We have a body hair confession to make: we’re not actually as naturally hairless as we’d have people believe. And when it comes to getting that smooth-as-porcelain skin we’re after? Waxing. On the plus side, waxing removes hair from the root, so you don’t have to worry about weird bumps or adverse reactions that can be caused by shaving or depilatory creams. On the con side, it can be about as much fun as stubbing your toe repeatedly. If you’re new to waxing, or you have questions, don’t worry—the smoothness is worth the trouble. Here are a few waxing tips for beginners.
1. Don’t DIY.
If it’s your first time, you should see a professional. Doing it yourself may save you a few dollars, but you won’t have the correct equipment and won’t be able to reach certain areas, and ultimately it could be a great deal messier and painful. Trust us: we’ve tried to bikini-wax ourselves with drugstore microwaveable wax, and it was like a Saw movie. Don’t do it.
2. Wait for regrowth.
Much like a carnival ride, you hair must be this tall to wax—just about a quarter inch. Any shorter and the wax won’t be able to grab it as well. Much longer, and your hairs could tangle into the wax (and themselves), making for a painful situation where the wax yanks hair but doesn’t pull it out. This is especially crucial for bikini or Brazilian waxes—you don’t want any undue pulling on that area.
3. Timing is everything.
Did you know that your skin is the most sensitive right before and during your period? Finally, an explanation for why waxing during that time of the month is a total nightmare; book an appointment the week after your period instead. And wherever possible, aim for an AM appointment. There’s less likely to be irritation earlier in the day before you go to the gym or your skin gets sweaty running errands.
4. Pain management is essential.
Though painless waxing is still just a pipe dream, you can do some pre-wax pain management. You can pop an Ibuprofen beforehand to help any after-wax swelling—but it won’t really lessen the pain of the yank itself. To make that a little easier, gently exfoliate the area you’re getting waxed the day prior to your appointment. This will remove any dead skin that may be blocking your pores, and loosen any existing ingrown hairs that may interfere with the wax.
5. Knowledge is power.
Knowing what to expect from your waxing appointment is essential, and we’re breaking down the entire process for you: first, your aesthetician will apply baby powder to the area to remove excess moisture and oil. This also helps the wax grab hair more than your skin. Warm wax will be applied to the area with a wooden popsicle stick, and then a strip of paper is pressed on top. Your aesthetician will rub in in the direction of hair growth; then your skin is held as taut as possible, and the strip is yanked in the opposite direction of hair growth. Repeat until hairless. After the waxing, sometimes a calming lotion is applied, or baby oil to loosen any sticky wax remaining on your skin. You can also use Neosporin ointment on any areas that are particularly tender or raw.
After your waxing, avoid exposing your newly smooth skin to the sun. Shower and bathe as normal, but hold off on exfoliating until about two days later once your skin has calmed down. Use a washcloth with natural fibers like Ayate, and very gently exfoliate that area when you bathe. The idea is to massage any potentially in-grown hairs out of the follicles, NOT to rub your skin raw.