While waxing can be painful enough, deciding which wax to use for hair removal is just as difficult. Although all waxes are not the same, they were made to remove hair somehow. It can be confusing to know which type of wax to use. Traditional waxes can be split into soft varieties, but it gets much more complicated. Sugaring, where does it fit in the equation? Does it count as wax? What type of wax should you use on the bikini region?

Jodi Shays, a waxing expert, and Gina Petak (European Wax Center Education Manager) gave us the details on all types of wax. Shays advises using whatever wax type you feel is more efficient when choosing a wax type.

Warm Soft Wax

Soft, warm wax, either cream- or resin-based, can be used for strip waxing. The wax is applied thinly to the skin by gently heating it. Then, a cloth strip is applied and then removed. Spreadable wax can cover large areas such as the legs or arms. Although it is very effective at picking up fine hairs, the soft wax sticks to the skin and should be used only once.

Shays says that cream-based warm waxes are gentler on the skin. “A honey/resin-based wax is old school. It can be too hot, sticky, and cause skin irritation. Some skilled estheticians can still provide a great wax using a honey/resin-based wax. Shays doesn’t recommend using honey or other resin-based products on sensitive skin. It can be too hot, sticky and abrasive.

A cream-based wax containing titanium dioxide is best for sensitive skin. It acts as a buffer between the skin and the wax.

Warm Hard Wax

Hard wax can be used for both thicker and thinner hair. The wax is applied warmly, and it hardens when it cools. Because it hardens in the hardened state, it acts like a strip, sometimes called strip-free wax. A small amount of pre-epilation oils is applied to protect the skin from the wax. Shays explained that the wax is heated to a spreadable temperature and becomes flexible. This material can be pulled off by a “lip” created by the provider.

Hard wax should be applied thicker than soft wax. However, it must also be applied in the right direction for hair growth. Petak warns that pulling in the wrong direction can break hair and become ingrown. Because the wax hardens, it grabs onto the hairs like soft wax and sticks to the skin. This makes it suitable for sensitive areas such as the lip and underarms. Shays warns that it can cause hair breakage in larger areas like the legs.

Although it is gentle enough for sensitive skin, the bulb’s weak point means it can not grab hairs from it. This could mean you must do multiple passes on a single area. Petak warns that this can cause skin irritation. When working with hard wax, make sure you use a high-quality product. Shays states that cheaper hard wax can become brittle and inflexible as it cools.

Soft wax will only grab the hair that is long enough to hold it. Petak states that hair should be at least 1/4 inch long or about the size of a sprinkle. “It is a good idea not to shave for at least five days before you start shaving.”

Cold Soft Wax

You can use cold wax straight from the pot to apply directly to your skin or purchase a prepared strip. This is a popular choice because it reduces the chance of skin irritation from too hot wax. It’s not as convenient as it sounds, and it cannot be easy to apply a thin layer evenly. Shays states that it is not as effective as warm wax and can cause hairs to stick to the skin. It is also more difficult to remove cold wax than heated wax. Some people find it easier to warm the wax before spreading it to soften the formula.

Pre-Made Wax Strips

Pre-waxed strips are already pre-waxed and ready to be used. This is the best method for beginners, and it is also the easiest to use. They are easy to use, and you won’t be able to add too much product. A strip can be used multiple times depending on the hair removal.

To ensure that the wax strips stick better to your hair, it is recommended to heat them slightly by warming them between your hands. This is the best option for travel because it requires less preparation and has fewer moving parts. There is no danger of your skin being burned by cold wax. Because they can’t be spread like warm wax, Shays recommends using pre-made strips to cover smaller areas.

Sugar Wax

Sugar wax was one of the oldest waxing methods known, originating in the Middle East. This is the most basic and natural waxing, containing hot water, sugar, lemon, or both. Shays clarifies that sucking is not wax. It is a form of depilatory but does not have the same base. Technically, wax is a hair removal method used for centuries.

It is extremely gentle for wax, so it is ideal for sensitive or reactive skin. Because it grabs hairs and doesn’t stick to the skin, sugar wax is very similar to hard wax. This formula allows multiple passes on one area without irritating soft wax. You can either apply sugar wax with your fingers as a sticky wax or with strips. Sugaring is easy to move and can remove hair from any body area. However, it works best against medium-fine hair.

Sugar wax is water-soluble, which makes it easier to clean up than resin-based soft or hard wax. Because the product is water-soluble, there are fewer ingrown hairs.

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