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Waxing your armpits may seem drastic, but it has some advantages. On the other hand, it also comes with some disadvantages. Here is the complete guide for how how to wax your underarms, and the pros and cons of waxing versus shaving.
Advantages of waxing
- Hair takes longer to grow back
- You don't have that hint of regrowth at the end of the day
- You feel confident about raising your arms
- Hair looks sparser when it does grow back, since regrowth is not going to happen at the same time for every hair (unlike shaving)
Disadvantages of waxing
- You first need to grow your armpit hair long enough to wax. This does not need to be long - a quarter of an inch is fine, but that means going a week or more without shaving them. So you need to decide whether you can afford to take the time to achieve that kind of hair growth.
- Armpit hair grows in different directions. Therefore, unlike leg waxing, you most likely won't get every hair removed each time you wax your armpits.
- Is a bit more painful than waxing your legs (but totally do-able)
Tips for a beginner
When waxing your armpits might NOT be for you
If it's the middle of summer where you are, or if you're expected to wear sleeveless clothing a lot (e.g. you're a dancer or swimmer), then honestly, waxing your armpits may not offer any advantages over shaving. Likewise if you enjoy wearing ballet clothing even if you're not a dancer, waxing may not be for you.
That said, if you tend to cover up more in the winter season, that can be a good time to get started on waxing so that you'll have less hair growth by summer time.
When waxing your armpits is for you
If you don't wear sleeveless clothing much, then you might enjoy the difference waxing makes. This is especially true if you're not comfortable about your armpits - perhaps your hair is very dark or it tends to grow back very quickly. In that situation, you'll be able to reap the rewards of waxing.
Best alternative to waxing or shaving your armpits
If you decide that waxing isn't for you, but you're not happy with shaving either, I highly recommend epilating. The epilator is a handheld device that looks a bit like an electric razor and it automatically plucks the hairs for you as you roll it over your skin. For my armpits and the rest of my body I use the Braun Epilator Silk Epil 9 and highly recommend it. It plucks the hairs out at the root - I'm certain of this because I can actually see it on the hairs that are removed (TMI, I know!) So it's like waxing but without any mess and fuss. Best of all, it works on much shorter hair lengths than waxing so it's less unsightly when waiting for hair to grow long enough to do it again.
The main downside is that there is a medium amount of pain or discomfort when epilating. On the other hand, that is also true of waxing. You can read here about what epilating the armpits feels like.
How to wax your armpits
Before epilating, I'd been waxing my armpits for several months. If you want to do it yourself at home, as opposed to going to a salon, I recommend the Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for the body. It's what I use for my armpits.
Follow the instructions on the strips. If you have never waxed with these strips before, I recommend trying one out on an easier-to-do area of your body first, such as your leg. Once you have tried it out, you can do it for your underarm.
Tips and tricks
- For the first time doing your armpit, press the strip on in the upward direction, starting at the base of your underarm and pressing upward. When you rip it off, hold the top of the strip tightly and rip downwards as fast as you can.
- One cycle of it won't get all the hair - don't expect it to, unless you're having it done professionally at a salon. If you're doing it yourself, save your second pass for another day; don't overwhelm sensitive underarm skin with multiple waxing attempts. I recommend waiting 24 hours before a second try at waxing the same armpit. Your first time ever, you may not be able to remove even half the hair. Part of the reason is that it a bit trickier area than other parts of the body and requires practice. The other reason is that your underarm hair grows in different directions, so each pass is only going to get one of those directions.
- If you tried your first time and barely got half the hair removed, don't worry - just do it in the opposite direction 24 hours or more later. My underarm waxing cycle is typically like this: grow hair for a week, then do wax strips going upward to rip off going downward. Wait 24 hours, do wax strips going downward to rip off going upward (that's a bit trickier to do but you'll get the hang of it). Then back to growing hair for a week, and so on.
- When you press the wax strip on, press it on firstly in the correct direction, but after it's place, rub on it a bit in all directions before removal. I found this works a lot better and getting more of the hair off.
- Make sure your armpit area is clean and dry. About 30 minutes after showering is ideal. If you want to do it before showering, then just clean the area with soap and water and let it dry.
- Expect it to go better with practice. My first few times I barely even managed to remove half the hair there. But after several waxing cycles, I noticed I was getting better and better at it, even though there wasn't an obvious change I had made. I was able to remove more and more of the hair each time, just by being in practice. So don't get discouraged by your first few times!
How painful is waxing the underarms?
I find armpit waxing slightly higher in pain level than waxing my standard (non-Brazilian) bikini line area. If you have very sensitive skin, you might like to try a smaller wax strip instead - for example the Sally Hansen Hair Remover Wax Strip Kit for Face, Eyebrows and Bikini.
If you're concerned about pain and you haven't already tried waxing other body parts, try out your wax strips on less sensitive areas of the body first - take a look at our complete guide to at home waxing of all your body parts.
Is there any point in waxing your underarms if you can't get every last hair off?
Yes! I wondered that too at first, but there is a point in doing this. Your advantage is that the regrowth is much slower and goes differently for different hairs. Therefore, if you wax and then need to wear a sleeveless top the next day, you can shave your armpits on your sleeveless day to get the remaining hairs, and you'll still look a lot smoother there with less of a "shadow" by the end of the day than if you were only shaving and not waxing. So there are still a lot of benefits to waxing your armpits. That said, epilating is a better alternative for the armpits because it works on shorter hair lengths than waxing so you're not waiting with unsightly regrowth as much.