean the hair follicle of dead skin or clogged dirt. This allows the hair to penetrate the skin as it grows, instead of hitting a roadblock that makes it grow under the skin (and cause those ugly pimples). 

If you still find an ingrown after all this (all bodies are different and nothing is guaranteed), use a product like Tend Skin Liquid, which has acetylsalicylic acid that cleans and exfoliates the skin so the hair eventually comes through. Soothe bumps or irritation with aloe on clean skin, but make sure it won’t clog any pores. And for God’s sake, don’t try to squeeze the hair out on your own; this can cause scarring or infection. 

The European Wax Center is run by specialists who really know what they’re doing. Their wax and exfoliation formulas are also one of a kind; you won’t find knock-offs. But they’re not the end-all-be-all. Everyone’s skin and hair is different. Just because waxing some things and not everything doesn’t work for me anymore doesn’t mean that it won’t for you. In the end, it’s all about what you’re most comfortable with, as well as recognizing that hair removal is a societal construct and does not equate to beauty. 

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  • Anonymous

    Anonymous writes, no matter what, and tells their story regardless of the circumstances.