Underarm Waxing – All Your Questions Answered
Is Underarm Waxing Safe?
Basically waxing works by sticking to the hairs and ripping them out by the root, in the same way as tweezing can be used to extract individual hairs.
It is a pretty harsh process which means that there are some drawbacks, including the fact that the wax also sticks to the skin and removes the fine surface layer along with the hair.
Because of this, it can leave your skin sensitive and more prone to irritation and possible infection.
When hot wax is used, there is the obvious risk of minor burns to the skin if it is too hot, so care is needed and if you are waxing at home, I would suggest you use a wax warmer with temperature control.
Having said all this, waxing is a very popular and widely used method of hair removal and if you follow all the recommended advice and precautions, is safe for most people.
If, however, you have any medical condition such as anything that compromises your skin, diabetes, irritated or sunburned skin, broken skin, spots, moles or warts, if you have used acne medication or if you are undergoing cancer therapy, waxing should be avoided.
This is not an exhaustive list, and if you are undergoing or have recently undergone any treatment for a health condition, and have any doubt whatsoever, seek medical advice prior to waxing.
Which is the Best Wax for Underarm Hair?
There are two categories of wax used in hair removal; soft wax or hard wax.
Hard wax is always heated to melt it to the correct consistency, whereas some soft waxes are heated and some can be used cold, straight from the pot.
The advantage of cold wax is obviously the speed and convenience, however it can be more difficult to spread and to achieve the thin, even layer required.
Both hot and cold soft wax require strips to remove it.
Soft wax is also available in very easy to use pre-waxed strips which you simply warm between the palms of your hands to soften, prior to application.
Although these are convenient and ensure that you achieve the correct amount of wax, in my experience, they tend not to be as efficient at removing all the hair.
Hard wax is warmed to the correct temperature and then spread more thickly than soft wax. It does not require a strip, but is allowed to cool until it is set but still pliable and can be pulled off from the end.
Hard wax is best for smaller and more sensitive areas such as underarms and bikini line as they have less effect on the skin, only adhering to the hair, tending to be a bit less painful.
Soft wax is quicker for larger areas such as your legs, arms and male back and chest.
Tips on Waxing your Underarms at Home
If you are going to wax your underarms at home, I would recommend that you pick a time, such as early evening, on a night when you are not going out afterwards.
Bear in mind that the underarms are a particularly sensitive area of the body, added to which certain times of the month increase your skin sensitivity, so it is a good idea to avoid them.
Test a small area 24 hours prior to waxing following the instructions provided, to ensure that you do not have any allergies to the wax ingredients.
Your hair should not be too long so that the wax is not efficient and risks the hair breaking and pulling on the skin. Nor should it be too short, so that the wax is unable to stick to it sufficiently to remove it.
The optimum length is ¼" (6.3mm) and I have found the easiest way to achieve this first time is to shave and then leave it until it grows to the required length.
It is best to exfoliate the skin the day before, to remove the build up of any dead skin cells which increases the effectiveness of the wax as well as reducing the risk of ingrown hairs.
Cleanse the skin thoroughly with mild soap and water to remove any traces of deodorant or the like, and pat dry.
It is very important that the skin is completely dry to help the wax adhere to the hair properly, so use some baby powder to remove any remaining traces of moisture. This will also prevent the wax from sticking too much to the skin.
Immediately after waxing your skin is likely to be quite red and may feel sore.
One way to provide quick relief is to put ice cubes against it to cool and soothe the area.
Avoid using deodorant for as long as you can (which is why I recommend waxing in the evening before bed) and only wear loose-fitting cotton clothing to avoid further irritation from chafing.
How Long does Underarm Waxing Last?
The results can vary, depending on the hair growth rate of an individual, but results are likely to last between 2 - 4 weeks, as it takes a while for the hair to grow back.
You may find that it grows back lighter and finer, especially over time as the hair follicles are weakened.
This probably also contributes to the fact that the hair is removed more easily and less painfully with regular waxing treatments.
Side Effects of Waxing your Underarms
The side effects of waxing your underarms should not be severe and should disappear within a few hours or overnight.
Redness, irritation, and small bumps are common immediate side effects, which may cause your skin to feel tender.
Generally applying witch hazel or aloe and wearing only loose cotton clothing is all that is required to allow your skin to calm down.
Ingrown hairs are a more troublesome possible side effect. You can lessen the risk by using the correct technique when waxing, and with regular exfoliation between treatments.
You may experience a very small amount of bleeding, like little pinpricks, which are not uncommon especially the first time. This is nothing to be concerned about, but do be aware of the follow-on risk of infection and take extra care. If infection occurs (rarely), seek medical attention straight away.
Your skin is more sensitive to the sun when it has just been waxed. Although you are less likely to expose your armpits than other areas of your body, do bear this in mind and avoid doing so for at least a couple of days.
Allergic reactions to the ingredients can occur, but if you have tested the product first on a small area and waited for 24 hours, provided no itchiness or rash breaks out, you should avoid this risk.
Generally, providing you follow all the precautionary instructions provided and carry out the procedure correctly, waxing is a safe method of hair removal and side effects are minor and transient.
Pros and Cons of Underarm Waxing
Pros of Waxing Underarms
- Results - you can have smooth, hair - free armpits for at least 2 weeks
- Regrowth - likely to be lighter and finer over time, and easier to remove
- DIY - can be done at home, with a bit of practice, saving time and money on salon trips
Cons of Waxing Underarms
- Painful - the biggest downside in my opinion, but it does improve with regular treatments
- Visible Regrowth - you need to let your hair grow out to at least ¼" before waxing - can be a bit of a nuisance in the summer
- Side Effects - waxing can cause ingrown hairs and irritation/mild bleeding, although should be short-lived with appropriate care
- Ongoing cost - can be expensive, especially regular salon visits
- Messy - can be messy if you are waxing at home