Experts Answer the Waxing Questions You’ve Always Wanted to Ask

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Beauty editor or not, the world of waxing seems to be surrounded by a cloud of unknowns. Here, three waxing experts answer the biggest questions surrounding the treatment so we can walk in confident, not concerned. 

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Does waxing hurt?
“Yes, waxing can be painful the first time you do it, especially if you’ve been shaving for a long time,” says Shay Sadr, aesthetician for Wakse. “However, the pain becomes very tolerable as you receive it more often.”

What’s the benefit of waxing versus shaving?
“In the short- and long-term, waxing will transform your skin and hair—skin becomes smoother and more radiant, while hair grows in much softer and sparser,” says Melanie Coba, waxing expert at European Wax Center, adding that it’s important to note that waxing also provides skin a mechanical exfoliation that leaves it soft and refreshed. “Most guests are surprised at how quickly their hair changes, and the results only get better the longer you do it.” Sadr adds, “Shaving only cuts the hair at the skin’s surface, which can cause pseudofolliculitis, also known as razor bumps that can be very uncomfortable.” Another benefit: Because waxing removes the hair from the hair bulb instead of the surface, hair grows back (or reaches the surface) significantly slower.

Will I get ingrown hairs?
It really depends on your routine. “There are a few main factors that have an impact on whether you are likely to get an ingrown hair or not,” says Uni K Wax founder Noemi Grupenmager, adding that these include wearing very tight clothing like jeans, leggings or shapewear; failing to close the pores after waxing (many professional salons will apply a cold pack to the area to close pores immediately); lack of exfoliation and shaving in between appointments. “Exfoliating is a good habit to practice all the time to prevent ingrown hairs, exfoliating with a loofah helps clear out the dead cells that can prevent the hair follicle from growing outward,” she says. 

How long does waxing last?
“Depending on the area of the body and hair type, waxing can last anywhere between four to six weeks,” says Sadr.

Can I shave between waxing appointments?
“The number-one thing to avoid is shaving—especially between waxing appointments,” says Grupenmager. “Shaving makes the hair grow thicker and can cause more than one hair to come out of each pore. Over time, it can make the skin look bumpy and it often will cause ingrown hairs.”

Does hair grow back thicker or darker after waxing? 
“After waxing, skin is typically smooth for two to three weeks, and then your hair grows in for about a week,” says Coba. “However, the hair growing in is fine and soft, and after a certain point, it is barely visible.” Wakes agrees, contending that consistency is key here. “The more you get waxed, the more your skin and hair adapts, allowing you to go weeks without coming back in.”

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Should I stop taking Retin-A, Renova or Accutane before I start waxing?
If a guest is taking acne medication such as Retin-A or Accutane, we cannot wax anywhere on their face. Similarly, if someone is severely sunburned, we cannot wax them either,” says Coba.

How should I care for freshly waxed skin?
“We always recommend avoiding touching your newly hair-free skin right away,” says Coba. “The skin is so fresh after waxing, and the pores are still open and susceptible to bacteria. Touching it so soon will only clog pores and transfer the bacteria that’s on your hands to your face and other parts of your body.” If your face has recently been waxed, Coba says disinfecting your cell phone is also a good idea to avoid spreading bacteria. “Avoid exercising and wearing tight, sweaty clothes after body waxing. We also suggest waiting a few hours before hopping into a hot shower to avoid any reaction if you do not wax regularly. You should also stay in the shade for 48 hours after waxing, as the fresh skin is more sensitive to sunlight.” 

How should I prep for my waxing appointment?
“Before waxing, it is important to make sure your hair is long enough,” Coba explains. “We say about the length of a grain of rice is perfect for the job. If the hair is too short, we can’t remove it properly. If it’s too long, your wax specialist can take care of it.” Coba also says regular exfoliation is essential both before your visit and in between appointments. According to Sadr, exfoliating at least 24 to 48 hours before your appointment is ideal. “By removing the dead skin cells, it allows the wax to penetrate into the skin’s surface better,” she explains. Another crucial tip: Never stop moisturizing, which Coba says she can’t stress enough. Lastly, try not to be shy or self-conscious. “Your waxing specialist does this all day,” advises Coba. “Relax and take a deep breath,” adds Sadr. “It will be over before you know it—we promise!”

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