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By Kayla Greaves
Updated Apr 06, 2020 @ 10:30 am
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As someone with incredibly thick hair, I'll be honest and admit that waxing hasn't always been my favorite method of hair removal. Yet, when I compare it to the inevitable razor bumps, painful ingrowns, and overall irritation that's most likely to come post-shaving, I'll deal with the in-the-moment pain of waxing over that any day.

The only issue for me is that after attempting to give myself a wax in college (and having it go horribly wrong), I've been terrified to do it on my own since. That's why I reached out to Elyse Villarreal, waxing expert at Cute Nail Studio in Austin, as well as European Wax Center's education manager Gina Petak to get their insight on the best at-home waxing tips for people with thick hair, including the best practices for aftercare.

Is Waxing Better than Shaving?

The choice is yours at the end of the day. But even though waxing may be painful in the moment, if you can deal with the temporary discomfort, it does have its benefits for people with thicker hair. "Waxing can reduce the irritation caused by other hair removal techniques," says Villarreal. Because the entire hair strand is removed during waxing, you won't deal with any of the uncomfortable side effects like razor bumps.

How to Prep the Hair and Skin for Waxing

If the hair in the area you want to wax is long, it may be a good idea to give a trim before starting — but make sure to leave about a quarter-inch of hair remaining so the wax has something to grip onto. Next, Villarreal says to apply an oil to the skin before layering on any wax. "It acts as a barrier between the skin and the wax," she explains. She recommends using the High Priestess Sugar Scrub, which is a physical exfoliant mixed with nourishing jojoba oil.

What Type of Wax Should I Use?

There are a plethora of waxes on the market, but not all of them are suitable for thick hair. So forget the box of room-temperature wax strips, and opt for a hard wax instead. "It wraps around the hair and is a cooler temperature, which can be a gentler way to remove tough hair," Villarreal says. Another plus? It's okay if you miss a couple hairs on the first pass. "Hard wax allows you to go over the skin multiple times without risk of skin lifting," she shares. "If you choose soft wax, though, never attempt multiple passes — tweeze instead."

If you have a wax warmer at home, you can use a traditional hard wax like Gigi's Brazilian Body Hard Wax. If not, no problem — just opt for a microwavable wax.

How Do I Apply the Wax?

Typically, once the wax has heated up, you would start by dipping a wooden spatula into the pot, gently twirling it around to stop any dripping, wait for a few seconds so it can cool, then apply it in the direction that the hair grows. Once it has dried down, remove it in the opposite direction. But it's important to remember that each brand of wax comes with different heating and application directions, so be sure to follow the instructions on the individual box to avoid potential burns and other mishaps.

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What Areas Should I Avoid Waxing Myself?

I hate to break it to you, but you may want to skip waxing your private parts on your own. "Genitals are generally the most sensitive, which makes sense," Villarreal explains. "Sex would be pretty different otherwise. I know a few people who will wax their own genitals and I am in awe of them. Their courage and determination are both awesome and terrifying. They make a plan and they don’t stop halfway. They love to tell the tale, and they do it every few weeks. But generally I’d say let someone else do it."

I would have to agree. And if there are any other spots on your body that are overly sensitive, it's probably best to avoid them, too.

What Do I Need to Know About Waxing Aftercare?

"I tell everyone, regardless of their hair type, the best way to deal with any irritation is to always avoid tight clothing, sweating, hot water, and fragrances after removal," Villarreal shares, adding that it's best to avoid these possible irritants for 24 to 48 hours. As for preventing potential ingrowns, she says to start paying attention to the area about two weeks after hair removal. "That’s the most important time to scrub your body and use serums and masks," she adds. Petak from European Wax Center recommends the brand's Smooth Me Ingrown Hair Serum, which she says is a favorite of the salon's clients.

When it comes to slowing down hair growth so you have to embark on at-home waxing less frequently, EWC's Paradise Strut Body Wash can help with that. "It includes hair growth minimizer," Petak explains. "This technology helps visibly slow the regrowth of hair between waxes. One ingredient we use in particular is narcissus tazetta bulb extract, which aids in attacking the regrowth of hair at the root."