How to Avoid (and Treat) the Side Effects of Waxing (2023)

Unfortunately, the side effects of waxing aren't always just hairlessness. Hair removal sometimes leaves its mark—and comes with the price of redness, breakouts, ingrown hairs, and more. But the easily-mitigated side effects of waxing shouldn't stop you from losing out onits benefits. Being educated about preventative treatment, and knowing how to get rid of problems when they arise, will turn waxing from a terrifying prospect into an exciting one.

We consulted three experts—dermatologist Dr. Marie Hayag, waxing specialist Rachael Gallo, and waxing expert Shay Sadrolashrafi—to learn more about the potential side effects of waxing and how to deal with them. Keep scrolling to find out more about the side effects of waxing and how to treat them.

Meet the Expert

  • Rachael Gallo is a waxing specialist and was formerly the Director of Spa Operations at Exhale Spa.
  • Marie Hayag, MD is an NYC board-certified dermatologist and founder of the dermatology clinic, Fifth Avenue Aesthetics.
  • Shay Sadrolashrafi is a waxing expert and lead aesthetician for Wakse, an at-home body waxing brand.

01of 08

Redness and Inflammation

Does waxing have you seeing red? You’re not alone, as some level of pink tends to comewith the territory—especially if you're removing thick hair or have sensitive skin. "The heat [from the wax] will sometimes cause redness and inflammation which leads the blood vessels to dilate and more blood to flow into that area that’s being waxed," explains Sadrolashrafi. Although you may not be able to completely avoid it, there are some things you can do to lessen redness and leave your skin closer to how it looked before the wax.

How to Treat

One thing that can help is using an aloe-based serum, such as Wakse's Cactus H20 Post-Wax Serum, to calm the skin and placate inflammation or post-wax redness. If the area you had waxed is covered by clothing, opt for loose, comfortable items as friction will only further irritate an already aggravated patch of skin.

02of 08

(Video) Great Tips to Combat the Side Effects of Waxing | Skin Care - Dr. Rasya Dixit | Doctors' Circle

Pimples

Congratulations! Your hair is gone, but now you're left with a pimple or two, or (yikes) even a breakout. Unfortunately, there's a chance this will happen even if you goto the best technician and you're not prone to acne.

"While waxing removes hair, it also takes some skin at the surface leaving your pores exposed. A pimple will form if the pore becomes infected with bacteria," says Dr. Hayag. Naturally, due diligence pre- and post-wax, includingtaking care of basic hygiene, is key.

How to Treat

Gallo recommends cleaning the skin post-body wax as well: "Cleanse the skin immediately after with a gentle foaming cleanser to remove any bacteria brought up through the follicle," she explains.

Before getting a wax, Dr. Hayag advises prepping the skin for what's ahead. "Preventing [pimples] in the first place is important. Make sure to exfoliate beforehand. Using a body wash with an exfoliant like salicylic acid can both prevent pimples and also treat them. Avoid picking at the pimples and wear loose clothing to avoid irritating your skin even more," she says. Try using a body wash such as Neutrogena's Body Clear Body Wash before waxing day.

How to Exfoliate Correctly, According to a Dermatologist

03of 08

Ingrown Hairs

These painful invaders can pop up after any kind of hair removal. Shaving is a major offender when it comes to ingrown hair, as is using an epilator, but waxing manages to make the list, too. "Sometimes after the hair has been removed, it regrows downwards instead of upwards and it doesn’t break the skin’s surface. Usually, this is more common in areas where [the] hair is thicker like the underarms or bikini line. It also occurs more frequently in people with curly hair," says Dr. Hayag.

How to Treat

The good news is that by prepping the skin correctly and taking care of it after your hair is gone, you canavoid these annoying bumps. "For treating ingrown hairs, I recommend exfoliating 24–48 hours prior to and after waxing and continuing this three times a week. Then follow up using a post-care serum," explains Sadrolashrafi.

04of 08

Bumps

Sometimes, you look at your freshly waxed skin a few hours after only to find bumps. They're not pimples, and they're not ingrown hairs—what are they? Turns out, the bumps you see immediately after waxing are quite similar to the bumps you see when dealing with razor burn. "Raised bumps are often caused because of our body's reaction to the hair follicle that’s being waxed and stress that occurs on skin," says Sadrolashrafi.

