I’ll be straight with you: Getting your first bikini wax is not a fun experience. That said, it’s a longer-lasting method to removing your pubic hair than shaving, making it a good option for those summer months when you don’t want to reach for the razor. But being aware of what you’re getting yourself into will help you get through it easier.

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1. Hair should be about 1/4 inches long.

A big mistake many women make before getting their first wax: shaving. Wax can’t pick up your hairs when they’re too short, so Queen Bee Salon & Spa owner Jodi Shays recommends trimming it to about a quarter of an inch. If you’re unsure of how long that is, just leave it alone. You can call beforehand and let your waxer know that you will need her to trim your hairs before your wax.

2. You should determine what kind you want beforehand.

Here are a few of your options: A simple bikini wax, which only takes pubic hair off the sides, a Brazilian wax that removes all or nearly all of the hair from front to back, or a full-bush Brazilian that removes all hair from the vulva and back but keeps a triangle in the front.

You don’t necessarily have to decide right away — personally, I’ve changed my mind halfway through a wax — but it’s good to think about your desired results prior to the appointment.

3. The time of the month matters.

“Don’t schedule a wax within three days prior to your period,” says Marta Camkiran, senior esthetician at Haven Spa in New York City. “That’s when your skin tends to be extra sensitive.”

4. Take a shower that day.

This may seem obvious, but it’s worth a reminder. You’ll feel less self-conscious and your pro will thank you.

5. Your lower half will be fully exposed.

Before your wax, you will have to strip off your pants and underwear. Some places have disposable underwear for simple bikini waxes, but if you are having more hair removed than just on the sides, you will likely be completely naked.

The important thing to remember is that your waxer has probably seen hundreds of people’s pubic areas. This is just business for her, so don’t worry too much about exposing yourself.

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6. It will hurt.

As a beauty editor, I have tried numerous treatments out there that claim to be “virtually painless” or “totally pain-free.” And friends who have been getting waxed for years, and are therefore desensitized to the pain, have insisted that hair removal “doesn’t hurt at all.” Spoiler alert: It does hurt. Unless you have the thinnest hair on the planet or zero pain receptors, having hair ripped out of your body can be slightly painful.

7. And it hurts some people more than others.

A bikini wax isn’t a walk in the park for anybody, but for some, it’s worse than others. “Coarse and thick body hair is more stubborn to remove, so you may experience more redness in the waxed area,” says Marta.

8. Your waxer will get up-close and personal. Very personal.

Depending on how much hair you’re having removed, the experience may involve a lot of — for lack of a better term — spreading. In order to give your waxer access to all the spots you’re getting waxed, you occasionally may need to assist or move into awkward positions.

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9. The hairs left behind will be tweezed.

Oftentimes, there are hairs leftover from the wax that are removed using precise tweezers. Your waxer may ask you if you want them tweezed, or she may just start plucking without letting you know first. It’s a good idea to ask beforehand so you can be prepared

10. You’ll look like a plucked chicken afterward.

If you’re hoping to be smooth and bikini-ready by the end of your appointment, think again. After getting a wax, your skin is often red and irritated. Wear loose clothing to your appointment so you’ll be comfy afterwards. For the rest of the day, you should steer clear of applying too much friction (that means skip the sexy time!), lest you may wind up with even more irritation. Good news: The redness should go away overnight.

11. Hydrocortisone cream can soothe your skin.

According to Marta, the fastest way to calm post-waxing irritation is to apply a hydrocortisone cream: “It calms inflammation, quells itchiness and reduces redness.”