Earlier this year, I signed on as a European Wax Center customer (more on why in another post). And that’s the extent of our relationship, they know nothing about my blog – to them, I’m just a paying customer. Some would have you believe that waxing is totally painless…and I’d call that, “some,” a bunch of cruel liars. The first experience was brutal – which, from what I understand, is fairly common if you were previously a shaver. I had looked up advice on preparing for waxing, but nothing I read properly set my expectations: the first time sucked.
Hair grows in cycles, going in as a former-shaver probably means there’s a greater density of hairs – meaning more hairs closer together. That first experience can suck because SO much is being pulled out so close together. In some cases, the length required for waxing can cause the hairs to lay over top each other; so instead of coming out cleanly, they can tug on each other. Ow. Future visits are at least 80% better, if not more. Not only is the hair sparser because of how growth cycles work, but your skin grows accustomed to the process.
Here are some tips on preparing for waxing that makes the whole process suck less.
This isn’t rocket science. Pretty much any form of hair removal benefits from exfoliation. This isn’t just for immediately prior-to-treatment, however. Getting the dead, upper-layers of skin out of the way reduces the barrier unwanted hair is coaxed
ripped out from. Ongoing exfoliation between appointments reduces the likelihood of uncomfortable, unsightly ingrown hairs.
You can pursue physical (scrubs), chemical (serums, wipes – so think AHAs and BHAs), or enzymatic (fruit peels) to help you along with this. Aim to exfoliate once every other day and work up from there if needed.
Note: If you go with a scrub or chemical exfoliation route, my esthetician suggests not using them within the 48 hour window before your appointment. She explained that scrubs, by their very nature, irritate the skin and chemical exfoliants can still be, “working,” for up to 48 hours. Enzyme-based ones, she says, are fine to use up until immediately before. Personally, I live on the edge a bit and will go up to 24 hours prior. It hasn’t been an issue, but it is crucial that you really know your skin. If you’re unsure, absolutely listen to your esthetician or doctor over me, some schmuck on the internet. If you choose not to follow their advice, you’re doing so at your own risk (I’m not a dermatologist or esthetician).
In Between Appointments, Don’t Shave
If you’re finding that length is annoying in between the 3-4 weeks suggested in between visits, you can trim the area you have waxed. But DO NOT shave, or else you risk, “resetting,” your progress.
Your waxing specialist needs the length to be about the length of a grain of rice in order to be effective. Trim with scissors or an electric shaver with a blade guard.
This is the best piece of advice on preparing for waxing that I can give. I was surprised to read it nowhere in my prep research. I use topical lidocaine- or benzocaine-containing products to make it suck a little less. So far, I’ve been using Aspercreme.
I apply fifteen minutes to the area before the appointments and, combined with my ibuprofen (next), it means the worst part of the appointment is the awkwardness. There’s still some slight discomfort, but nothing jarring.
I take an ibuprofen thirty minutes before my visit. It helps a shocking amount. Be careful though – if you’re super prone to bleeding, this may not be wise. Many OTC painkillers, like ibuprofen and aspirin, have a blood-thinning effect. Sometimes, when a hair is released from its prison, a tiny pinprick of blood can appear. Using aspirin prior could mean it ends up being a little more than a pinprick.
Don’t drink 48 hours prior to your appointment – for the same reason as not using aspirin.
Mind Your Cycle
Pain thresholds tend to dip in the week before and during our monthly. It is not a great idea to get waxed during this week as a result – plus, some spas will not render waxing services during this time.
I feel like this *should* go without saying but given the fact that there are some horror stories from estheticians out there, perhaps it doesn’t. Do make sure that your hygiene is in check before your appointment. Ideally, showering immediately prior is preferable. If that isn’t feasible, there are tons of personal hygiene wipes and whatnot out there.
Remember – She’s Been There, She’s Seen Worse
Your waxing specialist has definitely been waxed before. She understands that, first timers especially, there can be discomfort associated with the experience. Don’t be embarrassed if you recoil or swear in shock. She’s probably seen worse, and she’s definitely had her own experiences there too.
The Bottom Line
Really, my advice on preparing for waxing is largely common-sense aside from, perhaps, the topical anesthetic. Waxing is not a terribly pleasant process, but it is fast. For me, not having to deal with hair removal at all for 3-4 weeks is pretty excellent and worth a few moments of discomfort.