Waxing yourself at home is a simple — but sometimes painful — way to get rid of unwanted body hair. You’ll need to follow some basic safety precautions and put in some prep work to avoid painful slip-ups, injuries, or infection, but DIY waxing is totally an option.
If you’re wondering how to wax yourself at home with confidence, we’ve got answers. We’re even giving you the lowdown on the best way to give yourself a bikini wax (if that’s something you’re into).
Make it easy: How to wax yourself in 5 steps
- Do your prep. Exfoliate, trim long hair, and thoroughly clean and dry the area you’re waxing.
- Follow the instructions. Heat the wax according to the instructions for best results.
- Apply the wax. Using a waxing spatula, apply the wax in the direction of hair growth in small sections. Leave for a few seconds to cool slightly.
- Remove the wax. Rip off the wax against the direction of hair growth. Repeat as necessary.
- Aftercare. Apply a soothing moisturizer like aloe to calm angry skin. You can also mix in a couple of drops of tea tree oil to help ward off infection.
Need a little more info? No worries, we’re breaking it down even further with these top tips.
Following a couple of easy steps before you get stuck makes the whole waxing experience far more pleasant and less painful. Try these tips on for size.
- Buy the correct product. A hot wax kit grips the hair better and suits coarse, pubic hair, whereas cold wax strips are great for legs. Some peeps prefer hot for pits while others prefer cold, so you may need to experiment to see what works for you.
- Scrub-a-dub-dub. Exfoliate the to-be-waxed area with a body scrub, brush, or loofah about 24 to 48 hours before your planned wax. Exfoliating removes the dead skin cells surrounding hair follicles, softens, and smooths skin. This helps prevent nasty ingrown hairs.
- Nail scissors at the ready. Longer hair can be excruciating to wax, so trim down any longer areas. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends leaving 3/4 of an inch of hair length.
- Take a bath or shower. Enjoy a warm soak before you wax to open up hair follicles, making it easier to remove those suckers. It’s also your chance to clean your skin and remove any harmful bacteria, oil, dirt, sweat, or anything else that could stop wax from sticking and increase your chances of developing painful, infected bumps.
- Skip the lotions and potions. Don’t apply anything like moisturizers or deodorants to the area you’re waxing.
- Dry thoroughly. Wax won’t stick to wet hair, so dry your skin thoroughly.
- Ease the pain. If it’s your first time waxing, take 1 or 2 acetaminophen 30 minutes or so before you begin. If this isn’t your first rodeo, you’ll know whether you need them or not — it’s your choice.
Ready to get to work? Here’s how it’s done.
1. Follow the instructions
The kit should come with heating instructions if you’ve opted for hot wax. Invest in a wax warmer if you want to feel like a pro, or you can use a double boiler on the stovetop or the microwave. Whatever method you choose, ensure the wax is thoroughly mixed and has an even temperature throughout. (We’re talking warm but not burning.) You can test the temperature by applying a small drop to the inside of your wrist.
2. Get comfortable
Depending on the area you’re waxing, you might need to channel your inner Yogi. Facial waxing is pretty straightforward, and propping a leg up on a chair or side of the bath works well for legs and feet. But if you’re going full Brazilian, you’ll need to work out which positions work best for you. On all fours, spreadeagle, or knees to your chest are all potential poses.
3. Apply the wax in sections
Using a wooden waxing spatula, apply the wax to a small section of skin in the direction of hair growth. Each layer should be about 1 inch wide and 3 inches long. If you’re using them, then apply the cloth strip. It’s essential to let the wax sit for several seconds, so it’s hard to the touch but still slightly pliable.
Holding your skin tight with one hand, pull off the wax strip in the opposite direction from hair growth. And yes, this part might be painful but focus on your smooth results instead. It can help to take a deep breath and release it when pulling off the wax instead of holding your breath.
5. And repeat
Continue the process until all the pesky hair has left the building.
