Getting Your Brows Waxed For the First Time? Here's What to Expect

Close up of a wax warmer with pink beads on a pink backdrop

Tawni Bannister / Byrdie

Whether you have thick Lily Collins eyebrows or you’re not as naturally endowed (or simply choose not to be), there comes a time for us all when we want to do a little housekeeping. After all, even the sparsest brows will sprout errant hairs every few weeks. 

While there are countless approaches to maintaining your brows, eyebrow waxing is an age-old classic—and for good reason. While it may sound scary to essentially rip the hair out of any part of your body, it’s not quite that intense. And given the speed, precision, and how long the results last, it can be the least painful option between tweezing and threading. 

Ready to clean things up and step into the world of wax? Below, we break down everything you need to know before scheduling your brow wax, with the help of wax specialist Deidra Green and esthetician Rhea Souhleris Grous.

Meet the Expert

What Is Eyebrow Waxing?

Like bikini waxing, arm waxing, upper lip waxing, and everything in between, brow waxing is a method of removing hair from your hair follicles. Warm (typically hard) wax shrink wraps around the individual hair as it cools slightly, and when pulled up, it brings the hair with it from the root.

Body waxing is typically done with soft or hard wax. Soft wax clings to your skin and hair and is removed with a fabric strip. Because it’s a bit more aggressive, it’s best for larger areas of the body like legs or arms. Hard wax only adheres to the hair—that means your skin won’t be as irritated, and you’ll be able to do a few passes if any hair is left behind—which makes it ideal for more sensitive places like bikini lines and facial hair. 

Benefits of Eyebrow Waxing

You have plenty of options when it comes to shaping and maintaining your brows, but eyebrow waxing remains one of the more popular methods. 

  • Smooth, long-lasting results: “[Brow waxing] provides long-lasting results, giving you back more time in your day, week, and life,'' says Green. Because the hair is being lifted out of the follicle, it takes longer to grow back. A wax can last anywhere from two to six weeks, depending on how fast your hair grows (though Green recommends an appointment every two to three weeks to maintain the clean look). 
  • Efficient: “Waxing is efficient and removes multiple hairs at once as opposed to tweezing or threading, which is really just mass tweezing,” says Green. “A waxing experience can be far more comfortable than other forms of hair removal.”
  • A cleaner, fresher look: “Properly groomed brows can take years off of your face as well as make your eye area seem more open and awake,” says Green.

How to Prepare For an Eyebrow Wax

"The most important thing to know, in order to avoid potential skin hazards like removing the skin and leaving behind PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation), is that you should discontinue using all keratolytics like retinoids and exfoliating acids for 48-72 hours prior to waxing," says Souhleris Grous.

Before a brow wax, it's crucial to clean your skin and leave it that way. Makeup and other products that coat the skin can make the wax less effective at clinging to and removing hair. It’s also best to avoid any tweezing between waxes since it’s easy to get carried away and pluck hairs that are important to your overall brow shape. Your waxing professional can help you identify what needs to go and what should stay. 

Before (top) and after (bottom) a brow wax


What to Expect During an Eyebrow Wax

A good waxer will talk you through their thinking before doing any removal. They’ll ask about any skin sensitivities, ask about how you like your brows to look, and let you know what areas of hair they plan on removing. Then, some necessary prep work. “First, we cleanse the area to remove any makeup, oils or lotions that could prevent the quality of your wax from taking place,” says Green. “Next, we protect the skin with a pre-wax oil so that the wax adheres to the hair and not your skin.” 

Typically, your esthetician will have a warm, melted wax heated and ready to go. They will then spread the wax over the area of hair being removed, and let it set for a few seconds. Once the wax has clung to your hair your esthetician will hold your skin taut to minimize discomfort (and to avoid compromising the elasticity of your eye area). Then, they will methodically pull the hard wax up in the opposite direction of the hair growth—a quick motion that takes less than a second. They’ll repeat the process on both sides and in various areas (typically under your arches, over, in between brows, and on the temples) until you’re smooth and even. 

After the wax, your esthetician will go in with tweezers or scissors to do a little fine-tuning. Then, you’ll be treated to a thick, soothing oil or cream to help calm your skin and reduce redness. 

From start to finish, the whole process should take about 15-30 minutes and rate fairly low on the pain scale. “You may experience some discomfort, especially your first time—but it’s worth it,” assures Green. “Over time it will become less painful because your hair will grow in finer and softer. By the third time, you won’t even feel it!” 

Eyebrow Waxing vs. Threading or Tweezing

Tweezing and threading are methods of removing hairs one by one. While you may have a little more control over the shape and individual hairs, it’s far more time-consuming and doesn’t last as long as waxing. Plus, because of the time it takes to tweeze each hair, it can ultimately be more uncomfortable than having your eyebrows waxed (and removing a swath of hair all at once). 

Some hairs in the brow are also a bit coarser, and tweezing or threading those rogue hairs is more painful and more difficult. “Hard wax is gentle enough on the skin but strong enough to remove the coarsest hair in the most sensitive areas,” says Green. “It can also be applied to the skin more than once in the same area and in the opposite direction of hair growth,” she adds, which is an effective way to target thicker hairs.

At-Home vs. In-Salon Eyebrow Waxing

If you’ve ever tried at-home waxing, you know it’s risky business. It’s especially risky to wax your own eyebrows because any mistakes, adverse reactions, skin damage, or ingrown hairs are quite literally written across your face. “At-home waxing kits do not usually have the highest quality ingredients,” says Green. “You may have to go over the area too many times to remove the hair which can lead to skin irritation or lifting.” 

Aesthetics aside, inexperienced at-home waxers are in store for a more painful experience. “You can hurt yourself or even burn yourself if you are working with wax you have to heat yourself,” says Green. “Or because you may apply too much or too little wax, it can cause either larger areas of hair to be removed or too little–which can be painful.” Not to mention, there could be some unexpected casualties. "Melted wax tends to run when applied in an upright position," says Souhleris Grous. "This is challenging even for pros. Lashes could end up being the target."

Potential Side Effects

The side effects of eyebrow waxing should be fairly minimal. You should disclose to your waxer if you are on any acne medication, such as isotretinoin, because the wax could irritate your already sensitive skin. "Tweezing or threading are the only options here," says Souhleris Grous.

Those with skin conditions such as eczema should also proceed with caution. Not only could the wax itself be irritating depending on its ingredients, but the lifting of hair from your follicles could make rashes angrier. Again, "tweezing and threading are better options for such skin conditions," according to Souhleris Grous.

The Cost

A brow waxing typically costs around $20, depending on where you live.


Your skin will be a little red and sensitive after eyebrow waxing, so you’ll want to baby it for at least a few hours. Green recommends avoiding the gym, pool, ocean, and lakes since they can lead to a buildup of bacteria in freshly waxed pores. "For those prone to little post-waxing bumps, a great solution is to apply topical Benadryl cream immediately after treatment," Souhleris Grous recommends. "This quiets the histamines and keeps the skin calm post-treatment."

It’s also important to wear sunscreen after a wax since the newly exfoliated skin around your brows is more susceptible to sunburn. 

The Final Takeaway

While there are plenty of options for brow maintenance, brow waxing is a quick, efficient way that ensures you’ll be smooth and hair-free for weeks. 

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