Demystifying the Ouch Factor: Waxing High and Low

waxing

The one look that never goes out of style.

Steve Carell’s curse-laden waxing scene in The Forty-Year-Old Virgin did zilch to deter the business of waxing. Waxing is as popular as ever, and giving razors and other hair removal methods a run for their money. A relatively inexpensive solution to hair removal, the process lifts hair from below the skin’s surface, keeping it at bay longer than shaving and slowing hair regrowth. Redness, in-grown hairs and the occasional ouchie are among the common complaints. Yet the instant gratification from smooth, hair-free skin somehow helps you grapple with a few seconds of discomfort.

The Process

The first step is to prep. Don’t shave right before your appointment. Hair should be at least an eighth of an inch long (about the size of a grain of rice) so that the wax has plenty to latch on to—a good recommendation is waiting three to four weeks between waxing services. Your only other preparation is to relax. It’s just a little wax, right?

Although the process can vary slightly depending where you go, typically the technician will first cleanse the area that will be waxed. Next, your tech will apply a pre-wax oil that ensures the wax adheres to those pesky hairs and not your skin. Now comes the fun part. Depending on the area you are having waxed, as well as the place you go for your wax, either a warm or hard wax will be applied. The wax will then quickly be removed, taking with it patches of unwanted hair. Finally, usually an ingrown hair serum, calming cream or oil is applied.

The Ouch-Factor

Of course, there’s that all-important question, the one that’s on every waxing virgin’s mind: Does it hurt? We tapped smooth operator Melanie Gilliland, the education developer at European Wax Center, for her take.

Her answer: It depends.

“If you come in every month, your service will be a breeze,” she says. “Waxing becomes painless when you stick to a schedule.”

It also depends on the type of wax used. European Wax swears by its Comfort Wax, which was formulated to make the process as curse-free as possible. The skill of the waxing technician also comes into play. And finally, some areas of the body are more sensitive than others. Bottom line, find yourself a reputable place, and if you’re a waxing newbie, baby steps—maybe not the full-Monty Brazilian on your first visit!

The Results

Most people experience two weeks of complete smoothness before the hair starts to reappear. But, the good news is that when the hair grows back, it is thinner and finer. Nothing like how stubbly shaven hair grows in.

“For example, I wax my underarms and when the hair is completely grown in and ready to be waxed, I can still wear a tank top because you literally cannot see that hair,” Gillian says.

Gillian left us with a final piece of advice. While brows and Brazilian bikini services top the list for women, she says not to miss out on those areas that we shave daily without even thinking. “As a specialist I would love to see legs and underarms on that list as well. People have no idea what they are missing.”

Want to jump on the waxing trend? Find a European Wax Center near you at waxcenter.com.

Are you a waxing newbie? Read our guide to prepping for your first bikini wax service.

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