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The Lowdown on Do-It-Yourself Waxing Options

Jan29

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Dear Gorgeous-and-Brilliant-Amalah,
I am a long-time reader of your blog & column(s), and a huge fan, but I can’t recall you ever covering this topic, and if you have, well…. do it again! For Me! Please, please, pretty please?!
Thanks to the economy and the fact we had to replace our entire AC unit last summer, I’ve been forced to give up my bi-weekly eyebrow waxing, so I learned to do it myself at home with a Sally Hansen wax kit. The first time was a little… hairy (puns are fun!). But now I’ve got the hang of it, and was wondering if you’ve ever DIY waxed… other … places. Like your legs, or… other… places. While I do like the little kit I got for my eyebrows, I’m not really sure the wax is strong enough for coarser or more stubborn hair. The kit I got IS marketed as a “sensitive areas” or whatever, but I have to rewax my eyebrows a couple times to get everything, and I really don’t want to be having to do that in my really sensitive areas, once is enough, TYVM. I’ve never waxed anything but my eyebrows, so I really have no idea what type of wax one might use, or if there are any secret tips for making it as painless as possible. Are there pros/cons for pre-waxed strips, or is melted wax & cloth strips more effective? And what is UP with this Nads stuff (WHO names their product Nads anyway?? I mean really, the silly 13-year-old in me gets a good giggle every time I see that!) I’m also figuring this is something that I’ll likely not be able to do by myself, which is fine, because I have a husband who would be more than willing to help if I promise that he will enjoy the results when we’re done, ifyouknowwhatImean.
Any tips, or advice, or product trials would be appreciated!
Thanks!

One of my many personal flaws is that I am really, really bad about making and keeping appointments. The doctor, the dentist, the hairdresser, and most of all the waxer. I mean, that last one is hardly the most pleasant way to spend a chunk of the weekend or precious, precious preschool hours, so I generally only sack up and do it before special occasions. In between this handful of occasions, I am a dedicated plucker, tweezer and shaver.
But a few years ago I did try out a slew of home waxing kits. The pre-waxed strips, the cloth strips — even the Nad’s. Which I believe is named after the owner’s daughter Nadine, but…wouldn’t that make it pronounced Nade’s? Why do they say Nad’s? Didn’t anyone ever say something to them about that? Focus groups? FRIENDS? These questions drove me bonkers every time I used it, swear to God.
Nad’s actually can work pretty well, but I found that the product breaks down very easily and loses effectiveness after a few uses. I don’t know whether it was exposure to air from opening and closing the jar, the temperature I was storing it at or what, but all those natural ingredients like molasses and honey did exactly what happens to molasses and honey — the consistency changed from a smooth, ridiculously sticky wax-like substance to a chunky, sugary paste. And the sugary paste does not remove a damn thing. This happened to two barely-used jars of the stuff (I thought it was a fluke the first time), and that was the end of Nad’s for me.
wax_strip_face_bikini.jpgI moved on the pre-waxed strips. I used the Parissa kits you can buy at Whole Foods and I really liked them for my eyebrows — they’re quick and easy and relatively mess-free. (I should interject here that I am not a particularly hairy person — my brows are thin, and except for a smattering of stray dark-blonde hairs that need cleaned up, I’m mostly waxing very fine and very light-blonde hairs. Not exactly the hardest thing to remove.) My success with the strips led me to try using them…ahem…in a coarser, more sensitive area. And like you, I found that I needed to wax several times on the same patch of skin in order for the strip to really get everything. The result? Lots of irritation, and still a need for a good deal of post-wax tweezing. (And OH, I am ONLY talking about neatening up the…ahem…outer edges. Please do not attempt an at-home Brazilian with these things.) The Parissa kits come with azulene oil, which I do really like for the irritation, but…eh. The kits aren’t exactly and I went through soooo many strips before coming close to the desired results. And so my enthusiasm for them burned out after a few purchases. I’ve always intended to try the Sally Hansen version, but have just never gotten around to it.
I finally moved on to the real stuff — melted wax and cloth strips, like they use at the salons. That stuff does not mess around with the hair removal, but oh. My God. The mess. The time. The set-up, the clean-up, the huge pile of hairy, sticky cloths perpetually adhering themselves to the bathroom wastebasket. I thought it was entirely too much trouble to go through for my eyebrows (although, again, my eyebrows are not as high-maintenance as some). However, for waxing significant areas like your legs or coarse, stubborn areas like your bikini line, I wouldn’t really go with anything else. Make sure you know how to avoid waxing disasters and have good products on hand for irritation.
In the end, my infatuation with DIY waxing faded. I admire the dedication it takes, but it’s dedication that I just do not have. For salon brow wax die-hards who are trying to cut back on expenses, the pre-waxed strips are a great option. They aren’t perfect, but oh, they’re easy. For anything else, go for the real thing. Test a small patch of hair and skin first. Follow package instructions carefully re: prepping your skin and ideal hair length, pull your skin as taut as possible and pay attention to the direction of the hair growth. Be prepared for not getting everything on the first try. I don’t know if it was just me, but even when I was using “real” salon-quality wax ad strips, I still could never get salon-quality results. Guess there’s a reason why you pay so much for some services. Imagine that!
(Oh! And one time I bought Nair. I do not like Nair. Smells bad, takes forever, makes a mess, doesn’t really work that well. The end!)
You may also enjoy:
* Bikini Wax 101
* Avoid At-Home Waxing Disasters
* Super-Sensitive Brow Skin
* Eeeeeeeeeek Unwanted Facial Hair!


