Friday, May 11, 2012

Hair Today - Blonde Tomorrow

Most Americans have the misperception that Brazilian women are hair-free, waxen [I'm taking the liberty of using the 2c definition: "lustrously smooth"] females whose skin glistens in the the tropical sunlight.

Where do we get this idea? This erroneous assumption is derived from what we see advertised in salons across the U.S. that offer, "The Brazilian," a type of waxing session that takes it all off. Then again, the recent Nair 'Brazilian Beauty Challenge' campaign isn't helping, either: "São Paulo style. Rio de Janeiro smooth."

In actuality the truth is much hairier - like Harry and The Hendersons hairier. Yeah, I'm talking yetis.

Yeti used with the permission of Corey Smith.
Check out his illustrations. They are awesome.

A lot of you are already shaking your head in disbelief. Sorry, guys, if I burst your bubble... but I'm about to take away the wand, as well.

The truth about body hair is always seen clearly beachside or poolside. The first time I saw this phenomenon, I was at the fitness/water/country club. I was there tanning, minding my own business, when I saw two girls next to me start slathering on a white paste. I wondered what sort of tropical beauty secret it must be.

I asked them about it & they said, "Oh, it's peroxide. Would you like some?"

I then wondered what sort of skin ailment they must suffer from.

"What is it for, exactly?" I queried.

They laughed and said it was for their body hair - to bleach it. Then I noticed just how many girls around the club were doing this very thing. I thought back to the Brazilian beaches I'd visited, and vaguely remembered seeing the same ritual. Huh.

After covering their bodies, they stood in the sun, soaking up the rays until one said she couldn't stand it anymore. At the time, I assumed she meant the heat on the pavement (being barefoot, and all) but later, in my first and only attempt at trying it out, I found out why. It itches like nothin' else.

The only reason I even tried the bleaching thing, is because it's a cheaper alternative to waxing my entire body, and the real reason being that my man urged me to try it out. (These were the days where I was doing everything the Brazilian way. You know, when in Rome...)

The most popular body hair solutions in Brazil are waxing (there are actually 2 different kinds of waxing procedures) and bleaching [full-length body hair]. Veet's (formerly known as Neet) foray into the Brazilian body hair solution arena has added the option of hair removal cream, but the most popular choices are still bleaching or waxing.

What about shaving? Well, that's almost unheard of for a female [insert look of horror!]. There are limited options as far as disposable razors go, and the refills for a regular razor are super expensive here. My husband and I stock up whenever we go back home, because yes, I have returned to my roots - er, let my leg hair keep its roots - and have gone back to shaving.

Aside from old wives' tales, the idea of a woman shaving is about as foreign as it gets. I receive looks ranging from horror, pity, suspicion, and wonder when I let it slip that I still choose to shave my legs. I do wax my arms, however, as that has always been a dream of mine.

So, what about yetis? They exist.

They must, because they have a cult-like following by a good portion of the females in Brazil. Some of the women I know here look like they have blond [blinding white, in the sun] fur leg warmers on, simply due to the amount of hair they have that they've decided to bleach. It's an interesting look, though not one that is my personal preference.

While I'm not against bleaching hair, as a personal choice, I believe that the amount of hair one has should factor into that decision. Some women are blessed with barely-there hair. They are perfect candidates for this option. Other women whose body hair rivals that of Cousin Itt should reconsider.

As Americans, we are raised to think that arms, legs, and tummies are to be hair-free. I remember the trauma of not being allowed to shave in the fourth grade, when I discovered that I was a little hairy monster of a girl that belonged on the island with The Wild Things. In fifth grade, I decided I would take my chances with my mom finding out, and proceeded to shave my legs. I quickly found out what a challenge it is to navigate around the Achilles Tendon.

I also remember my disappointment in junior high, when one of my teammates brought over her Epilady after school one day. I was sure that I would finally have flawless arms. Five tearful minutes later, and only 1 square centimeter into the job, I realized that it wasn't meant to be. My friend, on the other hand, must have been born without nerve endings, because she was able to do her whole body like it was nothing.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that waxing is a great solution for my arms. Surprisingly enough, I've been questioned by countless women here on why exactly I don't choose to bleach it, instead. Like all other options, it really is up to the individual. I've discovered that my legs are too sensitive for waxing, whereas my arms feel nothing. Who's the one without nerve endings, now?

Here in Brazil an "alergia" [pronounced: "ah-ler-zhee-uh"] is what people say when you don't like, or have an aversion to something. (...which is why they don't take my true allergies seriously...) I'm secretly glad that I'm "allergic" to that mix of peroxide. It's so horrible that it made me want to peel my skin off. My humble opinion is that peroxide has no business being in direct contact with skin, unless it's the bubbly kind that helps to treat wounds - but that's just me.

So now you know the not-so-naked-and-probably-hairier-than-you-ever-imagined truth on Brazilian Beauty Care for Body Hair.

Unless otherwise noted, all pics found on Google Images.


  1. Wow! This was hilarious and very surprising information! I was actually shopping for razors last weekend and I remember considering the other options (the Nair type of products). I remember seeing the 'Brazilian-something...' and I might have bought it, had it not been for my fussy baby, I just decided to stick to what i know- disposable razors. I'm thinking I would've been greatly disappointed if I would have bought that product, just to find out that it was just a bleaching kit! But more i know. Thanks for the humorous info! =) -Elissa

  2. Elissa ~

    Thanks for stopping by! :) I'm glad that you enjoyed the article!

    Don't worry: the Nair products that they are offering there are in fact hair removal creams, as well as a roll-on wax. :]

    The funny thing is how the projected image of the products is that the Brazilian Models (you can build your own online to enter a contest for a $2,000 shopping spree in NYC) have "vacation skin," that is hair-free... which is not necessarily true Brazilian style. ;)

  3. they bleached thier body in the sun! :O but that can give them permanent dark/white spots on thier body. thast why some woman have a white upperlip or sometimes it looks darker even tho thier moustache is bleached.


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