From brows to bikini lines, prepping skin for waxing to post-waxing aftercare, our guide’s got you covered
When it comes to at-home hair removal, waxing is a smart choice in our experience, as it delivers ultra-smooth results that can last for weeks.
Plus, thanks to a range of new products, getting salon-worthy results from the comfort of your own home has never been easier. Depending on the type of hair removal you’re after, there are waxing kits, strips and formulas specifically designed to help whisk away body hair however and wherever feels right for you.
Looking to make the overall process simpler and more seamless? Whether you’re wondering how to wax legs or eyebrows or anywhere else, follow our top 10 tips, tricks and waxing best practices to hone your DIY technique.
Why choose waxing?
If you want to remove body hair, waxing is fast and convenient, and results can last up to a month (longer than other hair removal methods) because waxing removes the hair from the root. What’s more, there’s no risk of razor burn (a big plus).
There is, of course, the discomfort factor – especially when you’re waxing those sensitive areas such as the bikini line or underarms. Waxing may be more ouchy than shaving but we can assure you that it does get easier with time and practice, and the results are longer-lasting.
Some useful dos & don’ts
Before you start, give yourself the best chance of a bump and rash-free journey by:
• Gathering your waxing kit in one place, so you’re organised. It can be a nuisance running around with wax on your legs trying to find your strips
• Set aside plenty of time so you’re not in a rush, then clean and dry the area of the body you’re going to wax
• Have some loose clothing on standby to change into afterwards and try to avoid wearing anything tight-fitting that might rub against freshly waxed skin
10 top tips for how to wax at home
Tip 1: Check hair length
If the hair is too short, the wax won’t be able to grip on effectively. But if it’s too long there’s the risk it may break off just above or below the skin’s surface, which can lead to dreaded ingrown hairs.
“The optimum length is 1cm,” says Imogen Hope-Simpson, waxing expert at Nails & Brows Mayfair. “If your hairs are longer, make sure you trim them down before waxing.”
Obviously, you don’t need to go in with a ruler to measure the exact length, but try to plan removal around when your body hair looks like it’s about that length, to help to prevent ingrown hairs.
Tip 2: Consider the type of wax
There are two types of wax to choose from: soft and hard. “Hard wax works best for the bikini area and underarms,” says Imogen. “It’s much kinder to the skin and can be less painful than strip wax,” she adds. Hard wax just needs to be spread onto the skin where it will harden (the name’s a bit of a giveaway), before being pulled off, no strips required.
Soft wax, on the other hand, can be applied at lower temperatures and needs material or strips to remove it. “This wax works better on finer hair and is much quicker to use on larger areas, such as the legs,” says Imogen.
Tip 3: Do a patch test
If there’s one thing you should always do before using any waxing kit, strips or any type of wax it’s a patch test, 48 hours before, to make sure your skin doesn’t react – just as you would when dying your hair or trying out a new skincare product.
What can help make for an even smoother process? “When using hot wax, always check the temperature of the wax on a small area before applying,” says Imogen. This will help avoid burns from waxing for an all-round more comfortable experience.
Exfoliating before a wax is really important
Tip 4: Exfoliate prior to waxing
“Exfoliating gently before a wax is really important,” says Imogen. “It removes dead skin cells and encourages any ingrown hairs to come to the surface.”
A word of caution: avoid using a physical exfoliator in the bath or shower less than 24 hours before waxing. “It’s best to avoid exfoliating immediately before a wax, as this can irritate the skin and lead to skin sensitivity,” warns Imogen. The sweet spot is between 24 and 48 hours before – you’ll avoid irritating the skin but minimise the chance of dead skin starting to build up again.
Looking for some exfoliator inspo? Check out our pick of the best body scrubs around.
Tip 5: Prep the skin for waxing
Similar to applying make-up, prepping the skin before waxing is a must. And the type of wax you choose can provide a guide to a pre-wax skincare regime. Imogen says, “For hot wax (or hard wax), it’s advised to cleanse the skin first and then apply an oil – the oil creates a barrier between the skin and the wax, so the wax mainly grabs the hairs.”
