I’ve tried at-home waxing exactly once—and the attempt ended with tears, wax all over my bedsheets (don’t ask), and spotty patches of hair patterned up and down my aching legs. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I soon reconciled with my razor with newfound passion. Now that I’m a (little bit) older and (a little bit?) wiser, however, I’m wondering if the hair removal technique is worth the effort, especially now that we’re in the thick of summer.
I asked Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist based in New York City, about the skin effects of waxing on a regular basis. “When using a waxing kit to remove hair, it is important to remember the process affects not only hair, but also the skin,” he says. “The process of waxing can damage the [skin’s] barrier, leading to lots of hydration and inflammation.” To be 100 percent sure you’re caring for your skin, there’s a few things you can do both before and after grabbing your waxing strips and getting down to business.
What to do before at-home waxing: Check your body for any sores or raw areas. Those with active eczema, psoriasis, or infections should skip this hair removal method. If everything looks okay, carefully cleanse and dry the targeted area. (Note: Skip the exfoliator.)
What to do after at-home waxing: “After, cleanse again to remove any residual wax from the skin,” advises Dr. Zeichner. Then, squirt a generous amount of lotion in your palm and soothe your newly hairless extremities. “Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like colloidal, oatmeal, or ceramides—which helps seal in cracks between the skin cells,” says the derm. Aveeno Repair Cream ($13) ticks all of Dr. Zeichner’s boxes.
“At-home waxing has traditionally been a complicated, messy process, but over the years, it’s become a lot easier and more user-friendly,” says Brittania Boey, CCO of Harry’s Inc. (which launched the spinoff brand Flamingo for women’s hair removal earlier this year). You get to reap the rewards of brands making the whole process way, way more approachable (and yes, less painful). Ready to go for it? Below, find the best at-home waxing options for each and every body part.
1. Derm Stamp of Approval
“This kit uses ‘hard’ wax so that it can be applied to the skin, left to dry, and removed directly without using fabric strips,” he says. The lack of strips also makes it good for anywhere-application—whether you want to nix hair between your brows or in your nether regions. Plus, the addition of chamomile oil soothes the skin before you go ham on that hair.
2. Best on a Budget
Because this product comes double-sided strips that don’t cover a ton of surface area, they’re best for removing small patches of hair in your armpits, on your boobs, or around your bikini line. The wax is also cold for anyone who doesn’t fancy pouring hot liquid directly onto sensitive areas.
3. For Natural Beauty Lovers
This hypoallergenic formulation uses only your body heat and works wonders for your armpits, bikini area, face, and more. For waxing larger body parts, the brand has crafted body-specific strips to make it so you don’t have to work inch-by-painful-inch from your ankles to your upper thighs.
4. No-Wax Experience
Flamingo Wax Kit, $10
The choose-your-own-adventure of hair removal brands, Flamingo, and I first met late last year. Not only does the packaging include inspirational message (“Bask in your bravery”) to get you in the mood to literally rip hair off your body, it also doesn’t require any wax at all. Just remove the protective sticker from a strip, slap in your skin, and pull hair away in one fell yank.
5. Beauty Editor Badge of Honor
Well+Good beauty editor Rachel Lapidos personally told me she likes these strips by Nair—a true household name. Like Flamingo, Nair is a no-wax kind of operation. And bonus, choosing the wax version of the product guarantees your worst enemies won’t pull the old Nair in a shampoo bottle prank.
6. Top-Rated on Amazon
Ajoura Waxing Kit, $29
“I’ve always wanted to try one of these and I’m so happy I finally did! It’s actually really easy to use and saves so much money,” reads a top review. “I really like this hard wax, it’s less painful than going to a salon. Smells really good, too.” So yeah, you could say people like it. Of course, this kit is a large-scale operation requiring the same space as an Instant Pot. So just make sure you’ve got the room before Prime shipping it to your doorstep.
7. Sensitive Skin Saver
As Dr. Zeichner said, waxing can be an ordeal for your skin. This formulation includes almond oil and vitamin E to buffer the blow. So if you’re one of those folks whose skin can be a tad bit dramatic, consider adding this option to your hair removal game.
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