Both Brazilian waxes and tattoos involve pain, but which one is actually worse? Here is a detailed comparison of the pain, process, and aftercare of Brazilian waxes versus tattoos to help you decide which procedure you would rather endure.
When it comes to pain, both Brazilian waxes and tattoos are quite uncomfortable. However, most people report that Brazilian waxes are significantly more painful than tattoos.
Brazilian waxes involve removing hair from the sensitive bikini area by yanking it out from the follicle. This causes a sharp, stinging pain that is often described as being worse than childbirth. The pain usually lasts only a few seconds per wax strip, but it is intense while it’s happening.
Tattoos also hurt, but the pain is usually more of a dull, vibrating sensation from the tattoo gun. While certain bony areas like the ribs or ankles can be quite painful for a tattoo, it is generally not as intense as the pain from a Brazilian wax.
In customer surveys, Brazilian waxes were ranked as far more painful than tattoos on a pain scale. The average pain rating for a Brazilian wax was 8/10. In comparison, the average pain rating for a medium-sized tattoo was 5/10.
Most Painful Areas
For Brazilian waxes, the most painful parts tend to be areas with the coarsest hair and most sensitive skin. This includes the pubic mound, labia, and anus. The least painful areas are usually the mons pubis and bikini line, where the hair is finer.
For tattoos, the most painful placements are on parts of the body with little muscle and fat protecting the bone. This includes the ankles, feet, ribs, sternum, and spine. Comparatively less painful areas for tattoos include the arms, thighs, and shoulders.
The process of getting a Brazilian wax versus getting a tattoo is very different.
Brazilian Wax Process
During a Brazilian wax, you lie on a table and expose the area to be waxed. The esthetician applies wax in thin stripes and then places a muslin or cotton strip over it. They then quickly pull the strip off to remove all the hair. This is repeated until all the desired hair is removed.
The appointment takes 15-30 minutes total. The esthetician works swiftly to get through the entire bikini region. Hard waxes that can be removed by hand are sometimes used for delicate areas instead of cloth strips.
Getting a tattoo is much slower and more meticulous. You sit in a tattoo chair or lie on a table. The artist cleans and shaves the area to be tattooed. They transfer or freehand draw the tattoo design on your skin.
The artist then repeatedly punctures the top layer of your skin with needles attached to an electric tattoo machine or hand tool. This injects ink into the dermis layer of skin to create the tattoo. Small tattoos may take 30-60 minutes, while large intricate tattoos take multiple sessions of 2-6 hours each.
Though the individual pricks of the needle hurt, many people report finding the prolonged nature of tattooing more uncomfortable than the quick pain of waxing.
The aftercare required for Brazilian waxes and tattoos also differs significantly.
Brazilian Wax Aftercare
After a Brazilian wax, you may experience redness and sensitivity in the area for 24-48 hours. Some ingrown hairs, bumps, and minor bruising are also common.
You should avoid hot baths, saunas, swimming, friction, and tight clothing for 24 hours after waxing. Exfoliating daily for a few days can help prevent ingrown hairs.
Applying a soothing aloe vera gel and avoiding sun exposure can reduce irritation. Pain relievers can also help ease tenderness. The skin may feel slightly itchy as it regrows hair, but severe itching could indicate an infection.
Caring for a new tattoo requires diligence for 2-3 weeks during the healing process. You must keep the tattoo clean and moisturized while avoiding picking scabs or submerging it in water.
For the first few nights, you should wash the tattoo gently with antimicrobial soap and pat dry with a clean towel. Apply a very thin layer of fragrance-free moisturizer. Repeat the gentle washing and moisturizing routine 2-3 times a day.
After peeling stops in 1-2 weeks, you can switch to unscented body lotion. Avoid sun exposure or tanning for at least a month. Full tattoo healing takes approximately 6 weeks, and a touch up may be needed for any uneven spots.
Both Brazilian waxes and tattoos require you to pay for the skill and time of the professional providing the service. However, tattoos tend to cost considerably more than waxes.
Brazilian Wax Cost
The average cost of a Brazilian wax is $65 per session, but prices range from $40 to $85. The cost varies based on your geographic location and the spa or esthetician’s rates. You also need to factor in tipping your esthetician, typically 15-20% of the service cost.
Getting a tattoo is a more significant investment. Small basic tattoos start around $50, but unique custom designs are typically $150 per hour or more. Large back pieces can cost upwards of $1,000 total for 10-30 hours of work. You also need to tip your tattoo artist 15-20%.
Plus, while a Brazilian wax provides smooth skin for about a month before regrowth starts, a tattoo is permanent. Laser removal to get rid of an unwanted tattoo costs $100-$500 per treatment and takes 8-12 sessions or more.
The results of a Brazilian wax versus a tattoo are very different.
Brazilian Wax Results
A Brazilian wax removes almost all hair from the bikini area and leaves skin feeling very smooth. However, results only last about 3-6 weeks before hair starts growing back.
You must repeat waxing every 4-6 weeks to maintain hairlessness. Some people report thinner, softer regrowth with consistent waxing. But it never achieves permanent hair removal.
Once healed, a tattoo is a permanent addition to your skin. The design will remain exactly as the artist inked it for the rest of your life. Properly cared for tattoos should appear vibrant and clear for decades.
However, some tattoo fading and blurring can occur over time, especially in areas exposed to a lot of sun. Boldness and clarity can be refreshed with occasional touch up appointments.
|30 minutes to multiple sessions
|1-2 days recovery
|2-3 weeks healing process
|Cost Per Session
|$40-$85 plus tip
|$50 per hour or more plus tip
|3-6 weeks of hairlessness
Evaluating the pain, process, aftercare, cost, and results make it clear that Brazilian waxes are generally a much more painful process than getting tattooed. However, tattoos also take more time, money, and maintenance to achieve long-lasting visible results compared to smooth temporary skin from waxing.
For most people, the fleeting but intense pain of a Brazilian wax seems preferable to the endurance required for an elaborate tattoo. However, waxing is the right choice for those who only want temporary hair removal. Dedicated tattoo enthusiasts willing to sit through discomfort are rewarded with body art that lasts a lifetime.