How to Treat

According to Gallo, whether the bumps require treatment will depend on their severity. She says bumps that appear without redness oftentimes last for two days and disappear afterward, so no need to fret about treating them. However, if you experience pain from these bumps, Dr. Hayag advises using two topical remedies, but proceed with caution when using a moisturizer.

"You could use cold compresses to soothe your skin afterward. Applying topical cortisone cream is a good way to reduce inflammation.Make sure that any moisturizers you use afterward don’t have any fragrances in them," she explains.

If the bumps don't go away after a few days, Sadrolashrafi says to consider applying aloe or tea tree oil on the bumps to decrease the likelihood of infection. Look to trying a body lotion such as The Body Shop's Tea Tree Night Lotion for Blemished Skin, which uses tea tree oil to help fade blemishes.

(Video) 5 Side Effects Of Waxing You Must Know | Unwanted Hair Removal

05of 08

Bruising

While the skin does get pulled on, and bruising on sensitive skin is normal, you shouldn't be turning black and blue after waxing. "[Bruising] can be common for sensitive skin. We hold the skin taught as we wax, and this can cause subcutaneous bleeding, which is bleeding under the skin that creates the bruise," says Gallo.

If the bruises are a result of a DIY waxing session, just be gentler with yourself next time. If you experience bruising after a professional wax service, don't return to that technician.

How to Treat

Unfortunately, bruising isn't easily remedied. Try a high-CBD cream like Lord Jones to help with the pain.Otherwise, Sadrolashrafi says to consider taking ibuprofen to mitigate the pain or applying a cold compress on the bruised skin. However, if the bruise isn't fading or is intensifying over the course of several days, he recommends going to a medical professional for help.

(Video) Waxing: How to avoid unwanted side effects

06of 08

Burned or Removed Skin

If the waxing really hurt, your skin is extremely red, and it looks burned and scraped, it's not the end of the world—but it is a problem. "Burned and removed skin can be a result of the wax used being far too hot for the skin. Removed skin can also occur if the same area is waxed more than once," explains Dr. Hayag. Naturally, this particular issue tends to happen with at-home waxing more often than it does with pros.

Though heat is the most likely culprit behind post-wax burning and damage, if the heat of the wax wasn't the issue, you may need to do a little detective work. When dealing with the skin, there is always the possibility of an interaction with a medication you're taking or a skincare product you're using. You can also experience reactions associated with a medical condition.

"If you are using a retinol cream or taking medications, your skin can become thinner and prone to lifting during a wax.Ensure you always tell your therapist what medications and creams you are using," says Gallo.

How to Treat

It's important to know when you need to take extra precautions, and if you might need to avoid waxing in a certain zone or find a new hair removal method. "To treat the burned area, it’s important to apply an even layer of antiseptic cream like Neosporin for the next couple of days and to avoid any heat as much as possible until the affected area is healed," advises Sadrolashrafi.

07of 08

Pain

Sharp pain may only be present while the hair is being removed, but can be hard to deal with, especially in delicate areas. Granted, your hair is being pulled from the root, but the discomfort should be short-lived and tolerable if you're relaxed and under the care of a professional. "Pain can be caused by muscle damage. Often[times] we may hold the muscle tight and use a fast motion to pull the wax from the skin," explains Gallo.

How to Treat

Whether you've gone to a professional salon or are saving money and went DIY, you can try to keep pain to a minimum by taking ibuprofen, wearing a loose-fitted outfit, and avoiding certain products. "Taking ibuprofen before waxing will reduce inflammation and help alleviate the pain both during and afterward. Wear loose clothing to prevent more irritation in the area," says Dr. Hayag.

08of 08

Change in Skin Color

Perhaps your hair hasn’t grown back yet, but it almost looks like it has. Or, your skin looks darker, kind of like a sunspot is forming. If that's the case, you may have an increase in skin pigmentation. "This [change in skin color] is called post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.It can be caused by the warmth of the wax or the pulling at the hairs. Sometimes just the irritation of the waxing causes discoloration," says Gallo.

