The Skin-Care Products You Should (and Shouldn't) Apply to Skin After Waxing

Experts break down the best post-care routine after getting waxed.

Skin Products After Waxing

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The hair removal process — whether you're going to see a professional or braving it on your own — can be harsh on skin, which is why it requires additional TLC pre-and post-treatment. With that in mind, it's no surprise that the number-one question on your mind may be about which products you can comfortably apply to skin after waxing (comfortably being the operative word here).

After all, it can be hard to tell whether a dedicated post-wax skincare product is worth the investment — not to mention whether a given formula's ingredients will stress out your newly waxed skin. After going through what is, for many, an uncomfortable and even painful process, who wants to make matters worse and inadvertently cause redness and irritation? To get a better sense of what you can and can't use on your skin post-wax, we turned to the experts to break down your post-care routine

What Is Post-Care Like After Getting Your Skin Waxed?

Preparation is key — so, technically, your skincare routine for your waxed area should start prior to treatment, says Gloria Lin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City. She says that a pre-wax exfoliation 24 to 48 hours before your appointment can remove the dead skin and bacteria that may clog the hair follicles. This in turn can help prevent ingrown hairs or bumps after getting waxed.

Then, while your waxing after-care routine can vary based on your skin type and where exactly you got your wax, you can generally expect your skin to be more sensitive.

What Products Can You Put On Your Skin Post-Wax?

The first product Dr. Lin recommends using post-wax is sunscreen; sun protection is important to prevent hyperpigmentation and decrease the risk of sunburn. Next, a gentle, unscented cleanser will be the least irritating when you cleanse your freshly waxed skin. If you develop pimple-like bumps in the area, consider using an antimicrobial cleanser like Hibiclens Antimicrobial Antiseptic Soap and Skin Cleanser, as you might be experiencing folliculitis or some sort of minor infection of the hair follicle, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

After cleansing, apply a moisturizer, which will form a protective barrier and lock in moisture. "An ideal moisturizer for post-waxed skin contains a combination of humectants to hydrate the skin, emollients to strengthen the skin barrier, and occlusives to lock in moisture," says Hadley King, MD, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist. If you don't currently have one on deck, Dr. Zeichner is a fan of Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair Lotion, which forms a breathable layer over the skin and can easily be spread over large surface areas without leaving behind a greasy or sticky feel.

Beyond products, you should also tweak other areas of your routine. For instance, Dr. Lin suggests wearing loose clothing, which will help you avoid chafing in already sensitive areas. (So, skip the leggings.) If you had a bikini wax in particular, too, consider wearing cotton underwear, since it's a breathable and gentle material.

What Products Should You Never Put On Your Skin Post-Wax?

Because just-waxed skin is fairly sensitive, there are products and ingredients you should avoid so you don't further irritate the area. What tops the list? Over-the-counter or prescription retinoids, fragrance itself as well as products with fragrance, chemical exfoliants, and heavy creams or oils — not to mention makeup, if you've gotten a facial wax.

Also, avoid taking super-hot baths and showers, too, to reduce the chances of irritation, says Dr. King. As always, be sure to check in with a board-certified dermatologist if you're experiencing any irritation or discomfort that doesn't subside after a few days.

Finally, stay away from lubricants, workouts, baths, and pools as that puts you at risk for potential infection for a few days (and, if you're getting waxed ahead of vacation, make sure to factor that in when you schedule your appointment). If you do experience any discomfort, use a cold compress to help soothe the skin. Once any redness or tenderness has subsided, you can return to your usual skin- and body-care routine — and enjoy the smooth, hair-free results.

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