Bikini vs Brazilian wax: What’s the difference and which is right for you?

Estheticians explain how to choose between a bikini vs Brazilian wax, detailing the pros and cons of both options for those who might be unsure

Closeup of legs woman sitting by the seashore on a pastel purple patterned background
(Image credit: Future/Getty)

If you're unsure about the differences between a bikini vs Brazilian wax, our guide will tell you all you need to know—including everything from the pros and cons of each, and how much hair each treatment will remove.

There are many people who absolutely swear by waxing in their more intimate areas—you probably have at least one friend who’s always raving about the results. You may have gotten close to booking your own appointment; but you might not be sure about which kind of wax would be a better choice for such a sensitive part of your body. 

Unlike at-home laser hair removal, waxing isn't a permanent hair removal solution, but in our bikini areas it can often feel like a much less scary option, and will still leave you hair-free for at least a week or two.

So we say, don’t let your hesitations hold you back from giving professional waxing a shot. We checked in with waxing pros to demystify the differences between these two popular services—a bikini vs Brazilian wax—to help you feel more confident about making your choice.

Why you might want to wax your intimate area over other hair removal methods

Whether you choose a bikini vs Brazilian wax, waxing tends to be one of the preferred hair removal methods for pubic areas. These services are ideal if you’re getting tired of shaving around your intimate area, given how awkward wielding a razor down there can be. Plus, shaving can often leave you with razor bumps and ingrown hairs—something that is much less of a problem with waxing. If you want to know how to remove pubic hair without shaving, waxing is one of the very best options.

Depilatory creams, or hair removal creams, can get the job done, but they’re pretty messy. And, if you’re not careful, these products can cause chemical burns on your sensitive areas.

And, if you’re not ready for a more permanent solution like professional laser hair removal, bikini and Brazilian waxes offer a great alternative. The hair will grow back, but not for a while (see our guide to find out how long the different hair removal methods last)—meaning you can enjoy silky-smooth results and try out new waxing styles without committing.

What is a bikini wax—and what are the pros and cons?

A bikini wax is a popular hair removal treatment for women who want to get rid of any pubic hair that might be visible when they’re wearing bikini bottoms or smaller panties. The most basic style of bikini wax stops there, but some women opt to remove more, with a playful twist.

According to Danielle Lawrence, licensed esthetician at Show a Little Skincare (opens in new tab), “There are many shapes women regularly request for the 'mons pubis'— that’s the rounded part covering the pubic bone. Popular waxing shapes include “landing strip, martini glass, heart, lighting bolt,” and others. The options are endless!

Lawrence adds that “a bikini wax can include any of these designs, but no hair removal would occur on the labia or betwixt the buttocks.”

The main advantage of a bikini wax is that it eliminates any hair that would be visible when you’re in your undies or swimsuit on holiday, leaving you free to feel confident without any pesky stubble or razor bumps. 

What is a Brazilian wax—and what are the pros and cons? 

“Many first-time wax clients will confuse a bikini wax for a Brazilian,” says Danielle Lawrence. But it is typically “the removal of all public hair—front, back, and everything in between. You will be clean as a whistle!” 

She continued, “If you want any of the hair from the labia or buttocks removed, then you should book a Brazilian wax.” 

Liz Lugo (opens in new tab), licensed esthetician and creator of Nova Wax (opens in new tab), explained further, “You do have the option of leaving hair on the pelvic area, like a landing strip or an upside-down pyramid, but removing everything is the most popular choice. Everything is removed from the labia and we wax the butt as well.”

Essentially, if you don’t want to see any hair anywhere, a Brazilian wax will get the job done—whereas a bikini wax will remove less of your pubic hair.

Does a Brazilian wax hurt?

When you find out what a Brazilian wax involves, it's understandable that you might feel too nervous to try it. 

Lugo explained that some waxing clients will book bikini waxes, and “stop there out of fear that the Brazilian will be too excruciating. Eventually, they muster up the courage to try it though, and are happy they did."

She confessed that, yes, "your first Brazilian will be uncomfortable. But luckily, with an experienced waxer, the discomfort is temporary.” For the most part, Lugo says "the bikini is almost always painless, unless you’re hypersensitive to pain." As for the Brazilian, she adds that the waxing might not hurt where you’d expect it to. “In my nine years of experience, only one client has ever said the butt strip hurts—that area is built for toughness!”

And, after a while, and with each subsequent wax, she explained that you’ll get accustomed to the sensations.

For a lot of women, the pros far outweigh the momentary pain. You won’t have to literally bend over backwards the way you would with at-home hair removal. Instead, it’s as simple as booking an occasional waxing appointment and keeping your skin exfoliated in between sessions.

Is getting a Brazilian wax awkward?

Pain aside, there's no denying that a Brazilian can feel awkward. The unavoidable fact is that you will have to be completely naked from the waist down in front of a complete stranger, which does prevent a lot of women from trying it. 

But, Lawrence assures that this is all part of the process, "and when you find the right esthetician, she will make you feel comfortable in no time."

Even if you’re new to getting waxed down there, it helps to remember that your esthetician is a licensed professional who does this all the time. And a little humor can sometimes help diffuse any awkwardness. Lawrence joked, “Great waxers are up to their elbows in bum trinkets all day long, so, needless to say, we are comfortable with nudity! And I guarantee you don’t have anything we haven’t already seen a million times."

Bikini vs Brazilian wax—which is right for you?

So between bikini vs Brazilian wax, which is right for you? Danielle Lawrence says that, in general, “Bikini waxes are great for beginners, or for those who don’t want to remove all of their pubic hair. 

"Brazilian waxes will require a little less modesty, but are perfect for anyone who wants all the hair gone, and is over having stubble, ingrown hairs, and razor burn.”

If you’re not sure what to choose, talk to your esthetician about what each service entails to get more comfortable with your options. As Lugo explains, “Our job is to give the client a comfortable experience and educate them on skincare, hair growth, and at-home care.” 

A bikini or Brazilian wax can sound intimidating, but it's without doubt one of the most low-maintenance hair removal options for your intimate area. And who knows—maybe you’ll be raving about your experience one day soon!


My Imperfect Life thanks Danielle Lawrence of Show a Little Skincare (opens in new tab) and Liz Lugo of Nova Wax (opens in new tab) for their time and expertise.

Aleesha is deputy editor for My Imperfect Life, where she heads up the beauty, fashion and eCommerce pages. Previously she was shopping writer for woman&home and gained an AOP awards nomination after working on their news team. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including, Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. When she’s not testing new products, Aleesha spends her time soaking up the newest bestsellers and Netflix releases, learning about different wines, attempting new languages and travelling as much as she can.