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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26 Responses to “The Lowdown on Do-It-Yourself Waxing Options”

  1. Kathryn Jan 30 at 2:02 pm Reply Reply

    Okay, I have to weigh in here.
    I do self-wax brazilians and LOVE IT. It takes way longer than when you go to a professional, and it also can be dangerous (I once waxed off some … shall we say delicate skin.. and bled! for! a! long! time! Be careful down there!).
    But it’s worth it. Buy a wax warmer and a jar of Satin Smooth Hard Cherry Wax (I don’t use strips and regular wax after the bleeding incident). Total cost output: maybe $50 including shipping. About the cost of a low-end wax. The wax will last you at least five waxes and the warmer will last years (hopefully).
    Now, for the waxing, the secret is to wax small areas (very small) starting on the outside and working in. Pull against the grain of hair growth. Don’t rewax areas. (You’ll get used to plucking pubes, it’s strange how accustomed you get to it) Don’t wax areas inside your inner labia (pluck there if you want). Don’t wax anywhere you can’t see (get your husband/boyfriend to do that if you want) you’ll end up with a mess. Trust me.
    Also, make sure you trim the hair first if you haven’t waxed in awhile. It can be really hard to pull long hair.
    I use a cleanser and then cornstarch powder first and cover the whole area around me with tissue paper (wax drips and ruins carpet, etc). I clean up with a wax remover (but the hard wax is EASY to clean up, you really don’t need one) and an aloe vera lotion.
    It’s honestly awesome. I highly recommend it. Amalah, I totally offer to write a guest column about how to self-wax. After all, we’re all trying to cost-cut without sacrificing our beauty regimens.

  2. Amy Jan 30 at 2:41 pm Reply Reply

    My aesthetician told me a HILARIOUS story about a woman who tried an at-home Brazilian, chickened out, couldn’t get the wax off, stuck *herself* shut, then tried to take a bath to get the wax off and stuck herself to the bottom of the bathtub. She called a friend for help, the friend laughed at her, before freeing her somehow, and she ended up in my aesthetician’s salon, trying to repair the damage.
    Some things are best left to the pros.
    By the way, I was there for a facial, she was trying to talk me into a Brazilian, and she failed.
    Amy @ http://prettybabies.blogspot.com

  3. Isabel Jan 30 at 3:04 pm Reply Reply

    You know I have to weight in on waxing…
    A few months ago I tried the Gigi Brazillian Bikini Wax and I LOVE IT. There are no strips as the wax just hardens and you pull it off. I’m able to do large areas. This really cuts down on the time it takes me to wax. Plus their kit (I by mine from Amazon) comes with all the needed prep and post implements to aid in in grown hairs etc. I will never use another at home waxing product. Seriously.
    (And I’ve also stopped going to spas for waxes…I’m all about doing them at home. I just use a mirror and get it all taken care of!)
    Remember, hair free is the way to be!

  4. Sara Jan 30 at 3:07 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, Kathryn must be a zen master or something. I am (okay, I was before I had a kid) dedicated to personal care. I love makeup, manicures, deep conditioning treatments, plucking…etc. But, I HATE bikini waxing at home and I have tried it upwards of ten times. It can be hard to keep that skin taut. It can be awkward. It can be messy. I’ve often ended up bruised or bleeding (not sexy). I find plucking the strays difficult as they are far away. And most of all, it’s hard to watch myself all bent over and wincing while I inflict this horrible suffering upon myself. It seems to take 3 times longer when I do it myself, which means I’m ripping hair out of my crotch for THREE TIMES LONGER THAN I NEED TO. That’s like the definition of insanity. I’m on a budget and I would way rather pay to have this service done. If there’s a way to do this better, I would love to hear it and I would try. But, for the time being…I’ll just pay the $25 and be done with it.

