It's always swimsuit season somewhere, and when it comes to getting bathing-suit ready, hair removal is typically our clients #1 concern.
Waxing: One of the most popular hair removal methods, waxing involves the use of heated wax to remove hair at the root. Warmed wax is first applied to an area of hair growth followed by a wax or paper strip. The strip is then pulled off to remove hair at the root.
- Soft wax: This is the wax most people think of when it comes to hair removal. Applied after it's warmed, it's then removed with paper or cloth strips. Because it clings to dead skin cells and removes them along with hair, it's best if this was is only applied to an area once. This is a great wax to use for larger areas such as the legs or back.
- Hard wax: This wax hardens to lift the hair off the skin as it cools so less dead skin cells are removed. Rather than using a cloth or paper strip for removal, your therapist will lift a small "tab" of the wax covering the area of hair removal and pull the rest of the strip off using it. Hard wax is best for removing hair from smaller sections as it becomes brittle once it hardens and can break if applied in larger sections - great for sensitive skin found in the bikini area, upper lip, or other sensitive skin on the face.
- Seek out a pro. Sure, there are plenty of at-home waxing kits that promise to remove hair, but therapists have been trained to make your waxing experience as safe, quick and painless a possible. Just like any DIY beauty procedure, an untrained hand waxing at home can mean taking risks, whether it's irritation, a burn, or even an eyebrow that you meant to keep!
- Let your hair grow. So many are tempted to tidy up in between wax sessions, but allowing your hair to get on a similar growth cycle is what the pros recommend. As long as you don't shave or trim in between visits, the waxes will get easier and less painful. Your hair will get finer, thinner and more sparse. If you must shave in between sessions allow for at least 2 weeks growth. You want the hair to e at least a quarter inch to half inch long to get it waxed. Any shorter and the wax may not grip the hair properly and you will end up with little or uneven result.
- Check your ingredient labels. Avoid exfoliants 48 hours before and after your wax, and stop using retinol products 3-5 days beforehand. Both remove dead skin cells, promote the turnover of new cells and retinol in particular can thin the top layer of skin, making it more sensitive. Waxing is already an exfoliantas it clings to both hair and dead skin cells, so applying it to a skin with a diminished layer of dead surface cells can mean it clients to those that are living - ouch!
- Prepare for a little pain. Although your therapist will make you as comfortable as possible, ultimately they are pulling out your hair. Expect some discomfort in more sensitive areas, and if you are sensitive to pain you may like to consider taking a pain reliever of applying a topical anaesthetic prior to your appointment.
- Avoid an irritation situation. Wear loose-fitting clothing and waxing later in the day to avoid letting your skin come into contact with potential irritants. It's also best to steer clear of caffeine and alcohol before a wax as both can further sensitize skin, increasing the potential for pain and irritation.
- Not-so-smooth sailing. You are most likely not going to be 100% smooth after your first wax. It can take anything from 3 to 5 waxes to get hair on the same growth cycle - especially if you are transitioning from shaving to waxing.
- Say "no" to sun. Avoiding a sunburn goes without saying, but if you happen to have gotten too much sun before a wax you should reschedule. You should also avoid exposing freshly waxed (and extra-sensitized) skin to damaging UV rays for at least 24 hours after waxing and be extra diligent with a broad spectrum sunscreen when you do (but you already are, right?).
- Exfoliation is key. While you should avoid using exfoliating alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) for at least 48 hours after a wax because they make you more sensitive to the sun, the key to dodging ingrown hairs is in keeping pores clear of any dead skin cells. A leave-on gel exfoliant like Bioelements Quick Refiner is ideal for the bikini line and underarms, and a exfoliating cloth like Bioelements Cactus Cloth for larger areas. You may also like to consider a hair retardant such as PFB.
- Get on schedule. With regular waxing, your hair will become thinner and more sparse, making future waxes less painful. Schedule another wax for 3-4 weeks out before you even leave the spa.