How to Prevent Dark Skin Spots After Waxing, According to Dermatologists

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Getty Images / Jacob Lund

Sometimes solving one beauty problem leads to another conundrum. In this case, we're talking about dark spots that can sometimes be left behind after waxing. Sure, you've gotten rid of that unwanted hair, but now you're stuck with unwanted hyperpigmentation. But before discussing solutions, it's important to understand what causes dark spots.

"Dark spots that occur after waxing are usually due to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation," medical and aesthetic dermatologist Kiran Mian, DO, FAAD, explains. "Waxing can be traumatic on the skin, especially when hair is coarse or ingrown, and the trauma can trigger melanocytes to release melanin into the skin in response to the inflammation. Coarse, thicker hair is more prone to hyperpigmentation. Those with darker skin tones have more melanin and are also more prone to hyperpigmentation." However, board-certified dermatologist Amy Wechsler, MD, says it's important to remember that no one is immune to dark spots.

The good news is that there are simple solutions that can help you manage post-waxing hyperpigmentation. Ahead, discover seven derm-approved ways to treat and prevent dark spots.

Meet the Expert

01 of 07

Exfoliate Before Your Appointment

This will help prevent dark spots from forming in the first place. "I like using lotions or toners with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) to prevent ingrown hairs," Dr. Mian says. "After the waxing appointment, I suggest keeping the area moisturized. Continue to apply the alpha hydroxy acid lotion 24 hours after the waxing procedure." Dr. Mian's go-tos are Amlactin's Daily Hydrating Lotion ($14) or prescription strength Lac-Hydrin.

02 of 07

Choose Cool Wax

Yes, cool or cold wax exists, and it's the way to go if you have sensitive skin and know you're prone to dark marks. "If you like your waxing place and trust them, tell the waxer that you have sensitive skin so they won't pull as hard, and they won't rip off the waxing paper," Dr. Wechsler says.

03 of 07

Be Gentle Around the Dark Spots

"It's important to be gentle to the skin," Dr. Wechsler says. "Don't shave over [the dark spots]. If you have an ingrown hair, don't try to remove it. Use a gentle moisturizer. Don't use a washcloth in the shower; use your clean hands with a gentle soap or body wash and pat the area dry. Treat it super gently, like baby's skin."

04 of 07

Look For Products With Brightening Ingredients

"Using serums with vitamin C or alpha arbutin can also help to lighten the area," Dr. Mian says. "In some cases, hydroquinone may be appropriate, depending on the area being treated." With hydroquinone, Dr. Wechsler recommends starting with the over-the-counter option, and if you’re still not seeing results, then you can ask your doctor for a stronger prescription version.

Dr. Wechsler, who serves as an advisor for Chanel Skincare, also suggests Chanel Le Blanc Serum ($200) because it contains TXC (Cetyl Tranexamate HCl), a brightening ingredient.

05 of 07

Be Vigilant About SPF

Wearing sunscreen is a must, but it's important to be extra cautious when dealing with dark spots after waxing. Keeping the affected areas protected from sun exposure is key to preventing those spots from getting darker. "Sunscreen is mandatory, but covering [the skin] is better," Dr. Wechsler says. "Reapply sunscreen every hour and after swimming or exercise."

06 of 07

Try an In-Office Procedure

If the spots don't budge, it might be time to try an in-office treatment. "Depending on the area, chemical peels can be very helpful in lifting unwanted pigment," Dr. Mian says. "Microneedling can also help to renew the skin, lightening pigmented areas, and in some cases, lasers can be helpful."

For lasers, Dr. Wechsler often opts for Fraxel. "However, you have to be careful with dark marks because many lasers can potentially make a dark mark worse, so I'll usually start with hydroquinone at varying strengths," she cautions.

07 of 07

Opt for A Different Hair Removal Method

"Waxing can be very effective for hair removal, but can cause excessive pulling and tugging on the skin, which over time denatures collagen and leads to sagging or loss of elasticity," Dr. Mian says. "Exploring other modes of hair removal, like lasers or threading, may be helpful in deciding which modality is best for you."

The Final Takeaway

It's common for dark spots to arise after waxing. But thankfully, there are tons of ways to manage and reduce them at home, from exfoliating more regularly to being more vigilant about SPF application. However, when consistent home remedies aren’t working, it might be time to see a pro. “If you've tried at-home treatments for four weeks and are still concerned or find the condition getting worse, seeing a board-certified dermatologist can be helpful to come up with a treatment plan that’s best for you," Dr. Mian says.

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