If you choose to get a bikini wax, you probably have an idea of what to expect during the process. But what about wax after care? While most of us know how to prep, no one really talks about how to ease any lingering pain or extend the life of your freshly waxed bikini line. We went out to experts for their best post wax care tips, and what not to do the first two days following your appointment. Here’s their top advice for preventing ingrown hairs and taking care of your newly waxed skin.
Whether you’re waxing your legs at home or booking a pro bikini wax, the pre-wax care is relatively the same—and simple. Here’s a quick breakdown of what pros say you should prepare for ahead of time.
1. Make Sure Your Hair Is Long Enough
“Prior to waxing, the length of your hair should be at least a quarter inch long,” says Beata Chyla, an esthetician at Bliss in New York. Any less and the wax won’t have enough hair to grip during the removal process.
2. Reduce Pain By Planning Ahead
A few easy ways to make sure your wax job doesn’t hurt as bad? Avoid scheduling your wax around the time of your period when skin can be more sensitive. (It’s also a general courtesy to technicians as well to avoid booking around that time of the month.) Pros also recommend avoiding alcohol before your appointment—”it will only make your blood thinner and more sensitive to pain,” says Spruce & Bond specialist Krystal Cordova—and taking a painkiller half an hour before to help ease any discomfort.
3. Make Sure You’re Clean
Yes, it’s a kindness to your waxer that you arrive fresh and cleansed (and not right off a spin bike), but it will also help your wax go more smoothly. Natural oils, sweat, or body lotions can prohibit wax from adhering as well. “Come in tidy, like brushing your teeth before a dental exam, but more along the lines of prepping for your annual exam at the gynecologist,” says Shobha Tummala, founder and CEO of Shobha, noting that the drier your bikini area is, the better your results will be.
During Your Waxing Appointment
Besides reminding yourself that no one is judging your vulva (seriously), the most important bikini wax advice pros want to reiterate is that you should come to your appointment prepared. Below are the highlights, but be sure to read our guide that answers the question you’ve probably wondered at least once in your life: what a Brazilian wax is like?
1. Know What You Want
Believe it or not, there’s more to a wax than slapping on hot goop and ripping it off. There are actually many different styles or types of waxes you can get during the hair removal process. You can get just the sides and the top cleaned up (a bikini wax), you can get everything but a small strip of hair or a triangle in front (a Brazilian wax), or you can get everything—the top, the sides, and the back—removed (a full Brazilian). If you’re not sure which you want to start with, don’t be afraid to ask your technician. It’s only awkward for them if you don’t like the end result.
2. Don’t Be Surprised If Your Waxer Asks for Help
If you’ve never gotten a wax before, a few things about the process might strike you as surprising. The biggest being that your technician may ask you to help hold your skin in certain places—or, yes, your cheeks—so they’re able to get every last inch of hair. It’s really not as uncomfortable as it might sound, but it is certainly intimate. And don’t forget, the help goes both ways. Don’t hesitate to ask your waxer for aloe vera or a cooling gel to put on immediately afterward to soothe inflammation, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Waxing After Care
Once you’ve made it through the tough part, it’s all about taking extra care and caution for the next 48 hours. Here are the 10 things experts recommend avoiding while your newly waxed skin is at its most sensitive. After that, you should be smooth sailing for the next three to four weeks, when hair typically begins to grow back after a wax.
1. Stay out of the sun.
The first 48 hours after waxing, your already delicate skin down there is even more vulnerable. So while you may be dying to throw on your bikini the second you leave the salon, keep in mind that sensitive skin is more susceptible to UV rays. “This can lead to permanent sun damage and/or hyperpigmentation,” says esthetician Marta Grochowska of Haven Spa in NYC.
2. Avoid swimming.
This kind of goes hand in hand with the above, but it goes for indoor pools too—and especially large bodies of water (like an ocean, lake, or river) that could contain bacteria. “Avoid public water like swimming pools for a few days,” says dermatologist Kally Papantoniou, M.D., in New York City. If you don’t, you could have an increased risk of getting an infection, and no one wants that.
3. Be careful not to overexfoliate.
“Waxing removes the topmost layer of dead skin, along with the hair, so any kind of additional scrubbing can lead to skin damage,” says Grochowska. However, after the first few days, it’s important to remove dead skin cells with a light scrub or exfoliating serum to prevent ingrown hairs. (We love the Fur Silk Scrub.)
4. Avoid the sauna and hot yoga.
“Steam opens your pores, which helps to push hair out,” warns Noemi Grupenmager, founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Center. Because it could cause premature stubble, “it might make you think the wax service wasn’t done correctly,” she says. Plus, bacteria thrive in warm, wet places, and you want to keep your fresh wax as clean as possible. For these reasons it’s worth it to take a break from hot yoga as well.
5. Wait a little before getting a spray tan.
“The chemicals may irritate your skin,” says Grochowska. Another reason to reschedule? “The color will look uneven between waxed and unwaxed areas.”
6. Be selective with your skin care.
Stick with gentle, fragrance-free body washes and creams for the first few days after your waxing appointment. “Avoid any lotion, soap, or other toiletry items with artificial fragrance or color,” says Grochowska. “These ingredients are very irritating to freshly waxed skin.” Instead, wash up with something like Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Body Wash, which is formulated specifically for irritated skin.
7. Take showers instead of baths.
“It’s better to take showers for the week after,” says Papantoniou. “Running water from the shower will be cleaner than sitting in bath water.” Why? See reason #2 again; it makes you more prone to infection.
8. Sorry, no hookups.
This one is a pretty standard rule most waxers will warn you about, but it’s easy to forget. Any kind of action down there—sex in particular—can lead to discomfort. “It can cause excessive chaffing from friction on extra-delicate skin,” says Grochowska. Consider turning the first two days into official cuddle time.
9. Opt for loose clothing.
One thing to keep in mind both before you head into your appointment and after: Anything tight-fitting can rub raw spots and irritate, says Papantoniou. You’ll want to give your leggings a break for a few days and stick with maxidresses, flowy pants, and breathable cotton fabrics.
10. Avoid intense workouts.
Another reason to give leggings (and your body) a rest: “Activities such as running, aerobics, or cycling can cause friction in treated areas,” says Papantoniou, “and sweating can also be irritating.” In other words, use this as an excuse to hit the couch for a couple of days. You deserve a break.