  5. Stephanie Jan 30 at 3:09 pm Reply Reply

    I tried an at home waxing kit on my legs once. I got about 2 strips done and barely any hair removed before I quit. I’m a huge baby when it comes to pain and I just could not get myself to pull it out knowing what it would feel like. I couldn’t imagine doing it myself to the … other… place.

  6. Isabel Jan 30 at 3:16 pm Reply Reply

    Sara, you only pay $25 to a bikini wax? Yeah, I guess if I could find it that cheap here in Seattle I’d happily pay it. Unfortunately it’s closer to $100 here!!

  7. Jennifer Jan 30 at 3:16 pm Reply Reply

    I would like to add my thoughts on the Nair as well. I bought the kind where you rub it on and scrub it off with the nice little scrubby sponge they give you. Uh no. I followed the directions to a T and ended up with a burn on my skin from it. I’ve used regular Nair before and never had a reaction but that stuff caused one. Also, to add insult to injury it didn’t take any hair off!

  8. Heather Jan 30 at 4:30 pm Reply Reply

    I highly recommend getting an epilator: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000EZYKTS
    I no longer shave my underarms. I no longer pay for waxes…just make sure you exfoliate and you’re golden.

  9. Jen Jan 30 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    OK, that story about the lady getting stuck to her bathtub?
    Yeah, I have gotten that email about 20 times…

  10. DiaryofWhy Jan 31 at 3:05 am Reply Reply

    Ok, I second (or third) the microwaveable wax kits that dry hard (no strips needed). I regularly wax my underarms and bikini with pretty good results. The only problem – the microwave in my house recently disappeared and my roommate has yet to make good on his promise to buy us another one. Eep! Anyone have any advice on how to heat one of those little tubs of wax without a microwave?

  11. Dugi Jan 31 at 9:35 am Reply Reply

    Nads is an Australian brand. and Nads is short for Nadia – short for the owners name I presume. They are a middle eastern family. As a mother the lady tried some natural ways to help her daughters with hair removal and then came up with the Nads range of products which is now international. 2 of her daughters are in executive roles in the company and one is a chemical biologist or something so she heads the research and production side.

  12. Bethiclaus Jan 31 at 6:35 pm Reply Reply

    I would be way terrified to do any bikini waxing from home, but I had to share a horrifying Nair story. One Summer in undergrad, one of my friends used sensitive formula Nair to remove the hair from his sensitive areas. But having not rinsed thoroughly enough, he paid for the Nair for weeks with scabbing. Yow.

  13. Keli Feb 01 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    I bought the Gigi’s after Isabel’s blog recommendation months ago and I am now a former salon convert. It’s about $70 to get it done around here and the $15 kit gives me about 3 or so waxes and like Isabel said, includes the precleanser, oil, wax remover and slow-gro lotion. Completely worth it and EASY to do.

  14. Megan Feb 01 at 6:34 pm Reply Reply

    I use Poetic Hot Wax and love it! It never runs out, it doesn’t require strips, it comes with pre/post cleaners and oils, smells good, and is tinted bright blue so you see just where it goes. You can just keep reusing the wax until the Ick Factor forces you to buy another mug of wax. I got mine at Sephora. I should state that I only use it on my face though…

  15. Mandy Feb 02 at 10:02 am Reply Reply

    Can we talk about lip waxing for a second? I think I need to get it done, but I’m scared of it coming in more noticiable then it is now. Is this something I can get done at home?

  16. Lisa Feb 02 at 11:29 am Reply Reply

    I’ve been waxing my bikini line at home for years. There was a bit of a learning curve and still the odd ingrown or irritated bump but on the whole I’m very happy with the results (SO much better than shaving and so much cheaper than the salon). I’ve used different brands of prewaxed strips and although Sally Hansen is my favourite (cos of the wax and the azulene oil they provide), I just generally pick whatever box is cheapest at the time. Some strips require a little more “babying” and need to be kept the right temperature and used quickly etc and you definitely need to follow the taught skin, pull against direction of hair growth instructions.
    I’ve tried waxing my full leg a few times but just find it too time consuming and generally need some help with the backs of the thighs which can be hard to find (both the help and the backs of thighs).
    I tried waxing my underarms. Oh the pain, oh the fiddley impossibleness of working with only one hand, oh the bleeding and the bumps and the growing back in in all kinds of directions. Don’t do it unless you have someone to help you who knows what she’s doing.

  17. Darcey Feb 02 at 11:51 am Reply Reply

    I’ve tried regular bikini waxing many many times on my own. Success is intermittent, depending on how much time I have to do it.
    I gave up and started going to a salon in town. At $80 a piece, it was digging into my monthly budget a little too hefty.
    And then I found a place that does a Brazilian for $35 (hard wax, plucking strays, clean, well-lit, close to my apartment) by a family of Brazilian women who have been around salons in Brazil for years.
    I know I’m spending more than I need to, but I like knowing that I don’t have to be a Cirque contortionist to reach the nether-parts with hot wax.

