“And you should always keep a bottle spare for maintenance.” Only very rarely do people experience burning, Cindy said.If they do, she tells them to apply the bleach less liberally – once every two days or so, rather than every day.As the self-proclaimed “Pioneer” of anal bleaching, it’s no surprise that Cindy has garnered something of a cult following.

“Four of them recently came into my shop and picked up five anal bleaching kits each,” said Cindy Esser-Thorin, who owns Pink Cheeks skin care salon in Sherman Oaks – a veritable institution in the Valley.

Cindy’s been waxing naughty bits and bleaching “winkers”—that’s what she calls the sphincter, “cos when you apply the bleach down there, they wink at you”—for folks from all over the world for 34 years. Then they jumped back on their plane and flew to New York for a couple of days of shopping,” she added.

“They have to come here to buy it because if they shipped the kits into Qatar, it gets confiscated by customs.” This Qatari princess story, though, is a perfect example of how the story of anal bleaching has been a fast and furious one.

What was still considered something of a novelty as recently as five or six years ago has exploded in popularity – due in no small part to the porn industry.

“About ten years ago, they started adding the part about anal bleaching in questionnaires for new talent,” said an entertainment lawyer, while waiting for his waxing appointment at Pink Cheeks. I’ll wax them and get them ready, and they’ll leave with the kit to do the rest.” Gay men make up about the other thirty percent.

“Now it’s a standard question in the industry.” While the porn industry certainly shone a light on these bright shiny new winkers, most people have cottoned onto the hygiene aspect of it, said Cindy. But even though more and more people are doing it, there still exist misconceptions about the procedure – misconceptions I have to admit that I shared before I met Cindy.For one, I assumed that people had their winkers bleached—yes, I’ve started calling them winkers, too—because discoloration down there is a result of…well, how should I put it… But Cindy explained that it’s actually due to natural pigmentation in the skin.What is more, not everyone needs to rush out and buy the kit.“Some people come in and they’re this natural very light ash color already down there.I tell them straight that they don’t need to have it done.” The time it takes to work can vary pretty drastically.One of Cindy’s customers told her that it had worked within four days. The trick, she said, is patience – don’t get busy with the bleach if you’re not getting the results you want immediately.