But how about soft wax? “When using strip wax (or soft wax), do the opposite and remove any moisture from the surface of the skin by applying talcum powder (post cleanse),” Imogen explains. “This will help grab all the teeny tiny, fine hairs while also removing the top layer of dead skin cells, so it’s exfoliating as well.”
Tip 6: Avoid using retinol
If you’re keen to learn how to wax eyebrows at home (or upper lip, or any area of your face), then check your skincare routine before you start removing, because retinol and wax together is a no-go.
Skincare buffs might already know that retinol and retinoids can make skin more sensitive, especially to sunlight, so when we pull away at the hairs, removing them from the hair follicle, we might also end up leaving the skin red and raw. Ouch.
The best course of action? Take a break from retinol and retinoids in the lead up to, and for a week or so after, a wax.
Tip 7: Pick the perfect product
If you’re looking to wax finer, shorter hairs on the face (e.g. upper lip or eyebrows), it’s best to seek out products that have been specially formulated for this area.
For areas such as the legs, look for body wax strips that are designed to cover a larger surface area. Considering pre-applied wax strips or a wax pot? If you’re a beginner, ready-to-go strips are a great option as they’re quick and easy to use. A bit more experienced? View a wax pot as your next challenge which, while messier, offers impressive results once mastered.
If you usually head in-salon for a bikini wax before going on holiday but fancy giving it a go yourself at home, then opt for wax strips that have been made for the bikini line. They’ll be easier to use around this delicate area.
The better the stretch, the less painful it will be
Tip 8: Remove in the right direction
The biggest mistake is to remove the wax in the wrong direction. “Apply the wax in the same direction the hair grows,” says Imogen. “Then remove it in the opposite direction while holding the skin taut.” The big incentive here? “The better the stretch, the less painful it will be.”
Be sure to pull the wax back in one swift motion, close to the skin, for best results. “You have to be confident when removing wax,” says Imogen. “Stretch the skin right below the wax that you’re about to remove.”
Tip 9: Don’t wax the same area more than twice
“Start by waxing each section once,” advises Biz Lindsay, Head of Marketing and Communications at hair removal brand Flamingo. “You may need more than one pull to remove all of the hair in one area but listen to your skin.”
Her general rule of thumb? “If you find yourself going over the same spot more than twice, stop. To avoid irritation and skin damage,” she says, “come back to it tomorrow.”
Tip 10: Aftercare
As with all skin prep, post-wax care is a must. As soon as you’ve finished waxing, either use a post-wax cloth or some baby oil on a pad to remove any dry wax from your skin.
“Next, apply a post-wax cooling gel to help reduce redness and soothe the skin,” says Imogen.
“It’s important to avoid any kind of heat treatment, such as steam rooms and saunas, as well as hot baths and showers for the next 24 hours,” says Imogen, “you don’t want to aggravate the skin further.”
Also, avoid exercise for 24 hours – especially after a bikini wax. Excessive sweating in this area could cause folliculitis, which is an infection of the hair follicles.
6 of the best at-home waxing products
Feeling inspired? Here are six waxing picks for removing body hair at home like a pro.
Boots Smooth Care Wax Strips Sensitive Face 20pk + Perfect Finishing Wipes
• Size: 20 wax strips
These pre-rubbed wax strips are easy to use and designed specifically to banish face fuzz. They’re also enriched with skin-softening almond oil and vitamin E. Plus, there are two finishing wipes to help banish any leftover wax.
Sunny The Caramel Wax Body Hair Removal For Women
• Contains 20 strips and six dry-touch finishing wipes
This caramel-scented wax doesn’t require heating and effectively removes hairs from the face and body for pro-level results. Apply the wax with a spatula and use a strip to help you stay hair-free for up to four weeks.