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The Lowdown on Do-It-Yourself Waxing Options

By Amalah

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.jpg
I 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!)

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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 [email protected].

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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Kathryn
Guest
Kathryn

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… Read more »

Amy
Guest

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… Read more »

Isabel
Guest

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… Read more »

Sara
Guest
Sara

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… Read more »

Stephanie
Guest

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.

Isabel
Guest

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!!

Jennifer
Guest

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!

Heather
Guest
Heather

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.

Jen
Guest
Jen

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

DiaryofWhy
Guest

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?

loverofhardwax
Guest
loverofhardwax

Yes, do you like the idea of tea light candles for warming the wax?  It’s the perfect temperature and maintains the wax at the right temperature throughout the waxing

Dugi
Guest
Dugi

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.

Bethiclaus
Guest

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.

Keli
Guest
Keli

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.

Megan
Guest
Megan

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…

Mandy
Guest
Mandy

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?

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

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… Read more »

Darcey
Guest
Darcey

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… Read more »

Kathryn
Guest
Kathryn

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… Read more »

Shelley
Guest
Shelley

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!

JennyMooMeow
Guest

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… Read more »

Eva
Guest
Eva

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… Read more »

laurellee
Guest
laurellee

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

Mary
Guest
Mary

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.

Lauren
Guest
Lauren

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.

Jenna Marquez
Guest
Jenna Marquez

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.… Read more »

Sasha
Guest
Sasha

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.