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Prepping your face for waxing

Prepping your face for waxing can mean the difference between a smooth process and one that isn’t as effective — or painless. Whether you’re removing unwanted brow or facial hair, here are the steps you’ll need to take before waxing your face.

Woman with flawless skin

Allow for growth

Joy Randall, owner of Flawless Makeup Art in Charlotte, North Carolina, says preparing for a facial wax begins with making sure that there is enough hair to wax; it must be at least 1/4 inch to a 1/2 inch long. Particularly if you’re a “regular” waxer or plucker, you’ll need to wait at least two to four weeks after either process to ensure that hair is long enough for the wax to “grab.” She explains that attempting to wax without enough hair will cause you to rip skin, and not the hair. (Translation: Ouch!)

Examine your palette

Randall advises that having a “clean” skin palette is the key to prepping your face for waxing, and has as much to do with what’s not present — as well as what is. Make sure the face is free of any injured areas which includes minor cuts, irritated pimples, or a sunburn. If you’re taking antibiotics or are on a course of medical skin treatment(s) such as Accutane, Retinol, Retin-A, or Renova, hold off on waxing until you have finished the medication and the chemicals are out of your system.

That being said, don’t get too carried away with your prep. Unlike recommendations for body waxing, Randall says you should never exfoliate before waxing the face. Consider environmental and hormonal factors too. Because skin is more sensitive in the time shortly before you get your period, consider your cycle as part of your pre-wax prep plan. If you’re pregnant, you are more likely to be sensitive to waxing, and diabetics typically take longer to heal after a wax. Chemicals that you’ve ingested can also impact your pain tolerance. Randall says that caffeine is thought to increase sensitivity in the skin, so skip the coffee, tea, soda and even chocolate on the day you’ll wax your face.

On wax day

Whether you’re heading to the salon for a wax, using a traditional wax kit, or trying one of the newer mess-free technologies such as the Nair Face Roll-On Wax Kit, make sure your face is free of any lotions or cremes, including acne or anti-aging facial products on wax day. Skip the sunbathing on that day too — it will make your face extra-sensitive. If you’re waxing at home, Randall says to cleanse the skin with a gentle astringent such as witch hazel before you get started, and then apply a little baby powder to the area that you will wax to create another barrier against ripping the skin. Now… wax away!

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