Waxing is one of the most popular ways of hair removal, a method that involves applying the wax in the direction of hair growth and then pulling the strip in the opposite direction.
But before you book your next waxing appointment at the salon, there are a few things you may want to know about. As such, we spoke with experts — Dr Geetika Srivasatava, a dermatologist at Influennz Skin Clinic in Delhi, and Dr Devayani Jayant Barve, an internationally-acclaimed plastic and cosmetic surgeon at Jewel Aesthetic Center in Mumbai — to help answer some of your queries.
Does waxing harm your skin or hair follicles in any way?
Dr Barve warns against the dangers of excessive usage of hair removal wax. “Waxing removes not just the hair follicle, but also the hair bulb and hair shaft. Thus, repeated application of wax could potentially damage the skin, and even lead to skin burns if it refuses to accept the hot wax,” she says. Although redness, rashes, bumps, bleeding, etc are common after waxing, their frequency “weakens the top most layer of your skin called stratum corneum whose job is to protect underlying tissues and moisture,” Dr Barve explains.
Adding, Dr Srivastava says, “The sudden force exerted during the process of waxing can distort the anatomical integrity of hair which leads to inflammation, causing pseudofolliculitis. Bacterial folliculitis can also occur if waxing is not done under hygienic conditions.”
Should you consider befriending a wax based not just on your skin type, but also the body part?
Dr Srivastava highlights the difference between hard wax and soft wax, explaining how soft wax works best on larger areas of the body such as arms and legs but “requires the greatest skill on part of the technician as it is most likely to cause burn and skin peeling.” Hard wax, on the other hand, is gentler on the skin and is usually used for small and sensitive body parts.
Dr Barve further notes how every part of the body needs special maintenance. “It is vital to know your skin type, but more importantly choose a wax depending on the area of your body you’re going to get waxed,” she says.
How safe is it to get your bikini area waxed?
You must have heard or read the most horrific of stories when it comes to bikini waxing. But Dr Srivastava points out that getting the bikini area waxed should hardly cause any pain. She says, “The comfort and safety of getting a bikini wax entirely depends on how trained the practitioner is.” She further promotes getting your bikini area waxed in order to maintain hygiene.
Does waxing really remove sun tan?
For the longest time, women have believed waxing to help remove skin tanning. Dr Srivasatava busts this myth and explains, “Tanning is caused by increase in skin pigmentation known as melanin. Waxing has no effect on this.”
Dr Barve further says, “The force exerted during waxing removes the superficial dead layer of the skin (aka stratum corneum) thereby giving a smooth appearance of the skin, and people tend to confuse that with tan removal.”
Hard wax, soft wax, fruit wax, chocolate, sugar – could it all just be marketing gimmick?
“Yes, it’s all a marketing gimmick! The only job of the wax is to remove your body hair. Opting for expensive wax like chocolate or sugar will not serve any additional purpose,” says Dr Srivastava, adding that the “only ‘extra’ you get is spending extra money out of your pocket when choosing beyond the traditional wax options.”