How to Wax Your Skin

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on June 28, 2021

You may be researching a way to wax your skin from home. Salons offer professional waxing solutions, but their services may be pricey. If you want to wax your skin from home, learn how to do it safely and lower your chances of getting an infection.

Before you wax your skin, consider these things:

  • Don’t wax if your skin is sunburned or very sensitive.
  • Talk to your doctor before waxing if you’ve taken a medication called isotretinoin in the past 6 months‌.
  • Read wax labels for any ingredients you may be allergic to.

For the best results, follow these steps:‌

1. Measure the hair length. The hair you want to wax should be one-fourth to three-fourths of an inch long. If hair is shorter, the wax may not have enough surface area to be effective. Longer hair may cause more pain and mess.

2. Avoid creams. If you have skin care products that contain retinol or prescription retinoids, stop using them 2 to 5 days before you wax. These ingredients may cause the wax to pull at your skin.

3. Prepare for discomfort. Waxing rips your hair out by the roots. It’s likely to be painful. Take an over-the-counter pain medicine 30 minutes before waxing. You can also apply cold packs to the area you want to wax for numbing relief.

4. Wash and dry your skin. Use a gentle soap to wash away dirt, dead skin, and any skin care products you’ve put on the area. Be gentle, and don’t scrub, or you may irritate your skin. Dry your skin completely before applying any wax.

5. Warm the wax. Read and follow the directions on the package carefully. Before applying wax to a larger area of skin, test the temperature on the inside of your wrist. It should be warm to hot, but it shouldn’t cause pain or feel like it’s burning.

6. Apply the wax. Test a small patch of skin before you wax a larger area. Apply the wax according to the directions. For best results, spread the wax in the same direction as your hair grows.

‌7. Apply the cloth strip. Your wax kit comes with strips that are applied to the wax for removal. The strips are usually porous cloth that absorbs some of the moisture from the wax, giving it more hold. Let the cloth sit for 2 or 3 seconds before removing it.

8. Remove the cloth strip. Place one hand on your bare skin below where you pull the cloth strip. Pull the strip in the opposite direction of hair growth for the best results. Do your best to remove the strip in a fast but controlled motion.

9. Soothe your skin. Waxing may leave your skin feeling raw. You can use cold packs again to get some relief. Or you can put on a soothing oil or moisturizer that won’t clog your pores.

There are benefits and drawbacks to skin waxing, and only you can decide if it’s right for you.

Some pros of skin waxing are:

  • Smooth skin
  • Hair grows back thinner
  • Helps exfoliate skin‌
  • Results last 3 to 4 weeks

Some cons of waxing are:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • May cause inflammation
  • Clogs pores and hair follicles‌
  • May lead to infection

Risks of waxing.Ingrown hairs are common when waxing your skin. It happens when the hair begins to grow under your skin instead of pushing through. Ingrown hairs appear as small red bumps, and they may be inflamed and painful.

Folliculitis is another common skin condition that causes your hair follicles to become inflamed. This condition usually stems from a bacterial or fungal infection. It may look like small red bumps at first, which you may mistake for ingrown hairs or irritation. If left untreated, these bumps can quickly become infected.

Prevent ingrown hairs and folliculitis. You can try to prevent skin conditions from affecting you after waxing.

  • Avoid tight clothes that create friction and reduce breathability.
  • Avoid shaving if you have red bumps.
  • Use a washcloth to gently exfoliate your skin, encouraging hairs to break through instead of remaining trapped.‌
  • Don’t use hot tubs or pools, because they may get bacteria on your raw skin.

Talk to your doctor. If you have concerns about how waxing will affect your skin, talk to your doctor first. If you wax often and have severe symptoms, your doctor may suggest trying a different wax or taking a break from waxing so your skin can heal completely.

Show Sources


American Academy of Dermatology Association: “HAIR REMOVAL: HOW TO WAX.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Shaving vs. Waxing: What’s Better for Your Skin?”

Mayo Clinic: “Folliculitis,” “Ingrown Hair.”

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