The Truth About Waxing!

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So you've decided to brave the waxing experience. For whatever the reason, be it a hot date or a tropical vacation, you've made the decision to endure the pain of having your hair ripped from the follicles of your skin. Sounds horrible does it? Well, it's not so bad. I've been waxing ladies and gents for the last 6 years and found that it is easy to make the experience less terrifying and more satisfying! Don't think it's possible? Well here are some tips and advice for making your visit somewhat enjoyable.

waxing smooth legs

Credit: Smooth legs via Shutterstock

First, I want to get through the FAQ's about waxing.

Will it make my hair grow back thicker? Absolutely not. Waxing does not cause you to grow more hair follicles. In fact, if you become a regular waxer, you will notice that your hair will become quite sparse and not as course.

Will it make my hair grow back darker? Let me ask you this....does your hair grow back darker when you cut it? No. Neither will your depilitated hair. Waxing will not change the pigment of your hair.

Will waxing change the pigmentation of my skin? No, it will not cause hyperpigmentation (dark spots) on your skin, however, if you spend time in the sun after waxing, you can burn, which can result in sun damage and dark spots later on. If your skin is tan or you've applied sunless tanner, it will strip your tan. Remember, waxing will exfoliate your skin. The wax sticks to your skin and removes the topmost layer so you may experience some lightening if you have a dark tan from sun or sunless tanning products.

Will I get ingrown hairs? It's possible. Waxing removes the entire hair, root and all, from the follicle. Your skin naturally hardens and thickens over the area it was waxed so it is important to keep that area gently exfoliated. Use a gentle scrub in that area about 3 days after waxing and continue to exfoliate 1 to 2 times a week thereafter. Remember, I said gentle! Also, use a mixture of tea tree and lavender oil. Both are antimicrobial and antibacterial and will prevent irritation. Try to wear loose fitting clothes for a few days after to give your skin a chance to breathe and reduce moisture. The bikini, lip and underarms are where we tend to perspire. Perspiration and moisture cause bacteria to grow. Once that area has been waxed, the follicle is wide open to this bacteria creeping in.

So how do you prevent this? Again, a combination of tea tree oil and lavender oil blend will help to prevent breakouts as well as keeping the area exfoliated. There are also after wax solutions such as PFB vanish and Tend Skin which help to prevent ingrown hairs and razor bumps.

Is it painful? Depending on your level of sensitivity and how course your hair is. If your hair is course then the root of the hair will be thick. Pulling a thick hair out from it's cozy follicle isn't going to be comfortable. For most, it's not as bad as they imagined.

Will my skin become red and irritated? Some people show no signs of irritation, others look as if they have contracted a horrible skin disease. Again, it depends on your sensitivity and if the root of your hair is particularly large. It is normal to turn red and for the skin to develop small, red bumps everywhere. This is only temporary and usually only lasts for 24 hours.

How long does my hair have to be? Many places say 1/8th of an inch but I prefer 1/4 of an inch for better, longer lasting results.

Can I wax myself? Of course! But I don't recommend it for the first time. My advice is to see an esthetician a few times and watch her. Take notes and ask questions. I don't recommend attempting your own bikini wax or underarm wax. Why? Because you will need to pull the skin taut to avoid bruising or removing skin and it is much easier with 2 people. Lip, chin, toes and legs are much easier to wax. I've had many people come to me with waxing *incidents* such as too much wax applied or attempting their own bikini and unable to follow through. So read and follow the directions carefully!

A few helpful questions you should ask when making your waxing appointment:

How long has your esthetician been waxing? It's okay to ask. If she is fresh out of school, you may not want her to do your waxing. Try to find someone who has been practicing esthetics for some time. And if the esthetician is new, ask if she has attended other training in waxing. Many schools don't have the clientele to give new esthetician's waxing practice and experience. I'm not saying that all new esthetician's are inexperienced, but do find out if the salon has confidence in their performance.

I haven't been waxed before, could someone just do a test patch? If you are timid about waxing, ask the salon if they could do a small patch on your lower leg. It will give you an idea if you will be red, bumpy and sensitive and you'll understand what kind of pain is involved. Also, you'll be able to tell if you have an allergic reaction, which in my experience has never happened.

A few suggestions:

Take an advil about 30 minutes prior to waxing to help reduce swelling and pain.

Take a small bottle of grapeseed oil to remove excess wax. Most spas have an after wax lotion that they apply but I've worked in many spas that have a mineral oil base in their wax removal oils. Mineral oil will clog pores which will cause breakouts.

Try to relax! Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Because when you tense up, believe it or not, your follicles constrict as well, causing some resistance.

Remember that just prior to menstruation or during menstruation, you are the most sensitive so you may want to avoid waxing then.

If you are pregnant this can also cause sensitivity so do take precaution.

It is normal for those who have course hair to bleed, so don't worry if it happens. It's quite normal.

Accutane and Retin A users may not wax. Both thin the skin and can cause the skin to lift or remove. If you have used either recently and would like to wax, you must be off of the accutane for at least 6 months and Retin A for 3 to 4 weeks.

Do not wax the same day that you have done heavy exfoliation. This will lift the skin as well. My recommendation is to wait about a week after.

It seems like a crazy amount of information, but it helps to understand what's all involved to make your experience more enjoyable. So if this has motivated you to brave the waxing, go for it and good luck!

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