You know what we have a hard time believing? Women who say that bikini waxing isn’t that painful. Maybe they’ve been through something so painful that waxing just doesn’t compare. But come on, someone is ripping thick hairs out of a highly sensitive part of your body — it’s bound to hurt!

When waxing, you obviously want to do everything possible to minimize the ouch, but there are so many mixed messages. Some aestheticians say to take Advil or Tylenol, while others say don’t because it might make you bleed more. Whose advice is right?

To find out how to make waxing less painful, we went to the experts on RealSelf. Here are their five top tips to make a waxing session a little more tolerable.

And hey, if and when you’re finally done with waxing, there’s always laser hair removal.

 

Related: 5 pro tips for a smoother laser hair removal experience.

 

1. Start with a trim.

“Make sure your hair is trimmed and about one-fourth inch in length to ensure no excessive pulling is needed,” says Dr. Philip Young, a Bellevue, Washington, otolaryngologist.

 

2. Try a topical anesthetic.

“Topical anesthesia with 4 percent lidocaine can help take the edge off,” says Dr. Hassan Galadari, a dermatologist in Dubai. Ask your physician for a prescription and make sure to apply it 45 minutes before waxing. Also don’t use ice to numb the area because it constricts hair follicles. Instead, hold a warm washcloth to the area for a few minutes.

 

3. Exfoliate.

Washing your face exfoliates that skin for eyebrow waxes, but for a leg or bikini wax make sure to use a body scrub at least a few hours before. Exfoliating dead skin cells away makes it easier for the aesthetician to smoothly remove hair.

 

4. Alcohol probably won’t ease the pain.

High acidity in your body can make skin more sensitive. Refrain from caffeine and alcohol at least three hours before a wax. Drink a lot of water and maybe pop a few antacids, like Tums, 20 minutes prior.

 

5. Take pain relievers.

OTC pain relievers are OK to take 30 to 60 minutes before waxing. Experts say acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the better choice over ibuprofen (Advil), but either will help take the edge off.

Ibuprofen does prolong bleeding and is not recommended before a more invasive procedure. That was one consistent message from experts. But if you are worried about bleeding during waxing, you should probably find a new waxer. This is one treatment that shouldn’t draw blood.

 

Ready to contact an expert and learn more? Find a doctor near you.