How to Use Wax Strips, According to a Dermatologist

Let’s talk about body hair. Although you should only remove it if you want to, there are plenty of hair removal options if you do. Some of the most popular, like home laser hair removal, come with a learning curve and require you to invest in an expensive new device. Other options, like at-home hair removal kits, require less of a learning curve, but can still be painful and messy if you don’t use them correctly. If you’ve thought about waxing with wax strips, consider this your official guide no matter where on your body you plan to use them. In advance, dermatologists and experts in the field answer all your most important questions about wax strips and recommend their favorite products so you have a smooth experience.

Where can you use wax strips?

Dr. Kenneth Howe, a dermatologist at UnionDerm in New York, says wax strips can be used almost anywhere on the body, including your bikini line, armpits, legs, or face. That said, you should look for wax strips made specifically for the areas you’ll be using them on.

He also says most problems come from using them “around the mouth and eyes, where the skin is thinner and more prone to tearing.”

How long does your hair need to be for wax strips to be effective?

Unlike a razor, which can catch multiple lengths of hair, wax strips require the hair to be a certain length to be effective. “This sweet spot is six millimeters, or about the length of a grain of rice,” says Dr Howe. If the hair is shorter than that, he says, “the wax doesn’t grab the hair. If the hair is longer than six millimeters, the hair shafts often break instead of being pulled out at the root.

Although he notes that everyone’s hair grows at different rates, it usually takes about two weeks for your hair to reach the right length.

How to use wax strips

While each set of wax strips is different and comes with its own set of guidelines (which you should certainly followed by a T), Maria Desmarais (opens in a new tab)co-founder and co-CEO of Athena Club, and Dr. Howe outlined some easy-to-follow steps.

Step 1: Prepare your skin

Your skin should be clean and completely dry (emphasis on fully), and free of sweat or other products like body lotions before starting. Desmarais recommends doing a patch test and “waiting 24 hours to make sure you don’t feel any irritation before epilating a larger area.”

Step 2: Prepare your wax strips

This is the easiest (and least painful) part of the hair removal process. Desmarais says the wax needs to be “even on both sides” before you start applying it to the skin. Look for wax kits that don’t require you to heat your own wax.

Step 3: Apply the wax strip to the skin

Desmarais says you should apply the wax strips in “the same direction as the hair growth and smooth the wax strip with your hand to make sure it adheres to the skin.” Smooth the strip of wax with your hand to make sure it is firmly applied and all the wax is in direct contact with your skin.

Step 4: Remove wax strip (and hair)

Just like removing a bandage, it is important to remove the tape all at once. While one hand holds the skin taut, Desmarais says you should use your dominant hand to “pull the strip against the direction of hair growth.”.” For sharper results, keep your hand close to your hairline. If you don’t move fast enough, the wax can stay on the skin and your hair won’t be removed properly. Skin tears are often caused when waxing the same section of hair more than once, so it’s imperative to ensure you get the majority of your hair in one go.

The Best Wax Strips

Are wax strips safe?

Wax strip kits that already contain wax are safe to use at home. However, other wax kits that require you to heat your own wax may not be as safe and should be taken to a properly trained beautician. Be sure to look for strips that don’t require heat or have “soft gel” formulas on the label.

With that in mind, there are a few risks to using wax strips that you should be aware of before you begin. “Tearing of the skin is the most common problem,” says Dr. Howe. “People with sensitive skin are more prone to this problem, but it can happen with disturbing coincidence, as in, after using it several times with no problem, you suddenly get an unsightly skin stripping just before the holidays. ”

There are many steps you can take to prevent this from happening to you. Dr. Howe recommends “not to re-epilate if an initial stripping leaves a few stray hairs”. Yes, being completely hairless is always the goal, but don’t repeatedly go over the same strip of wax on the same part of your body. “Having already done a wax stripping, the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of your epidermis) is already temporarily thinned – because the wax exfoliates part of the stratum corneum along with the hairs – so you are too vulnerable at this point to risk a second stripping,” he says.

How to take care of your skin after waxing

Some waxing kits, like Athena Club On The Spot Wax Strip Kit for Face (opens in a new tab), come with products that can be applied to the skin after you’re done to soothe any redness or irritation. However, there are other steps you can take if your kits don’t have a dedicated calming wipe or serum. Desmarais recommends avoiding washing the area with soap and water to remove any remaining wax, as rubbing or touching the area can “cause irritation.” Additionally, she notes that any redness that appears after you’re done is “absolutely normal and can last for a few hours.”

However, if you do experience lasting pain or discomfort, she recommends applying “a cold compress to the area.Finally, she recommends not exposing the skin to “deodorants or alcohol-based products.“, and says you must stay out of the sun for 24 hours after waxing.

When should you not use wax strips?

Dr. Howe says you should never use wax strips on an area that has any form of active infection, either bacterial (think staph infection) or viral (like a cold sore), because waxing wax can spread infections in some cases. Finally, Dr. Howe says you should never wax if you’re using medications like Accutane. “The drug leaves the stratum corneum temporarily thinner, and so waxing while you’re taking the drug can cause large, deep skin tears,” he says, noting that “the skin remains fragile for a month after the drug. ‘stopping the drug’. Similar tearing can occur on skin treated with a topical retinol or retinoid.

Meet the Experts

As a cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Howe is known for his light touch. He believes that smaller, earlier interventions allow patients to maintain a youthful appearance while preventing or slowing aging. In a calm and reassuring manner, Dr. Howe is an expert at guiding patients through the variety of options available, from the simplest topical agents to cutting-edge procedures. He appreciates maintaining an open dialogue between doctor and patient throughout this process.

The goal of all aesthetic treatments, according to Dr. Howe, is to achieve and maintain a completely natural appearance. What is done should be dictated in each case by careful study of the anatomy and structure of the individual face. This approach is particularly notable in Dr. Howe’s use of injectable fillers and toxins, of which he is a recognized expert.


Maria Desmarais is co-founder and co-CEO of Club Athéna. (opens in a new tab) Prior to co-founding the company in 2018, she worked for management and strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Company, where she served as a business analyst. After spending two years in the corporate world, she set out to pursue her dream of transforming the personal care industry and created Athena Club, the first modern CPG company that offers consumers an easier way to get better quality personal care essentials.

Maria earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University. Since launching Athena Club, she has received numerous accolades, including being named a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient in Retail and E-Commerce (2019).

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