Full Beginner’s Guide to Waxing at Home

When it comes to hair removal, there’s only ever been two things that I really care about: long lasting results, and smooth, rash-free regrowth.

*Sigh*...

It sounds like such a simple checklist, but if you’re anything like me you know that achieving these results is far from simple- especially if you’re someone with dark, thick hair, and fast regrowth.

I’ve done my fair share of outrageous things in an effort to get to this point (if there was ever an appropriate time to tell you about the occasion my belly button piercing got stuck in an epilator, this would probably be it).

But I’ve finally found the light at the end of the hairy tunnel: I’ve discovered how to wax at home like a pro.

And the best part?

Waxing at home is something anyone can do successfully.

That means no horror stories about it being too painful to go through with and ending up with a wax strip stuck to your whatsit for the next three days, zero close encounters accidentally gluing your hooha together because you were a bit heavy handed with the hot wax, and nil chance of ending up with a violet bruise on your thingamajig because you didn’t pull the strip off the right way.

Just silky smoothness and total hairlessness.

All you need are one or two essential tools, and one or two more expert tips- fortunately for you, this article is about to give you both.

So... Why Wax?

At home waxing is not as hard as you think; I promise.

There are just a few tricks that you need to get down in order to get the best results. It doesn’t always work out perfectly the first time, but if you’re anything like me, as soon as it clicks you’ll unlock a serious level-up in your hair removal game.  

Here’s the lowdown when it comes to at home waxing:

  • Much cheaper than salon treatments

Let’s face it:

Salon waxing is insanely expensive.

With the money you would have spent on a salon wax, you can buy a home waxing kit and still have money to pay for a night out afterwards (which, if we’re honest, is exactly what you’ll want to do once you’re all silky smooth). Let's have a look at the tools you might want to get for at-home waxing (I'll be reviewing all of these later in this article):

  • Long lasting results:

How long does waxing last?

Typically, you’ll be hairless for 3-4 weeks afterwards. Imagine that: a whole month without needing to worry about hair removal once! Of course, results will depend on the rate of your hair regrowth, but coming from someone whose hair grows back extremely fast (I’ll shave in the evening and have full on stubble when I wake up in the morning) I can safely say this is a huge factor.*in a nutshell: the results of at home waxing will last just as long as a salon treatment, but for a fraction of the price!

  • Suitable for all hair types

This is one of the greatest things about waxing.

I know so many girls who are basically excluded from using a certain hair removal method because their hair isn’t suitable: hair that’s too thin won’t work well with epilators, blonde and red haired folk can’t use lasers, and hair that’s unusually coarse sometimes doesn’t respond well to depilatories.

Waxing works on all hair types, and when done right, will effectively remove 100% of the hairs from any given area.

  • Can be done all over the body

Whether you’re getting to grips with your leg fur or tackling the fanny forest, waxing is extremely versatile.

Many other hair removal methods are only suitable for use on certain parts of the body, but the best thing about waxing is that it can be done virtually everywhere (more on that in the next section).

  • Improved regrowth

Between ingrown hairs, razor rash, bumps, burns, and itchiness… hair regrowth sucks.

I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the beach, which means lots of time in bikinis… Unluckily, I am not and never have been one of those girls whose pubes grow in a cute little ‘v’ shape and stays politely within the bikini boundary.

A typical week used to go something like this:

Day 1: Hair looks like cross between wookie and shetland pony. Time to shave. Nice and smooth...for all of 8 hours.

Day 2: Oh hello there stubble, you’re looking even darker and pricklier than usual.

Day 3: Have woken self up in middle of night due to accidental over-scratching of front bum area. Note to self: wear oven mitts to bed in future.

Day 4: Stubble now visible even from a distance, so shave again out of necessity. Nearly rip skin off due to razor rash and skin irritation. Don’t finish shaving because of it.

Day 5, 6, and 7: Skin and hair recovering from previous days abuse. Bumps, ingrown hairs, redness galore.

It was a constant battle.

When I started waxing? Everything changed.

Shaving and depilatories are great for some things, but at the end of the day they are just slicing off the hair somewhere along the shaft, which does nothing to improve regrowth.

