To the uninitiated, waxing can be intimidating. (Heck, to the initiated it can still be scary.) Besides being potentially painful, it also raises a handful of embarrassing questions you might be too shy to ask your waxer. That’s why we consulted European Wax Center’s brand ambassador Melanie Coba on the most common (and uncomfortable) queries and got the answers you need before your next appointment.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Waxing (but Were Too Embarrassed to Ask)
1. I’ve heard there are different types of waxes used. How do I know which one is better?
Soft wax is stickier in consistency and removed using cloth strips, while hard wax gets its name from the actual wax cooling and hardening after application onto the skin, explains Coba. Once it cools, it’s removed without the use of any strips. Generally speaking, soft wax is best suited for large surface areas like the arms and legs because it’s a quicker process. Hard wax is better for the bikini area (or if you have sensitive skin) because it only adheres to the hairs and not the surrounding skin like soft wax does.
2. It’s been a while since I last waxed (or shaved). Should I trim beforehand?
Nope. If you’re worried about grossing out the technician, know that he or she literally does this for a living and is in no way offended by the sight of an unkempt bikini area. Also, if the hair is trimmed too short, it can’t be removed properly, which can lead to ingrowns, says Coba.
3. Speaking of ingrown hairs…they’re the worst. Is there any way to avoid them?
Those buggers are a possibility anytime you remove hair, but there are a few things you can do to significantly reduce their occurrence. For starters, keeping a consistent schedule helps because when you wax too early or too late, the hair is more susceptible to breaking instead of being pulled from the roots. Coba recommends two to three weeks for face or underarm waxing and three to four for the bikini area and rest of your body.
4. Is there anything I can do to make it hurt less?
Fortunately, yes. Thirty minutes before your appointment, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like Advil or Motrin. Also, never get waxed less than five days before your period, since your skin is extra sensitive then.
5. What about getting waxed during my period? Is that a no-go?
Actually, it’s not, as long as you’re wearing a tampon. You might not want to, though, since your skin will still be sensitive. The best time to get waxed, pain-wise, is three to four days after your period.
6. And if I’m pregnant?
Yes, you can still wax. However, you may experience more sensitivity due to hormonal changes. And when you get to the last trimester, we recommend checking with your doctor, advises Coba.
7. Why is my skin super itchy and red after a wax?
Some common culprits that cause irritation include wearing the wrong underwear to your appointment (soft cotton is best), immediately hopping in the shower afterwards (wait a few hours before exposing your skin to hot water), or exercising (tight clothing and movement equals friction).
8. At the risk of TMI, will the technician wax my butt?
Only if you’re getting a Brazilian wax or if you specifically ask the technician to go there. During an appointment don’t be afraid to speak up about what you want and how tolerant (or intolerant) you are of pain. We’re not saying you have to make small talk with your waxer, but it’s best for everyone to keep open lines of communication.
8. Is there any way to extend the length of a particularly successful wax?
Exfoliating in between appointments helps keep skin smoother longer since you’re removing dead skin cells, which can get trapped in hair follicles and lead to bumps. Starting two to three days after your appointment, you can either use a physical scrub or a chemical exfoliant depending on how sensitive your skin is. Also, keeping the area well moisturized helps the hairs grow in softer.