Dealing With the Side Effects of Waxing

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Many women with PCOS report that waxing is their preferred method of hair removal, especially for their facial hair. While uncomfortable, waxing is fairly inexpensive and lasts up to several weeks. Despite the ease and popularity of this method of hair removal, there are still many side effects that range from annoying to dangerous. You don’t have to suffer, though. Check out these suggestions for dealing with the side effects of waxing.


Discomfort, ranging from mild to severe, depending on whom you ask, is one of the most commonly reported side effects from waxing. Pain does tend to decrease as you become accustomed to the procedure, especially if you start doing it regularly. You can also take a pain reliever like Tylenol or Advil one to two hours before your appointment to help reduce inflammation and pain. Icing the area after you get home can be helpful as well.

If your hair is particularly long, it might be helpful to shave or trim the hair so that it is around half an inch long. This makes it easier for the wax to grab the hair and remove it.

The skill and experience of the aesthetician can also play a huge role in the level of discomfort you have from your waxing treatment. Ask around for referrals and don’t hesitate to try different waxers until you find someone that you like.

Red Bumps

If you have particularly sensitive skin or it’s the first few times that you’ve had a wax, you may see small red bumps covering the waxed area. The bumps usually last only a day or two and are a normal reaction. While uncomfortable and not pretty to look at, their severity should lessen each time you get a wax.

You can try exfoliating gently before your appointment to get rid of the dirt and debris that causes inflammation after waxing. Also, ask the waxer to apply a warm compress before the wax is applied. This opens the pores and not only makes the procedure less uncomfortable, but it also makes the hair come out more easily. Finally, try using a hydrocortisone cream, available over-the-counter, for the first day to reduce inflammation, swelling, and redness.


Infection of the skin or hair follicles is not a normal side effect of waxing. If the salon isn’t diligent about changing the wax between clients or cleaning their equipment, bacteria can be transferred from one client to the next, causing an infection. Symptoms include redness, swelling, itching, warmth or pain. If you suspect that you have an infection, you should see your physician or dermatologist promptly. You may need to take oral antibiotics or apply an anti-bacterial cream, depending on the severity of the infection.


Skin discoloration is not directly caused by the waxing process but is a result of increased sun sensitivity that occurs after waxing. The top layers of skin are sometimes removed during the wax, and the skin underneath can be especially sensitive to the sun. This is particularly true if you are also taking birth control pills or certain antibiotics. Make sure to wear sunscreen every time you go outside, and if the problem persists, you may want to consider an alternate form of hair removal. In the meantime, a little concealer or makeup may go a long way towards covering up the darkened skin.

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs are a common side effect of many different hair removal options. If the hair is cut or torn instead of being completely removed, the sharp end (of the hair) may coil and start growing into the skin. To prevent ingrown hairs from occurring, exfoliate both before and after your treatment. This removes excess dead skin and can help keep hair pointing in the right direction.

Torn Skin

Occasionally, the skin can actually bruise, tear, or rip from the wax. While waxing is generally safe, people taking certain medications (prescription acne medication like Retin A, blood thinners, antibiotics, hormone replacement therapy, or birth control) or who have certain conditions (pregnancy, diabetes, phlebitis, rosacea, cancer, or AIDS) should not wax due to the resulting increased skin sensitivity.

In addition, if you’ve recently spent a lot of time in the sun, or had certain cosmetic procedures, like Botox or dermabrasion, you should avoid waxing that area as well. Finally, if your skin is already inflamed, sunburned, cut, or irritated, or if the area to be waxed contains warts, pimples, or a rash, wait to wax until the skin has cleared up.

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