Waxing is all about removing hairs from the root, which has a couple of important effects:

  1. When hair regrows, it’s a totally new hair, so the thinnest part is at the top (i.e. less scratchy and irritating stubble and massively reduced chance of ingrown hairs and rashes).
  2. Hair grows in cycles, so all your hairs won’t necessarily grow back at the same time (the visual effect will be that your hair growth has thinned). For me, I wax once a month, and only about 60% of my hair has grown back at that point. If I wait longer (say 8 weeks) then all hairs will have grown back by then.
  3. If you continuously wax, over time you may find that some hairs don’t grow back at all because the follicle has been permanently damaged.(I have found this to be true on my bikini area.)
  • Convenience

The single most important factor for so many people:

At home waxing is super convenient because it can be done in the privacy of your own bedroom or bathroom, at any time that suits you. No waiting for appointments, no depending on other people, no fitting things into a schedule.

You control everything about the experience.

Where can I wax? More importantly… where can I not wax?

Like I mentioned briefly above, waxing is amazingly versatile.

You can wax virtually every part of your body: legs (both upper and lower), bikini/brazilian (which I am now an expert on thanks to all the extra research I did on this area), butt, back, arms, underarms, back, chest, shoulders, tummy, and even on the face (check out the full story of my search for the best wax for facial hair removal here).

There are even waxing kits out there that can be used on your nose and ears; just be careful if you want to use it here- wax should stay on your outer ear, not inner.

Do take note that eyebrow waxing is a bit of an art; if you’re going to go down this route make sure you get yourself a high quality eyebrow waxing kit, either like Sally Hansen’s hot wax kits for eyebrows, face and lip or a simple kit with eyebrow waxing strips.  

How long does hair have to be to wax? (And how long is too long?)

This is key.

There is an optimal length for hair that is going to be waxed.

The minimum length is generally considered to be ¼ inch, and the maximum (yes, there is a maximum) is around ¾ inch.

If hair is any shorter than this, the wax won’t be able to adhere to the hair properly, and if it’s any longer, the wax strip will pull the hair more, causing more discomfort than it would if the hairs were shorter.

I usually try to wax as soon as my hairs are long enough; in my experience, if you remove the hair at the ‘sweet’ point in the growth cycle, it discourages the hairs from growing back at all (this is one of the key reasons sugar waxing is so popular).

Keep reading to find out how best to optimize your hair length before you wax.

The Different Types of Wax and What are they Best For

First thing’s first:

When diving into the world of DIY waxing, it pays to know the difference between the different types of wax out there.

Here’s the ins and outs of it:

Hot vs. Cold

The first big difference you need to know about is hot wax and cold wax:

The hot variety is a ‘home waxing kit’ style of product, which typically includes the wax itself (often in the form of beads), some strips of muslin (only if it’s a soft wax kit- keep reading the next section to find out the difference between soft and hard wax), and some kind of applicator (like a wooden spatula). You can read all about my quest to find the best waxing kit!

The wax component needs to be heated in the supplied heater until it melts fully and can be easily spread on the skin.

Here’s why hot wax kits rock:

The heater has a temperature regulator on it, which means wax will be heated to optimum temperature for the entirety of the waxing process; no waxing burns because it’s too hot, and not need to reheat the wax mid-session because it cooled down too much and went hard.

Simple, and stress-free.

My absolute favorite kit is the Gigi Brazilian waxing kit (brazilian wax refers to the fact that it is suitable for use on extra thick coarse hairs, but in reality it can be used all over the body).

Not only does it include the wax, warmer, and spatula, but it also comes with a pre-epilation oil and cooling gel, so it’s literally an all-in-one package.

Alternatively, cold wax refers to pre prepared wax strips that need to be heated using your hands (or a hairdryer if you’re lazy).

The benefit of cold wax is that it’s much less messy and very easy to apply (not to mention it’s super portable and easy to travel with).

The downside?

9 times out of 10, cold wax isn’t as effective as its hot sister because it’s more difficult for the wax to adhere properly to the hairs.

It definitely has its benefits- which is why I always keep a pack of Nad’s all natural beeswax strips in my cosmetics bag in case of unruly hair related emergencies.

If you want to know which wax strips have proven to be way better than all the others, catch the full article here!

Hard vs. Soft

Now,

When it comes to hot ​​​​wax, not all products are created equal!

