Would you go to a ‘wax bar’?

Writer Patricia Pearson recently went to a ‘wax bar’ for the first time. Find out what she thought about the experience

Would you go to a 'wax bar'?

Source: Best Health magazine, Summer 2013; Image: Thinkstock

Do you remember the musical Hair? The Boomer generation busted free by growing their tresses long. Men had mops and Afros. Women refused to shave their legs. It was a generation gap defined by getting all unruly and shaggy. ‘Let it fly in the breeze and get caught in the trees,’ they sang, ‘give a home to the fleas, in my hair.’

To my teenage daughter, Hair might as well be a horror movie.

They didn’t shave their legs??‘ she asks, aghast. The very idea makes her generation shudder. The Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y have been followed’it appears’by Gen Wax, Gen Shave and Gen Brazilian. They don’t care for hair. They don’t even like it on their thighs or upper arms. They’d rather not have it around their privates. According to one commonly quoted statistic, the majority of college students in the U.S.’80 percent’now remove all or part of their pubic hair.

This has given rise to a whole new set of slang words, as many readers will know: ‘Vajazzling’ and ‘pejazzling’ refer to the decorating of newly hairless private parts with glitter and crystals and tattoos. Somewhat infamously, in 2012, a New York City salon began selling the Foxy Bikini, which basically glued fox fur to a woman’s pubic area for a steep price, something that reminded me of how women at the court of Versailles in France once replaced their eyebrows with mouse pelts.

There is the manzilian, which removes all the hair from men’s pubic area. (It’s also known as the boyzilian.) And then there’s ‘goodies,’ which is how beauty salons sometimes refer to the private parts they increasingly spend their time depilating, because ‘vulva’ and ‘mons pubis’ don’t sound all that fun.

Along with the lingo have come new products and services. It isn’t easy to shave your back by yourself, much less bring a razor down to hover threateningly over your goodies. Better to retain the services of an expert. On the other hand, how much time and money do you want to spend on what used to get done in the shower with your razor? Enter the wax bar, a no-nonsense, quick in-and-out destination that has popped up in Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, and will doubtless be coming to other cities near you.

I noticed one a few blocks from my house the other day, called Fuzz Wax Bar, and decided to poke my head in. What were they offering to do? Well, everything that involved wax, and hair. And that’s it. Brows, underarms, backs, goodies, you name it. For lower legs, you need to book 15 minutes and bring $20 (less if you’re a ‘member’). Underarms are $15 for non-members, for 10 minutes. The place was well-appointed and comfortable, with a small reception area and then a hall leading to individual rooms. Like a doctor’s office, but with perfumed air. My leg hair wasn’t a quarter-inch long, though, which is the length you need in order for the wax to grab it.

So I made an appointment for a couple of weeks hence, and toyed fleetingly with the idea of a Brazilian, mostly out of curiosity. I’m in between the hippies, with their love of shag, and the Gen Waxers. It’s not that I have a need to be totally natural, but I figure we have hair there for a reason. As a matter of fact, one recent study by French dermatologist François Desruelles suggests that the hairless craze may be leading to an increase in sexually transmitted infection, due to the micro-wounding caused by hair removal. You also risk ingrown hair, and infections related to that. On the other hand, other researchers have noticed a decline in pubic lice. (Eww.)

Going to a wax bar just to do underarms and lower legs would put me in the minority, though. ‘We can safely say 80 percent of our services are Brazilian waxes,‘ Fuzz Wax Bar’s co-owner, Jessica Frampton, told me later. ‘Our girls can each do up to 20 a day on a busy day.’ She sees a full age range, too, and about 30 percent of their clients are men.

Susan Vu of Stripped Wax Bar in Vancouver says they see mostly folks in their mid-20s to mid-30s. ‘We don’t normally see clients in their 40s who have never waxed before; they usually have already been waxing for many years.’ Hmm, where have I been? Married and in sweatpants, I guess. When I went for my appointment (in sweatpants), the amiable esthetician who waxed me in a small, neat room with eggplant-purple walls while I lay on an exam table said that she had recently treated a woman of 75.

First, underarms. Surprisingly, the ‘hard wax’ used at Fuzz Wax Bar for that area (and Brazilians) is considerably less painful than the soft wax that would later be applied to my legs. It’s a gel-based product sourced from France that goes on warm and goopy, and then hardens as it cools. After a few minutes, she just peeled it’and my hair’off. That was easy. No razor needed now for around four weeks. And when the new hair comes in, it should be progressively finer and weaker.

The thin, liquid Azulene wax on my legs, which she removed with strips of paper, stung risingly, if only briefly. Ow. Cut it out.

You know what? I’ll stick to my Bic disposables for that job. I can see why wax-bar clients are seeking mainly Brazilians, because everything else is pretty much DIY stuff without risk of pain.

Out in the reception area, I studied a line of Canad­ian products called ‘I love my muff,’ which is kind of ironic, given that they are soothing lotions and scented wipes for women who have decided they don’t want muffs. What to make of that? I suggest renaming the products ‘Goodies for my goodies.’ Not that anyone’s asking me.

I left with instructions to avoid the sun and saunas for a few days, as I’d be more prone to burning. Besides that, I felt a bit less hirsute, and happy to leave my razor in the cupboard until the next full moon.

This article was originally titled "Wax on, ouch off" in the Summer 2013 issue of Best Health. Subscribe today to get the full Best Health experience’and never miss an issue!