How To Switch From Shaving To Waxing, According To A Hair Removal Expert

If you choose to remove your body hair, the struggle can be so, so real. Whether you shave, wax, or use epilatory products, you’re probably in for some kind of discomfort, be it existential in dropping dollars and landfill waste, or of body as you zap and rip out follicles until they submit to your bidding. I think if I had soft, downy, body hair I’d be more into letting it stick around, but it’s pretty loud, so I still give it the boot even though I often loathe the process.

Shaving, my usual go-to method, is a really wasteful process: Just think about all the plastic and metal that gets thrown away after the recommended four to six shaves. Similar to pads and tampons, women are being marketed environmentally risky crap to practice hygiene standards we might not even be 100 percent on board with.

Always looking for a new angle on a tired trope, I wondered if there was a more eco-friendly and economical option to hair removal. The term "waxing" itself is very loose and really just includes any sticky substance that will adhere to hairs and dry or harden enough to rip said hair out with it, usually using wax strips.

Uni K Wax centers are changing everything, and they make it easier to not only switch from shaving, but to make an environmental impact by ditching those waxing papers so commonly used in the process. Founder and CEO of Uni K Noemi Grupenmager told me a few secrets for a most awesome transition from shaving to waxing. After trying all her tips firsthand, I can confirm they make the switch much simpler.

1. Wait It Out

The grow out time can be the hardest part of transitioning to waxing if you're used to having smooth skin on demand. Most wax types require a lengthy period of allowing hair to grow in so that the wax can remove hair in every stage of the growth cycle. If you wax after only two days of regrowth, you’d get more hair in two days time. If you wait three weeks, all of the hair you could possibly get will have grown in, so your follicles will be hair-free for a much longer time post wax.

Even though some salons like Uni K use special wax that can get super short hairs, it’s still best to get as much growth as possible in one shot. So in a pinch, a place that uses stripless wax can nab you as soon as two days after shaving, but Grupenmager says it’s best to give it seven to 10 days at the minimum.

2. Exfoliate

No matter your body hair maintenance routine (or lack thereof) exfoliation is a true key to great skin. You can use physical exfoliants like gloves and salt scrubs to get the job done, or you can use alpha and beta hydroxy chemical exfoliants. I like to use both, though not on the same day. If you prep for your shave to wax transition by being a vigilant exfoliator in the week before a service means there will be less dead skin around each hair follicle and the wax can get a better grip around shorter hairs, Grupenmager explains.

However, Grupenmager warns not to exfoliate too close to your service day: Stopping two days before is a must, especially with chemical exfoliants.

3. Moisturize

This is most often ignored until after hair removal, but to get that smooth feeling, consistent moisturizing is absolutely key. Whether you slap on a post-shower lotion or follow a full routine for your bod, keeping skin cells regularly turning over will help stop any clogged pores or ingrown hairs from even starting. This is especially helpful after you’ve switched to waxing. By keeping the skin soft and renewed, hair can push through easier when it’s regrowing. Grupenmager says that hydrating right up to your appointment day and well after is key for the best result.

4. Try Stripless Wax

Though I was learning the ropes with leg wax, I’ve had bikini waxes done before, and Uni K Wax hands down gives you the fastest and least painful. They use a wax that doesn't require strips for removal, and without strips the formula conforms to your body easier. That plus the fact that the wax is at body temperature makes the overall experience far more comfortable.

5. Book A Follow Up

When I experienced my first-ever leg wax with Uni K, I wish I had planned better with my hirsute self. To truly get a hair-free experience when swapping from the razor to the stick, a follow up within two weeks may be needed, especially if you didn’t have at least a quarter inch of regrowth. This may seem like an added expense, but you’re really starting off your wax journey on the right foot by waxing twice in one month. You’ll get those extra two weeks back later, and will likely be able to stretch to four to six weeks in between waxes in the future. The whole key is to get ahead of your growth cycle, not chase it.

6. Exfoliate Some More

If you don’t have tough skin that requires frequent management, I envy you. Keeping up with exfoliation before and after a wax service is only way to truly banish ingrown hairs. Just like keeping skin soft with moisturizers helps new hair to push through, making sure dead skin that is there isn’t scaling over follicles is a real thing. Bikini lines are the number one area where this tactic must be employed.

You don’t know pain until you’ve gotten a few ingrowns in that area. Since it’s not a place we often remember to exfoliate, making sure to do so can be a pain in the cucu... but it’s better than an actual pain in the cucu. Giving up shaving can help free you from the cycle of ingrown hairs, and resin-based strip-free waxes make the whole process faster, therefore less irritating on the whole.

Waxing seems intimidating, but for certain areas, like bikini and underarms, it’s the greatest thing you can use, since it’s faster, more precise, and causes fewer problems. All waxing establishments should be seeking out ways to use wax with no cotton, cloth, or paper strips: Not only does this reduce waste, it makes sense for body parts where shaving itself is a feat of contortion. If you don’t live where there is a Uni K, use the guidelines above to get a better result regardless of the brand and style of wax used. There's real environmental benefits and no threat of cutting yourself open while in the shower.

Photos: Danielle Guercio (2); Maria Penaloza; Darnell Scott (2)