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Everything you should know before waxing your body hair

Consider these expert tips before your appointment.

A pair of bare legs and wax dripping from wood swabs. Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Alexandra Turkina / LumiNola

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Deciding to wax your body hair—or remove it in any capacity—is a personal decision and certainly not a necessity. But if you want to give it a shot because you’re looking to cast your razor to the side, know that there are steps you can take to make the whole process smoother.

To find out what you should know before scheduling an appointment, we spoke with Dr. Cybele Fishman, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology PC in New York City, and Page Buldini, an esthetician and the founder of Page Aesthetics Skincare.

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1. Let the professionals handle it

Close up of wood swabs dripping with wax.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Narongrit Doungmanee

Thinking of waxing? Best to let a professional handle it.

If you’ve wondered if you can wax your body hair at home, just know that it may not be the best idea to DIY this on the fly. Fishman admits that she doesn’t know all of the ins and outs on how to perform a DIY body wax, but she remains conflicted if it’s even a good idea at all. “Pros are you have control over the cleanliness and you may save money in the long run,” she says. On the other hand, “if you don't follow directions properly, you can burn yourself if you are using hot wax,” Fishman says.

2. Make sure the spa is clean

A person waxes a customer's legs.
Credit: Reviewed

Visit an establishment that specifically specializes in waxing.

Always do your research on a salon ahead of booking your waxing appointment. Fishman emphasizes the importance of finding a spa that is clean, as an unsanitary treatment can result in some serious consequences for your skin down the road. “I have seen many staph infections after waxing, and now, with MRSA so common, it is even more important to pick your place carefully,” she says.

The main thing to keep in mind while on your salon search: Find a place that specializes in waxing as opposed to a nail salon, for example, that may offer waxing as a secondary service. “[A waxing center] is more likely to have specific sanitation protocols,” Fishman says. This is your skin health we’re talking about, so never rush into finding a waxing service—and trust your intuition when choosing one.

3. Avoid waxing under certain circumstances

A person uses cream to alleviate a sunburn.
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It's best to reschedule if you have a sunburn.

Using specific skincare products or having a particular skin condition immediately takes the possibility of waxing off the table. “Do not wax anything if you are on isotretinoin or within the first month after finishing,” Fishman says. Isotretinoin (a.k.a. Accutane—a controversial acne medication) heightens the skin’s sensitivity and waxing will cause it to tear, she says.

The hands-off waxing rule of thumb also applies to those that are actively using skincare products that contain acids, such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and lactic acid as well as topical retinoids, whether over-the-counter or prescription. If you use one of these but are keen on waxing, stop using such products on the area you plan to wax at least five days before the treatment, especially if you’re removing hair on the face, says Fishman.

Skin that has been compromised due to inflammation should not be waxed as well. “This includes sunburnt skin, or skin that has conditions like eczema or psoriasis,” Fishman says.

4. Don’t trim your hair before waxing

A person wearing a turquoise tank top lifts up their underarms to show hair.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / Delmaine Donson

Let your hair grow out before getting a wax treatment.

The main objective of waxing is to get rid of unwanted hair, so there’s no reason to trim it beforehand. In fact, snipping excess hair may lead to poor results. “If the hair is too short, it won't fully remove,” Buldini says. “Longer is always better, so don't trim beforehand.” Furthermore, it’s best to let the hair grow out four to six weeks prior to seeking a waxing treatment.

5. Avoid spray tans and exercising

A person wearing a maroon activewear set smiles and has their hand on their hip.
Credit: Reviewed / Getty Images / JLco - Julia Amaral

Lay low on certain activities, like exercising, before a wax appointment.

Laying low around waxing time is undoubtedly the major theme here, and that means forgoing some activities. Spray tanning is one of the things you should not do before a waxing session, because the process of waxing involves exfoliating the skin and the spray tan runs the risk of removal. Once waxed, though, you can get a tan after one to three days because the hair follicles would have had some time to heal, says Buldini.

Meanwhile, she recommends giving exercise a rest at a minimum of 24 hours after a wax, as wearing fitted clothing and physical activity “could cause friction—which would also be unpleasant for freshly waxed skin.”

6. Wear loose-fitting clothing to your appointment

Two people wear comfortable sweat suits.
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Opt to don something flowy and loose for the appointment.

You’ll want to be plenty comfortable after your wax, and tight-fitted clothing may rub against the waxed area and cause irritation. For that reason, make sure to wear loose clothing—such as an oversized T-shirt, a flowy skirt, or relaxed-fitted pants—to your waxing appointment. Going commando is also not a bad idea if you’re planning to wax the bikini area.

7. Know that irritation is normal

A pack of Cortizone and a bottle of lotion.
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Cut down the itchiness with hydrating body lotion.

Your skin is probably going to be tender post-wax, but there are ways to ease the pain. Apply hydrocortisone on the skin if you’re experiencing “minor swelling or itch,” says Buldini, who encourages “hydrating your body with your normal body lotion or body oil.” Side note: If you waxed your bikini area, only apply products on the perimeter to avoid any product migrating into more sensitive areas.

For some post-wax irritation relief, consider reaching for the Cortizone 10 Maximum Strength 1% Hydrocortisone Anti-Itch Cream, a drugstore fix that soothes inflammation and redness. And to make sure your skin gets the hydration it needs, try the Reviewed-approved Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion Fragrance-Free, which earned our Best Overall spot due to its ability to absorb into the skin without pilling or latching onto dry patches.

8. Relax for a day or so

A person relaxes in a jacuzzi.
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It's important to unwind but don't swim in a pool or soak in a hot tub until 24 hours has passed after a wax.

Just as it is encouraged to refrain from exercising and spray tanning pre-wax, you should press pause on activities like swimming, sunbathing, and sex (for bikini area waxes) for 24 hours post-wax as well, says Buldini. It’s also wise to avoid soaking in a hot tub for a few days after a wax, according to Fishman, who says, “You will be more prone to [a skin infection called] hot-tub folliculitis caused by [water-borne] pseudomonas bacteria those days.”

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