Don’t pick up a wax strip without reading this first

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With the whole country on lockdown, the chance of getting out to see a beautician for your wax is slim to none. The safest is option is to go full-bush then make an appointment on TreatWell as soon as the salons open their doors again, but if you can't deal with not being bare down there, we've got some tips on home-waxing from London waxing chain Ministry of Waxing's training development manager Chloe Scriminger.

How to do an at-home wax: the basics

1. Sanitise: "When using any waxing product, it’s important to sanitise the area prior. This will remove any perspiration and bacteria and give a clean base for the product to adhere too without causing irritation to the epidermis."

2. Use a barrier product to protect the skin: "If you're using a strip wax product, a small amount of talc can be applied as a barrier to protect the epidermis. Strip wax does adhere quite firmly to the epidermis, so only go over the area once as repeating the step could remove parts of the epidermis that has active cell membranes. If you're using a hard-wax product please follow the recommended advice from the supplier, it will either be an oil or talc base, again to protect the epidermis. Hard wax does not stick to the skin it only adheres to the hair; you can wax over the same area twice so long as a small amount of the barrier product is used again. Hard wax is better for sensitive areas such as underarm and bikini as it's terminal hair which is coarser than vellus hair found on your arms and legs."

4. Apply and remove in opposite directions: "When applying the wax, apply it in the direction of hair growth and remove against the direction of hair growth to give best results and ensure the bulb of your hair is removed from the root."

5. Stretch the skin: "For the best technique ensure that you hold and stretch the skin whilst removing the wax strip to prevent erythema (redness) on the epidermis. An aftercare product can and should be used to close and clean the pores."

While at home waxing might not be ideal, there are a lot of reasons why waxing is the hair removal treatment of choice for many of us.

Why waxing over other hair removal methods?

Because, according to founder and CEO of Ministry of Waxing  Cynthia Chua, you’re getting right to the root of the issue:

“When opting for a wax, you’re removing hair from the roots and the uppermost layer of dead skin cells. It's definitely the first choice for immediate hair removal for people who want to be hair-free and a wax can last up to an average of two weeks, and even when the hair does grow back in, it’ll be softer than it would if you shaved, for example, and it’s often less noticeable.”

Waxing specialists and founders of Waxperts  Wax Ellen Kavanagh and Trish O'Brien think that the fact that it’s non-faffy and will keep skin smoother for longer are some of the draws: “Waxing is quick, relatively pain-free when done correctly and long-lasting. With regular waxing the hair will become finer and you don’t get a stubbly regrowth.”

When is the best time to have a wax?

Ellen and Trish propose the ‘rice test’ to assess if you’re ready for your next wax:

“If you’ve been shaving try and leave around three weeks growth to get the very best results. Ideally hair should be as long as a grain of rice but don’t worry if it is longer than that. Most people wax roughly every four-six weeks so if you have a special occasion coming up such as a wedding or holiday (and we're out of lockdown), the best plan is to get a few waxes done in the run-up to achieve the best possible result and ensure it lasts as long as possible.”

As for those rumours that waxing hurts more when you’re on your period, Cynthia confirms that some clients find that it messes with their pain threshold:

“Of course it’s totally up to you when you wax and it’s not case for everyone, but some women find that they’re more sensitive to pain just before and during their time of the month- the brain perceives pain differently throughout the menstrual cycle . Of course this isn’t just limited to your intimate area but all parts of the body, including the face.”

How should I prep beforehand and what should I wear?

Pre-wax, you might want to skip the body care routine.

“In order for the wax to adhere to the skin better and to avoid breaking the hairs (therefore produce the best results), it’s advisable to skip lotions or oily products before your wax.”

Now is not the time for your finest lace according to Ellen and Trish:

“Wear loose, comfortable clothing and smooth, breathable knickers if you’re waxing your bikini line. You want to keep the waxed area cool after your wax and avoid any friction.”

The less friction, the less your chances of an adverse reaction, as Cynthia explains:

“It's best to wear loose clothing to allow the skin to calm down after the wax. This will prevent any irritation and reduce your chances of skin reactions.”

“After your wax you should apply a soothing aftercare cream. Follow up by gently exfoliating the skin three days after the wax, and continue to do so two to three times times a week to maintain smooth skin and encourage hair to grow outwards rather than form into an ingrown hair. The main thing to remember is to apply a soothing cream or aloe vera gel if the area starts to become itchy, and do not scratch the area as this can cause the skin to break, which will irritate skin and increase your risk of infection.”

How long will my wax take?

That’s slightly a ‘how long is a piece of string’ query, but Cynthia gives us a rough estimate:

“Waxing sessions can vary but one area can take between 20 and 40 minutes. Timing can also vary depending on how sensitive a you are and how much hair you have.”

How much is this going to hurt?

It’s a go hard or go home situation according to Ellen and Trish:

“Waxing regularly (every four to six weeks) can help to minimise any pain. The more you go, the finer the hairs will become and the less pain you will experience. Avoid caffeine and don’t take any painkillers beforehand (ironically they can make you more sensitive). Try not to trim or shave in between waxes, as this can make hair tougher and your next wax more painful.”

What kind of wax is best?

“For the face, underarm and bikini, you need to make sure that you are using a hot (peel off) wax and ideally that a pre-wax oil is used as it will really help to protect your skin and remove the hair as painlessly as possible. If you're booking in a salon another thing to ask before booking is whether or not the therapist ‘double dips’. A salon that does not double dip will be delivering a safer, more hygienic wax, as they are not redipping the spatula into wax during the treatment. Reusing the same spatula again and again during a wax and double dipping spreads germs and is highly unhygienic, especially if the wax has been used all day on other clients.”

Can you still wax if you have sensitive skin?

Yes, but Cynthia stresses that sensitive skin gives even more cause to book in with an expert rather attempt to wax at home:

“If you know that your skin is quite delicate, it's best to get your waxing done professionally. For instance we ensure that after every hair removal session, the skin is cooled, soothed and protected with an antibacterial cleanser, with personalised aftercare advice to lessen your risk of reactions.”

If you can't wait until we're out of lockdown for your wax, try  Veet's Cold Wax Strips Sensitive;  they were developed for sensitive skin and are enriched with almond oil and vitamin E.

Nair's Rose Sugar Wax  can also be relied upon to be gentle to sensitive skin thanks to five simple 100 per cent natural vegan ingredients, including soothing rose extract. Plus, the strips are biodegradable and can be washed and reused, so kind to the environment as well as your skin.

MORE GLOSS: The best home hair removal devices