Often feared due to the pain it can cause certain people, waxing is considered one of the most effective ways to remove unwanted body hair. Waxing is a epilation method, meaning that it removes hair from the follicle under the skin rather than removing it only from the surface (depilation). Removing the hair from the follicle results in a longer time without the hair, as it requires more time to grow back from the follicle itself versus just the surface of the skin.
Waxing involves the application of hot or cold wax to the area with hair in the direction of the hair growth, covering with a piece of material, usually muslin, and then removing it quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth. This can be done either at home or in a spa, depending on your comfort level, skill level, and budget.
There are two basic types of wax: hot wax and cold wax. Hot wax is generally applied in the direction of hair growth with a wooden applicator which often looks like a popsicle stick. The wax becomes in bedded in the hair, a strip of muslin is applied, and quickly removed in the opposite direction. This is the most popular form of waxing in a salon. Cold wax often comes in strips, especially those bought at the drugstore or other retail outlet for home use. They work in the same way as hot wax but do not need to be heated up. They are often cut in strips to fit certain areas of the body: legs, eyebrows, upper lip, etc. Many people don't have as much success with cold wax systems, including myself, especially if they have coarse hair.
A word about sugaring
Sugaring has become popular due to the many kits available for home use, and because it is water-soluable. In other words, it is easy to remove with just water, whereas wax often needs something stronger. I have yet to find any sugaring system that works anywhere nearly as good as a waxing system. In fact, most sugaring systems I've tried haven't worked at all. If you have dark or coarse hair, my advice is to ignore these systems, save your money, and use a hot wax.
I'm not interested in learning how to do it, I want someone to do it for me.
Excellent for newcomers to waxing, or simply for those who just don't want to be bothered. Look for a reputable, clean salon that does waxing on a regular basis. Inspect the waxing area - is it clean? Does the technician double dip the wooden stick into the wax? What sort of products are they using? Then make sure to check the pricing. A good eyebrow waxing and shaping can run anywhere from $10 to $25, depending on your area. Don't be afraid to shop around.
I'm not paying $25 to wax three inches. I need to do it myself and save some coin.
Waxing at home is not only easy, it's economical too. There are many different varieties of wax out there, from cold wax strips to small jars of microwavable wax to full on heating systems. Regardless of the type of wax you use, the basic process is still the same.
To get started, make sure the hair you are waxing is no longer than 1/2 inch. Trim if necessary. If you skip this step, it's entirely possible that you will get some brusing and/or discolored areas. I skipped it once and ended up with little bloody patches, NO GOOD. So make your trimmer or your favorite pair of scissors your best friend and clean it up. Next, I like to apply a little baby powder to make sure the skin is completely dry and to help with wax removal. You don't need a whole mess of it, just a little sprinkle on the area you're working with. Next, apply the hot wax with a wooden applicator in the direction that your hair grows. If you are using cold wax strips, the same idea applies - just make sure it is applied in the direction of hair growth, not the other way around. Lay a muslin strip on the top of the hot wax and very gently rub it in or pat lightly. Pull the skin taught and grasp the material and pull in the opposite direction that you applied it, and in the opposite direction of hair growth. Repeat.
When you are finished waxing, consider a wax remover to remove any little spots of wax you may have missed. Then smooth on a good anti-inflammatory lotion to reduce tenderness and redness. If skin is very irritated, try 10 minutes with some ice to reduce the swelling.
What about my ladyparts?
All the basic information above applies. Make sure to trim, make sure skin is completely dry, and watch your temperature if you're using a hot wax method.
Okay, I don't know what to buy or where to buy it. Help a girl out.
Easy as pie.
- Waxing systems: run, don't walk to Sallys and buy the GiGi Honee Wax Warmer. For $29.99, you have a salon quality wax warmer that you can fill with any appropriate wax for your skin type. Buy several different sized applicators, some muslin strips and you're set.
- Microwavable Wax: Again, from Sallys, the All Purpose Honee Wax is the best. Sally Hanson also has a very microwavable facial wax set.
- Cold wax strips: Sally Hanson also has a pretty good kit that I would recommend. It has everything you need to get started with the cold wax method. Also, Surgi-Wax facial strips work well.
- After waxing care: this varies depending on what your needs are. Jibere makes a very good wax residue remover. If your skin becomes really irritated, try the Gigi Skin Calming Lotion, which has hydrocortisone in it. Their Cooling Gel is a win for just about everyone.