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Whether you're looking to be bikini-ready or generally keep up with grooming, here is the women's all-in-one guide for waxing at home, based on personal experience. Many of us have unwanted hair, and there's no shame in that. No-one asked for it; it just appeared! No worries, here's how to get rid of it safely, quickly and easily by waxing at home.
In this article I'll cover body parts from upper lip to bikini line to legs and forearms. Yes, I wax all of those myself in the privacy of my own home, and you can too. It's much quicker and cheaper than having it done professionally. Even if money wasn't a concern, it can be hard to get appointment times that fit in with work, so I've found over the years that just doing it at home is the way to go. This way, you can dress in swimwear at the drop of a hat without any worries. If you like to relax in ballet style gear (even if you're not a dancer) this also applies to you.
A few quick safety tips first
- Don't wax broken skin or recently healing skin. Wax around it by all means, but not over the top of it.
- Don't even think about waxing your own eyebrows and likewise, don't get a friend to do it. This is a job for a professional as hot wax near the eyes is a recipe for disaster. Even with a professional, keep your eyes closed during the entire process. If your eyebrows need grooming and you can't see a professional at the moment, just use tweezers and a mirror.
- If it's your first time waxing a particular body part or using a particular wax product, it's best to do a small area first and see how you go. Don't go on a huge waxing spree on your body on one day! Besides not being fun if your skin reacts badly, it can also be embarrassing if it's a highly visible area.
Ok, let's move on...
Hot wax vs wax strips
Before you wax, you'll need to decide which method to use. I've tried both hot wax and wax strips. It used to be that hot wax gave a far better better result, but I've found over the past couple of years that wax strips have evolved to give a similar end result. The wax strips have the advantage of being much faster and easier to use. Here's a quick summary of both if you don't know what's involved.
- For home hot waxing, you'll need to buy a hot wax kit (not just hot wax, but a 'hot wax kit'). Don't rush out and buy it yet, as there are different types for different body parts (realistically I should say for different types of hair), so I'll indicate when we get to various body parts which exact products you'd want.
- Home hot wax kits come with everything you need: tub of wax which you'll need to heat up in the microwave, applicators, removal strips, and often some soothing oil or lotion.
- If you have roommates and you are a very private person, you might find it inconvenient to use hot wax kits at home, since you'll have to heat it up in the microwave and then use the kit (presumably in the bathroom), so if your roommates are hanging around in the kitchen you might feel awkward. If that's you, don't worry! Wax strips are perfect for your situation. We'll move on to those next.
- Wax strips also come in kits. There's typically less stuff they need to provide in the kit, since the waxing process is taken care of via the strips, but they usually provide some sort of soothing lotion also.
- Wax strips work by having some semi-soft wax between two strips. Think of it as two massively large pieces of sticky tape stuck together with the sticky side inside. You peel apart the wax strips. Do each half-strip separately: place it on your body part in the direction of hair growth, smooth it down, and then remove it quickly. Very easy! No mess or fuss.
- You can do the entire process of wax strips in the privacy of your own bedroom; you don't even need to use it in a bathroom. This is ideal if you don't want anyone in your household to know you're waxing.
- Unlike hot wax, it's impossible to burn yourself with heat using wax strips, since you don't need to heat them up. You do need to warm it with your hands first so it's close to body temperature, but no external heat is needed and therefore there's no risk of burning yourself.
With either of the 2 methods, whenever you apply the wax, do it in the direction of hair growth. When you rip it off, do it in the opposite direction. Rest assured it doesn't hurt as much as you think it will. Just hold the skin with one hand and rip as quickly as you can with the other, just like taking off a band-aid but as fast as you can. The faster you do it, the less it will hurt and the better result you'll get too. Apply soothing oil or lotion after - it's typically supplied with the kit and it's usually formulated to also remove any sticky residue that might still be remaining.
OK, let's move on to body parts, from head to toes.