How to Treat

The best thing you can do in this case is to let the hair grow back and see a dermatologist before you try to wax or shave the area again. Your doctor may recommend applying a product with ingredients that tackle hyperpigmentation. "Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation takes time and patience to treat. Products with hydroquinone can help [with] hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide and mandelic acid are also good ingredients to look for in a product to help fade hyperpigmentation," explains Dr. Hayag.

(Video) How to Permanently Avoid and Treat the Side Effects of Waxing 2018 I Health Mastery

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FAQs

How can I reduce the side effects of waxing? ›

Preventing side effects

Carefully follow the instructions on the waxing product, and make sure it's designed for your face only. Hence, avoid putting all-over body wax on your face. You can also prevent side effects by skipping out on a wax treatment if your skin is overly dry, irritated, or sunburned.

How long do waxing side effects last? ›

You can expect some redness or bumps, which usually go away after 24 hours. You might also feel itchy around the waxed area.

What should you avoid after waxing? ›

DON'TS: THE FIRST 24 HOURS AFTER YOUR WAX:
  • Avoid bathing or (too) hot showers.
  • Avoid direct sunlight or sunbathing (or artificial tanning).
  • Avoid saunas or steam baths.
  • Don't swim.
  • Don't wear tight or non-breathing clothes to avoid infection: waxed skin needs air.
  • Avoid perfumed products on the waxed skin.

Why does skin turn dark after waxing? ›

Post-inflammatory pigmentation may occur on your skin after your waxing session, which may lead your skin to appear darker. This means that due to the hot wax being applied on your skin and ripping action, your skin may react by producing pigment that cause dark spots.

How do you reduce redness after waxing? ›

Apply a cooling product

If irritation or inflammation persists after the wax, try to use a cooling product or an ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties to help reduce any redness. Examples include aloe vera, an ice pack or any type of post-wax cooling gel.

How do you heal a wax burn fast? ›

If you've experienced a wax burn, follow the steps below for a speedy recovery.
  1. Cool the skin. Submerge the burn in cool water, or allow cold water to run over the affected area for at least 20 minutes. ...
  2. Apply ice. ...
  3. Apply Aloe Vera. ...
  4. Bandage if necessary. ...
  5. Treat the pain. ...
  6. Use SPF.
15 Feb 2021

Is shaving better than waxing? ›

Although the results are fairly similar, there's one key difference: how long they last. On average, waxing lasts around 3 or 4 weeks because the hair is removed at the root. Hair grows back much faster with shaving, though — within 3 days to a week. This is because shaving only removes the top layer of the hair.

Is it normal to get bumps after waxing? ›

A. Pimples after waxing or after-wax bumps are quite common and usually go away after 24 hours. However, certain tricks can help ensure that you do not face further irritation. Wear loose clothes, cold compress the affected area, and apply fragrance-free lotions.

Can I apply coconut oil after waxing? ›

Coconut oil is well-known for its anti-bacterial properties. It is also very effective in soothing irritated skin, especially caused by waxing. Gently apply some coconut oil on the skin and leave it on for a while.

Can I put aloe vera after waxing? ›

Aloe Vera has many healing properties that your skin needs after being stretched to its limit during a waxing session. You should consider adding the application of the plant's gel to your skin care regimen for at least five consistent days after a good wax treatment.

Does waxing damage your skin? ›

Waxing creates tiny wounds under the skin.

The risk is significantly elevated in the bikini area, and especially in a Brazilian wax, where bacteria are more likely to be present. In addition to more superficial infections, bacteria can migrate to deeper levels of your skin, causing dangerous cellulitis infections.

Can I put oil after waxing? ›

DO moisturize after waxing. Using gentle oil-based products, such as baby oil, can help to remove any wax residue while keeping the skin supple.

What cream to apply after waxing? ›

Best Hydrating:Honeyskin Ultimate Face & Body Cream

It is made with the goodness of coconut oil and shea butter that deeply moisturizes and hydrates your skin and protects it against inflammation and infections. It also soothes any skin irritation which is common after any waxing procedure.

