Here’s Exactly What Happens When You Get Your Legs Waxed

Augusta Falletta
Here’s Exactly What Happens When You Get Your Legs Waxed
Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

I think it was Don Draper (or Balzac) who said, “our worst fears lie in anticipation,” and when it comes to getting a leg wax, those words couldn’t ring truer. Yes, the thought of having hot wax slathered all over your skin—and then getting all your hair ripped out by the root sounds scary AF—but it’s really not that bad. And when you know what to expect for that first appointment, it totally takes the edge off.

Truth be told, I was pretty nervous for my first time. There’s no sense in saying it doesn’t hurt, but honestly, it’s totally bearable. Plus, anything that makes shaving in the shower a distant memory is okay in my book. What’s it like getting your legs waxed for the first time? Read on.

Even though it’s your first time, it’s certainly not theirs

Whomever is waxing your legs has done this so many times they’ve lost count. Relax and know that you’re in good hands (assuming you’ve booked an appointment at a reputable place).

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Don’t move

Especially if you’re getting hard wax, you can’t move once it’s applied otherwise the wax won’t dry properly to take remove the hair. Be prepared for a few strange positions that will likely make you feel like you need to squirm, but consider this fair warning that you need to remain still.

Turn your head and cough

At one point, you’ll switch from laying on your stomach to laying on your back. When you’re on your back, it’ll be easier to turn and cough, which is a trick to feel less pain. You’ll exert breath and distract yourself from pain at the same time, so if you can remember to turn your head and cough, you’re golden. If your waxer doesn’t suggest it first, give him or her a head’s up so they’re not thrown off by you coughing the entire time.

Keep breathing

This may be the hardest thing to remember in the moment, but I can’t tell you enough to just keep breathing. Our muscles tense up and clench when we’re anticipating pain, but the second you let go of your breath and relax, everything gets better.

Be prepared to be up-sold

In the same way that your hairstylist will try to sell you shampoo and conditioner from the salon, your waxer will try to sell you serum, oil, pre-wax and post-wax spray, so just be prepared for that.

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No hot water for 24 hours

Go for lukewarm water instead of hot, which will actually help your skin in the long run anyway because hot water can dry it out. Stay away from baths, hot tubs, and scorching hot showers to avoid serious skin irritation.

Your legs won’t be baby smooth at first

I was expecting to walk out of the salon with legs smoother than anything, but that wasn’t really the case. Considering shaving has been the hair removal method for more than a decade, the hair is conditioned for that and needs to be trained differently. It’s a process, and after a few times, your hair growth cycle changes.

Not shaving is the best thing ever

If you can afford to wax your legs every four weeks, it is absolutely glorious because you never have to shave them. You save time, nicks, and frustration you would’ve otherwise spent with a bottle of shaving cream and a razor. It’s amazing, and it’s perfect when skirt season is right around the corner.

Originally published March 2014. Updated July 2017.