Whether you're a seasoned waxer or a complete newbie, removing body hair with wax can be tricky. When it comes to waxing best practices, hair length is key. So, here is the dilemma: If your hair is too short, there is a risk the wax may not be able to grasp onto the hair enough to remove it. If your hair is too long, it's easier to miss a spot, and the hair removal process can sometimes be more painful. To unveil some of the mystery surrounding waxing and hair length, we reached out to two waxing experts. Keep scrolling for their keen advice on exactly how long your hair should be before waxing.
Meet the Expert
- Deidra Green is a licensed esthetician and the field training manager at European Wax Center.
- Gina Petak is a licensed esthetician and the learning program manager at European Wax Center.
How Long Does Hair Need to Be to Wax?
For hair to successfully be removed by waxing, the rule of thumb is that the growth needs to be about 1/4-inch, no matter where it is on the body. Not sure what that looks like? It's about the size of a sprinkle. This length ensures there is enough hair for the wax to easily grab onto. Experts also recommend letting your hair grow for at least five days in between waxing sessions.
What to Do Between Waxes
The time between waxes can be stressful, especially when your hair gets a little longer than you're comfortable with. Do you pluck? Do you shave? Long story short, you definitely should not shave, pluck, or get rid of hair in this awkward in-between stage. This can not only prolong your time in between waxes, but may also irritate your skin. The best thing to do is exfoliate regularly — this helps keep your hair follicles clear of dead skin and debris, so it's easier to wax when the time comes around.
Petak recommends exfoliating and moisturizing skin between waxing visits to ensure hair follicles stay clear and the skin barrier remains healthy.
Why Does Hair Length Matter?
If your hair is too short, the wax may not be able to grab onto the hair enough to cleanly remove it from the root. When this happens, hairs break, making achieving a smooth finish close to impossible. Longer hair is less problematic when you visit a professional waxing center as the waxing specialists are expertly trained to work with guests who have not waxed or shaved in a while. According to our experts, the only downside to waxing longer hair is that it can sometimes be more painful.
Other Factors to Consider Before Waxing
Aside from hair length, there are a few other important factors to keep in mind before waxing. According to our experts, exfoliating your skin between waxing sessions is a key skincare step. Also, if you’re opting to book a waxing appointment, seek out someone who is licensed in waxing and expertly trained. It's also a good idea to make sure the waxing center you plan to visit upholds rigorous sanitation measures. Not sure what these standards are? Our experts outline what to look out for:
- The wax specialist must use a set of new gloves for every guest.
- All tools must be soaked in antibacterial disinfectant or disposed of after each guest.
- Waxing beds must be sanitized with antibacterial wipes after each guest.
- Fresh tissue paper must be placed on top of each waxing bed for every guest.
- Waxing sticks must never be double-dipped.
- The large waxing stir stick must be disposed of after each guest.
Caring for Your Skin After a Wax
To try to make sure your skin stays healthy after a wax, you'll want to avoid sweating, sunlight and/or heat, and wear loose clothing to let your skin "breathe" the 24 hours after your wax. After that, you're free to resume normal activities. To try to prevent ingrown hairs, you can start exfoliating a few days after your wax, or use a product specifically for ingrown hair, like the Fur Stubble Cream ($42).
The Bottom Line
If your hair is too short, reschedule your waxing appointment. If your hair is too long, you can either lightly trim the area yourself—if waxing from home—or a waxing specialist will take care of this for you during your appointment.
It's also important to note that aftercare is essential when it comes to waxing. "It's not only about what happens [during the waxing session], it's also about how you take care of your skin after," Petak explains. Caring for your skin between waxes will make the hair removal process easier. Make sure to exfoliate between visits and ask a waxing specialist to recommend products to try to treat and prevent ingrown hairs.