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Brazilian Wax in Crisis: A Report

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Photo: <a href="">Minimale Animale</a>
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Publicly embracing pubic hair: so hot this year. Gwyneth Paltrow arguably started the trend (and kept it rolling), and Cameron Diaz was quick to back her up. American Apparel couldn't help but throw in its own two cents, and the media shouldered some of the responsibility by spawning thinkpiece after thinkpiece on the topic. (The New York Times found space for not one but two trend pieces, parsing the implications of a culture that champions pubic hair.)

Now that the dust has settled, the dare-not-to-go-bare movement has quietly worked its way down to a business level. Going completely bald isn't the norm anymore, and it's influencing hair removal companies in a tangible way.

A little over a week ago, 16-year-old hair removal brand Completely Bare announced it was re-branding as Spruce & Bond. The company will stay focused on hair removal, but under a name that insinuates a much more ambiguous stance on waxing preference. "We're just looking to better deliver on what our customer is looking for," Sarah Bennett, Spruce & Bond's chief marketing officer, told Racked in an email.

"Pubic hair is so personal," Bennett says. "Different people want very different styles. We've seen a slight uptick in people wanting to keep a little more hair in front, but most are still those wanting to be smooth underneath—again, it's all very personal preference. We get asked for all variations."

Spruce & Bond isn't the only company feeling the effects of pubic hair's newfound popularity. Strip: Ministry of Wax, an international group of hair removal salons with an outpost in New York, recorded a recent decline in all-off Brazilian waxes among its US customers. According to Strip's director Ramon Padilla, these pro-bush trends come in and out every so often. "In the past, especially during summer, a vast majority of clients would do 100% all-off, and then recently—around three or four months ago—there was a greater majority of people who liked to leave a landing strip or a small triangle. Having things taken completely off isn't the norm anymore. It's more of the exception," Padilla explained. He notes that a year or two ago, around 75% of Strip's Brazilian-wax clients opted for total hair removal, while the other 25% left a little bit of hair behind. Now, it's 50/50.

LA-based Stark Waxing Studio has also recorded an uptick in clients who prefer leaving some hair, but salon owner Paz Stark doesn't attribute the change in preferences to outspoken celebrities. "I don't think that anybody, at least in my circle, would read about something that Gwyneth Paltrow or Cameron Diaz is doing and want to do that," Stark told Racked. Diaz may not have set the trend, but she was onto something: According to Google Trends, the search volume for "pubic hair" was the highest in January of this year, when Diaz's The Body Book was published.

In Stark's opinion, the change in pubic hair preferences comes from clients simply feeling more comfortable to experiment. "At the core of it, waxing is so personal and so private and you're so vulnerable," she says. "What I love is when people come in and kind of own it. I think its become something where people can say, 'Wait a minute: That's part of my body and that's how I want it, that's what I want to try with it.' I think it's a little bit of exploration that hasn't been done in the past."

On the other hand, Uni K Wax Centers, which has salons in New York, Florida, and California, hasn't seen noticeable effects of the anti-bare movement. In fact, the company has recorded an upward trend in all-off Brazilian waxes. "Over 80% of the customers I see have a bikini wax service, and the trend I'm seeing is more customers going for a full Brazilian bikini wax rather than just a deep bikini or bikini line wax," Noemi Grupengmager, founder and CEO of Uni K, told Racked in an email.

Grupengmager confirmed that both the landing strip and completely bare waxes are currently Uni K's most requested styles among repeat customers. "Once you have a full Brazilian bikini wax, it is hard to go for any other style," Grupengmager argues. "The benefits of having all hair removed are countless—hygienically, feeling the soft touch of cotton or silk panties, the sensitivity felt during sex, and knowing that you don't have to fear a loose hair poking out of your panties or bikini area."

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