A wax appointment can be a bit daunting: Is it going to hurt? Where do I go? How do I prep? But today, there’s no need to subject your skin to a bucket of mystery wax in a dark room (*shudders*). More modern hair removal companies like European Wax Center, which has 759 (!) locations across the country, make the waxing experience comfortable, clean (no double-dipping here!), and—dare we say it—as close to pain-free as it gets. Not to mention, EWC is doing ~all~ the things to keep their guests safe. You can read about their new safety protocols here, but think: face shields for wax specialists and extra deep cleaning of the waxing suites.
The company, which uses a proprietary “Comfort Wax®“, a hard wax, that’s applied sans paper strips, prides itself on a four-step process that includes prepping skin with a cleanser and oil—making waxing waaaay less painful—and finishing up with a serum that helps prevent ingrown hairs post-wax. Still have hesitations about waxing anything from brows to bikini? Here, a top EWC pro shares the six pre-wax strategies she swears by for the best experience ever.
Use Skincare Products That Don’t Clog Your Pores
What you’re doing at home for your skin matters big time when it comes to waxing. (And your esthetician can likely tell if you take your products seriously or not!) “When guests aren’t using the right products, waxing can become a little bit more painful because stubborn hair refuses to come out due to build-up,” says Gina Petak, Education Manager at European Wax Center.
She suggests investing in non-comedogenic skincare products (aka products that don’t clog pores). An important note: that doesn’t always mean organic. For example, organic coconut oil is great, but Petak notes it’s “extremely pore-clogging for the waxing area.”
The products she swears by? EWC’s Smooth Me® Ingrown Hair Serum, which can be used once or twice a day. “It’s designed to really calm the skin down, help stop ingrown hairs, and prevent breakouts.” She also loves the EWC Paradise Strut Body Wash. It cleanses and exfoliates while also visibly reducing the regrowth of hair between waxing reservations.
Find Your Exfoliation Sweet Spot
“Exfoliating leading up to a waxing reservation can remove dead skin build-up and prepare skin for the best waxing results,” says Petak. Exfoliating also ensures that any ingrowns will be more accessible during a session so they can be removed from the skin.
Since waxing in and of itself is exfoliating, though, you don’t want to do it too close to a reservation, she says. Two or three days beforehand is the sweet spot for exfoliation in order to prime your skin. (That rule holds for facials, too, which can include harsh exfoliants and chemical ingredients.)
Need a go-to product? EWC’s Reveal Me® Body Exfoliating Gel is non-abrasive, helps calm and restore your skin, and is film-free (read: it doesn’t leave skin coated in oil after use).
Hydrate Ahead of Time
You probably know that drinking water is a biggie when it comes to your skin—so it makes sense that hydration is a key to a successful waxing appointment. “If your skin is dry, that means your hair is dry, and your hair could break when you get waxed, no matter how great the specialist is,” says Petak.
Your best bet: Aim for eight glasses of water a day every day leading up to your reservation, stay away from alcohol and caffeine (both of which can be dehydrating), and use non-comedogenic moisturizing skin/body products. Don’t forget to give areas such as your legs, which can be particularly dry (and forgotten) in cold winter months, some TLC, Petak says.
She recommends EWC’s Glow It Shimmer Body Oil for instant hydration via a super lightweight and non-greasy formula that won’t clog pores.
Grow Hair to the Length of a Grain of Rice
Think you should trim your hair or even shave a bit before a wax? Don’t! Give up the razor for at least five to seven days before a wax. “Grow out your hair to the size of a grain of rice,” suggests Petak. Why it matters: If your hair is too short to be “grabbed” by the wax, not all of it will come out. This can make an appointment less effective and more painful, she notes.
Be Careful in the Sun
Staying out of the sun is good advice for both pre- and post-wax. 24 hours after a wax, your skin can be more sensitive and susceptible to a burn because your pores are open and more vulnerable. But if you’ve spent the whole day at the pool and have the burn to prove it, you might not even be able to get a wax in the first place.
“We can’t wax sunburned skin,” says Petak, noting that sunburn makes the skin extremely sensitive and more at risk for potentially peeling after a wax. The week before a wax, consider SPF your BFF and/or park it in the shade to keep skin protected.
Avoid These Treatments Before You Go
It might be your tried-and-true anti-aging ingredient, but a week before and after a wax, don’t use retinol on any areas where you’re getting hair removed, says Petak. Retinols can make the skin more sensitive and put you at risk for a painful experience, a burn from the wax, or even tears in the skin. Also avoid any injectables, such as Botox or fillers, two weeks before a waxing reservations, she suggests, because they can cause localized trauma or swelling or the skin—aka not how you want your skin to feel pre-wax.
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