The Full-Bush Brazilian: ‘Having It All’ With Pubes

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My bikini-waxer, Jola, recently told me about a pubic-grooming configuration I had not heard of, which patrons of her Williamsburg salon have lately been requesting. The “full-bush Brazilian,” as we agreed to call it, involves removing the hair from the labia and butt crack (in accordance with Brazilian-waxing tradition) while leaving everything on top fully grown. It’s the exact opposite of non-Brazilian bikini waxes, which shape the hair on the pubic mound but leave the undercarriage untouched.

Who gets the full-bush Brazilian? I asked this of Jola Borzdynski as I lay without pants atop a sheet of paper on a tiny bed at her salon, Audrey. “Girls with hippie boyfriends,” she said. “Hippies with porny sex lives, who need to be hairless for licking,” I concluded. As Jola proceeded to tear 90 percent of my pubic hair out by the roots, I winced and contemplated the wisdom of being a hippie in the front of your crotch and a porn star in the back.

“It’s the normcore of pubes,” my friend Megan said over drinks later that night. “Choosing an anti-grooming appearance, while still grooming pretty carefully, deep down. Literally.” After years of striving for a hairless-Barbie-doll-crotch ideal, prominent women are now rejecting the porny obviousness of total bareness. Hairiness is stylish: Even American Apparel mannequins are sporting full bush these days. As Amanda Hess wrote late last year in T, “there’s something refreshingly retro, delightfully expressive and confidently grown-up in getting back to nature.” For the generation of women who came of age when bare erogenous zones were the norm, the full-bush Brazilian caters simultaneously to the defiance of allowing your pubes to reach their full potential, and the sexual expectations of the modern hairless hookup. The full-bush Brazilian is “having it all,” with pubes.

“We’ve seen a slight uptick in requests for a more natural bikini shape on top, but are finding women are still keeping the labia and inner buttocks completely bare,” Stephanie Kaulesar of Manhattan’s Completely Bare salon said. The salon’s signature procedure is the “completely bare,” removing all hair from the top of the bikini line, down the labia, and up the “inner buttock.” But particularly in the last three months, Kaulesar says, the natural pubis has been trending.

“It actually happened by accident the first time I got it,” said a friend who has been sporting the full-bush Brazilian for close to six years. “I’d been getting full-on Brazilians, but then had a bad experience and could only do the labia and butt. Then I realized I liked it: I don’t look like a child, but I'm still clean for oral. Now that I’m used to it, the full-bush Brazilian is also about my low threshold for pain. No-bush Brazilian just hurts too much.”

Some women prefer hairlessness for the sake of physical sensation. ("Every woman should try a Brazilian wax once. The sex they have afterward will make them keep coming back,” Eva Longoria said in the halcyon, hairless days of 2006.) Others may enjoy the enthusiasm of their sexual partners: “I went down on a girl with hair like that,” a straight male friend said after I described the full-bush Brazilian. “I mean, some girls just aren’t that hairy below the triangle, so I guess it’s hard to say. But she had a lot of hair on top, and completely hairless underneath. I hate to admit it, but I prefer hairlessness there.”

Talking about the full-bush Brazilian at a friend’s house that weekend, I met a woman who’d had the same configuration created by laser hair removal several years ago — based on a theory that, though frontal-pubic configurations are subject to trend, the underparts are always preferable bald. When she refrains from grooming — as she was doing at the time — her hair grows naturally into a full-bush Brazilian. “It’s kind of a reverse mullet of pubes,” her boyfriend exclaimed, to her horror.

Counterintuitively, several women I spoke to noted the relative ease of DIY full-bush Brazilian-style shaving. “The underneath part is easier to shave sometimes, because there’s less hair and it doesn’t really get ingrowns,” a friend of a friend mused as we lined up to buy beer at a bodega in Brooklyn. “So sometimes I’ll just do that if I’m being quick.” It’s an approach that makes particular sense in winter, when genital grooming tends to be in service of sex, not swimsuits.

The idea that a Brazilian wax requires total baldness is something of a misnomer, anyway, says J. Sisters salon co-founder Jonice Padilha. Credited with kicking off the Brazilian-wax craze Stateside decades ago, J. Sisters remains the gold standard for Brazilian-style waxing in America. “I don’t know if it was a mistake or not, but when we first started, the only way to get excitement about was to call it a ‘Brazilian wax’ and talk about removing everything,” Padilha explained by phone. “But it’s really just about hair removal anywhere.

The Brazil-born Padilha founded J. Sisters when, after prodding an American aesthetician to go “deeper” during a bikini wax, “she seemed a little embarrassed. I was the one getting waxed, but she was embarrassed!” She founded the salon so nobody would be embarrassed ever again — whether she was seeking a crack wax, an ass wax, or even, yes, a full-bush Brazilian. “It’s up to the individual.” Or, as Completely Bare’s Kaulesar puts it, “No one is going to look down your pants to see if you’re following a trend.”