How to (Almost) Painlessly Wax Your Upper Lip

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Stocksy / Design by Dion Mills

While waxing your upper lip might sound easy enough to do at home, you shouldn't just go in blind and trust your gut. There's a reason people go to school for it. Professionals know how to get the best results, and it's important to follow their methods so you can make sure you're doing it correctly. Following a pro's advice teaches you how to avoid needless pain, how to get rid of the most hair, and how to help you avoid seeing red.

For starters: While the cold wax strips look like an easy and economical solution, they don’t grab onto the hair that well. Instead, you should use cream wax heated up in a wax pot. Creamy wax may be significantly better for the delicate skin on the upper lip because it’s one of the gentlest waxes. It’s also easier to work with than honey waxes, because it's less sticky.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 10 minutes

What You Need:

  • Wax warmer
  • Cream wax
  • Pre-wax cleanser
  • Baby powder
  • Muslin strips
  • Wooden applicators
  • Wax remover for the skin (you can use baby oil or petroleum jelly, as well)
  • After-wax lotion, or aloe based gel
  • Tweezers

How to Wax Your Upper Lip:

  1. Buy a waxing kit. There are plenty on Amazon.
  2. Have enough hair. Your hair needs to be at least 1/4" long in order for the wax to grab hold.
  3. Pull or pin back hair. You don’t want your hair in the way, or to end up getting it in the wax.
  4. Wash hands. You would never want to work with an esthetician who uses dirty tools, would you?
  5. Cleanse facial area. Wash your upper lip area, then pat it dry or apply a pre-wax cleanser. Lightly dust powder on the area you'll be waxing. Don’t overdo it on the powder, though—more isn’t necessarily better.
  6. Work in sections. You want to break the upper lip into five sections when applying wax. The skin between the philthral columns is one section. The areas on either side of the upper cutaneous lip are broken into two sections each.
  7. Apply The Wax.  Apply wax evenly in the direction of hair growth using an applicator (wooden stick) to the first outer section on the left side of your lip (side closest to cheek). Be careful! You want enough wax to thoroughly cover hair, but not for it to be so thick that it becomes difficult to remove. Get the wax on near the corners of your mouth where hair tends to hide by sticking your tongue under your upper lip to extend the skin out.
  8. Cover with a strip. Apply the muslin strip in the direction of hair growth (usually down), leaving some leftover strip at the end not attached to hair, like a tab. Press and firmly smooth your hand over the strip in the direction of hair growth a couple times, to ensure the wax is attaching to hair and has slightly cooled.
  9. Turn in lip. Tuck your top lip under your teeth like you’re trying to hide your lips, which makes skin tauter and may help with pain, redness and less breaking of hair.
  10. Remove The Wax. Grasp onto the end of strip that isn't attached to the hair. Hold your skin taut with one hand, and remove the strip in opposite direction of hair growth in one quick pull, all the way to the other side. Don't pull up, which might be your natural inclination. Press your hand down on ​skin to help relieve some of the pain after the strip is removed. If a little bit of wax with hair remains, simply put the strip back on the hair and pull it off again.
  11. Repeat. Continue with steps 7-10 again, finishing up the left side and the two other sections on the right side.
  12. Wax middle section. Repeat steps 7-10 on the middle section, applying wax from top to bottom works best here.
  13. Clean up missed hairs. While holding skin taut, use clean tweezers to remove any hairs missed by the wax.
  14. Clean the wax off your skin. Remove any remaining residue with wax remover, baby oil, or petroleum jelly.
  15. Soothe skin. Apply an after-wax lotion, or an aloe based gel. If you need to go somewhere and your skin is still red, apply a bit of mineral foundation.


  1. Don't wax your upper lip if you're taking Accutane, or have any condition you're aware of that could cause an adverse reaction. 
  2. Wax in front of a large mirror instead of a hand-held one, so you can see clearly.
  3. Practice using the wax on a small part of your body, like your arm, so you get the feel of it. Always test a small amount of wax on your hand before waxing to make sure it’s warm, not hot.
  4. If you're worried about pain, apply a numbing spray to a cotton swab and then to the upper lip area. Make sure not to get directly in eyes.
  5. After waxing, keep your hands away from your skin to avoid getting red bumps and irritation. 
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. Mysore V, Mahadevappa OH, Barua S, Majid I, Viswanath V, Bhat RM, Talwar S, Thurakkal S, Aurangabadkar SJ, Chatterjee M, Ganjoo A. Standard Guidelines of Care: Performing Procedures in Patients on or Recently Administered with Isotretinoin. J Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2017 Oct-Dec;10(4):186-194. doi: 10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_110_17

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