On a recent Monday evening, I found myself naked on the ground in my apartment bathroom with one leg propped on the bathtub edge for counterbalance, praying that my roommate and her boyfriend wouldn't come home early and wondering why on earth I had agreed to test a do-it-yourself at-home bikini wax kit for you, dear reader.
But when Cheryl Wischhover, our beauty editor at large, says, "Jump," I ask, "How high?" Or, in this instance, "How low?" She asked me to test Sally Hansen's Ouch-Relief Stripless Hard Wax Kit for face and body ($11.87, available at Walmart), which includes numbing wipes that promise to reduce pain during waxing. Sounded pleasant enough.
Cheryl gave me two directives: don't drink wine, and use the numbing wipes on only one hemisphere of territory, so to speak, in order to test for soothing powers. Another important note to add is that I have never waxed my bikini line at home, though I have done so at a salon many times.
First step: apply numbing wipe to a section of designated follicles. The wipe felt drier than the kind you would use to remove your makeup. But okay. I waited the requisite 10 minutes to allow the 6 percent benzocaine treatment to dry and theoretically work.
Meanwhile, I microwaved the pot o' wax until it was a "warm and thick consistency like honey or caramel," according to the instructions. Then it was finally time to get to business with the kind of cringe-worthy enthusiasm I witnessed when Kourtney Kardashian stepped up to the mound in a pinch for her sister Khloé on reality television circa 2010.
The major flaw with the stripless hard wax kit is that there are, in fact, no strips. There are only wax spatulas, also known as wood craft sticks, to apply the wax in a somewhat uniform way on a patch of skin. That is more challenging than it sounds. The instructions actually recommend leaving a thicker amount of wax at the end of each small patch to use as a grip for ripping the wax against the grain. Once the wax cools to the point where it is less like honey and more like an exercise band, it's time to gird your loins and think positive thoughts about Beyoncé.
Even in small patches, it is very difficult to apply a thin layer of wax, leave a thicker end and separate the wooden stick all before the wax hardens too much and becomes excruciating to try to remove. It's a logistical issue. But once you do manage to grab on to an edge, it's not difficult to remove the patch in one full, breathtaking sweep that leaves no hair in its wake. It should be noted that I felt no benefits at all from the numbing wipes.
However, all this being said, the wax itself wasn't so painful based on my salon experiences, and that's actually the most important part. The wax formula, which contains oatmeal extract, coconut oil, sunflower oil and passion flower, seems to be pretty good quality. It's multi-purpose, retains heat for a decent amount of time and comes in a helpful container with a handle. Ironically, the wax itself was great considering it is designed to rip hair from extremely sensitive body parts. And rip hair it did. It's the rest of the paraphernalia — the wipes, the spatulas — that get in the way of replicating a spa-like experience at home.
Other things that get in the way? Fear, excessive sweating, uncomfortable bathroom mats, lack of body flexibility. But those are all things you have to conquer in any at-home waxing situation. And as comforting as it is to do it in the privacy of your own home, paying the fraction of the price and at your own schedule, I can guarantee you right now I won't be doing this again.
That is, unless Cheryl asks me to...