Here’s Why You Should *Always* Exfoliate Before Waxing
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When it comes to achieving silky-smooth, hair-free skin, waxing has been a *go-to* method for generations, with various types of wax and techniques to choose from.
But this popular hair removal technique comes with a nagging question… Should you exfoliate before waxing?
As we strive for a painless and effective waxing experience (hair removal isn’t essential, but the way, you do you guys and gals), whether you should exfoliate before your wax appointment has become a subject for debate amongst skincare lovers.
Exfoliating has *undeniable* benefits for maintaining smooth and healthy skin, keeping you hairless for longer and removing the risk of annoying razor bumps when shaving. But its role within the before and aftercare of waxing is somewhat of a conundrum.
Pre-waxing exfoliation advocates say that it can enhance the waxing process, promoting smoother hair removal, minimising the risk of ingrown hairs, and helping your hair-free skin results longer – Bonus.
But, some *do* argue that exfoliating before your wax appointment can make the skin more sensitive and potentially lead to some irritation and discomfort.
Live That Glow HQ is here to settle the score once and for all, exploring the pros and cons of exfoliating before waxing and personal care, where finding the balance between prepping the canvas and preserving its sensitivity is *key*.
And we’ve got exclusive advice from an expert in the field. Introducing renowned waxing expert and founder of the award-winning waxing franchise The Birthday Suit, Stacey Laricchia, to get the lowdown on all things exfoliation and waxing.
So, without further ado, let’s rip the wax strip *off* and find out the answer!
Should you exfoliate before waxing?
Exfoliating preps the skin for wax removal, removing dead skin cells along the way, and making unwanted hair easier for the wax to grab.
It also helps clear the hair follicles, which can prevent pesky ingrown hairs and post-wax breakouts – nobody wants an irritating rash (especially after a Brazilian wax)!
“Exfoliating helps loosen existing ingrown hairs and improves your waxing results. Just make sure to be gentle – if you scrub too hard you could irritate your skin, which isn’t ideal for waxing,” says Healthline.
So, yes, in short, you should be exfoliating before your wax appointment.
Stacey echoes this and says, “A gentle scrub about 48 hrs prior (if exfoliation is not part of your normal routine) will help to remove any dead surface skin, which leaves the unwanted hair exposed and easily removed by hard wax.”
“Avoid any harsh exfoliating products or gloves – these are too abrasive and can actually break the hair you have spent weeks growing out!”
How soon before waxing should you exfoliate?
Now, this is really important.
You don’t want to exfoliate right before your waxing appointment as this can cause your skin to be too sensitive, Stacey recommends “always refraining from any exfoliation for 24 hours prior to your wax. Waxing is a mild form of exfoliation, so you never want too much exfoliation beforehand.”
Her secret is to “moisturise after exfoliating and avoid using any harsh or irritating skincare products and sun exposure in the days leading up to your appointment,” to get the best results!
Gentle exfoliation is key here (especially if you have sensitive skin) – don’t worry, we *know* you can pull it off (pun intended).
What are the best ways to exfoliate?
There are *tons* of exfoliation techniques out there but, remember, we are trying to be as gentle as possible before waxing – especially if you are waxing around the pubic area, for example, a Brazilian or Hollywood wax.
With regard to exfoliation, it’s a good idea to keep on top of this regularly during your shower or bath routine to keep skin clear, clean, and healthy and remove any build-up of dead skin cells.
The type of exfoliant and how often you exfoliate will depend on your skin type.
If you usually use a chemical exfoliant such as AHAs such as lactic acid (water soluble) or BHAs like salicylic acid (oil soluble), it’s strongly advised that you don’t use these products for a week prior to your appointment to avoid irritation.
Washcloth or loofah
A slightly rough washcloth or a loofah are the ideal methods of exfoliation before waxing, simply soak it in some warm water and, while applying mild pressure, use circular motions to buff the dead skin away. You can also get a loofah glove or special gloves that have a rough exfoliating effect and can be used with your regular shower gel.
Be *extra* careful around sensitive areas if you are getting a bikini wax.
Body scrubs or exfoliating soap bars
You can also use scrubs or soap bars specifically designed for the body, which use different types of exfoliating beads such as apricot kernel, sugar or salt to rid the skin of sweat and dead cells. One of our *personal* faves is Ouai Scalp and Body Scrub (£36 for 250g, Cult Beauty UK and $40 for 8.8 oz/ 250g, Sephora US.)
You can also make a homemade scrub using things like coconut oil, brown sugar or sea salt, and essential oils (use essential oils with caution, as some are too harsh for the skin and the correct amount will need to be added to your scrub.)
Open the hair follicle using warm water and make sure the area is wet (the best place to do this is in a warm bath or shower), then use circular motions to gently exfoliate the area with the product.
Dry brushing is another popular method used for exfoliation, but you need to be very careful not to use too much pressure.
Brush upwards towards your heart in short, firm strokes. Let the brush do the work and be sure not to press too hard as the bristles might scratch your skin. Use circular motions on your tummy and armpits, instead of short, firm strokes.
What else should you be doing to get the best results from your wax?
Being in the waxing industry for almost 20 years, we asked Stacey for her *expert* advice on this. She says, “I can tell you that waxing works best when it isn’t treated like a one-night stand – It’s much better when it’s more like a committed relationship. Clients who maintain regular four to six-week waxing appointments get the best results.”
And all of this care and attention to your skin shouldn’t be reserved for your wax appointment, Stacey says, “A great skincare routine is also essential for maintaining that glowing, healthy skin. This includes gentle exfoliation 2 – 3 times a week. The exfoliation allows the new hair to grow unrestricted (as opposed to being trapped under dead, dull, thick skin).”
And the *science* behind it?
“Your hair grows in cycles, and getting waxed regularly helps get your hair on the same cycle, which means a consistent reduction in hair regrowth and slower regrowth, meaning smoother results for longer,” Stacey informs us.
For 24 hours after your wax appointment, Stacey tells us, “it’s important to remember, no gym, and no sunbathing or super hot showers.”
That means that for smooth skin after your waxing session you’ll want to avoid anything that causes skin irritation like chemical exfoliants too. Just stick to a warm shower with a gentle cleanser after wax appointments.
“Also, don’t shoot the messenger here, but no intimacy for at least 24 hours after your appointment. These precautions are to avoid the skin getting irritated or bacteria entering the open follicle.
“Small sacrifices for great skin!” adds Stacey.
To round up, you should be using a gentle exfoliator, loofah, washcloth or dry brush to exfoliate the area *at least* 24 hours before your wax appointment (the same can be said for if you are waxing at home which, by the way, is very brave!)
As for aftercare and getting the most out of your newly waxed skin, avoid going to the gym, sunbathing, or taking super hot showers and bather for *at least* 24 hours after the hair removal process.
And sexual activity? That’s off the cards for 24 hours after a Brazilian or bikini wax, too – Sorry!
So, take some deep breaths and rip that wax strip off!
Meet the expert
Stacey Laricchia is a renowned aesthetician with more than 25 years of experience and is the founder and Chief Creative Director of The Birthday Suit, the award-winning US-based waxing franchise bringing affordable luxury across the states.