What to Know Before Getting a Wax

Updated 04/15/19
 Piotr Marcinski/EyeEm/Getty Images

Waxing is without question one of the most common methods of hair removal there is. And, as amazing as it can be at leaving your skin smooth and stubble-free, it isn't the best option for everyone. In fact, there are several types of people who should probably avoid waxing altogether. 

If anything, you should definitely be up to snuff in regards to whether you should get waxed or not. If you're not sure, you've come to the right place. Ahead, find the precautions, risks, and contraindications you should be wary about when it comes to waxing. 

When should I be cautious?

Below, find a breakdown of situations in which you should consult a physician or be extra careful before getting waxed. 

  • If you're pregnant, take birth control, hormone replacement or antibiotics: Your skin may be more sensitive in these instances, so it's best to do a patch test and see how your skin reacts for 24 hours before getting an eyebrow or leg waxed. 
  • If you're a smoker or have rosacea: Waxing can irritate dilated capillaries (weak or broken blood vessels), which are commonly found in people with rosacea, as well as smokers. If the capillaries are very red, you're going to want to avoid removing hair in that area as not to further irritate it. 
  • If you take blood thinners, have diabetes, phlebitis or want post-cancer hair growth in the side-burn area removed: These all relate to medical conditions, so it's crucial that you get your doctor's approval first. No questions asked. 
  • If you use powerful exfoliators on your skin: Strong exfoliants like glycolic and salicylic acids strip cells from the skin and can sometimes cause irritation. So waxing, which is another form of exfoliation, could potentially make skin red, bleed, or even turn scabby. It's recommended to stop using these products in the area you're getting waxed for at least three days before, and three to four days after the hair has been removed. 
  • If you recently drank a lot of caffeine or alcohol: These stimulants in your system can cause the skin to be extra sensitive to waxing as they can cause water retention and subsequently leave skin more red or inflamed than usual. Give yourself a couple of hours after drinking a large amount of coffee or alcohol before getting waxed. 
  • If you've had a lot of sun exposure. If you've been in direct sunlight for a long period of time, you'll want to wait at least a day or two before getting hair removed—or longer until your skin has healed if you got burned.

When should I not get waxed?

Put simply, you should avoid waxing if you have a chronic condition like lupus, AIDS, or any other disease that compromises the skin barrier. Doctors also recommend steering clear of waxing if you take Accutane, or if you've stopped taking it less than a year ago (this generally goes for any type of prescription acne medication). Lastly, you should never get waxed if you're undergoing cancer therapy such as chemotherapy or radiation. Take it from us: If you're ever unsure or have a health condition, consult your doctor first. 

What areas should I not wax?

Great question. Scroll for the areas you should never wax for safety reasons.

  • Irritated, inflamed, cut, or sunburned skin.
  • Anywhere you're using Retin-A.
  • Any area that has a rash, recent scar tissue, a skin graft, pimples, cold sores, moles or warts.
  • Anywhere you're having dermabrasion services or have gotten them in the past three months.
  • The inside of ears and nose, and on eyelashes, nipples and male genitals.
  • Any place you've recently gotten Botox or collagen injections in the last seven days.
  • Anywhere that has been waxed within the last 24 hours.
  • Areas you're using any alpha hydroxy acid over 8 percent.
  • Over or around body piercings.

How else can I remove hair?

If waxing isn't the ideal hair removal method for you, don't fret: There are several other options, such as tweezing, threading, sugaring or depilatories that get the job done, too. 

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