What to Know Before Getting a Wax

crop of person wearing yellow dress sneakers

 Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

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?

closeup person applying lotion to legs

Lucas Ottone / Stocksy

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 might 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 may 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.
  • If you recently drank a lot of caffeine or alcohol: 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.

Stop using exfoliating 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. 

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 may compromise the skin barrier. Doctors also recommend steering clear of waxing if you take Accutane, or if you've stopped taking it less than six months to a year ago. "For topical retinoids you should stop for 1-2 weeks prior to waxing so that the skin is less sensitive and you should wait for it to fully heal before resuming use," says board-certified dermatologist Julia Siegel, MD. "Any other topicals that are irritating can be stopped for one week prior to waxing. For oral prescriptions like doxycycline or spironolactone, you typically do not have to stop these."

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?

portrait of smiling person

ohlamour studio / Stocksy

  • 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, and nipples.
  • 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, as they may make skin more sensitive.
  • 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. 

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. Harvard Health Publishing. Rosacea. Updated December, 2018.

  2. Grajqevci-Kotori M, Kocinaj A. Exfoliative skin-peeling, benefits from this procedure and our experienceMed Arch. 2015;69(6):414-416. doi:10.5455/medarh.2015.69.414-416

  3. Mysore V, Mahadevappa OH, Barua S, et al. Standard guidelines of care: performing procedures in patients on or recently administered with isotretinoinJ Cutan Aesthet Surg. 2017;10(4):186-194. doi:10.4103/JCAS.JCAS_110_17

Related Stories