Lizbeth Lugo has over 300,000 followers on Instagram, and her fans love her. “Wow, amazing!” one wrote on a recent post. “Great stuff!” said another. How does she earn these plaudits? She waxes. Not philosophical, as the phrase goes; she just waxes. “Obsessed with ur waxing video...makes me wanna move to America n beg u for a job,” wrote another fan, followed by three smiley faces, under a video of a woman getting the peach fuzz waxed off her upper arms. Lugo is a California-based esthetician who posts pictures and short videos of her feats of body hair removal, and she’s becoming the sort of famous that wasn’t possible until precisely this historical moment: She is the world’s first viral Instagram waxing star.
BuzzFeed and CNBC have both recently featured Lugo for her place at the forefront of body waxing videos. Lugo does legs, she does arms, and as befitting our age’s obsession with eyebrows, she can wax a mean arch. She’ll also do upper lips, underarms, feet, and even—to banish blackheads moreso than hair—noses. In one especially memorable clip, she waxes a hairy back. Her videos frequently get over 100,000 views; the back got over 500,000.
The videos feel familiar, and not just if you’ve ever gotten or seen someone else get a wax. There’s no obscenity-shouting Steve Carell here; instead, removing body hair looks as gentle as peeling dried Elmer’s glue off of a kindergartner’s skin. Not all of Lugo’s targets are equally hirsute, but without fail, afterward they look pleasingly smooth, rarely dotted with the spots of blood or redness wax often brings. Occasionally commenters will start debating whether an area needs to be waxed at all; in a video from earlier this year in which wax was globbed onto someone’s knuckles, one user wrote, “I just shave them bad bois,” and another responded, “Are you fucking serious bro. The need for women to be completely hairless has come to the FUCKING KNUCKLES???”
For the most part, though, the comments are peaceful, entertained, and curious: They mainly just want to know what kind of wax Lugo is using. (In one post, she identifies the teal stuff as Starpil-brand wax.)
CNBC wrote that some viewers find the videos therapeutic or relaxing, if not the latest vehicle for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, the euphoric feeling that has launched a whole genre of whispery YouTube videos. The waxing videos are also reminiscent of other viral stars: Dr. Pimple Popper, or the doctors who Snapchat their surgeries, or the hydraulic press channel that crushes a variety of everyday and not-so-everyday objects. There’s an undercurrent of violence and body horror flowing beneath this trend; body hair is a strangely logical next frontier.
The waxing videos compound their trendiness by incorporating another viral element, slime, in the form of the wax itself. In one video, Lugo calls out her own wax-applying technique: “That swoooooop!! #flickofthewrist,” she writes next to a clip of her putting wax on an armpit with a popsicle stick, expertly smoothing the edge of the wax into a rounded shape. It’s like she’s tapped into our innate appreciation for the beauty of brush strokes in paintings, translating oil-on-canvas to wax-on-skin. The Ringer has written about the “meditative glory” of crafting and DIY videos, and there’s some of the same enjoyment to be found in waxing videos. In a world so full of bad news and ongoing debacles, there’s satisfaction in watching a job well and thoroughly done.