There’s no beating around the bush (no pun intended) but I’m a self-diagnosed prude. I always have been, always will be. On my first girl’s holiday to Newquay as a teen, my very confident friends decided to skinny dip in the sea after several bottles of Lambrini. I stood on the sand with my arms crossed feeling completely at odds. ‘What the hell is wrong with you – get in!’ they screamed as their boobs bobbed up and down in the dirt-grey water. ‘I’ll just stay here and watch the bags,’ I yelled back. ‘It’s way too cold for me!’. 15 years later and I remain the prude of the group, the one they’ve never seen naked. Ever.

As a grown woman, I’d like to say that I’m not quite as frigid as I used to be, but the thought of many everyday beauty treatments still brings me out in a cold sweat. I’ve never had a spray tan, and still have nightmares about a Brazilian wax I got a few years ago. A massage is about the best I can do. Am I alone? Turns out I’m not. I spoke to a few fellow prudes about their own experiences of baring all, while turning to the beauty experts for tips on losing one’s inhibitions.

The Hammam Spa


What to expect:

‘During a hammam, your kessala (therapist) will steam, exfoliate, massage, and wash your body while you are naked,’ explains Stella Biroova, a kessala at Harrods’ Urban Retreat Moroccan Spa. ‘Both the skin and body are deeply cleansed of toxins: dead cells are exfoliated from the skin, while hot steam promotes sweating which opens the pores and release toxins. Typically, the client only wears disposable briefs, but if someone is very conscious about nudity they can always bring their swimming costume or even ask the therapist to put a towel on their breasts during the ritual.’

Thoughts from a prude

‘I was asked to take off my robe and lay face up on the marble floor,’ explains Eleanor O’Neill who recently tried a hammam massage for the first time. ‘The kessala then began to give me an all-over exfoliation using a traditional kessa glove. She covered everything, including my breasts, but avoided the nipple area. A rose-infused face mask was then applied before the kessala performed a traditional Moroccan stretching massage. Finally, as I lay with my arms outstretched feeling like an offering to the Gods, I realised that (after the initial shock), I hadn’t thought about being naked for at least 20 minutes. The fact that I was never quite sure what was coming next actually helped, as I didn’t have time to worry about it. The moral of the story? I didn’t combust. My dignity was still intact, and I actually quite enjoyed it’.

The Hollywood Wax

What to expect

‘A Hollywood wax is where all hair is removed from your intimate area,’ says Rebecca Dowdeswell, owner and founder of NKD waxing in Nottingham. ‘That’s to say, from your pubic bone (on top), your labia (underneath) and your anus (behind). In terms of what to expect – you need to expect to bare all and to genuinely have “all areas” accessed so that all the hair can be removed. However, there’s no need to feel embarrassed or shy about this, and neither will we. 70% of the treatments we carry out include an intimate wax, so our therapists are literally carrying out this treatment all day, every day’.

Thoughts from a prude

‘I’d like to be one of those girls like Carrie on Sex and The City that just rocks up to their waxing appointment without a care in the world,’ says Zahra Smith, a graphic designer. ‘Sadly, I am no Carrie. More of a Charlotte but even more neurotic. Nevertheless, I was off on my honeymoon to Jamaica so wanted to be in tip-top shape for the beach. At the appointment, I was faced with a very non-nonsense waxer who laughed as she walked in and saw me awkwardly trying to cover my lady parts with a hand towel. The initial wax wasn’t too horrific, until I was asked to go on all fours. I cringed as I positioned my bare bum in the air and swore that I would never, ever do anything so humiliating again. While I never went back for a Hollywood, I found a slightly more forgiving therapist who provides me with a slightly less thorough wax. The Hollywood is definitely not for the faint-hearted.’

The Spray Tan

What to expect:

‘You can wear knickers if you want during your spray tan, but there is the choice to go commando if you don’t want the white bits,” says celebrity spray tanner, James Read. ‘If you want to leave your bra on, make sure to take down the bra straps to stop the white tan lines. If someone seems uncomfortable, I find talking to people naturally works wonders and makes them feel relaxed and calm. I explain what I’m doing all the way through, and talk about what they need to do after the tan.’

Thoughts from a prude:

‘There’s something about being asked to contort, practically naked, into a series of increasingly awkward poses during a spray tan that has always given me the fear,’ says Roberta Lister, a freelance beauty journalist. ‘When my male spray tanner asked if I was comfortable going topless, I was half tempted to head straight for the door. But I persisted as I really wanted to look good for a wedding I was going to, and my pins hadn’t seen sunshine in quite some time. As I stood with my arms outstretched wearing nothing but my paper pants, I tried to remind myself that the therapist has seen it all, a thousand times – my exposed nipples might be precious to me, but surely weren’t of interest to him. He chatted all the way through the treatment which put me at ease and let me focus on something else other than my nipples.’

The Nudist Beach

What to expect:

You may not think it at first, but a nude beach is actually a good opportunity to conquer your fear of baring all. Most nude beaches are controlled by a strict set of guidelines, ensuring those choosing to go naked can do so in a safe environment – without the fear of curious onlookers taking snaps to show their mates at home. It’s important that you know the general etiquette of the beach before you visit, such as the times of day or year that is reserved for nudists and the rules to abide by. Most beaches will ask that you never take photographs (even of yourself), and avoid PDAs if it’s a family friendly beach. It’s also advisable to bring along your own towel – shared seating is not something you want to use without a little protection.

Thoughts from a prude

‘I was on holiday in Ibiza with my partner and we were exploring the different beaches on the island. We heard of one north of the island that was for nudists,’ says Mary Homes, a fashion writer from London. ‘I was both curious and nervous about it as I wasn’t sure if I was confident enough to bare all. When we arrived, I was a little overwhelmed by the sight of bare bums, balls and boobs, but decided to relax and take it all in. That was until we were greeted by a naked waiter who asked if I wanted to try some of his fresh coconut. I nearly fell off my chair. It was this moment of pure comedy however, that helped me and my partner to relax. We didn’t quite bare all on that first visit but it wasn’t quite as scary as I thought.’