How Does Waxing Work?

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There are two ways of removing unwanted hairs. These methods are depilation and epilation and differ because the removal of the hair takes place either at the skin line or below the skin line. Depilation removes the hair at the skin line and generally involves the application of a chemical which dissolves the hair to a point where it can be wiped from the surface of the skin. There are many products widely available for this form of hair removal, and they can be very effective in producing short term results.

Epilation involves removing the hair below the level of the skin. The benfits of this over the former treatment are that the results are longer lasting, and by performing the hair removal consistently in the same area it is possible to permanently reduce the amount of hair growth. Waxing falls into this category, as does tweezing and electrolysis treatment.

There are three commonly used methods of waxing: hot waxing, cold waxing and sugar waxing.

Hot Waxing

With the hot waxing method the cold, hard wax must first be melted; this can be done either in a microwave, or saucepan if performing the treatment at home. The melting allows the wax to be applied to the skin using a wooden spatula, in the direction of the hair growth. The wax is left to cool and harden. Muslin cloth or a similar material is placed upon the wax ready for the removal. As the wax solidifies the hairs become embedded, and thus when the wax is quickly peeled off the hairs are pulled from the follicles. Immediately after the removal of the wax pressure is applied to the area which minimises the discomfort caused, although the area will still remain sensitive for a couple of hours after treatment. Although this form of waxing is usually performed by therapists at beauty salons it can also be performed at home by purchasing wax for melting, and the muslin strips which are used to remove the wax from the skin.

Cold Waxing

If waxing at home is more convenient then the cold waxing option may be more appropriate. With this method the wax is sold with the strips attached, and no heating is required and very little mess is created. The waxing strips can be applied directly to the skin, rubbed in the direction of the hair growth, and then quickly removed by pulling in the opposite direction to hair growth.

Generally the cold waxing method is reported to be less painful than the hot waxing technique, however the results can be inferior as the cold waxing strips are less effective at adhering to the hair shafts. This means that often the strips must be repeatedly applied to the same area for the desired amount of hair removal. Repeated application of the strips to the same area can cause red, itchy areas on the skin and increases the risk of ingrown hairs.

Sugar Waxing

Sugar waxing, also known as Persian waxing, is the final variation on waxing and is very similar to the hot waxing technique. Rather than using the wax substance this method uses a mixture of sugar, lemon juice and water which, unlike the wax, binds to the hairs without sticking to the skin, making it a less painful alternative. The second benefit of this method is that the sugar mixture is water soluble and excess or leftover wax can therefore be simply washed off the skin rather than having to be peeled or scraped.

For those with highly sensitive or irritable skin the fact that this method uses totally natural ingredients means that the incidence of allergic reaction or irritation is much smaller.

The sugar waxing method can be performed easily at home. To do this mix 2 cups of sugar, ¼ cup of water and ¼ cup of lemon juice in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved and the temperature has reached 250 degrees on a sugar thermometer. At this point the mixture should be allowed to cool slightly before being applied to a small area of the skin at a time using a wooden spatula. Now the cotton or muslin strip can be applied and smoothed in the direction of hair growth. Now the strip should be pulled back against the direction of hair growth whilst holding the skin taught with the other hand. Now this can be repeated on the other areas of the desired body parts.

Taking a warm shower after the treatment will remove any of the excess sugar mixture.

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