How to Wax Short Hair (And When to Wait)

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Waxing short hair can be a challenge. Hair needs to be about ¼-inch long for the wax to effectively grab onto. If it's shorter, it may or may not be successfully removed. Depending on what type of wax the professional uses and how skilled they are, you might even be turned away if your hair isn't long enough. So, when making your appointment, ask if they use hard wax and can remove somewhat short hair. If not, call other salons and spas that specialize in waxing or (this is the best option) wait until the hair gets longer. Usually, salons won't take an appointment they don't think they can execute.

Waxing short hair at home is similarly ill-advised. Waxing yourself can be difficult, and trying to remove shorter hair will make it extra tricky. This is not the time to use cold wax or pre-made wax strips, as these products don't pick up all of the hair, especially if it's thick. But, if you must do it, you have to use a hot professional wax. While wax is typically applied in the direction of hair growth and removed in the opposite direction, you can remove more hair if you first apply wax (strip or stripless) against the direction of hair growth, and then with the direction of hair growth, without stopping or picking up the applicator, working quickly. 

Why? Wax will fully surround the hair on all sides, so there's a better chance the shorter hairs will be removed. Before waxing your desired area, practice this technique on your arm or another place where you don't care if the hair is fully removed. After waxing, some hair is usually left behind, even if the hair is long enough. Use slanted tweezers (we like the Tweezerman Slant Tweezer, $18) to pick out stragglers, and keep pointed tweezers on hand for the particularly short hairs.

There are two types of sugaring—gel and paste—and both remove hair from the follicle like waxing. However, sugaring is known to be less painful than waxing, and it leaves less redness and irritation.The gel is applied and removed in the same way as wax in that the product is applied in the direction of growth and removed the opposite way. Though gel is typically easier to use than paste, but unfortunately, hair has to be about ¼-inch still. Paste, however, only needs 1/16" of growth—though the technique is a bit more difficult. Search for technicians in your area who provide sugaring services, but make sure they use paste, not gel.

Ultimately, you might just want to let your hair grow out for another week. It'll be easier to get waxed or wax yourself with longer hair, the results will be better, and you'll experience less irritation. However, that isn't always possible, so make sure to use a gentle moisturizing cream (L'Occitane's Almond Milk Concentrate, $54, is great for this) after the procedure in order to keep your waxed areas feeling comfortable.

Up next, read up on the difference between hot and cold waxing and decide which is better for your hair removal needs.

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