Waxing, shaving, sugaring, there are so many ways to remove hair, it's hard to know where to start and which is best. When successful, waxing removes hair from the root and can last up to six weeks for a silky smooth finish. However, skin isn't always hair-free for a full six weeks. In fact, most people actually see regrowth much sooner. Waxing may not be for everyone (especially those with a bit of a lower pain tolerance, ouch) but when done by a professional, the results can be amazing.
How quickly hair regrows depends on several factors: the average hair growth cycle, your personal hair growth cycle, breakage, and how frequently you get a wax. To learn more, we consulted estheticians Gina Petak and Sarah Akram. Keep reading to learn exactly how long a wax typically lasts—and what you can do to extend the results between appointments.
Meet the Expert
How Long Does Waxing Last?
"Waxing provides long-lasting results, you only need to wax every three to four weeks, giving you back more time in your day, week and life. Some guests prefer to come in sooner for areas like their lip, eyebrows, or underarms," says Petak. "A great thing about waxing is the more you wax the thinner and less noticeable your hair becomes."
How often you get waxed also helps to determine how long you can expect your wax to last. If you get waxed every two to four weeks, then all hair will have had the chance to be removed from the root. You'll then notice that your skin is staying hair free longer, and you'll be able to go longer between appointments. Someone who gets waxed (or uses any method that removes hair from the root) regularly will often cause the follicle to become damaged over time. This may also cause a reduction where it comes back finer or just stops growing altogether. "Your age, hormone levels, and medications all play a part in how quickly your hair grows back. The more you get waxing treatments, the thinner the hair will become," adds Akram.
Does It Depend on the Waxing Area?
Different areas of the face and body don't spend the same amount of time in their phases of growth, rest, and transition. Biological sex has also been found to affect the amount of time spent in the hair growth phase—even in the same body area. Age, season, hormone levels, and genetics also play a big part of these personal cycles. You'll also notice or feel thick or dark hair (like in the bikini line) much more than fine and light facial hair re-growth. Ultimately, this means that your leg waxing won't necessarily last you the same amount of time as your friend's, nor will it grow back in sync with the bikini wax you got on the same day.
DIY vs. Professional Waxing
Waxing at home can be tempting, but both experts recommend leaving it up to the professionals. "European Wax Center does not recommend at home waxing," says Petak, "this can be unnecessarily painful, messy (goodbye beautiful bathroom floor), allows for missed hairs, and you can even risk damaging your skin if waxing is not performed by an expert and with high-quality wax." Akram adds, "I definitely don't recommend doing a bikini or Brazilian wax at home. These areas can be very sensitive and it's better to have a professional working on those areas. Brows are also difficult as it's hard to see what you're doing. A waxing professional is licensed and trained on the safety and technique of waxing to give you the best results (with the least amount of discomfort).
Waxing at home could also lead to ripped skin if you don't have the correct technique and waxing yourself can take twice as long when you're home. My tip: leave the waxing to the pros!"
You also are at a higher risk for in-growns and broken hairs when waxing at home. Sometimes, when hair is being waxed, it can break off above or even below the skin's surface. The length of hair, the type of wax used, the quality of wax used, and skill of the technician all can affect whether the hair will break. Although professionals can break the hair, it's much more likely that you will do so yourself if you do your own at a home session. Hair that is broken has not been removed from the follicle, so you'll see hair much sooner than you thought you would when this happens. If it broke above the skin, then the results will last comparably to shaving. If it broke below the skin, you have a couple of days before you see it. Professional waxing will get you the best results.
The Stages of Hair Growth
There are three stages of hair: growing, resting, and transitional. At any given time, approximately 80 to 90 percent of hair follicles are in the growth phase. The rest are either in the transitional phase (two to three percent) or in the resting phase (10 to 15 percent). This means that, whenever you get waxed, there's probably some hair underneath the skin growing, and it hasn’t reached the surface yet. It can even be above the skin and not long enough to be grasped. In this scenario, waxing isn't going to be able to grasp these hairs and remove them. In the next few days or weeks to come, these hairs will become noticeable, although how noticeable depending on their thickness and color. Even if the hairs are the same length, dark and thick hair will start to show much sooner than light and fine hair.
"We recommend hair be at least ¼” long (about the size of a sprinkle) so it’s a good idea to stop shaving at least five days prior to your waxing reservation," says Petak. "Hair does go through different growth stages, which is why you want to stay on a consistent waxing regimen of three to four weeks. You also want to make sure you are using the right products on your skin. One of the most important parts of the growth cycle is ensuring hair does not become ingrown, as ingrown hairs can be painful, unsightly, and may even leave permanent marks or even scarring on the skin."
"After shaving or waxing make sure you are using a product that removes dead skin cells and exfoliates gently. You also want to make sure you are using a body wash that doesn’t contain oils that can coat the skin and trap hairs growing out. If these hairs become trapped as they are regrowing they may become ingrown," says Patek.
How to Make Wax Last Longer
There are ways to slow hair growth and maintain hair at-home while you’re between salon visits. Patek recommends European Wax Centers Strut Smoothly and Strut Lavishly collections, which include products that contain their Hair Growth Minimizer. "This technology helps visibly slow the regrowth of hair between waxes. One ingredient we use in particular is Narcissus Tazetta Bulb Extract, which aids in attacking the regrowth of hair at the root," says Patek.
It's important to try your hardest not to shave in-between appointments. "Another great reason to wax over shaving is when you wax regularly, time between treatments will increase. Waxing encourages the hair follicles to become weaker, making it easier to remove hair. Hair will eventually become thinner and sparse, and you’ll see see longer periods of smooth skin between sessions," says Akram.
"For pain management, you can take Advil about an hour before your waxing session. This will help control the pain and inflammation," says Akram.
Ultimately, you're at the mercy of your body when deciding to schedule your next wax. You'll only really be able to guess how frequently you should schedule your appointments after you've had a few of them already.