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Extreme Grooming for the Bikini Set


So, beach bunny, you think you're ready to wow 'em this summer? You've got your skimpy Alberta Ferretti two-piece raring to go. You bought some groovy Gucci rimless aviators for that '00 look. Your Kate Spade bag is stuffed with Fiji bottled water and Peter Thomas Roth Sunblock SPF30. You even put some citrus streaks in your feathered mane. You're set for fun in the sun, right?

Not so fast. Are you forgetting something? Are you unwittingly revealing more than you mean to?

Bikini waxing, once a hush-hush salon topic, is as ubiquitous today as Sisqo's "Thong Song." With more flesh exposed throughout the spa and sand playgrounds, the need for good grooming is imperative.

In fact, the "Brazilian bikini wax," the big sister of wax jobs, is quickly becoming the depilatory of choice for those who prefer the sleekest, raciest looks. Haven't heard of the Brazilian? Named for the sun-kissed beauties of Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, where nearly nothing bathing suits are de rigueur, the Brazilian treats a larger area than a regular bikini wax. Popularized by the J. Sisters salon in New York, run by seven sisters from Brazil, the Brazilian bikini wax isn't new, but it's fast replacing the regular wax job.

"It's just the logical next step in bikini waxing," said Audra Senkus-Iemma, co-owner of Haven, an upscale New York salon. "As things go to more extremes today, the Brazilian is becoming more popular."

"Even guys know about Brazilian bikini waxes," said Mara Stern, director of publicity for the Bliss spas in Manhattan.

Gina Tomlinson, owner of the Christine Valmy Skin Care Salon in Marina del Rey, said about 30% of her clients who wax opt for the Brazilian year-round. But inland, interest isn't as strong. Ingrid Marone, a skin care operations manager at Amadeus Spa in Pasadena, said the Brazilian accounts for only a very small percentage of her clients. "There's maybe just a little more interest in the warmer months when people are going to be in their swimsuits," she said.

There's also the ultimate Brazilian, a hyper-waxing job dubbed "the Sphynx." Named for the breed of hairless cat, the Sphynx promises total hair removal to accommodate the very smallest of bikini bottoms. As one fan candidly put it, "It'll make you feel like a kid again."


But the Sphynx is as hot as a summer's day in Cairo. The May issue of Allure waxed rhapsodic about it: "Think of it as getting in touch with your inner Barbie. Or your lower Kojak."

"It's everything--the entire area is waxed," said Senkus-Iemma, whose Haven salon debuted the service. "It's the most extreme you can go."

L.A. salons generally charge about $45 for the Brazilian, a little more than the basic waxing fee. It also takes longer--30 to 45 minutes, as opposed to the basic's 15 minutes.

Senkus-Iemma said modesty cannot be an issue when seeking a bikini wax. "It's like going to the gynecologist," she said. "It's very, very personal."

Wax kits are available for home use, but aestheticians recommend that women use them for leg hair, not a bikini line. "I would not recommend doing the Brazilian at home," said Bliss' Stern. "Unless you're a circus professional, a contortionist and have a lot of mirrors at home, I'd leave it to the professional."


Times staff writer Candace A. Wedlan contributed to this report.

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