How to properly prepare for a wax, according to experts

Waxing is a convenient and easy way to remove hair. But it is important to prepare a wax well, whether it is a Brazilian wax or an eyebrow wax, to ensure easy hair removal and irritation-free skin. Preparing the skin for a wax can help reduce the risk of potential unpleasant side effects that can leave the skin looking raw and red.

Every time you go for waxing, you make your skin vulnerable to two problems. “There’s a risk of infection and a risk of irritation or inflammation,” says Dr. Deirdre O’Boyle Hooper, board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Audubon Dermatology. When you epilate you are also removing the top layer of skin and this removes the skin barrier making the skin more sensitive to anything on the outside.

So how can you make sure your skin is properly prepared for waxing and what should you do after your appointment? Hooper and Brooke Fossett, esthetician and owner of Brow House in Charlottesville, Va., say good hygiene before and after a treatment is the most important step for a successful, irritation-free wax service.

Choose the right products or supplier

To ensure a safe and successful wax treatment, it is essential that you choose your products or supplier carefully. “Be sure to do your research and book with a licensed, experienced esthetician,” says Fossett. Check online reviews or ask about a beautician’s credentials to make sure they are not only properly trained, but use good sterilization products, tools, and methods for a clean and safe waxing experience. .

How to prepare your skin for a wax

Whether you’re waxing at home or visiting a hair removal salon, make sure your skin is as clean as possible.

“Take a shower, soap up the area you’re going to wax, rinse thoroughly, don’t apply any lotion, and head to your wax with freshly cleansed skin,” says Hooper. But, and that’s a big but, don’t over clean. “It could backfire on you,” she says. “Scrubbing your skin a lot will mess up your skin barrier even more, so gently cleanse your skin, especially body folds, before you wax.

Fossett recommends exfoliating and moisturizing the night before, not the day of treatment. This way you won’t have any residual lotions or oils on your skin that could prevent hair removal.

Another factor to consider before and after a wax treatment is the sun. Fossett says if you get sunburned or have spent too much time in a tanning bed, go ahead and cancel your appointment because your skin will likely be too sensitive for a wax treatment.

How to prepare your hair before waxing

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You should also consider the length of your hair, as this will also influence the outcome of the treatment. If the hair is too short, say less than 1/4 inch long, the wax cannot adhere properly, which could lead to irritation if the supplier has to reapply the wax over and over again.

A good rule of thumb? “When prepping skin for body/bikini waxing,” Fossett says, “make sure you have at least two weeks of hair growth.”

As for facial hair removal, similar rules apply. “Stop waxing/shaving at least two weeks before or longer if you have growing eyebrows to reshape them,” says Fossett.

Gently wash your face beforehand, otherwise your beautician will have to wipe off all your makeup for you.

Break from skin medication

For people with sensitive skin or those taking over-the-counter or prescription skin medications, you may want to consider a) not epilating, as your skin may be too sensitive or b) suspending your treatment so that it doesn’t interfere with or exacerbate the irritation of a wax treatment, says Fossett.

Retinol and Accutane are some of the drugs Fossett says people have trouble with. These drugs are designed to treat acne. But she adds, “I encourage everyone to research the products they use. Especially if it says anti-aging, exfoliating, peeling, brightening, etc. Waxing over these ingredients can cause a “skin lift” often mistaken for a burn. This is the worst and no beautician wants this to happen – trust me!

Hooper agrees. “I’ve seen terrible, completely raw skin after waxing, and that usually happens to people on retinol or Accutane,” she says. “If you’re using topical retinol, even over-the-counter prescription retinoids, or any kind of hydroxy acids, everyone likes to ask me how long they need to stop, and the answer is that it varies.” This applies to both topical and oral versions of these medications, says Hooper, who adds that every patient is different and suspending these medications will depend on your skin sensitivity. “Check with your prescribing dermatologist for specific recommendations,” says Hooper.

“If you have very sensitive skin and you’re using retinol, you should probably just peel off,” says Hooper. But if you just want to discontinue these medications, here’s good news: discontinuing a topical medication is only necessary for the areas to be waxed. If you use it on your face, but get a bikini wax, no problem. Otherwise, “I encourage you to wait at least a week before getting the wax,” says Hooper.

How to treat the skin after waxing

Taking care of your skin after a wax treatment is just as important as how to prepare for a wax.

As Hooper said, when you come out of a wax appointment, you’ve lost an important skin barrier, which means that area is more susceptible to irritation, inflammation, or even breakdown. infection if you don’t deal with it properly. Here is how to take care of your skin after epilation.

Exfoliate and do not epilate or shave between sessions

“If you’re looking to calm down a bit of pink after your waxing, a cool, clean compress is OK,” says Fossett. Otherwise, follow your beautician’s home care tips, which will likely include tips to exfoliate three to four times a week between appointments. And whether you’re a regular bikini waxer or like to get your whole face done, she says, “No waxing and shaving between wax appointments for best results.”

Apply a post-treatment product

“Most waxing places have a formulation that they apply after waxing,” adds Hooper. “Some kind of moisturizer or anti-inflammatory and that’s usually not a problem.” But, she says, people with particularly sensitive skin should bring their own gentle emollient. “I would suggest regular Vaseline – just a little thin layer right after you wax it,” she says.

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And if you notice itching or irritation immediately after waxing, go ahead and wash off all product applications. If the irritation persists, Hooper says people should contact a GP or dermatologist.

Avoid perfumes

Perfumed products or vegetable oils can often be a risk factor for sensitive skin, so go ahead and ask your beautician what she plans to use after waxing to make sure it won’t cause no push.

Apply sunscreen

Waxing will also increase your susceptibility to sunburn, Hooper says. “But, you’re probably just as sensitive to sunscreen,” she says. That said, since you should always wear sunscreen to protect the skin, the best advice is that after a wax treatment, first rub some sunscreen into the skin to test for sensitivity before using. apply all over your body, then follow best practices for keeping sun exposure at a safe level after a wax treatment.


Preparing for a wax comes down to two things, Hooper says: clean skin, and if you notice anything out of the ordinary (before or after the treatment), contact your doctor.

Keep in mind that skin rejuvenates in 10 days, “and then it’s totally repaired,” says Hooper. So if you still experience irritation long after a wax treatment, seeking medical advice is your best bet.


Dr. Deirdre O’Boyle Hooper, Certified Dermatologist by Audubon Dermatology

Brooke Fossett, beautician and owner of Brow House

About Sally Dominguez

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