Waxing is a popular hair removal method that can provide smooth skin for weeks at a time. However, the process of waxing can be quite painful for some people. The level of pain felt during waxing depends on factors like your pain tolerance, the type of wax used, and the body part being waxed. If you are looking to get waxed but want the most pain-free experience possible, this article explores the most painless waxing methods and techniques.
The type of wax used during a waxing service can impact the level of pain felt. Here are some of the most painless wax options:
Soft wax is the most common type used in waxing services. It goes on thicker than hard wax and adheres to only the hair, not the skin. This helps reduce pain and minimize irritation. Soft wax requires using cloth strips to rip it off quickly against the direction of hair growth. The swift motion helps make soft wax relatively painless for areas like arms, legs, back, and bikini.
Hard wax is applied thinner and sets up into a more brittle consistency on the skin. The hard wax shrink wraps around each hair and is removed by flicking the dried wax off. This wax doesn’t require cloth strips. Hard wax adheres only to the hair not the skin, making it a great choice for sensitive areas. It can be slightly more painful than soft wax but is ideal for bikini, Brazilian, face, and underarm waxing.
Sugar wax is a natural wax made from sugar, lemon juice, and water. It can be applied thinner than soft wax and removed just like hard wax without strips. The natural ingredients are gentle on sensitive skin. Sugar wax also has a lower risk of irritation versus chemical-based waxes. While slightly more painful than hard wax, sugar wax is one of the most painless options for sensitive areas like the bikini, underarms, upper lip, and eyebrows.
Using a topical numbing cream or gel can help dramatically reduce waxing pain and discomfort. Look for creams containing lidocaine, which temporarily numbs skin’s nerve endings when applied. Apply it 30 to 45 minutes before waxing and avoid using too much, which can interfere with wax adhering properly to hairs. Numbing creams are ideal for Brazilian waxes, bikinis, legs, and other sensitive areas if regular waxing is too painful for you.
The technique your esthetician uses when waxing also impacts pain levels. Here are some tips for making it as comfortable as possible:
Cleanse Skin First
Cleansing and exfoliating the area first ensures skin is free of oils, sweat, and dirt that can affect wax adherence. Avoid using moisturizer before waxing.
Powder Sensitive Areas
Lightly dusting some cornstarch-based powder on areas like the bikini, underarms, and face can help absorb moisture. This keeps the wax from painfully lifting any skin.
Pull Skin Taut
Your esthetician should pull the skin taut with one hand before applying and removing the wax with the other. This helps minimize discomfort.
Apply Wax Thinner
Applying wax evenly and thinner, especially on delicate areas, can make hair removal less painful.
Remove Wax Quickly
Removing the wax strip or hard wax as swiftly as possible in the opposite direction of hair growth minimizes time spent in pain. Slow removal prolongs the stinging sensation.
Avoid Reapplying Wax
Your esthetician should avoid applying and reapplying wax to the same area, as this can increase irritation. Wax each section just once.
Use Post-Wax Cooling Gel
Applying a cooling gel containing ingredients like aloe, mint, or tea tree oil afterward can provide a soothing sensation to irritated skin.
Take Pain Relievers
Taking over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin about an hour before waxing can help reduce discomfort. The medications work by blocking pain signals to the brain.
Timing Your Waxing
You may experience less waxing pain during certain times of the month due to natural hormone fluctuations. Here is how timing plays a role:
Avoid Right Before or During Period
Waxing is often more painful in the days leading up to your period or during your period when estrogen levels are lower. Pain tolerance is typically lower during this time as well.
Wax 7 to 10 Days After Period Ends
Estrogen peaks around 7 to 10 days after menstruation ends. This correlates with a higher pain threshold in many women. Getting waxed during this timeframe often feels the least painful.
Proper At-Home Preparation
Preparing your skin and hair properly at home before your waxing appointment can set you up for less pain:
Let Hair Grow Out
Wax works best and hurts less on hair that is at least 1⁄4 inch long. Let hair grow out 4 to 6 weeks before waxing.
Trim Long Hair
If hair is longer than 1 inch, trim it down to about 1⁄2 inch for easier, gentler waxing.
Gently exfoliating a day or two before removes dead skin cells and allows wax to adhere nicely.
Avoid Heat Treatments
Steer clear of tanning beds, sunbathing, saunas and hot baths for 24 to 48 hours pre-waxing to avoid irritation.
Choosing an Experienced Professional
Seeing an esthetician who is highly trained and experienced in waxing techniques can make a big difference in your comfort level. Look for the following:
- Licensed esthetician with waxing certification
- Salon specializing in waxing services
- Uses proper sanitation and hygiene methods
- Has good reviews mentioning their waxing skills
- Explains the process thoroughly and answers your questions
An esthetician who is skilled, certified, and has extensive waxing experience is more likely to make the process as smooth and comfortable as possible.
Trying a Pain Relief Spray
Some estheticians offer pain relief sprays that can be applied to the skin pre-waxing to help minimize discomfort. These contain numbing ingredients like lidocaine or benzocaine to block nerve sensations. A spray is easy to apply precisely to the areas being waxed. Numbing relief typically lasts about an hour, the same duration as a waxing session. This option can make waxing Brazilian, bikini, legs, arms, and other areas less painful.
Taking a Pain Reliever
If you are concerned about waxing pain, taking an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, or naproxen sodium prior can help reduce discomfort. Be sure to check the proper dosing instructions and avoid taking more than directed. Pain medications work by blocking pain signals in the body. They can make waxing more comfortable and tolerable if you are highly sensitive.
Considering Laser Hair Removal
While waxing can provide long-lasting smooth skin when performed regularly, the process must be repeated as hair regrows. An alternative for permanently reducing hair growth is laser hair removal. This technology uses targeted light pulses to destroy the hair follicles. Most patients report the sensation feels like a mild pinching or rubber band snapping sensation. While not entirely pain-free, laser hair removal is gentler with virtually no irritation compared to waxing. Treatments provide permanent hair reduction as the remaining follicles eventually stop producing hair. If you are extremely pain sensitive, laser removal may be a worthy hair removal investment with essentially pain-free results after a series of consistent treatments.
While waxing provides superior hair removal results versus shaving, the process can be quite painful for those highly sensitive to discomfort. Thankfully, options exist to help minimize waxing pain so you can achieve smooth, stubble-free skin for weeks at a time. The most painless waxing methods include using gentler wax formulas for sensitive areas, applying numbing creams beforehand, properly timing your waxing appointments, taking over-the-counter pain relievers, and visiting highly trained estheticians. With the right preparation and technician, your waxing experience can be comfortable rather than extremely painful.