It’s almost 2016, and women are embracing their pubic hair in all its love-what-your-mama-gave-ya glory. But we recognize not everyone is trying to say goodbye to grooming and let their fuzz grow with reckless abandon. Whether it’s all off, a small strip, triangle, or a full-on retro ‘70s bush, the hair removal pros say that getting a bikini wax can take a lot of the pain out of keeping hair trim and tidy (the itchiness! the ingrowns! the maintenance!).

But even those of us who have been getting waxed for years still have so many questions! We sat down with a professional waxer to get the long and short of the waxing game. Here’s the scoop.

How long have you been waxing and how did you get into the business?
I got my license for esthetics and have been working in the skincare industry for nearly ten years. Waxing is a small part of that.

What is one thing you would tell me before getting a wax if it’s my first time?
It’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it when it’s over. You will be very happy with the result (so much better than shaving!) and over time it will become less and less painful.

If it’s my first time, what should I do to prepare?
Come in with clean skin — no lotions or oils. Hair needs to be about the length of a grain of rice. Hair that is too long or too short will result in a more uncomfortable wax. Also, take some ibuprofen about 30 minutes before you come in to take the edge off.

What time of the month is best for pain tolerance?
I wouldn’t recommend coming in right before or the week of your menstrual cycle. You are more sensitive to pain during this time. Any other time of the month is ideal.

Vaginas come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, and they’re all normal!

Can I get waxed on my period?
You can, but I would encourage you to wait until it’s finished. It will make for a much more comfortable wax. Trust me.

What’s the weirdest shape someone’s asked for?
Occasionally I’m asked if I can do someone’s initials… I can’t.

Do people actually get vajazzled?
Vajazzling was a trend for a very small amount of time where you would apply rhinestones to the bikini area after a fresh wax. People don’t really do it anymore.

What’s one common misconception that a lot of people have about waxing?
A lot of people think that waxing will eventually make their hair more dark and coarse, when the opposite is actually true! Regular waxers typically grow less hair and it becomes finer over time.

How do I know when I’m ready to come in for my next wax?
You’re ready for your wax when you have about two weeks’ worth of hair growth (about the length of a grain of rice).

How has being a bikini waxer changed your attitude towards your own vagina?
Ha! Waxing hasn’t really changed my attitude toward myself, but it is surprising how many women are insecure about their appearance down there. Vaginas come in all different shapes, sizes and colors, and they’re all normal!

Let’s talk small talk. Have you ever said something awkward that you immediately regretted? How often is the wax session completely silent?
The goal during a wax is to make your client feel as comfortable as possible, so I usually try to keep the conversation fairly light. Most people like to chat to distract themselves from the discomfort or potential awkwardness of a wax, but it’s not uncommon for someone to want to stay silent. Sometimes it’s a nice break from talking for me, too!

Christina Pellegrini is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. Her favorite things include Drake, athleisure, Beyoncé, lipstick, and succulents (in no particular order). According to Buzzfeed, her period is very metal. You can follow her on Twitter @theempireedit or read more of her writing on her website.

www.xtinawrites.com/