Waxing for Men – Your Questions Answered
What is Waxing and What is Involved?
Waxing is a very common method of hair removal that pulls multiple hairs out from the root, leaving your skin hair-free and smooth for several weeks.
In a nutshell it involves melting special hair removal wax until it is soft enough to spread over the area you wish to treat. This then adheres firmly to your hair and when it is removed, takes the hair out with it.
Some waxes require strips to be applied over the wax whilst others do not (explained later).
Due to the fact that waxing covers relatively large areas quickly, it is a particularly popular method for the removal of male chest, back and shoulder hair.
What Areas of the Body are Suitable for Waxing?
In fact, almost all areas of the male body are suitable for waxing, but there are a few exceptions, namely the inside of your ears and nose, nipples and eyelashes.
Waxing is also not suitable for removing hair from the head, or from moles or warts.
When is Waxing not a Suitable Hair Removal Method?
There are some medical or transient conditions that mean waxing is not appropriate, some of which are more obvious than others:
This list is advisory only and by no means exhaustive.
When visiting a salon for the first time, it is important to be open and honest about any condition you have and medication that you are taking. They are professionals and should be able to give you the most appropriate and up to date advice.
If waxing at home, make sure that you read and follow meticulously all the instructions provided, paying particular attention to precautionary/safety advice.
If you have any doubt or worries, seek medical advice.
How Long does the Hair Need to be?
Your hair needs to be at least 6mm (¼") long so that there is sufficient above the skin for the wax to stick to efficiently.
However, you don't want it to be much longer than that, or the risk of your hair breaking off or being missed increases, along with that of pulling, irritation and ingrown hairs.
If your hair is too long and you are visiting a salon, don't worry, as they will trim any excess for you prior to treatment.
If you are waxing at home, it would be best to invest in hair trimmers and use the ¼" setting to get the correct length evenly across the area.
Does the Hair Grow Back Thicker (like shaving)?
The short answer is no - and as a matter of fact, it is a common myth that your hair grows back thicker after shaving, too.
If you think about it, shaving actually has no effect whatsoever on your hair growth as it simply cuts it at the surface, without touching the root. It may be that the stubbly nature of regrowth after shaving just makes it feel like it is thicker.
Waxing actually tends to result in finer regrowth over time, as the trauma of continual extraction from the hair root weakens your hair follicles.
How Long Does it Take?
This is a bit of a "how long is a piece of string" question as so much depends on the size of the area you are having waxed as well as the thickness of the hair.
To give you a rough idea though, a full back and shoulder or chest wax is likely to take around 30 minutes, whilst an intimate wax may take 10 - 20 minutes more.
Intimate Male Waxing
Whilst removing hair from the female bikini line has been around for donkeys years, it has become more and more common among both men and women to go for a more bare look down below.
These are a few common options on offer at salons if decide you really want to go for it:
Salons can be a bit confusing with their terminology so do check with them exactly what you will end up with to make sure you are singing from the same hymn sheet!
If you are planning to wax your privates at home, the best advice I can give you is - don't!
There are so many potential pitfalls, from having the wax too hot and burning yourself to using the wrong technique and causing severe irritation, ingrown hairs and painful bruises.
The skin in this area is very sensitive and I strongly advise you to only consider waxing for hair removal if you are prepared to spend the money on regular salon treatments from a fully trained, skilled professional.
Is Male Waxing Very Painful?
Well, I'm not going to lie and you wouldn't believe me anyway, if I said that there was no pain involved.
The simple truth is, that anything involving the ripping out of large sections of your hair from the root is going to hurt.
The level of discomfort varies from person to person and depends on the area being waxed as well as the your individual pain tolerance levels.
It stands to reason that having your back waxed is likely to be less painful than a Brazilian (or Manzilian), for example.
Also, most people report that the first time is the worst and that as the skin becomes used to the process the level of discomfort decreases.
This may also be because, as the continual waxing of the area weakens your hair follicles, they give up their hair more easily.
If you are considering waxing for the first time, we would strongly advise you to visit a salon and put yourself in the hands of a professional, rather than attempting to wax yourself at home.
This will give you the chance to study the correct method, ask questions and get that all - important first session out of the way with the minimum risk to you.
How Long do the Results of Waxing Last?
This is another question that cannot really be answered definitively because hair growth rates vary from person to person as well as between body areas.
As a guide, the results can last anything from 3 - 6 weeks.
Bear in mind though, that for some of that time hair will be visible as it grows out to the requisite ¼" length.
This is one of the drawbacks of waxing as a hair removal method, however bear in mind that as the hair gradually grows finer it will become less obvious.
Are There Any Side Effects?
It is very common to experience some redness and irritation immediately after you have been waxed, especially if you have sensitive skin.
You can alleviate this by applying a light, soothing lotion such as aloe vera or witch hazel, which will also help to prevent infections and possible breakouts.
Wearing loose fitting cotton clothing will reduce the chafing that is likely to exacerbate your skin's irritation.
Ingrown hairs are a common side effect of waxing and these can be quite troublesome.
Regular exfoliation can help you to greatly reduce this risk and we have a separate guide to exfoliation which looks at the process in more detail.
Male Waxing at Home
Okay, so if you want to take the DIY waxing option, there are a few things to take into account:
Which Wax to Use?
There is an array of waxes available for home use, so how do you decide which one to buy?
Male hair tends to be thicker and coarser than women's and tougher to remove so firstly, make sure that you opt for a wax that is formulated for men and it is hard wax.
Hard wax is melted until it is soft enough to spread over the area to be treated with a spatula.
Some are microwaveable and others require the use of a special wax warmer designed for the purpose, so make sure you pick the one you want.
As briefly mentioned earlier, there are two types of hard wax - strip wax which requires the use of disposable strips, or hot wax which does not.
Whilst both types of wax need to be hot, the thickness and method varies.
Strip Wax vs Hot Wax
Melted to a runny consistency and spread thinly across the treatment area
Melted to a thicker consistency and spread more thickly in layers, with a "tab" of extra wax left at one end
A disposable strip is immediately pressed onto the wax and then removed quickly, taking the hair with it
The wax is allowed to cool so that it hardens slightly then peeled off in one piece using the "tab"
Can cover larger areas quickly and efficiently, so commonly used for areas such as back, chest and legs
Slower, but wax adheres only to the hair not the skin, hence commonly used for sensitive areas such as Brazilian
Strip wax is more efficient for removing lighter/finer hairs
Hot wax adheres better to the hairs and is best for coarser, denser areas
The technique is easier to manage at home
Harder process to master - poor technique risks broken hairs, irritation and ingrown hair
Both types of wax have their merits, but if you are waxing at home, the strip method is probably the easiest and safest way to go.
Whichever you choose, the melted wax should always be spread onto your cleansed, thoroughly dry skin following the same direction as your hair grows naturally.
The strip (if used) is also smoothed down over the top of the wax in the same direction.
It is then removed in the opposite direction to the hair's growth, closely parallel to the skin in one swift, firm, movement. Never pull it up away from the skin.
It is very important that you keep your skin as taut as possible to avoid dragging and pulling, especially in areas where it is looser.