Many of us women have hair somewhere on our bodies that we want removed. The question is, what’s the best way to get rid of it? If you’re tired of shaving and want results that last longer, waxing can be a great DIY option. To get the best possible advice on the matter, we consulted esthetician Jamie Grieb-Spragg, owner of Westlake Skin Spa in Westlake Village, California, who has been helping clients with their body-hair woes for nearly a decade.
According to Grieb-Spragg, it is essential to properly cleanse your skin prior to waxing. She also recommends showering with warm water beforehand, as “the steam will also allow the pores and follicles to become more soft and supple.” Grieb-Spragg also shares one her favorite, lesser-known tips with us: “Apply a warm, microfiber towel specifically on the area to be treated, right before you wax it. Unlike traditional towels that simply push dirt back and forth, microfiber towels pick up all traces of dirt, oil and debris.”
In addition to cleansing the skin, you’ll want to make sure your hair is grown out to at least a quarter of an inch so the wax has something to grip onto. If you’re a first-time waxer, we recommend using a topical analgesic cream to prevent irritation and help numb the top layers of skin before waxing. For a cooling and hydrating sensation pre-wax, try Dr. Edna’s Bare Ease, which also soothes the skin with aloe vera.
Consider the state of your skin before deciding to wax at home. As women, we already have a lot to worry about (especially during that time of the month) and the last thing we want is to add a painful waxing experience to our list of period-woes! Grieb-Spragg suggests avoiding “any form of waxing within the four to five days leading up to your period. Our skin is exceptionally more sensitive during this time, which can increase your risk for excessive bleeding, ingrown hairs and even cystic growths.”
If it isn’t that time of the month for you and you normally have overall healthy skin, our expert still recommends being careful and cautious. “Any open sores of any kind should be strictly avoided when it comes to waxing. This includes lesions, burns, bug bites, moles and beauty marks,” Grieb-Spragg explains. She also advises against waxing if you have any type of pre-existing skin sensitivity, such as rosacea. All in all, if your pre-waxed skin is feeling iffy, it may be best to wax on a later date or find a different method of hair removal.
Hard Wax: “Typically, hard waxes are reserved for removing only our most stubborn and coarse hairs, like our bikini line and nose hairs,” Grieb-Spragg explains. “Not only do hard waxes provide the grip necessary for latching onto and removing thick hairs, but they also provide for more precision in how they are applied.” While we all want those stubborn hairs removed quickly, hard wax can be a little more difficult to handle, as it dries very quickly.
Hot Wax: “Hot wax is typically more forgiving,” says Grieb-Spragg. While hard wax may be able to grab the stubborn hairs, hot wax is easier to work with and may be the best bet for waxing beginners. “It’s easier to spread and manipulate and doesn’t dry out as quickly as hard wax generally does,” explains Grieb-Spragg. If you are waxing a larger area of the body, hot wax is the preferable option. We recommend the Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit, ideal even for beginners.
While there are many consumer products available for waxing aftercare, Grieb-Spragg ensures that “simplicity is key.” She elaborates further: “Keep the waxed areas as clean as possible for a few hours following. If you have residual wax remaining on the skin, apply olive oil or coconut oil to a cotton round and rub in gentle circles until removed.” The great part of using natural oils is that they will also help in hydrating the surrounding skin. Final tip from our expert? “Avoid any lotions or creams that contain fragrances, as these can cause irritation,” says Grieb-Spragg.
Depending on the area of your body and the results desired, shaving and depilatory creams can be good alternatives to waxing if this is your first time attempting to remove hair. While there are many ways to remove unwanted body hair, Grieb-Spragg only recommends those two options for doing it yourself. “Other than depilatories, shaving and waxing options, the other methods of hair removal should be left only to the utmost of reputable professionals,” explains Grieb-Spragg.
If you’re still not feeling confident about waxing at home, the safest bet is to go see a licensed esthetician. Grieb-Spragg explains that “waxing is a feasible at-home option, but only for those who are willing to take on the responsibility seriously. It requires time, proper prepping and careful practice. For those feeling uncertain or apprehensive, it’s best to seek the expertise of a qualified professional—at least the first time around.”