How to Avoid (and Treat) the Side Effects of Waxing

Wax in a waxing pot, next to a marble tray full of waxing sticks

 Sam Jackson / Getty Images

Unfortunately, the side effects of waxing aren't always just hairlessness. Hair removal sometimes leaves its mark—and comes with the price of redness, breakouts, ingrown hairs, and more. But the easily-mitigated side effects of waxing shouldn't stop you from losing out on its benefits. Being educated about preventative treatment, and knowing how to get rid of problems when they arise, will turn waxing from a terrifying prospect to an exciting one.

01 of 08

Redness and Inflammation

Does waxing have you seeing red? You’re not alone, as some level of pink tends to come with the territory—especially if you're removing thick hair, or have sensitive skin. Although you may not be able to completely avoid it, there are some things you can do to lessen redness and leave your skin closer to how it looked before the wax.

One thing that helps is using an aloe-based gel moisturizer to calm the skin. If you're looking for something fast-absorbing and non-toxic, Make Beauty's Succulent Skin Gel is a great option. Try to wear loose or comfortable clothes on the afflicted area (if you have to wear clothes,) as friction will only further irritate an already aggravated patch of skin.

02 of 08


Congratulations! Your hair is gone, but now you're left with a pimple or two, or (yikes) even a breakout. Unfortunately, there's a chance this will happen even if you go to the best technician and you're not prone to acne. It only happens because an open follicle is more susceptible to the presence of bacteria. Naturally, due diligence pre- and post-wax, including taking care of basic hygiene, is key.

Don't apply oily moisturizers if pimples develop in an attempt to make them go away. In fact, you want to avoid the area becoming particularly moist—that's when bacteria spreads the most easily, and it can make your situation way worse. 

03 of 08

Ingrown Hairs

These painful invaders seem to pop up a lot after every single kind of hair removal. Shaving is a major offender, as well as using an epilator, but waxing does manage to make the list too.

Ideally, waxing is supposed to remove the entire hair follicle from the root, but sometimes, the hair breaks off instead. This breakage is an ideal breeding ground for hair to pierce the skin, leading to an ingrown hair. The good news is, by prepping the skin correctly, and taking care of it after your hair is gone, you can beat these annoying invaders.

04 of 08


Sometimes, you look at your freshly waxed skin a few hours after your process, only to find red bumps. They're not pimples, and they're not ingrown hairs—what are they?

Turns out, the bumps you see immediately after waxing are quite similar to the bumps you see when dealing with razor burn. Treat them the same, keeping the area moisturized and using a calming cream.

05 of 08


While the skin does get pulled on, and bruising on sensitive skin is normal, you shouldn't be turning black and blue after waxing. If this is a result of doing it at home, be gentler with yourself next time, and examine why it could have happened. If it's not a result of at-home waxing, don't return to that technician. Unfortunately, bruising isn't easily remedied. Try a high-CBD cream like Lord Jones to help with the pain. 

06 of 08

Burned or Removed Skin

If the waxing really hurt, your skin is extremely red, and it looks burned and scraped, it's not the end of the world—but it is a problem. Likely, the wax was heated and applied too hot, which tends to happen with a wax pot that has an on-off switch rather than an adjustable temperature. Naturally, this particular issue tends to happen with at-home waxing more often than it does with pros.

If the heat of the wax isn't the issue (and it probably is,) something else is to blame. Consider if there could possibly be an interaction with any medication you're taking, a skincare product you're using, or if the reaction could be associated with a medical condition. It's important to know when you need to take extra precaution, and if you might need to avoid waxing in a certain zone or find a new hair removal method.

07 of 08


Sharp pain may only be present while the hair is being removed, but can be hard to deal with, especially in delicate areas. Granted, your hair is being pulled from the root, but it should never hurt so much you start crying. Whether you've gone to a professional salon or are saving money and went DIY, try to keep pain to a minimum by keeping the area moisturized.

08 of 08

Change in Skin Color

Perhaps your hair hasn’t grown back yet, but it looks almost like it has. Or, your skin looks darker, kind of like a sunspot is forming. If that's the case, it sounds like your skin is either sensitive to the sun or reacting to a medication you're taking. The best thing you can do in this case is let the hair grow back, and see a dermatologist before you try to wax or shave this area again.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Hair removal: how to wax.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. 10 skin care habits that can worsen acne.

  3. Khanna N, Chandramohan K, Khaitan BK, Singh MK. Post waxing folliculitis: a clinicopathological evaluationInt J Dermatol. 2014;53(7):849-854. doi:10.1111/ijd.12056

  4. Chang AC, Watson KM, Aston TL, Wagstaff MJ, Greenwood JE. Depilatory wax burns: experience and investigationEplasty. 2011;11:e25.

  5. Cleveland Clinic. Pigmentation: abnormal pigmentation. Updated March 29, 2016.

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