  18. Kathryn Feb 02 at 11:52 am Reply Reply

    Going to weigh in again and say that the Poetic Wax that some people are talking about is a good thing to try if you don’t want to commit to a warmer, etc. But it’s much more expensive in the long run than the professional wax and warmer (believe it or not) and with the amount of time it takes to wax down there it’s good to keep the wax warm with a warmer. You don’t want to get up all the time to re-warm the wax.
    Ans Sara, I think I perversely like the awkwardness and whatnot. If I could get $25 waxes I might feel differently, but it costs $50-$90 here where I am in PA. I also had a seriously bad salon waxing experience before I decided to do it myself and only the bleeding incident has come close to being worse than that $80 salon fiasco.
    Also, whoa. I meant don’t wax areas inside your OUTER labia. Why someone would feel tempted to wax in their inner labia … I assume everyone understood, but still.

  19. Shelley Feb 02 at 12:36 pm Reply Reply

    Here’s my question. I’ve never had a salon or at home bikini wax. But does the waxing last longer than shaving?? Cause if so I would totally be tempted to try, I just can’t see myself paying $75 for something that has to be kept up constantly. Can anyone give me an idea on how often you have to have it done? Thanks!

  20. JennyMooMeow Feb 02 at 1:31 pm Reply Reply

    I bought some Moom and love it. It’s sugaring (like Nads) not wax. I’m allergic to bees so applying hot bee-by-product over large areas of my body has turned out to be a Very Bad Idea.
    I have used it on sensitive areas with good results. Just go for very small spots and it will work well. Heat it up a tad, just enough to make it syrupy. Because when it’s too cold and you’re trying to apply it with the stick, you will end up pulling out hair with the stick and that hurts more than using the muslin strips.

  21. Eva Feb 03 at 7:03 pm Reply Reply

    I rarely comment on anything! But I wanted to share my experience. I used to self-wax in my 20s, it worked for me then. But now, just recently, I have had laser treatments for bikini line hair removal. It’s been a rotating ‘party’ among our group of women – we have traded hosting for free treatments.
    I’ve had 3 treatments. It is supposed to take 5 to 6. But I have seen a HUGE difference and while I will have one or 2 more, I’m pretty much done. This is permanent hair removal, so no more shaving or wax or worries. And I’ve spent less than $200 for 3 bikinis so far.
    No more shaving or waxing ever.

  22. laurellee Feb 04 at 10:44 am Reply Reply

    plucking and waxing my business seems a little too masochistic to me. Embrace the BUSH!

  23. Mary Feb 04 at 4:14 pm Reply Reply

    Beauty college. I go to one down the road (Isabel, in Seattle, Greenwood Academy of Hair!) and get my bikini line done for $16. I get way too irritated when I shave, and I’m way too uncoordinated and wussy to wax myself. GAH (what an acronym!) has done a great job every time I’ve been there, better than some salons I’ve been to, and it doesn’t break my bank, is easy to get an appt., etc. Your mileage may vary of course.

  24. Lauren Apr 02 at 10:24 am Reply Reply

    I tried at home waxing with soft wax. Ouch. I chickend out on every part I used it on excluding eyebrows. I had a horrible reaction too. I considered getting hard wax.
    I then found body sugaring (halawa. No strips). It was far less painful and I was able to complete a full brazillian on my own with mininmal pain(inners included) and no reaction, bruising or bleeding. No pain at all on legs or underarms. Easy cleanup. And you can make halawa yourself. It did leave fine blondes on my legs, but definitely better than wax.

  25. Jenna Marquez Jun 05 at 12:01 am Reply Reply

    I used to pay so much for regular waxing at my salon. It got pretty expensive, so I decided to try waxing at home. I bought a kit and tried it–it was easier than I thought it would be, but it took me a couple times before I really got the hang of it.
    Now that I’ve done it regularly, I’m a pro! And the best part is that I’m saving money. I bought this kit: http://www.salonhive.com/wax-n-waxing-32oz-kit.html and it cost me as much as ONE TRIP to the salon for a wax job of my legs, bikini area and underarms. But I can use the kit several times–so it is totally worth it.
    Anyway, great blog post and I may try this brand the next time I have to buy a kit just to see how it compares to the one I’ve already got.

  26. Sasha Jun 09 at 4:55 pm Reply Reply

    NEVER try a brazillian with cold wax/strips!!! You are in for hell if you do so. Do it with HOT wax- it is a bit messier but it is far less painful. Make sure you trim your hair.

    Cold wax works best on large areas with fine hair, like your legs, arms, chest.

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