Dear Reader: This is my second article on waxing. I stand by everything I wrote here and believe the information is still useful, but I have moved on. I now use the Lumea. Please see this article for more information! And thank you for your interest.
Since writing my first article about hair removal I have done quite a bit of experimenting. If you're a beginner, you might want to read that first. Not every experiment was a success, but they led me to my current methods, which work well and with minimal cost.
I am a big fan of waxing, and if money is no object, going to a professional at a waxing salon still gets my vote as the number one way to remove your hair. And I still recommend Strip Ministry of Waxing. Not only are they one of the few waxing salons that accept men as clients, but they are also clean, friendly, and professional.
But for most of us, money is an object and the $400 plus price tag for a full-body waxing is daunting. Think how much makeup you could buy with $400? Or dresses? Or perfume? There's a cheaper way, and DIY'ing it at home is it.
Wax Strips and Wax Pots
I was using Nairs Wax Strips which work pretty well, but do not deliver the "salon quality" results I craved. After much reading and not without considerable worry, I decided to upgrade to a more professional setup. I bought a waxing pot, some wooden spatulas, and a large roll of waxing "paper."
But what wax to purchase? There's a long-raging debate about what type of wax is best. There are the soft-wax fans, the hard-wax fans, and the use-both types fans. So I bought both. I planned to use hard wax on my left side and soft wax on the right and see what worked best for me.
Since I expected my first effort to take a while, I waited until I could devote an entire day to the project. I assembled my materials, put a drop cloth on the floor to protect it, put the soft wax into the wax heater, and turned it on. I was excited but a little nervous. I had every right to be nervous since what came next wasn't my proudest moment.
Soft wax first. As per instructions, I powdered my skin with baby powder, then took a spatula and applied the wax along my skin toward hair growth. Cutting off a length of waxing strip from the roll, I applied it to the hair growth direction and smoothed it down. I pulled it taught and yanked it back in the opposite direction as best I could.
The result was not what I had hoped. Untouched areas now covered with a protective layer of hardened wax were interrupted by a small number of hair-free zones. What was I supposed to do about that? And why did it happen?
Perhaps I overreacted to the warnings about not letting the wax get too hot? The wax did seem thick and didn't go on smoothly. I increased the temperature of the wax and tried again. Ok! It was wax on, hair off, and things were going better. But my results were still far from the silky smooth perfection achieved by the Pros at the Strip Ministry of Waxing. My admiration for them, already high, was growing with every waxing paper I pulled off.
But I was encouraged. I could see that I could get pretty good after a substantial amount of practice. I looked awful, but I expected that. It was time to try the hard wax on my left side.
The hard wax came in bags filled with solid little pellets. I dumped a bunch into the pot and, thanks to my experience with the soft wax, brought it to a much higher and more proper temperature. You don't use wax strips with hard wax. You apply it just like the soft wax, wait for it to harden, then pull it off in the opposite direction.
I found hard waxing much easier. The problem with hard wax is that it's not practical over large areas. It takes an enormous amount of hard wax. So I'm firmly in the "use-both types" camp. And so are the pros I know, who use soft wax for torsos, arms, and legs, and hard wax for those delicate areas.
I was much more educated about waxing now. I was also a sticky, waxy, semi-hairless mess. The cleanup from the Nair strips was easy - just a hot shower. But that didn't work to remove the thick coats of wax I had layered on myself in this experiment. And it was extremely sticky - this was all very unexpected!
A bit of research revealed that mineral oil would work as a wax remover. Of course, I didn't have any mineral oil around. A trek to the drug store was out of the question since any clothes I wore would be stuck to me permanently! I found some cooking oil in the kitchen and tried that. Fortunately, it did the trick.
My conclusions at this point were that home waxing was something I could do and eventually even do well. But it was going to take a lot of practice, which would take a while. It was also messy. These were not the results I was hoping for. SheDaddy had been following my efforts with amusement and interest. She suggested I try an epilator, her personal choice for home hair removal.
Weren't these primarily used by sadistic third-world dictators to torture people? I wasn't excited about epilators. But my recent experiences with home waxing and my total trust in SheDaddy led me purchase a Braun Silk-epil 9 9-579 Women's Epilator from Amazon. Spoiler: Using an epilator takes a bit of practice, but once you have learned how to use it, the results are very close to waxing.
UPDATE: Having used the Braun for a couple of years now, I am still very pleased with it. You do need to change the head once in a while. Braun recommends every 18 months. Get a replacement head if you are going over the same areas multiple times. The wide head, which makes the Braun 9-579 so desirable, is only available directly from Braun or the service centers. It's a little hard to find Here's the link. It cost me about USD 38 including shipping.
How to Epilate
Read the instructions for your epilator carefully. Mine came with heads that are "more gentle" and heads that are "less gentle." It also has two speeds. I'm not going to lie: it hurts. But not that much. And anyway, pain is just a feeling you feel, like feeling hot or cold, sad or happy. If it is not chronic, it will pass quickly, so deal with it.
Braun recommends that you use the "gentle head" and "low speed" at the beginning, which I did. But that takes longer and isn't as effective. By the second or third session, I was using full speed and the most aggressive head. Unlike a razor, an epilator requires you to move fairly slowly and often more than once over the same area. Once you figure out the right speed and direction for your various skin areas, you will be quite happy with the results. It helps to take a warm shower and exfoliate before epilating. You can use the Braun in the shower, but I haven't tried that.
I don't epilate my private parts. I tried this but did not find it worked very well. Also (and those with delicate sensibilities should now skip to the next paragraph), unless you are quite careful, your scrotal sack will get sucked inside the epilator. While this is alarming and fucking scary, it didn't damage me. It is not something I wish to repeat.
For my private parts, I use hard wax. It takes only a few moments and works much better for me.
Professional waxing still wins in every category but expense. Regarding home waxing versus epilating: Epilating hurts more but is less messy. It is much easier to learn. Waxing hurts less but is messier and much harder to learn. As far as results, I think they are comparable when done well. Epilating doesn't seem to last quite as long as waxing. I need to epilate a bit more frequently than I need to wax. On the plus side, recovery from epilation is quicker. After a waxing, my skin was red for several days. When I epilate, the redness disappears the next day. Here's a table that summarizes the results:
|Pro Waxing||Home Waxing||Home Epilating|
|Recovery Time||4-5 days||4-5 days||1 day|
|Pain||Ouch||OUCH||OUCH OUCH OUCH|
|Ease of Cleanup||Not Bad||Pain in the butt.||Nothing to it.|
|How long does it last?||3-4 weeks||3-4 weeks||3 weeks or less|
|How hard to learn?||NA||Hard||Easy|
Thanks for reading!
I hope this has been helpful. I'm always happy to get good suggestions and nice comments. If you have some, feel free to send me a message!