Here, you’ve got another subgroup of wax types: hard wax and soft wax.

Soft wax is the type that needs to be applied thinly with a spatula and covered with a muslin strip in order to remove it.

It’s most suitable for use on large areas of the body, such as arms and legs, and is extra good at grabbing fine hairs.

While you can use a wax heater for soft wax, a lot of products can also be heated in the microwave without the waxing machine (good choice if you’re on a tight budget); this Honee wax from Gigi is a great choice when paired with a pack of high quality muslin wax strips (or homemade wax strips if you’re feeling innovative).

Hard wax (otherwise known as stripless wax) is applied in a thick layer on the skin using a spatula, then left to cool ever so slightly so that it can be peeled off directly with your fingers.

Hard wax kits are usually used to treat sensitive areas with coarse hair, such as bikini/brazilian area, eyebrows, and underarms- it’s extra good at grabbing short, thick hairs, and is generally considered to be less painful than soft wax when used on the face.

Note: hard wax hair removal is only suitable on small areas; hard wax breaks when applied to large areas.

The Gigi hard wax kit I mentioned already is easily the best at home wax kit out there (yup, it gets two mentions- it’s that good).

How to Use Wax at Home (Like a Pro)

Preparation

Once you’ve got your ducks in a row and your wax ready to go, you’re going to need to prep the area you’re about to wax.

Preparation is vital to the success of your self waxing efforts.

Luckily, solid prep is super simple and requires very little extra effort (or expense).

Follow these rules religiously:

  1. Exfoliate

Hugely important for preventing ingrown hairs.

Doubly important for sloughing away dead skin so that hairs are more available for the wax to stick to.

Best to do this at least one day in advance of your wax, since exfoliating right before might make your skin overly sensitive and cause it to become irritated by the wax itself.

Use a damp washcloth or a natural hemp loofa with a small amount of exfoliating product. Go for something all natural and free from micro beads, which are extremely damaging to the ocean. My favorite is Premium Nature’s coconut milk exfoliating scrub, because it’s packed full of organic cruelty-free ingredients like coconut oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and sea salt.

  1. Trim the hairs if needed

Remember when I said there is an optimal hair length for waxing?

And if your hairs are too long, the wax is going to yank and pull them instead of swifty removing them, which is only going to cause you unnecessary discomfort.

If hairs are longer than ¾ of an inch, trim them down to ¼-½ an inch first using an electric shaver like the ever popular Panasonic ES2207P.

This is such a good product to have in your collection because it is so versatile, and can be used to complement your other hair removal methods (sometimes I prefer to just trim my ‘brazilian’ area and wax the bikini line).

  1. Sprinkle on some baby powder

This is one expert tip that changed everything for me.

Just before you apply the wax, sprinkle baby powder over the area you’re about to do. It will absorb any extra moisture,meaning the wax will stick to the hair and not to your skin.

You can thank me for that one later.

  1. If you’re sensitive to pain, learn to manage it.

Honestly, the pain of waxing is not all it’s made out to be (in my opinion).

But:

If you have a really low threshold, or it’s your first time and you’re feeling a bit out of your comfort zone, you can always rely on a pain management method (read on to find out my expert recommendations for a painless wax).

Application

Once skin is perfectly prepped, you’re ready to go.

Here’s how to use wax at home (and get results like a pro!):

  1. How to apply wax

Apply in the direction of the hair growth. Remove in opposite direction.

Simple as.

  1. Hold skin taut

Golden rule!

Use one hand to hold skin taut and stretch it as much as possible (this is crucial for reducing pain and allowing wax to effectively pull hair- not skin).

  1. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING OF ALL: The angle to remove the wax strip

This is the tip that changed my waxing game.

Don’t pull the wax off at a 90 degree angle (i.e. straight up).

This is painful, can lead to skin damage, and likely won’t remove your hair very well.

The goal is the pull back the wax/strip on itself as close to the skin as possible.

The better you get at reaching this angle, the more effective your self waxing efforts will be.

  1. Redoing same section: what not to do

If you find that you didn’t remove all the hairs after the first strip is removed, it’s not always a good idea to go back over the same area immediately (or at all).

