The 411 on Waxing
Got questions about waxing? Read on and learn a little bit more about this type of hair removal.
Little bit of history
Waxing has been a popular method of hair removal since the Egyptian times. Women of ancient Egypt removed all of their body hair, including that on their heads, with tweezers (made from seashells), pumice stones, or early beeswax and sugar based waxes.
The lack of body hair was considered a sign of high class during the Roman Empire. Wealthy men and women used all kinds of methods to remove hair including razors, stones and cream mixtures.
Waxing finally made its debut in the 1960s when wax strips became the choice for removing hair under the arms and on the legs. It was later used for all kinds of hair removal including facial hair, arm, back and the bikini line.
What is waxing?
Waxing is the removal of hair from the root of the follicle using various techniques and waxes.
How many types of wax are there?
There are two main types of wax:
Strip wax, or runny wax, usually used in most salons, can be used on every part of the body. This form of wax removal also removes some of the top layers of the skin, giving the skin a slight exfoliation.
Hard wax, or honey wax, is a thicker consistency. It is primarily used on stubborn hairs or areas which the hair grows in many different directions. Unlike strip wax, it does not remove layers of the skin making it usable on even the most sensitive skin.
How is wax applied?
Strip wax is applied as a very thin layer in the direction of hair growth. A cotton strip is applied on top of the wax area and patted down before the wax is ripped off in the direction opposite to hair growth.
Hard wax can be applied in a thicker layer usually in circular, figure 8 movements. A thicker piece, or a lip, is usually left on one side for easier removal. Hard wax does not require the application of a cotton strip as it hardens and dries on its own.
What is body wax made of?
The ingredients in a typical body wax will consist of mainly beeswax. Various dyes, preservatives, thickening agents and alcohols can be added to waxes.
Is waxing for me?
Waxing can be great for those that are looking for hair removal that will last longer than shaving. However, there are some people that should avoid waxing.
Acne Medications: If you have been prescribed any oral or topical acne medications you must tell your esthetician or waxing tech. Many acne medications thin the skin, heightening the chance of skin being peeled, or ripped off with waxing. You may think that if you’re currently not taking any medications that you should be okay to wax. However, prescriptions such as Accutane stay in the body for over a year of stopping the medication. Consult your doctor before any waxing.
Sunburns: This one should be quite obvious but I have had some clients that have come in expecting to get waxed only to be turned down. When the skin is burned, the skin cells are dying and inflamed at an accelerating rate. Also, the skin’s natural protective oily layer of the skin is removed. This means that not only will the wax attach itself to those dead skin cells, it may attach itself deeper into the skin tissue and cause deeper layers of skin to be removed. So let your skin heal and come back for your waxing at a later time.
Chemical Peels: Chemical peels chemically exfoliate the epidermis (or top layer) of the skin using strong acids such as AHAs or BHAs. This leaves the skin dehydrated, sensitive and thin. If you have had a chemical peel you must wait a minimum of 7 days before waxing.
How can I prepare my skin for waxing?
Make sure your hair is long enough. Hair should have a growth of at least 3-5mm in length. If the hair is too short, the hair can break causing ingrown hairs under the skin.
Exfoliate the skin a few hours before waxing. This will remove any dead skin cells and expose the hair at the surface making it much easier to remove the hair at the root.
Take an Advil. Ibuprofen can help as an anti-inflammatory to keep the skin from going red and becoming sensitive as well as numb the pain of waxing.
Women: Avoid waxing the week before your period. Your body is preparing for menses and your endorphins are at their lowest level. This can make the process much more painful.
How do I take care of my skin post-waxing?
Avoid hot baths, saunas, hot tubs or steam for a minimum of 7 days.
Do not exfoliate for at least 24 hours post-waxing as it can cause irritation to the skin.
Do not use cleansers or other skin products that contain salicylic acid for at least 24 hours post-waxing.
Do not use deodorant for 24 hours post underarm waxing as the chemicals are more rapidly absorbed into the skin.
No tanning or exercise for 24 hours post-waxing as the pores are open and can get easily blocked by sweat and bacteria.
If you have thicker skin, gently exfoliate the areas waxed after 3 days to avoid ingrown hairs or bumps.
Drink plenty of water to keep the skin hydrated allowing the skin to regenerate and heal properly.
Moisturize the skin. Keep the skin hydrated to avoid excess oil production that can result in those pesky little bumps!