Does your upper lip (or, um, bikini line) always break out into a constellation of tiny little bumps after getting a wax? Though certainly annoying, it’s not uncommon. While the wax removes unwanted hairs, it also takes some surface-level skin with it—leaving your pores exposed to anything it comes into contact with (like the oil from your fingertips). Luckily, with a few precautions you can help prevent those pesky breakouts from ever surfacing in the first place.
Step 1. Cleanse and gently exfoliate the area that’s being waxed right before your appointment. You want to make sure that there’s no makeup, dirt or dead skin cells that can get trapped in your pores once the hair is removed. And if you’re headed to your appointment straight from the office, toss a wipe into your bag for a quick clean. (We like these individually-wrapped wipes from Ursa Major because they have natural exfoliants like willow bark extract in them and are extremely portable.)
Step 2. Once you get home, immediately wipe the area with witch hazel, which is both antiseptic and soothing. And whatever you do, fight the urge to touch your newly smooth skin.
Step 3. If your skin is red or irritated, ice the area for a few minutes and apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream over it to reduce any inflammation.
Step 4. In the 48 hours after your appointment, avoid heat, steam and restrictive clothing (meaning steer clear of baths, saunas, hot yoga and tight leggings). Again, waxing removes the top layers of your skin so it's more vulnerable to irritation and infection. You want to keep your skin clean, cool and well-ventilated.
Step 5. After the first few days, exfoliate your skin regularly to prevent any ingrown hairs and future breakouts. We recommend using a gentle scrub or a loofah (if you have sensitive skin).
And if you’re still breaking out after following these precautions, you might want to consider other hair removal options like threading or sugaring (which are less abrasive).