Beauty Is Pain: 5 Brazilian waxing experiences for every budget

I remember a time when the thought of a Brazilian wax (or even just a bikini wax) was something of a taboo. My own mother still cringes at the thought, but those of my generation are more open about comparing notes and sharing experiences, which makes it a little less scary.

This I will tell you: yes, it is the most painful kind of waxing but it truly beats epilating (a story for another day) and shaving (which has its own slew of horror stories). A well-done wax job is fast, clean, and yields the dolphin-smooth skin that provides comfort. Horrible waxing, as you’ll find out below, may make you regret ever considering having it done in the first place. So before you dare to go bare, make sure to check out our beginner’s guide and scope salons before setting an appointment. I rated 5 salons that I’ve personally tried so you can have a better idea of what to look for and what to avoid.

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Paint My Nails (P500)

It’s hard to beat the neighborhood salon for convenience, and as a resident of Bulacan, I was delighted to find a place that offered hair removal at pocket-friendly prices, with courteous staff, and clean and spacious facilities. I don’t usually stray away from my Brazilian waxing salon of choice, but since leg waxing, brow threading, and other services from there seemed pretty good, I decided to try their Brazilian waxing service. Let this be a lesson to you, dear reader: not all waxing services are made equal, and there’s no assurance that a Brazilian wax will be as good as their other waxing services.

The first red flag was that the staff seemed kinda… nervous when I requested the service. Now I do live in a small town where people are more conservative, but I later realized that the nervous smiles were a signal that Brazilians were not in their wheelhouse. First, the wax temperature wasn’t consistent. At times it was perfectly tolerable, and the next it was scorching hot. Next, even though I specified to have everything off, the finish was patchy and some nooks still had full-length hair. In fact, I asked for more to be taken off twice, and if I hadn’t asked for the back to be waxed, I don’t think they would have done it. This defeats the purpose of a Brazilian.

While the technician was friendly and professional, it was clear that she hadn’t done a lot of these treatments. She didn’t talk me through in preparation, and she seemed distracted with figuring out how to use the heating device for the wax. The whole experience made me feel uncomfortable. While no irritation happened after, I’m scared to think about those who would go into a salon like this for their first time. There’s no orientation about preps or proper aftercare, and I’m not sure they’d know what to do. After the service, they powder you. Like. A. Baby.

The takeaway: be cautious of salons that do not have Brazilian waxing as the expertise. I’ll be back for the other services but will stick to having my pubes removed elsewhere.

Rating: 2/5

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Barenaked Sugaring (P550)

When the Vanity Tax was rolled out this year, a naïve Sammi was out to get to the most sulit deal on waxing. This led me to Barenaked’s branch on Taft Avenue, which offered 50% off of the service in time for Valentine’s Day. Little did I know that I’d get what I paid for.

Barenaked boasts of a sugar paste that’s “100% natural with no chemical additives added… SO SAFE, YOU CAN EVEN EAT IT,” which supposedly leads to “less pain, less breakage, less ingrown hair.” And while I already knew that this wasn’t necessarily true for their leg waxing (I still had the same amount of ingrown hair,) the premise of a cheap and safe service was too sweet not to buy into.

The Taft branch was lit darker than other branches, and the general demeanor of staff was tired and quiet. My technician offered no verbal preparation and no warnings, but she seemed to know what she was doing. She went straight to waxing and the pain was just as bad as any other service. The yield was 90% smooth with some hair left that the wax couldn’t pick up.

The actual worst part: after the waxing was done she applied… something super creamy and minty AND WIPED BACK TO FRONT. And yes, I did get an irritation after. Needless to say, I’m never going back there ever again.

But! It’s very possible that such carelessness was an anomaly and other technicians offer better service. I guess you can first check the general ambiance, mood, and morale of the salon you’re going to since the risks posed by a bad service is very real.

Rating: -1,000,000/5

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Lay Bare (P500 for women, P550 for men)

I feel like people go to Lay Bare because it balances accessibility with affordability. After years of waxing at numerous Lay Bare branches, I can say that their services are Just O-Kay. The Brazilian isn’t quite as thorough as more expensive options, and unfortunately they don’t change their sheets for every customer. The staff (of every one of their branches I’ve been to) also seem kinda miserable to be there, and it doesn’t inspire confidence in their services. Honestly, a big part of Brazilian waxing is fear management.

