Waxing at home can be a less expensive alternative to going to a salon or spa, and with a little practice, you can become an expert home waxer! Here is a brief overview of our top at home waxing tips to help you get smooth, hairless skin.
Before you even start heating your wax, check to make sure that the hair you want to get rid of is about 1/4 to 1 inch long. If it’s shorter than that, the wax may not grip the hairs well, and you’ll be sore with nothing to show for it! If the hair is too long, things can get messy and it’s harder to ensure that the wax adheres to every hair.
In the days leading up to “waxing day,” moisturize and gently exfoliate the target area. This helps ensure that your skin is at its best so it can recover from the waxing process quickly and prevent ingrown hairs.
Avoid doing anything crazy to your skin on the days leading up to waxing day! No chemical peels, no sunburns, no heavy exfoliating! Some people swear by drinking a glass of wine or taking over-the-counter painkillers an hour or two before waxing. Anti-inflammatory painkillers like Ibuprofen can also help with post-wax redness.
So in summary, make sure to:
- Pamper your skin
- Gently exfoliate
- Trim/grow hair to correct length
Wax Ingredients – What to Look For
There are three main types of wax you’ll see in waxing kits:
- Polycyclopentadiene, a mineral-based resin
- Colophonium, a natural resin
- Untreated Gum Rosin, a less refined resin
You may also see soy-based waxes or sugar ingredients for sugaring treatments. Although the mineral-based resin mentioned above is not a naturally occurring resin for waxing, it’s very good at removing hair and is commonly used by salons and spas. Natural resin is also seen in salons but doesn’t work quite as well as the mineral-based resin. Untreated gum rosin should be avoided, as it is less “pure,” can irritate sensitive skin, and can be less effective than higher-quality wax ingredients.
How to Choose the Right Waxing Kit
Getting a good home waxing kit can make your waxing experience a lot easier. Some kits include everything you need for pre- and post-waxing as well. Beginners may prefer pre-prepared strips that can be heated or applied as-is. For a more thorough wax, other kits give you more control over how much wax you apply to certain areas. You can also try sugaring, a hair removal method similar to waxing but with water-soluble sticky paste. For some people, sugaring is less painful than waxing and can be a better choice for first-timers.
What type of waxing kit is best for you? There are three main types of waxing products:
- Soft wax and muslin cloth strips: for the spa waxing experience
- Hard wax: for sensitive skin and small areas
- Pre-made strips: for the beginner or for waxing in a hurry
Pre-made instant waxing strips come packaged like band-aids, with the pre-applied wax covered up. Just peel and stick! These strips are nearly mess-free, so cleanup is fast, but some people find they get better results with other waxing methods.
Soft wax and cloth strips are what you’ll often see in spas. They can be more difficult to use than instant kits but are great for waxing large areas like the legs or back. You want the cloth strips to be tightly woven for the best results. There are quite a few soft wax options out there, so you may need to experiment to find the best one for you!
Hard wax is similar to sugaring in that it only sticks to hair, not skin. Softened wax is applied in a thick layer and then hardens on top of the skin. Pulling it off removes hair without damaging the skin underneath, so it’s often used on the face or other sensitive areas.
Most waxes have an indefinite shelf life, so you don’t have to worry about a tin of wax spoiling before you use it all.
Wax Application and Removal
You want to apply the wax in the direction of the hair growth–no going against the grain! Make sure it is fully in contact with your skin and hairs. It’s easiest to do one strip at a time. Then, pull the skin around the wax strip tight and pull the strip off, this time against the grain. You want to pull close to your skin to get the most hair at once. Holding the skin taut helps prevent irritation later. For waxing areas like the armpits, you might want to get a trusted friend to help!
Most waxes can be removed with an oil. Some home waxing kits include oil-based wax dissolving products that help remove residual wax while soothing your skin as well. You may also like to apply aloe vera or other soothing ingredients to the waxed area to ease inflammation and discomfort. Continue moisturizing the area to help prevent ingrown hairs.
Things to avoid for 24-48 hours after waxing:
- Exercising (sweat and friction can create clogs and potential ingrown hairs)
- Applying cosmetics, tanning products, antiperspirants, or scented products to the area
- Scratching the area
- Extreme heat – e.g. from showering, saunas
- Sun exposure or tanning beds
Depending on how your skin responds to the treatment (first-timers may experience more irritation and redness than pros), you can start gently exfoliating the area anywhere from three days to a week after waxing.