Waxing is more effective than either shaving or plucking for hair removal because treatments take the whole hair–root, bulb, shaft and all–with it. Currently the hair removal market supports three different types of waxing: hard, cold, and sugar-based. Each have specific benefits, but which is best for you? Join us as we explore the sticky world of hair removal waxes!
Hard wax, often referred to as hot wax, is a generic term for a mixture of bees wax and resin that requires temperatures near 150 degrees Fahrenheit to liquefy. During a salon hard wax treatment the heated wax is applied directly to the skin, quickly covered with a strip of cloth, and then yanked in the opposite the direction of growth, taking tons of hair with it. The benefit of hard wax’s high melting point is that it solidifies quickly on the skin, gripping fine and coarse hairs equally well. There is a considerable amount of pain involved, but the faster you’re waxed, the less sting you feel.
The effectiveness of hard waxes comes at the price of extra set up. Heating the wax requires a double boiler with temperature maintenance, cloth, spreading sticks, and a lot of coordination, so first timers often get a professional to do it before attempting waxing at home. For delicate skin waxes, such as a Brazilian, hair is shaved down to a quarter inch prior to treatment to reduce the pain. Hard waxes can be purchased at varying levels of density for different hair thickness, in “No Strip” models that peel off without the cloth, in a bio-degradable soy version, or with additives such as aloe vera, menthol, chamomile, or and vitamin E.
Hard wax treatments yield the smoothest skin but require more coordination and pain tolerance. We like Parissa’s Strip-Free Hot Wax for its smooth application, hair gripping, and inclusion of skin-boosting azulene oil.
Cold or Ready-to-Use Waxes
Ready-to-use or cold waxes differ from the harder stuff because, shockingly, no heat is required. The other main difference is that waxes are pre-applied directly onto plastic or cloth strips. Soft wax formulas include a base wax like paraffin but also incorporate ingredients make it pliable at room temperature. During cold waxing the strip is pressed onto your skin, pushing hair into the thicker wax by sheer force, then pulled away immediately. Cold wax treatments typically pick up fewer hairs than heated waxes on the first pull, but some types of cold wax strips can be reused to clean up what was missed on the initial pass.
What cold waxing lacks in efficiency it makes up for in versatility and ease-of-use. Since you are no longer dealing with a hot and fluid substance, you can take your time applying treatments without making a mess. The pre-waxed strips can be custom cut for use on smaller areas like eyebrows and upper lips or large areas of skin on the back or legs. Cold waxes are more popular for home use because of the low skill level required for applications, but some salons utilize it for more sensitive skin areas, such as the face or armpits.
Ready-to-use or cold waxes make hair removal easier, cleaner, and less painful, but they don’t have the hair-gripping strength of heated wax and sometimes leave sticky residue. We recommend Veet Cold Wax Strips for their ability to pick up hairs short as 1.5 mm and moisturizing vitamin E and almond oil.
While it isn’t technically wax, the use of sugar or honey-based hair removal techniques were the precursors to wax treatments. The history of hair removal traces back a full millennia to 60 B.C when the wife of an Egyptian Pharaoh had servants use a wax-like sugar formula remove all the hair from her body. While hair removal technology has changed in leaps and bounds since then, the sugaring technique persists as a gentle and cost-effective hair removal method.
While some salons offer sugar treatments, most users simply make their own using a recipe of water, cane sugar, lemon juice, and additives like fragrance or essential oils. The concoction ends up as a sort of paste or gel that requires little heat to achieve the correct consistency. Like hot wax, sugaring requires cloth strips, but during sugar treatments the strips are removed in the direction of hair growth, making it less painful than waxing. Also, sugar doesn’t agitate skin as much as heated wax, allowing you to go over the same area multiple times. The main disadvantage to sugaring is just the time and patience it takes to get the consistency right and the sticky clean up afterwards.
Sugaring delivers results comparable to hot waxing with less pain and skin irritation. However, few salons offer sugaring so you may have to take matters into your own hands. Our top product for this sweet technique is Shobha’s Sugaring Kit, which features detailed instructions, sugar gel, and reusable denim strips.
While waxing will keep your smoother longer than either shaving or plucking, laser hair removal beats it hands-down in terms of time commitment and costs in the long-term. If you’re interested in exploring permanent hair reduction via laser hair removal, contact us today! Our HRS customer representatives can book you a personal consultation at any of our nationwide hair removal clinics in minutes!