According to legend, or at least the J Sisters of New York City, we have them to thank for the Brazilian wax’s introduction to American women back in 1987. Although it would take about a decade for the Brazilian wax to become mainstream among women in the States, you can definitely say that a totally hairless pubic bone, vulva, and, yes, anus and perineum, too, have become — depending on where you live — fairly common. Young women, especially, have embraced the Brazilian both in part because of the J Sisters and, of course, “Sex and the City.” As always, thanks, Carrie and company!

To get the ultimate lowdown on Brazilian waxes, I talked to Jill Kibildis, an esthetician at the Spa at Equinox  in New York City, about what newbies and even veterans of ladybit hair removal should know about the process. From preparation for your visit, to maintenance, to the basics in between, here’s how to Brazilian wax with minimal awkwardness or ouchiness.

1. Please be kind and clean yourself up before your appointment. If you’ve yet to get a Brazilian wax, then let me break it to you: they really, really get in there, removing hair from places that, perhaps, you didn’t even know existed until you’re on all fours, getting hot wax smeared between your ass cheeks. How does that wax get in there, you ask? Well, your lovely esthetician has to spread your cheeks good and wide, so they don’t miss a single hair. Now that you have that vision in your head, how could you not want to take the necessary few minutes to get things nice and clean in that area?“Showering is, of course, great, but hitting up the bathroom right before your appointment to give a ‘freshening up’ — front and back please — is most appreciated. Modesty need not enter the room, but be prepared to spread those legs and to have the esthetician rearrange them multiple times,” explains Kibildis, who always offers her clients a wet wipe to “freshen up.”

2. Monitor your pubic hair growth between waxes. Ideally, if you’re going to really keep your Brazilian fresh (meaning bare down there), you’ll need a new wax every four weeks. If you don’t have that kind of time or money (Brazilian waxes can run anywhere from $50 to $100, depending on where you go), then it’s up to you to maintain your hair growth in between. Why is maintenance imporant? Because when you finally get in for another wax, you and your esthetician won’t be dealing with a big ol’ mess. Hair that’s too short won’t latch on to the wax and hair longer than ¼” inch will be extra painful for you and annoying for your esthetician, as well.If you can’t stick to an every-four-weeks wax schedule, then definitely invest in a trimmer (which should cost about $20). You may think you’re doing yourself a favor by “trimming” with scissors, but it’s actually creating more of a problem for your next wax with all those uneven strands of hair. Also, asking your esthetician to trim for you isn’t exactly kosher either. “It’s kind of belittling and again creates an uneven length and texture that is not conducive to proper waxing. We also generally don’t have the time for it,” says Kibildis.

3. There is a “right” and “wrong” time of the month to get a wax. You may want to avoid getting a wax when you have your period, but sometimes life gets in the way and you find yourself spread eagle on a waxing table mid-menstruation week. In cases like that, Kibildis recommends that you change your tampon right before your appointment and be willing to help hold the string out of the way during the whole process. No one wants their tampon string getting stuck in wax, because once the wax is pulled off, out comes the tampon, and now who’s feeling awkward? You.Another reason to consider what time of the month you get waxed is due to sensitivity to pain. It’s the week before your period that you’re most sensitive and pain could be worse, and it’s the week after your period that tends to be the least painful time for most women. But considering we all have different levels of pain tolerance and sensitivity during the month, you won’t know for sure which time is best for you until you try getting a wax during every stage of your cycle, which, I’m sure, you’re just dying to do.

4. Yes, there are risks. As someone who got a staph infection from a Brazilian, I can confirm that you absolutely want to read thoroughly about the process beforehand. You’re getting a very sensitive (and precious!) area waxed, so you need to know the signs of an esthetician’s room and waxing techniques that might not be up to par.Kibildis suggests paying attention to the cleanliness of the room, like the floor and bed linens, before you even get into the waxing. If that looks good, then give your attention to the wax pot and whether or not that looks clean and free of old, dried wax.Then, most importantly, Kibildis warned:

“Pay close attention to how you are waxed. Does she double dip? Run out immediately if this is the case! Make sure that after she dips the stick in the wax and then applies it to your skin, she throws out that stick after! If you see it happen once, that whole wax pot is now contaminated. Think of the ‘Seinfeld’ episode with the double dipping of the chip. ‘It’s like putting your whole mouth in there;’ now think of the wax pot and others body parts in there! The heat of the wax is NOT killing any bacteria!” Don’t just use a Groupon deal, my friends. Do your research first.

5. Caring for those newly waxed bits is very important. One of the worst things you can do after a wax is hit the gym. All that sweating won’t play nice with newly opened follicles and no one wants even more irritation than they might already have down there. (Trust me on this one.)Kibildis recommends that women wear loose undergarments after a wax, for at least a few hours, and if you’re going to get it on soon after you’ve been stripped of that cushy pubic hair, then be sure to clean the area when you’re done. For women who are prone to ingrown hairs, daily exfoliating can help keep the little devils at bay, as well as exfoliating topical ointments after the shower. Bliss sells Ingrown Eliminating Pads for $38, which can do double-duty for you and your dude’s beard.Remember: Do whatever your most comfortable with — if you’re not intersted in Brazilians, or waxing of any kind, that’s okay, too. It’s not for everyone. What’s most important is that you love your lady bits. It will reward you in multiple orgasms!