Aftercare tips are minimal, and they offer their own brand of creams but I’ve always skipped those since they have a seemingly homemade quality to them that I’m scared to trust. It’s probably my own biases against their branding, but comment below if I should try!

What’s unbeatable, of course, is the number of branches they have all over the country, which cements it as the popular option over non-specialty salons. Of course you’d pick Lay Bare over your suki nail place. The prices are reasonable for an average service, and at least they don’t endanger your vajeen. If you’re in an area where Lay Bare is the best option, go for it.

Rating: 3/5

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Wink Laser Studio (P800)

As the name suggests, Wink’s specialty is laser hair removal but they also offer great waxing services. I would say that Wink offers the best balance of everything you need: accessibility, hygiene, and quality. Inflation from the Vanity Tax actually affected Wink’s prices (it got bumped up from P600 to P800) but I keep coming back because every time I try to go somewhere else I find myself thinking, I should’ve gone to Wink instead.

Wink’s technicians are actually nurses, which is an assuring tidbit of knowledge for anyone who’s afraid of waxing-related injuries. The facilities are consistently clean, the bed sheets are changed for every customer, and the nurses (who are friendly and professional) always thoroughly prep and orient their customers on what to expect. They tell you when you get to the part that might be painful, and apply pressure after pulling (I am now wary of salons that do not apply some pressure to the area to suppress pain).

The process yields a very smooth finish because the nurses are thorough, and you may request to pluck stubborn hair if you’re (cough) anal about that. After the waxing is done, anti-inflammation and antibacterial solutions are applied on the area, which quickly dry down. They always hand out aftercare instruction cards which are especially useful for newbies. Despite following this, I still run into some ingrown problems a few weeks after but I feel like it’s unavoidable at this point and I’m considering getting laser treatment instead.

If you’re looking for a consistent, clean, and professional experience for a balanced price, go to Wink! They have branches in ATC, BGC, Eastwood, SM East Ortigas, Glorietta, Mall of Asia, Podium, Power Plant, Robinsons Manila, Santolan Town Plaza, Trinoma, and Vertis North.

Rating: 5/5

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Strip (P1,598 for female and P2,148 for male regular wax, or P1,798 for females and P2,598 for male premium wax)

Strip wins the award for best pain management. The salon has always been about “hygiene, speed, and quality,” but the cherry on top is actually the variants of waxes that serve different purposes. I got to try their special holiday wax called Mulled Wine, that contains chamomile and aloe vera. The formulation is supposed “to calm and soothe even the most sensitive skin,” and I must say that it does what is advertised!

I’ve often been told by technicians that they’re actually kind of cautious about waxing me because my skin tends to get red often, and on one occasion, the nurse at Wink had to avoid waxing certain areas (which was fine because it’s always better safe than sorry). At Strip, the wax is always at the right temp, and combined with speed and pressure applied, it was the most comfortable waxing experience I’ve had to date! The technicians also prep, orient, and warn you of potential pain points while maintaining a friendly, professional vibe. Most importantly: I’ve had the smoothest finish out of the five salons reviewed here, as the technician offered to pluck the stubborn hair. Again, they applied anti-inflammatory and antibacterial solutions after everything was done.

Bonus points: all the materials used for your session are disinfected and kept sealed until the treatment begins. They also offer aftercare products that contain 3.7% glycolic acid, which I skipped because I have access to skincare anyway. Combining acids and physical exfoliation has made the aftercare process the most pleasant so far as well!

For a comfortable, safe, fast, and decidedly premium experience, Strip is the way to go! They only have branches at Greenbelt, Serendra, Mega Fashion Hall, and Powerplant so access is a bit of a challenge, but I think it’s worth going out of the way for even at least once a year.

Rating: 5/5

What’s the best Brazilian waxing service you’ve tried? How much do you spend on waxing! Let’s discuss.