Can I take a bath after waxing? ›

POST WAXING CARE

Avoid exercise, hot bath/shower, sauna, steam, hot tub, pools and beaches 24 hours after waxing. Sweating can carry bacteria into the pores and can irritate the skin after waxing. Keep hands from touching freshly waxed skin, minimizing chances of getting irritations or small pimples.

How do you prevent dark skin after waxing? ›

How to Reduce Pigmentation Caused by Waxing or Other Hair Removal
  1. Protect Yourself From The Sun.
  2. Use An Exfoliating Serum.
  3. Get Some Help From Hydroquinone.
  4. Mitigate The Irritation.
  5. Be Patient.

Does waxing increases hair growth? ›

The Truth: Similar to the thinner hair myth, waxing can reduce the volume of hair present, but it will not alter its thickness or growth rate.

How can I whiten my underarms? ›

Your first steps to lighter underarms
  1. Change your deodorant or antiperspirant. Seek out a different brand. ...
  2. Stop shaving. Try waxing or laser hair removal instead.
  3. Exfoliate. Use a gentle body scrub or exfoliant on the area two to three times per week. ...
  4. Wear loose-fitting clothes.
  5. Try to quit smoking, if you do.

Why am I itchy after waxing? ›

An ingrown hair may appear about a week after waxing. Ingrown hairs occur when the hair grows and reinserts itself into the hair follicle. Ingrown hairs can cause itchy and sometimes painful bumps that often look like pimples on the skin. Without treatment, ingrown hairs can become infected.

Does ice reduce redness after waxing? ›

Apply something cold after your wax: A cold compress or ice pack can help reduce swelling, irritation or redness that may appear.

Does Vaseline help wax burns? ›

Apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly to the area with wax residue. After five minutes, wipe the area with a clean cotton pad. This should take off the wax, along with the petroleum jelly.

Will wax burn leave a scar? ›

Usually, a wax burn only goes as deep as the top layer of the skin but can leave a client open to bacteria, scarring, and pigmentation.

How long do waxing bruises last? ›

Bruising happens of the skin is moist or the skin was too taut or not taut enough. It will usually disappear in a day or two.

What is the correct age for waxing? ›

If she says something like her hair growth is too dense or she wants to do it for hygienic reasons we think 13-16 years is a good enough age for a teenager to get her first waxing or threading experience.

Which waxing is best? ›

Both hard wax and soft wax remove hair and are appropriate for home use. Hard wax is gentler on your skin. It's better suited for sensitive areas, and is less painful to remove. Soft wax is better suited for large areas, like your legs or back.

Which is best Veet or waxing? ›

Waxing is one of the most commonly known methods of hair removal. While not as painless as other methods, waxing with Veet offers much longer results in comparison, allows for up to 4 weeks of smoothness. The upside, the hair growing back is much softer and easier to remove in the future vs.

How do you stop getting pimples after waxing? ›

How to Avoid Acne Breakouts after Waxing?
  1. Apply Baby Powder. ...
  2. Avoid Touching. ...
  3. Use Fresh Utensils. ...
  4. Stay Away from Oily Products. ...
  5. Schedule your Workouts Accordingly. ...
  6. Frequent Waxing. ...
  7. Use an Astringent.

How do you get rid of itchy bumps after waxing? ›

Some of the causes for this rash are:
  1. Folliculitis. A common reaction to waxing that occurs after you have removed your hair is folliculitis [1]. ...
  2. Ingrown Hair. Another cause of rashes after waxing could be ingrown hair [2]. ...
  3. Contact Dermatitis. ...
  4. Cool Compress. ...
  5. Loose Clothing. ...
  6. Skin Creams & Gels. ...
  7. Sugar Scrub. ...
  8. Aloe Vera.
30 Aug 2022

What to apply after waxing to avoid pimples? ›

One thing you can do to prevent pimples is to get rid of dead skin cells. Simply use a gentle exfoliator—like a washcloth with warm water—prior to waxing to make sure makeup and oil are removed from your face. If you go to a salon or spa, a professional will use a pre-wax cleanser.

Does wax burn leave scar? ›

You will definitely feel self-conscious about a burned, scarred, or scaly skin patch above your eyebrow, your upper lip, or cheeks! Skin damage after waxing accidents can even leave a permanent scar if it is not taken care of properly.

