Q: I’m getting my first bikini wax, and I’m terrified and not sure what to expect. Are there any tips you can give and is there any prep I have to do beforehand?

A: Waxing, although not the most pleasant hair removal method, is the most effective at leaving no traces of hair on the skin. It’s not particularly pain-free so prepping yourself and your skin is important.

Here are five ways you can do that:

1. If you’re menstruating, cancel your appointment

Along with everything else that’s sensitive while you’re on your period, your bikini area can be incredibly delicate during this time as well. Try to plan around your period – either go three or four days after, or 5 days before your menstruation starts.

2. Exfoliate!

On the day of your appointment, make sure you exfoliate to loosen dead skin cells and any trapped hairs. You can use a body scrub, a loofah or a body glove to get a through cleanse.

3. Only go DIY if you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing

At-home wax strips are very touch ‘n go and there are many ways it could go wrong – remember you’re dealing with hot wax and pulling at your skin. If you are unsure, rather go to a professional who will be able to give your bikini area the care it needs.

4. Skip the gym

After a bikini wax, try to skip the gym that day or proceed with a workout only eight hours afterwards. This will allow your skin to desensitise and irritations will be prevented.

5. Pay attention to aftercare

It’s best to opt for cotton underwear after your wax as the fabric is less abrasive on the skin and prevents bacteria build-up that could irritate your newly waxed area. Cotton is also breathable and much softer than lace or satin. Ensure that you add a little moisture to the skin to keep it supple and avoid discomfort by using a mild cream or one for sensitive skins.

Another thing to look out for when going for a wax is cleanliness. If you enter the beauty salon and the place looks untidy, run. Look out for the wax pot to see if they have drips of wax running down the sides, if the sanitary paper you’re on is new, and whether you esthetician looks tidy and is wearing gloves. If all of these check, besides the pain (depending on your threshold), your first wax should be smooth sailing.