How to bikini wax yourself
The steps for bikini waxing are pretty much the same as for any body part, but there are a couple of precautions.
If you menstruate, try not to attempt a bikini wax on or during your period. Your skin’s far more sensitive in the week leading up to and during shark week.
You also need to be careful what you wear after you wax. Tight, synthetic undies aren’t a great choice. Instead, opt for looser options and avoid sweating.
Your freshly waxed legs, pits, vajayjay, or junk deserve to be treated with love and respect. Waxing lightens your wallet and challenges your pain threshold, so get the best bang for your buck with top-notch post-wax self-care. (Say that five times fast!)
Remove wax residue
First things first: You’re bound to have annoying little strings of wax left here and there. Kits often come with wipes to banish any leftover wax stuck on your skin. If it doesn’t, you can use coconut, olive, or another natural oil instead.
Tweeze those hairs
Unless you’re a waxing maestro, you’ve probably got a few hairs here and there that escaped their waxy fate. No problem. Grab your tweezers and pluck any remaining hairs.
Soothe angry skin
It’s not unusual for your skin to feel tender and become red immediately after a wax. You can chill out angry skin by applying aloe vera mixed with a couple of drops of tea tree oil. Bonus points if you’ve kept your aloe gel in the freezer beforehand.
Exfoliate after 24 hours
You shouldn’t exfoliate your freshly waxed area straight away as the skin will be sensitive. That said, exfoliation is important to help prevent ingrown hairs and keep your skin silky smooth. So wait 24 hours or so and then gently exfoliate with a body or facial scrub and follow with your favorite moisturizer.
Try not to get carried away with the exfoliation: 2 to 3 times a week is enough.
No matter how strong the urge for silky smooth, hairless skin, there are a few situations where you should avoid waxing.
If you’re living with a chronic condition like lupus, diabetes, and some skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, waxing may not be the hair removal method for you. Plus, if you’ve got acne and you’re taking medications like Accutane (isotretinoin) or stopped taking it less than 6 months ago, doctors do not recommend waxing.
Also, don’t wax an area if you’ve recently had a skin procedure like laser skin resurfacing or dermabrasion that deeply exfoliates the skin. The same goes for anything that reduces the integrity of your skin, like sunburn, rashes, or open sores.
If you’re a fan of using topicals like bleaching products, chemical peels, or retinoids, wait for at least 2 to 5 days before your de-fuzzing session.
Handling hot wax isn’t without its dangers. It’s all too easy to burn your hand on a hot wax container or end up with scorched nether regions if the wax goes where it’s not supposed to. The risk is increased with microwave-heated wax, which can reach unsafe temperatures and cause burns when you remove it from the microwave. So always use a microwave-safe plate and an oven mitt to fish out the heated wax.
Other injuries could include:
- raw skin
Pro tip: You can help avoid skin injuries by using hard wax instead of soft wax as it should only stick to the hairs rather than your skin.
Also, be aware that you can develop skin infections following a waxing session. It’s not uncommon to notice small red bumps on your skin immediately or after several days. This may happen because bacteria that normally live on the skin infect damaged hair follicles, causing an infection. In addition, tight clothing that rubs can worsen the situation.
Ingrown hairs are another common problem, where the hair grows and doubles back on itself into the hair follicle, causing itching and sometimes painful bumps that look like zits. If you don’t treat them, they can become infected. Not. Fun.
Pro tip: If you notice any lumps and bumps after waxing, keep the area clean, dry, and moisturized to reduce irritation. And always give the waxing a miss if your skin’s already injured, irritated, or thin.
You can safely wax yourself at home, providing you follow a few precautions.
Prep work is essential to ensure good results, as is aftercare to soothe skin and reduce the chances of ingrown hairs.
If you’re new to the world of waxing, start with somewhere easy to reach that you can see easily. If you’re thinking of doing a Brazilian wax on yourself, or even a back, sack, and crack, it might be a good idea to see a professional.