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Body waxing is a popular hair removal method among men and women, but it can seem like a mysterious and intimidating procedure if you've never tried it before. Thankfully, waxing has come a long way in recent years. It's safer, accessible, and more affordable than ever.

Still, it's not without its risks and worth looking into if you're considering booking an appointment with your esthetician. Here's everything you need to know about body waxing so you can decide if it's right for you.

Body Waxing Basics

Body waxing removes unwanted hair by using hot or cold wax to pull it out at the root. Hot wax spreads onto your skin with a wooden applicator, coming off on a strip of cloth that's pressed on top before the wax cools. Cold wax melts with your body heat, causing it to adhere to your skin and hair follicles.

You can try waxing yourself with at-home kits, but waxing takes skill — especially in hard-to-reach places like your back or bikini area. If it's your first time — which is also often when the hair is most dense — consider going to a salon.

wax depilation on legs yacobchuk / Getty Images

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Waxing All the Way

You can wax any area of your body that grows hair, as long as the skin underneath is unbroken and in healthy condition.

Common areas to wax are the face — such as the eyebrows and upper lip — legs, and bikini or underwear areas. Some people use waxing to achieve a smooth chest and back.

Applying Gold Colored Wax with Spatula on Woman's Face CasarsaGuru / Getty Images

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The Benefits of Waxing

Why choose to wax your body hair over other removal methods? Waxing removes your hair from the root, so it won't grow back as quickly. It usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks before you need another appointment.

Waxing also removes the top layer of dead skin cells with the unwanted hair, leaving your skin feeling softer and smoother.

Woman examining armpit triocean / Getty Images

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The Downfalls of Waxing

There's no way around it: waxing your body hair is painful, and it leaves your skin red and tender for about a day. You can soothe your skin by applying cold packs for inflammation, or take an over-the-counter painkiller 30 minutes before your appointment to help reduce discomfort.

The good news? Your body grows accustomed to the pain with each procedure, and your hair will grow back thinner over time, which means it will pull up with less fuss.

Man getting his chest waxed MediaProduction / Getty Images

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Waxing Vs. Shaving

Shaving removes unwanted hair by cutting it at your skin's surface, usually with a bladed razor. It is the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective hair removal method. If you're careful, it's also safe and painless but can still cause cuts, razor burns, and ingrown hairs.

An electric razor better protects your skin, but the results only last about 1 to 2 days — significantly fewer than waxing.

Man shaving beard using electric trimmer shaver Maridav / Getty Images

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Less Toxic Than Depilatories

Depilatories are creams or gels that dissolve unwanted hair at the skin's surface. You apply the depilatory over the area and, after waiting a bit, wipe or rinse away the hair. The results last slightly longer than shaving, about 2 to 4 days, but the process is a little bit more complicated.

Twenty-four hours before using a depilatory cream, you have to test a small patch of skin to rule out any adverse reactions. Harsh chemicals in depilatories can irritate your skin, even if you have used them for months or years. Also, the products are widely known for smelling terrible.

person applying depilatory on client yacobchuk / Getty Images

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Sugaring: A Sweet Alternative?

Sugaring is an ancient hair removal technique and a natural alternative to waxing. Sugar, lemon, and water create an adhesive paste for extracting unwanted hair at the follicle but, unlike traditional waxing, the sugary paste remains at room temperature.

The result is a safer wax that's better suited for sensitive skin, but it might not finish the job quite as well. If your hair is thick or coarse, traditional waxing is the better option.

Beautician removes hair from a woman's hand, sugaring Aksakalko / Getty Images

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Worry-Free Waxing

Body waxes might include natural or synthetic ingredients, depending on the wax strength and quality of the brand. Expensive waxes will contain rosin, a natural tree extract that gives wax its tackiness. Resin is a cheaper alternative, but it could be plant-derived or synthetic.

Other ingredients, such as wax, oils, and protective additives are non-toxic, but the hair removal process could provoke an adverse reaction from stressed skin. Contact your dermatologist if you experience redness or swelling lasting two days or more after waxing.

wax heater with melted wax Ksenia Faleva / Getty Images

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Who Should Avoid Waxing

Not every day is ideal for a body wax. Antibiotics and acne medications like isotretinoin thin your skin, so hold off on waxing appointments until your doctor gives you the all-clear. If you use retinoid anti-aging creams, waxing can also cause abrasions, infection, and scarring.

If you're immunosuppressed, waxing could trigger severe complications. Your best bet is to be open with your dermatologist about safe hair removal practices before booking an appointment.

Woman putting facial mask in the bathroom Slavica / Getty Images

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Put Yourself in the Right Hands

While you might get away with waxing your lower legs at home, leave the more delicate jobs to a trained esthetician who uses the appropriate tools and sanitizing techniques. Don't cut corners when booking an appointment with an esthetician for the first time. Make sure they are licensed professionals; ask them about their background, training, and experience, and request to see their credentials.

During your appointment, make sure they don't cross-contaminate the hot wax by double-dipping used applicators; this puts you at risk of infection.

person preparing to apply wax to client Image Source / Getty Images

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Disclaimer

This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.