If your social media feed is anything like mine, you’ve probably noticed an uptick in the amount of people participating in what sounds like the most torturous activity ever invented: at-home waxing. The catch, though, is that the wax everyone is spreading all over their hairy bits is allegedly pain-free. As in, you can apply a thick swatch and yank it off without so much as a yelp.
My initial reaction to all this was: No. No way! How can ripping out body hair ever be a pleasant experience? So, I did what any sane person would do. I bought myself a wax warmer kit, some wooden applicators, and a bag of the magical, bright-blue wax beads everyone’s raving about.
A true multi-tasker, I reached out to some waxing experts for the DL while waiting for the package to arrive at my doorstep. Celeste Hilling, celebrity aesthetician and the CEO of Skin Authority, was straight with me: waxing is never completely painless. But, she said, there are things you can do to reduce the pain.
“To minimize the pain of waxing, don’t use any exfoliating ingredients, such as scrubs, two days or less before the waxing. Exfoliation heightens pain sensitivity,” she noted. “Also, don’t do physical ablation, such as using a body brush, two days or less prior, and minimize outdoor sun exposure 24 hours before.”
She also said that using products and supplements containing arnica, and taking ibuprofen several hours before you wax, can minimize pain and reduce inflammation.
Berenice S. Rothenberg, a certified clinical electrologist and cosmetologist who specializes in hair growth and removal, added, “Pain can be lessened by not waiting until the hair is too long,” but noted that pain ultimately “depends on the client’s skin sensitivity and hair texture.” (The ideal hair length for waxing is about 1/2-inch, by the way.)
Finally, some other steps you can take to minimize pain is to adequately clean the area of your skin so that wax adheres to primarily hair and not your skin, and to use a quality wax. Which leads me to the much heralded, “pain free” Auperwel Hard Wax Beans, a professional-grade wax that's approved for hair removal on your legs, under arms, bikini edge, chest, back, and face.
To preface, I have a moderate pain threshold, and was admittedly a little nervous about this at-home waxing process. The last time I waxed myself was in grade school during sleepovers with my BFF, and we would howl in pain with every yank, and then erupt in laughter.
In any case, I began with my leg hair, which I allowed to grow out for a good five days before this experiment. The wax melted quickly in the warmer, was consistent in texture, and applied very evenly. When at home waxing, you must apply the wax in the direction of your hair growth, allow it to reach a hardened, but still flexible state, pull up on one edge, and then remove quickly against the grain. So that's exactly what I did.
I braced myself for the yank, and swiftly pulled it away. Was there pain? Yes. There was pain. But, honestly not that much, and the sting subsided within 15 to 20 seconds. It was tolerable enough that I proceeded to wax both of my legs in their entirety, and then I moved on to the middle section between my eyebrows (which was less painful), a tiny patch on my arm (slightly more painful), and then the edges of my bikini area (about the same pain as my legs).
Next, I moved on to my boyfriend, who's never had anything waxed. I applied the wax to his middle brow area, and was honestly prepared for a dramatic reaction of historical magnitude. Instead, he yanked it off (no way in hell I was going to be responsible for that) and said, “That’s it?” Not even a flinch, people. And when I asked him to rate his pain from one to 10, he said, “Oh, that was nothing. Maybe like a .2.” So there you have it.
The bottom line is that no, waxing can never be completely free of pain, unless you've been put under or have an insane pain tolerance. However, the Auperwel wax is honestly less painful than other at-home waxes. The bigger issue you need to worry about is proper administation and follow-up care.
Going to a professional will lessen the probability of getting ingrown hairs, which, if left untreated, can result in infection, said Rothenburg. Also, "in the end you will get better and longer lasting results" but hitting up your local wax pro.
Hilling added, “I recommend having waxing done by an esthetician for several reasons. The risk of infection and irritation is less because the waxing will be done in a controlled, clean environment, and the esthetician will clean the area of your body before waxing and treat afterwards. Also, if you need to have your bikini area, and other hard-to-reach spots, waxed, it’s much easier for the esthetician to do so than trying to do it yourself."
I personally plan to use the wax again for small areas, like my brows, and will continue shaving larger areas, like my legs. However, I will leave the prone-to-ingrown, and more sensitive areas, to an expert.
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