The Biggest DIY Waxing Mistakes You're Probably Making

Woman sitting on bench with shaven legs

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DIY waxing mistakes can cause more than frustration, and wasted time and money. Missed hair, breakage, unnecessary pain, redness, and even ingrown hairs can result from giving yourself a bad wax. To counter this, learn about the common blunders made at home, and how to prevent and avoid them. You'll have a better experience removing your hair and saving money.

How To Wax at Home
Alison Czinkota/Byrdie
01 of 07

Not Having Enough Hair

Hair growth needs to be about 1/4" long to be grasped and uplifted by wax. Just because you can see or feel the hair does not mean that the wax can get ahold of it. Hard wax may be able to attach to hair a bit shorter, but there's more of a learning curve to getting the application and removal technique down.

You can wait until it gets longer, or opt for threading if it's facial hair. Sugaring paste can lift out hair as short as 1/16" on the face or body.

Herbivore coco rose body polish
Herbivore Coco Rose Coconut Oil Body Polish $36
02 of 07

Not Keeping Wax Warm Enough

Plenty of at-home waxing kits contain microwavable wax. It's convenient, and significantly less expensive than buying a separate wax warmer. Unfortunately, microwaves don't always heat the wax evenly. Since the wax isn't on a continuous heat source, it'll cool off. Wax that isn't meant to be used cool won't spread or remove hair well if it isn't warm enough.

If you're waxing a sizable area, be sure to keep checking the consistency. Microwave as needed. If it gets too hot or runny, let it cool first. If you plan on waxing a lot, warmers are a great investment.

wax warmer
Starpil Standard Facial Wax Warmer $39
03 of 07

Not Holding Skin Taut

When you're pulling the strip off, the skin should be held taut, which means it should be stretched tight when the wax is removed. When skin is held firm, there's less tugging. Contrary to popular belief, it's not the actual hair coming out of the follicle that causes pain and redness, it's the tugging on the skin.

Hold skin with your free hand when removing the strip, or ask for help when you can't (like when waxing your arms).

Flamingo The Body Wax Kit
Flamingo Body Wax Kit $10
04 of 07

Not Prepping Skin

Prior to waxing, skin first needs to be cleaned of dirt, oil, and makeup. First of all, soft wax will be repelled by grime, instead of sticking on hair. Secondly, there's more chance of missed hair, breakage, post-wax irritation and pimples. Fortunately, cleaning is simple to do. If something to clean skin isn't included in your kit, a cleanser like GiGi Pre Hon is easy to find at your local beauty supply store. If not, at least use gentle soap and water.

GiGi Pre Hon
GiGi Pre Hon Pre-Epilation Cleanser $11

A light application of powder (for soft wax) or pre-epilation oil (for hard) after the skin is cleansed and dried, is another great prepping step. They both work with their particular kind of wax to buffer the skin, which allows for the best possible results.

GiGi Pre Epilation oil
GiGi Pre-Epilation Oil $6
05 of 07

Putting on Too Much Product

It's easy to be seduced into thinking "Let me really coat this on so I can get every hair." Really, you should just be applying a thin layer of wax—enough to cover the hair, no more.

If too much wax is swiped on, there'll be ​a greater chance of wax staying on the hair when the strip is removed. It also will probably hurt more or cause bruising, and there's an added chance of breaking hair above or below the skin's surface.

sally hansen wax strip kit
Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit $7

When applying the wax, keep the applicator at a 45-degree angle against the skin—that's the best angle for spreading.

06 of 07

Removing Wax Too Slowly

The strip needs to be removed quickly in one motion from one side, across, and past the other side. Your natural reaction will be to hesitate, go only so far, or pull upwards instead of all the way over to the other side.

Do some practice pulls without the wax—just using the strip—to get the feel of the movement. Or, ask for someone to help. They'll probably have less hesitation when ripping off the strip than you would.

Veet Ready-to-Use Wax Strips & Wipes
Veet Legs & Body Wax Strip Kit $10
07 of 07

Thinking It Will Be Easy

The process doesn't look that difficult, right? You swipe some wax over hair in the direction of growth, put on a strip and pull it off in the opposite direction. Well, the techs only make it look fairly effortless. In reality, it's not that easy. The techs have gone to school, gotten a license to perform services, and have experience behind them.

You need some practice to get the technique down. If you don't give up, you should be able to learn to wax some parts of your face or body.

Of course, if you would rather not be bothered, then make an appointment. And remember, you should always leave a Brazilian to the pros.

Bliss waxing kit
Bliss Poetic Waxing Kit $24

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