The Bare Essentials
The boys from Brazil
By Jamie Robinson

Body conscious clothes are a hot trend. Women and girls are buying everything low on the hips and tight midriff baring tops. Baby Ts and belt buckles bearing the playboy bunny are increasingly popular with the mall set. And now, hot pants are back.

It was inevitable that a focus on below the belt grooming would be necessary to keep up with whatever the fashionistas are handing us these days.

It's impossible to sit through an episode of Sex and the City without the subject of waxing coming up, so it's not new to the lexicon (most famously, when Carrie was "mugged" by an overzealous technician on a visit to L.A.) - but it's probably never been this popular.

Sisqo's "Thong Song" may have made the idea of an eternal wedgie sexy and cool, while Monica Lewinsky popularized them(using the term loosely) as foreplay, and others simply wouldn't be caught dead with visible panty lines. Whatever the reason for their ubiquity, thongs don't leave much to the imagination, so in order to sport them, bikini waxes have come into the mainstream.

With posteriors (and "frontiers") now so openly revealed, and jeans slung so low that you can no longer sit down without showing off the great divide, the practice of removing any errant hairs anywhere beneath one's waistline has become as essential to some women's beauty regimens as washing their face or brushing their teeth.

This summer season has brought skimpy clothes, and even skimpier bikini styles.

Salons are seeing a multitude of waxing clients as a result. Amanda Reed, a technician at J. Allen Studio on West Second Street, said she sees an average of 30-40 clients a week, most of them repeat customers.

At an Aveda salon (such as J.Allen) the concept is often called "sugaring" as opposed to waxing, but the principle is the same.

(All of the processes more or less involve ripping hair out by the roots. If you've worn a band-aid on your arm, you get the idea.)

Many waxing clients are not even out of high school.

Amy Bratton, the general manager at Hair and Now on Richmond Road says waxing seems to be part of the routine for teens these days.

"This generation has grown up seeing their mothers get it done, so they are more comfortable with waxing," Reed said.

(Well. Hopefully they aren't really seeing their moms stripped-let's leave the mother-daughter bonding rituals to the selling of Girl Scout cookies, ok?)

Tanya, a skin care specialist at Hair & Now: ready, set? Wax.

The What & the How

There are several options when it comes to bikini waxing.

You can go with the "landing strip" approach, a pattern (a heart? a lightning bolt? crop circles?), or get the increasingly popular Brazilian wax that renders you pre-pubescent.

The average cost of a simple bikini line wax is thirty dollars, but can go up from there depending on how much hair you want removed.

The Brazilian is on the more expensive end because it is complete hair removal.

Its popularity has grown in the last couple of years thanks to body bare fashions.

Bratton said some benefits to waxing over shaving is that re-growth doesn't usually occur for three to four weeks, and it stays away longer the more times you get waxed. When the hair does grow back it is much thinner and finer in texture.

Reed and Bratton both said that many woman like having some kind of bikini wax done because it just feels cleaner.

Some disadvantages can be ingrown hairs, but Bratton said that shaving is what causes most of that, not waxing.

She recommends a product called Tend Skin to help alleviate that problem.

Bratton explained that for a Brazilian, the technician does small strips at a time. The client may be asked to help pull the skin tight because, "If [it's] not really tight, you may bruise the skin," Bratton said.

The Who

Some of the clients barely seem old enough to shave, much less wax. (Blame it on Britney Spears - always a popular target.)

Many waxing clients are not even out of high school.

Bratton, the general manager at Hair and Now on Richmond Road says that girls as young as 17 and 18 request Brazilians, and Reed has had a 15 year-old client.

Bratton says the average age range of waxing clients at Hair and Now is from 17-60 years-old.

Ashley Roache at Planet Salon on Richmond Road says they mostly see woman with families who are getting ready to go on vacations.

If you are feeling exotic, you can opt to have faux gemstones applied with surgical glue as highlighted by the Howard Stern show last year. Or you could go for a dye job. Think red for Valentine's day. (Just don't try this at home. And never allow bleach near any sensitive region.) And be prepared to keep up with roots maintenance.

Neither Bratton or Reed have had any clients requesting color, but Reed has applied the faux gems. Reed said one of her most unusual experiences in her five year waxing career was when a woman brought in a heart shaped cookie cutter and asked her to remove the hair around it.

Reed uses sugar wax instead of regular wax and says that she has few problems with ingrown hairs because the sugar is natural and very gentle on the skin.

Whether you are a naturalist and avoid waxing completely, or have it all waxed off every three weeks, the trend is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.