If it always seems as if a multitude of rogue body hair decides to sprout — and in the most inconvenient places — right around the time temperatures rise, you’re not alone. Truthfully, we’re just more aware of the fluttering hairs peeking around our bikini line, at our ankles or under our pits when wearing swimsuits or clothing that bares more skin.
While there’s nothing wrong letting said body hair stick around for the fun, sometimes a person wants to rip each strand straight from its follicle and that’s perfectly fine as well. But should you decide that at-home waxing is the way to go, there are a few mistakes you’ll want to avoid so that you don’t endure extra pain or risk burns or irritation.
At-home waxing mistake No. 1: Not prepping your skin
Preparation is key when it comes to at-home waxing. A few days before applying any wax, begin gently exfoliating the area with a washcloth or loofah. Exfoliating allows for the wax to grab onto your hairs instead of dead skin cells, which means you’ll get a more efficient “pull.” In the days leading up to your at-home wax, keep moisturizing per normal, but hold off on the day-of since too much moisturizer can make your hairs too slippery to grip onto. Also, avoid using any chemical exfoliants, including AHAs, BHAs, and retinol. Right before waxing, cleanse the area, and make sure it’s completely dry.
At-home waxing mistake No. 2: Trying to wax hair that’s too long or too short
It may pain you to do so but hold off on shaving for about 15 to 20 days before you wax since the wax needs to be able to grip onto your hairs. The ideal length is about ¼ of an inch, or the length of a grain of rice. If you have hair that’s much longer than this, trim it back. Trying to wax hair that’s too long can result in a big mess, and it can increase your chances of experiencing pain and bruising.
At-home waxing mistake No. 3: Using steaming hot wax
“Turning your wax warmer too high is bad because you risk burning your skin,” says Chelsea Smith, a waxing specialist at Lunchbox Wax in South Jordan. “Instead, turn your wax warmer on medium-low for about an hour, then test the wax on the inside of your forearm before waxing.” It should feel warm and soothing – never painfully hot. If necessary, be patient and allow for your wax to cool down before using it.
At-home waxing mistake No. 4: Waxing in the wrong direction
It may seem counterintuitive, but wax must be applied in the direction of your hair growth. Applying it the wrong way can increase your chances of developing ingrown hairs, and it can even be more painful to rip off. Pull your skin taut, smear about a nickel’s thickness of wax, then let it dry for about 15 to 30 seconds (it shouldn’t harden) before yanking.
At-home waxing mistake No. 5: Moving at a snail’s pace
Yep, waxing doesn’t feel good, but ripping off the wax at a snail’s pace isn’t the solution. Not only will it elongate your pain, but it also makes for an inefficient pull. Just like in the movies — and just like all the pros do — you’ll want to hold your skin taut and then rip off the wax cleanly and quickly.
At-home waxing mistake No. 6: Using hard wax
Take your time when shopping for a good wax. For best results, Smith recommends using a soft wax. “Using hard wax is bad because it isn’t as forgiving as soft wax, especially if you’re waxing an area where you have to be really careful, such as your eyebrows,” she says. “With hard wax, you can accidentally apply too much. There’s no going back with hard wax once it’s applied, whereas with soft wax, you can apply oil to a cloth and remove any unwanted wax by slowly wiping it off to start over again.”
At-home waxing mistake No. 7: Deciding to shape your own brows
On that note… there are really just a few things you should leave to the pros. One of those things is shaping your own eyebrows. By all means, go wild with your legs, bikini line, and even that space between your brows, but you’re better off having your brows shaped in a professional setting.
“Shaping your own eyebrows is a difficult and tricky task. You can really only look at one eyebrow at a time up close, so it’s easy to over wax,” says Smith. “A more cost-effective way to save your brows and wallet would be to get your brows professionally shaped, then upkeep the shape with tweezers for a few months.”
It’s a lot to remember, but with practice you can become an at-home waxing pro — well, you know what I mean.