How long do waxing bruises last? ›

Bruising happens of the skin is moist or the skin was too taut or not taut enough. It will usually disappear in a day or two.

Does waxing damage your face? ›

Some people say your facial hair will grow in thicker after waxing, but this old wives' tail is false. Waxing will often damage hair follicles in the treated hair to result in thinner hair and less regrowth. With repeated waxing treatments, your unwanted hair will likely become noticeably thinner and more sparse.

Is it better to wax or shave pubic hair? ›

Waxing lasts longer over time because hair is being removed from the follicle whereas shaving just cuts it at the surface,” says Shays. “Waxing will leave you smoother longer as unwanted hairs become thinner and in some cases don't grow back at all.

Is Vaseline good for wax burns? ›

Apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly to the area with wax residue. After five minutes, wipe the area with a clean cotton pad. This should take off the wax, along with the petroleum jelly.

How do I heal a burn quickly? ›

How to treat a first-degree, minor burn
  1. Cool the burn. Immediately immerse the burn in cool tap water or apply cold, wet compresses. ...
  2. Apply petroleum jelly two to three times daily. ...
  3. Cover the burn with a nonstick, sterile bandage. ...
  4. Consider taking over-the-counter pain medication. ...
  5. Protect the area from the sun.

How do you get rid of dark spots after waxing? ›

How to Reduce Pigmentation Caused by Waxing or Other Hair Removal
  1. Protect Yourself From The Sun.
  2. Use An Exfoliating Serum.
  3. Get Some Help From Hydroquinone.
  4. Mitigate The Irritation.
  5. Be Patient.

Is bleeding normal after waxing? ›

After the waxing, clients may see slight pinpoint bleeding in the hair follicle and redness that may last a couple of hours. It is completely normal and should cause no reason for concern. Sun exposure should be avoided immediately after waxing, preferably up to 24 hours to avoid sunburn.

Why do I bleed after waxing? ›

Why Do My Pores Bleed When I Wax? Pore bleeding, or “pinpoint bleeding” is a common result of waxing, and is actually a sign that the hair was removed successfully from the root. Each hair follicle on our body is connected to a blood vessel that supplies blood to the hair for it to grow.

Does waxing reduce hair growth? ›

The Truth: Similar to the thinner hair myth, waxing can reduce the volume of hair present, but it will not alter its thickness or growth rate.

What are the side effects of waxing? ›

Ingrown Hairs

This process results in tiny bumps that can resemble pimples. Infection is a possible side effect of ingrown hairs. To prevent them, exfoliate skin before and after waxing. Exfoliation removes dead skin and debris and helps keep hairs pointing in the right direction.

Is waxing good for skin? ›

Waxing can cause inflamed hair follicles, pain, redness, ingrown hairs and skin irritation. Removing female facial hair while using retinoid anti-aging or acne products can lead to abrasions, infection and even scarring, so be sure to do your homework before trying a wax.

Can I wash my face after waxing? ›

Wash Your Face After Waxing

Use a gentle cleanser instead of a rough exfoliator. Try oil-absorbing moisturizer.

Does waxing increase hair growth? ›

Absolutely not. Waxing does not cause you to grow more hair follicles. In fact, if you become a regular waxer, you will notice that your hair will become quite sparse and not as coarse. When hair is shaved, it is cut off at the thick part of the hair, which is why you can feel stubble the next day.

What are the benefits of waxing? ›

So let's dive right on into the benefits of waxing.
  • Less regrowth. ...
  • Finer regrowth. ...
  • Waxing is like exfoliation. ...
  • Waxing banishes shaving rash. ...
  • Fewer ingrown hairs. ...
  • Waxing says goodbye to itching. ...
  • Waxing means no more shaving cuts. ...
  • It's an opportunity for pampering and you time.

How many times do you have to wax before hair stops growing? ›

The person's skin type, hair texture, and their particular hair growth cycle will determine how many sessions are needed before the hairs are permanently removed. Hairs can stop showing up after 8 months of treatment in areas where it grows naturally finer, as well as with people with fine hair.

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