What Waxing Your Hair Off Does To Your Body, According To Science
One of the most common hair removal methods is undoubtedly waxing your body hair off. Of course, there are plenty of ways to banish body hair, including threading, shaving, epilation, hair removal cream, and more. Nowadays, you can easily get rid of any unwanted hair on your body, from the pubic to the upper lip to arm hair.
Fellow Bustle writer Gabrielle Moss explored the different hair removal methods throughout history, noting, “The Egyptians removed pubic hair, as well as almost all of the other hair on their bodies, with sharp flints, pumice stones, or via a proto-waxing process.” The Greeks, on the other hand, “removed pubic hair by plucking out individual hairs until the whole area was deforested, or sometimes even by burning [it] off.” These historical hair removal methods make waxing sound tame in comparison.
Of course, waxing is no walk in the park, and it will probably never be pain-free. If your pain threshold is remarkably low, you may want to look at the pros and cons of waxing and weigh them up against other hair removal methods. Or if you like the sound of waxing, you could prepare yourself with advice on your first wax to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible.
Whether you’re a seasoned waxer or a virgin to the practice, you’re probably going to want to know about what waxing actually does to your body. Here's what science can tell us in that department.
1. Small Wounds Are Created
Jessica Krant, M.D. and Assistant Clinical Professor Of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York, spoke to The Huffington Post about the dangers of bikini waxing. Dr. Krant said, "Waxing means truly ripping hairs out by their roots, and we all know or have heard that this is quite a painful process." She went on to explain, "It hurts for only one reason: The hairs really are attached very firmly to their roots and are a part of our body. Pulling them out means tearing them out by the root. It leaves a tiny wound just under the surface." Ouch.
2. Waxing Damages The Hair Bulb
Cynthia Chua, the founder of the Ministry Of Waxing and Browhaus, gave Cosmopolitan her grooming tips and advice. According to Chua, “By waxing, you are pulling at the hair from the root and doing this over time you damage the hair bulb meaning hair grows back less dense and with a finer texture.” This may seem like a good thing if you want to make your body hair thinner. But should you decide to give up waxing in the future, you may regret the fact that your re-grown hairs are much finer than they once were.
3. You Could Be Left With Red, Irritated Skin
After waxing, your skin might end up looking a little blotchy. With the help of Marta Camkiran, senior esthetician at Haven Spa in New York City, Good Housekeeping told readers about the after-effects of waxing. "After getting a wax, your skin is often red and irritated. Wear loose clothing to your appointment so you'll be comfy afterwards. For the rest of the day, you should steer clear of applying too much friction (that means skip the sexy time!), lest you may wind up with even more irritation. Good news: The redness should go away overnight."
According to Seventeen, you can "reduce the irritation by avoiding hot baths for 24 hours, staying out of the sun at least for the day, and using Neosporin on particularly red areas."
Cosmopolitan's advice is to resist itching freshly waxed skin altogether. "Don't scratch irritated skin. It is completely normal for you to experience some redness or irritation immediately after waxing. It should go away within a few hours, but don't irritate already irritated skin." The struggle of not itching a very real itch is all too real, but try to stay strong.
4. Removing Your Hair Down There Could Leave You At Risk Of Infection
Dr. Krant explained the risk of infection associated with bikini waxes to Huffington Post. "Removing the hair, especially in the Brazilian waxing fashion, where the hairs are removed from the gluteal cleft areas, increases the risk not only of STIs but of 'self-TI's," she told the publication. "In other words, pulling the hairs out of those areas increases the risk that tiny skin tears will get bacteria in them that was never meant to be inside the skin. It can cause surface infections and even deeper cellulitis in some cases." Unfortunately, you could be leaving your body at risk of infection by opting for a bikini wax.
5. Your Skin May Burn
According to Huffington Post, burns can occur during a wax. "While a qualified professional should know how to keep wax hot enough to work without hurting the skin, burns can happen." Dr. Krant discussed the possible occurrence of getting burned mid-wax with the publication. "In addition, not so much for bikini waxing, but eyebrow, lip, and chin hair waxers need to be very careful because if they are using any anti-aging or acne creams that may contain a retinoid, their skin will be extra susceptible to getting burned and peeled off by waxing since those creams loosen the attachment of skin cells and cause increased exfoliation." The moral of the story: Be prepared for the worst.
6. Brazilian Waxes Might Leave You Susceptible To A Virus That Gives You Spots Down Below
Maddie Rubin of Cosmopolitan told readers of her experience contracting molluscum contagiosum from a bikini wax. According to the UK's National Health Service (NHS), molluscum contagiosum as "a viral infection that affects the skin. It most commonly affects children, although it can occur at any age." The NHS informs readers of its website that it can be spread through "close direct contact," "touching contaminated objects," and "sexual contact." And it often looks like acne.
“About a month after I got a particularly bloody, painful Brazilian wax from an upscale salon in Manhattan, I noticed little bumps on my bikini line/vulva area," wrote Rubin. "Two of them were in a little cluster, and a few others were more sparse. They basically looked like [...] shiny bumps with a dimple in the middles and a waxy white core.”
If you've ever noticed pimple-like spots on your vagina after a wax session, it looks like molluscum contagiosum might just be the culprit.
7. Your Pores Will Open & Your Skin Will Need Some TLC
The Huffington Post spoke with the folks at Fuzz Wax Bar, who informed readers of how to take care of freshly waxed skin. "Waxing will cause the pores to open thus leaving the skin slightly vulnerable. The area should be kept clean and nourished with special post-wax lotions to keep the skin smooth and supple." Remember to look after your skin, because it might be feeling a little tender. And hey, any excuse to pamper, right?
If you take advice from the professionals and those who have been through a bad waxing experience, you should be OK. Take care of your skin and it'll take care of you.
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