Soft wax, for example, can’t be applied to the same area twice because it removes a thin layer of skin with each strip. Doing this more than once can lead to pretty nasty skin irritation.

In this case:

Leave the area and carry on somewhere else. At the end, you can use tweezers to remove the leftover hairs. Or, if there’s really a lot left, wait until the next day and do it again.

  1. Reduce stinging with this one simple trick

Salons use this trick all the time.

Immediately after you rip of the wax strip, quickly pat the area that’s stinging using your (clean) fingers. Do so gently while applying just enough pressure to relieve the smarting.

You won’t even believe how well this works because it sounds so simple!

Just try it.

How to Remove wax from Skin

Inevitably, you’re going to end up with a small amount of waxy residue on your skin after you’ve finished.

Since the wax isn’t water soluble, water won’t be enough to get it off (neither will most soaps, not without a good bit of scrubbing which is a big no-no straight after a wax!).

The experts use oil to remove excess wax.

The trick is to use a lightweight oil that is all natural and contains no added fragrances or chemicals.

My go-to choice is either Aria Starr’s Organic Argan Oil or this super-formula Ancient Greek Remedy blend of lavender, almond, grapeseed and olive oil.

Gently rub the oil onto the remaining waxy area in small circular motions, and the wax should slip right off (and you’re skin will be super moisturized and dewy too!).

Post-Wax Recovery 

The treatment doesn’t end when the last strip is pulled off; you need to pay extra care during the recovery period for two reasons:

  • To ensure your newly smoothed skin looks its best for the next couple of hair-free weeks
  • And to set yourself up for an even better waxing experience next time.

What to do:

Use a gentle, anti inflammatory product such as Amara Organics Cold Pressed Aloe Vera Gel, which will soothe skin and reduce any sign of redness or inflammation post-wax (it’s also one of the best natural moisturizers out there, and can be used as a hair mask too!).

After the first 24-48 hours, you can start to gently exfoliate the waxed area. You should do this every couple of days to keep dead skin cells at bay and reduce the chance of getting ingrown hairs

What to avoid:

  • Chemical based products

If you’ve read this far, you can tell I’m a religious believer in all-natural products.

This isn’t just because they are much better for the environment and your skin:

But because chemical based products and cosmetics with added fragrance are the opposite of what your skin wants/needs- especially after it’s been waxed.

Post-wax, your skin is at its most sensitive, and chemicals will only serve to inflame and aggravate your skin.

Steer clear of them in a big way. Stick to natural.

  • Hot showers or baths

High temperatures of any kind are going to cause your waxed skin to prickle and sting and can actually lead to pretty nasty inflammation.

Avoid very hot showers, baths, saunas, and steam rooms for 24 hours.

  • Sunbathing

Direct sunlight and heat are the opposite of what you want post-wax. Avoid for 24 hours.

  • Chlorinated swimming pools

Chemical laden pool water soaking on your extremely sensitive, freshly waxed skin? No.

Just no.

Wait at least a day.

  • Tight clothing and underwear

Tight clothing will rub against your skin and lead to redness, rashes, and bumps after waxing.

Avoid all tight clothes, especially scratchy lacy underwear. Stick to breathables and light cotton.

Pain Management

If you really can’t cope with the pain of waxing, there are a couple of super effective options available to help you minimize your discomfort.

  1. Oral pain meds

A simple over the counter pain medication like Paracetamol can help to dull your sensitivity. Pop one half an hour before you start to wax.

  1. Topical numbing cream

Favored by those going under the tattooing needle, topical numbing creams are an extremely effective way to reduce your sensitivity to waxing.

The Relax and Wax No-Scream-Cream is a crowd favorite, while many others claim great results with HUSH anesthetic cream which is actually designed to be used for tattoos (so you can be sure it’s extra powerful).

Bottom line

Waxing at home is the way to go for so many reasons.

And if there’s any nugget of wisdom I might have imparted on you, it’s that it is so easy to get salon quality results at home.

Happy hair removal!

Any questions left unanswered? Drop a line and I’ll share my two cents.

   About the author Alyssa Kaye

Alyssa is a young, professional blogger living in Hoboken, NJ. Thanks to her Middle Eastern heritage, Alyssa is no stranger to unwanted hair. She has tried every laser hair removal product on the market in a quest to find the best!