Although you can use hot wax kits for this, I wouldn't recommend it. Facial skin is very sensitive to heat, so I'd play it safe and use wax strips. The best type for facial hair that I've tried over the years is the Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for Face & Bikini. That's what it's called, although by the way I don't actually recommend it for bikini - there's something better for that (see later). For facial waxing though, it's perfect. The strips are made in convenient sizes for all facial areas. This would typically be upper lip, although you may also need it for chin or the sides of your face near your ears.
With upper lip, apply the strip from the center of your upper lip to the outside. Rip off in the opposite direction. Once you've done it one side, then repeat with the other side.
I've written a separate guide for how to wax your underarms here. The problem with waxing the armpits is that the hair needs to grow to a certain minimum length first, and it can be very unsightly at that length. For that reason, I use epilating instead, where the hair is mechanically plucked out with an epilator. This can handle a much shorter hair length than waxing. I use and recommend the Braun Epilator Silk-epil 9 for this.
If you've never done waxed forearms before, then if you're right-handed then you'll want to do your left arm first, and vice versa. This is because it's kinda hard to rip off the removal strip one-handed, so you'll get a better feel for it if you start this way around.
Tip: Forearm hair is generally pretty amenable to most types of hot wax or wax strip, so you have some flexibility here about which type or brand to use. You don't have to be quite as particular about the exact product to use as you would for facial hair or bikini line.
If you want a starting point for a hot wax kit for forearms, I recommend the Sally Hansen All-Over Body Waxing Kit. But because you basically have to operate forearm waxing one-handed, this is a better situation for the wax strips rather than a hot wax kit. I've used several different types; the one I like best is the Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit.
It's very similar to the facial waxing strips I recommended, but these ones are larger sizes, so it's easier to use on larger areas such as forearms or legs. These are easy to pull off and they do a great job.
I've used both of the following products with great success. The coarse hair of the bikini line does require a 'stickier' wax formulation to completely remove hair, so I found that the previous products I was using for arms, legs, and facial hair just didn't get all the hair in its path when it came to bikini line hair. Here are the two exact products I've had 100% success with for my bikini line. I think I'm definitely hairier than average, so if it works for me it'll work for you!
Important tip: When waxing any part of the bikini line with any method, first get 2 squares of toilet tissue in a row, then tuck it long-ways into the side of your underwear at the area you are waxing. Fold the outside back over your underpants so you have the edge of your underwear protected by the toilet tissue. Now you can apply the wax as close as you like to your underwear without ruining anything! Leave the toilet tissue on during the wax removal step; either it'll come with it or you can take it off after.
Best hot wax for bikini line
For hot waxing the bikini line, you'll need the Sally Hansen Ouch-Relieve Face & Body Wax Kit. Although it says for face too, I'd recommend it more for bikini line. This product is a stripless wax kit, which means you heat up the wax, apply it fairly thickly with the applicator, let it cool to a sort of soft consistency (like putty - it'll sort of sit on top of your skin), and then take it off with your hands, not with cotton strips. It sounds totally weird and when I tried it out I was suspicious, but it really worked beautifully and was also by far the most painless waxing experience I've ever had.
Best wax strips for bikini line
If you prefer wax strips, then for bikini line I routinely use the Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for Face & Bikini.
I use these wax strips for everything to do with my bikini line: the front, the top of it (an often-overlooked area, especially if you're to be wearing 2-piece swimwear), and also for the inside of the top of my thighs.
For legs, you can use the same products as I mentioned above for forearms. If it seems like an overwhelming number of products, remember that the most important products to get 'right' are the ones for bikini line and facial hair. You should be able to get a good result on legs and forearms with most types or brands of wax.
Now we've covered all your waxing from head to toe! I suggest rotating the waxing so you're not doing a ton of it all on one day. I recommend doing one body part on one day, then another a couple of days later, and so on. It's super-easy to maintain that way.
You'll find another advantage of waxing at home, besides saving money, is that you can do it in the morning before showering so it's once-and-done, no mess. If it isn't practical for you to get up a little earlier on a workday, simply do your waxing on a weekend morning. Or just anytime that you're home - the evenings are great too, there's nothing like a little self-care in the evening to feel good.