Is It Safe To Get Your Brows Waxed If You Use Retinol In Your Skincare Routine?

Eyebrow waxing is an extremely popular method of getting rid of any unwanted eyebrow hair, and it's something that many people include in their regular beauty routines, particularly if they're trying to keep up with ever-changing brow trends. Like some other forms of hair removal, waxing does come with some potential drawbacks for those planning on using it, whether you're having your eyebrows professionally waxed or are going down the at-home waxing route.


The medications you take, the dermatological treatments you receive, and the products you use can affect how your skin reacts to other things that are put on it. One example of this is increased sun sensitivity that comes with the use of certain ingredients, as discussed by Cleveland Clinic. Those who use retinol or other retinoids, which are common ingredients in many skincare products, should also be warned about waxing their eyebrows (or anywhere else, for that matter) while taking them.

Using retinol and eyebrow waxing don't go well together

If you use a product containing retinol or another retinoid, know that getting your eyebrows waxed while using it is going to be painful — and not just for a second while the wax is pulled off. As dermatologist Tiffany L. Clay, M.D., told Well+Good, "Retinoids decrease the thickness of the stratum corneum which is the outermost layer of the skin. If you are missing some of this protective layer, your skin may be damaged by the waxing process. You may get a burn or the wax may tear some of the skin off, which can lead to scarring."


"I see this so much," dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D., told Refinery29. "People aren't aware that if you're using prescription-strength retinol for anti-aging or for acne, even if you're not putting it on your eyebrows, the product will migrate to the area and make the skin super-duper sensitive. And when you wax? Boom. Off comes the skin."

In short, ouch. Waxing while using retinols is not a good idea. 

There is hope if you want your eyebrows waxed

If another method of maintaining your eyebrows isn't really your style and you use retinol or another retinoid, there might be some hope for your brows (and your surrounding skin). 

Dermatologist Dr. Coyle S. Connolly told SheKnows, "My recommendation to patients is to discontinue retinol or tretinoin at least several days to a week before any [waxing procedures] take place. I have seen side effects from not discontinuing retinol under these circumstances lead to a localized darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation), excessive redness and the potential for rare scarring." Connolly adds that you can start up with your retinol use again after your wax, "when there are no signs of irritation, redness or excessive dryness (usually within a couple of days)."


So if you can't give up your retinoids or your waxing, you can have your cake and eat it too with a little co-ordination. In general, patients using retinoids should stop using them four or five days before undergoing waxing, but can start using them again shortly after.