May is finally here, which means the promise of warmer weather (and subsequently, barer limbs) is just around the corner. To aid in the never-ending quest to stubble-free skin, we spoke with esthetician Lydia Jovel from Stark Waxing Studio and asked her to give us a crash course on waxing basics—including exactly what we can do to make the experience as pain-free as possible. Lucky for us, she was more than happy to oblige. Because when it comes to swimsuit season, there’s no such thing as being too prepared.
Click through the slideshow above for everything you need to know about waxing, from start to finish!
The main difference between hard wax and soft wax? In general, Jovel says that hard wax is gentler, because it wraps around the hair and pulls from the roots, instead of tugging at the skin. However, for very fine hair, it’s not as effective. “We use hard waxes for areas with strong hair, like the bikini area and underarms,” she says. “Soft wax is usually used in larger areas, like the legs, arms, and back.” Jovel says that ultimately, an esthetician will ask you a couple of questions about how sensitive your skin is, as well as examine your hair to determine which wax is better for your skin. “If my client says ‘I’m very sensitive and I get red,’ then I would probably choose a hard wax,” she says.
When it comes to prepping for a wax, Jovel says that staying hydrated is key. “I would recommend avoiding coffee or alcohol the night before,” she says. “You want the body to have less acid and more alkaline, so drink lots of water—lemon and cucumbers will help too.” She also suggests exfoliating the skin to get a smoother wax, but make sure to do so a few days before instead of the day of your appointment: “Exfoliating right before your wax can leave your skin extra-sensitive and lead to irritation!” she says. If you’re especially sensitive to pain, she says you can always take an over-the-counter painkiller like Advil or Tylenol an hour before your appointment.
While your wax is happening, Jovel says that most important thing you can do is to stay relaxed (easier said than done, we know). “Just follow your esthetician’s instructions, ask questions, and try to breathe,” she says. “People tend to tense up when they’re afraid, but that will only make it hurt more!” Good news to waxing newbies: Jovel says the first time always hurts the most, and it gets much better each time after.
Jovel says it’s normal for your skin to be red and sensitive after a wax—however, it shouldn’t stay that way for more than a few days. “We usually recommend that people wax at least two to three days before a big event,” she says. “That way, you give your skin some time to heal and get back to normal.” When it comes to aftercare, she says a bit of cortisone cream on the bikini area will help with irritation. Once all the redness is gone, she suggests moisturizing and exfoliating daily to keep the area smooth and prevent ingrown hairs.
It may be tempting to book your next waxing appointment the minute you see hair growing in, but Jovel says to be patient. “It really depends on the client, but four to five weeks is the average length of time to wait before your next wax,” she says. “And resist the urge to tweeze or shave before then!” Your hair should be half an inch to three quarters of an inch long before it’s ready to be waxed again. “Your hair grows in cycles,” she says. “If you come back too soon, you’ll have only half the amount of hair that needs to be pulled out—the rest will be unnoticeable, but will grow out quickly afterwards.”
Keep clicking to shop the best post-wax products!
Jergens Soothing Aloe Vera Lotion ($7)
PFB Vanish ($10)
Whish Flawless Ingrown Hair Serum ($23)
Malin + Goetz Ingrown Hair Cream ($34)
Bliss Ingrown Eliminating Pads ($38)
Gigi Post Wax Cooling Gel ($6)
Tend Skin Razor Bump Solution ($20)
Stark Exfoliating Mitt ($15)