Waxing is a popular way to remove excess or unwanted hair from the face and body. It is quick, the results are long lasting, and the hair often grows back finer and less densely. It has become my favorite method of hair removal.

I’ve already discussed the pros and cons of waxing versus shaving, in the post entitled Showdown: Waxing Vs. Shaving (spoiler alert: waxing won the showdown), and waxed happily for several months…until about three months ago. I had waxed my legs just like normal, using the same wax and pre-and post-waxing products that I had been using for almost a year. After a couple of hours, my legs started getting itchy. I put some aloe gel on them before bed and slept fine. The next day I had a family function to go to that required me to wear panty hose (OK…Spanx…I admit it). I had a new package of the Spanx and didn’t have enough time to wash them before wearing them for the first time (I never wear anything until I wash the chemicals off first),but I figured I would be fine so I just put them on and went to the party.

Up to this point I never had any adverse reaction to waxing (or Spanx)

Later that evening the itching started again, but this time it would not go away. Nothing helped. I tried spritzing it with my favorite toner, I tried more aloe, I tried mixing the aloe with lavender essential oil and kaolin clay (most successful effort)…but nothing stopped the itching.

As hard as I tried to not scratch, I couldn’t resist. Although there were no bumps, rashes, redness, or swelling (other than the ones I caused by my scratching), it was absolutely awful and it lasted several days. Of course I immediately blamed the straight-from-the-package Spanx.

About three weeks passed and it was time to wax again. I did my usual waxing routine, and went about my day. Sure enough, a couple hours later, the itching started AGAIN. And this time it was even worse than last time and it lasted a day longer. I was so upset, because this meant that it was not the Spanx…it had to be the wax. But how could that be? I had been using the same brand of waxing products and the same techniques for a very long time.

Could I have developed a sensitivity to the actual waxing procedure itself?

The thought of going back to shaving every day instead of waxing every three weeks was just too much to bear. So I thought and thought, and finally I decided to recheck my waxing product ingredients. Wait…hadn’t I done that already? This particular wax is a blend of natural beeswax and some synthetic ingredients, but nothing that is considered to be toxic and nothing that I had ever been sensitive to in the past. Finally I realized that since the waxing products hadn’t changed, then my body chemistry must have changed.

3956320070_9913561e50_oIn the past few months I have been doing more detoxification than ever, have been eating cleaner and healthier than ever…I’ve essentially overhauled my entire system. It is absolutely possible for people to develop sensitivities to certain products or ingredients over time, whether they are natural or synthetic, toxic or non-toxic. It happens. I decided to try a couple of different natural brands of wax, using either beeswax or pine resin as the sticky element to remove the hair. I really needed one of these other products to work, otherwise it would mean that I had somehow become too sensitive for waxing, and for me that was just not an option.

Fortunately, after a couple of misses, I find two natural pine resin-based waxes that do not cause any itching. Happy dance! I don’t have to go back to shaving.

What if this happens to people who don’t do their own waxing?

OK I realize that not everybody can do their own waxing. Most of the “waxes” you get at the drugstore or even the beauty supply are laden with petrochemicals and end up causing irritation without actually removing hair. High quality professional waxes are not available to the general public; plus most of them require investing in a wax warmer. So if you are someone who either has always had skin too sensitive for waxing, or if you have developed a sensitivity over time like I did, you will have to do some homework and find an aesthetician or cosmetologist who uses a natural beeswax or pine-resin based wax. Give those a try and see if they work for you.

What if I want to get waxed but can’t afford to?

The best, most effective at-home way to remove hair that does not involve expensive equipment, sharp razors, or stinky and toxic chemicals is the ancient Egyptian practice of sugaring. Sugaring is a technique that is very similar to waxing in that you apply a sticky paste to the skin and remove it with a cotton or muslin cloth strip. Unlike waxing, however, you can make the sugaring paste yourself very easily and quickly in your kitchen for very little money, and no expensive equipment is required to use it. Many people who have skin that is normally too sensitive to be waxed can tolerate sugaring. It is a great option.

Click HERE to learn how to make your own sugar paste.

How do I actually do body sugaring?

Sugaring is very easy to do when you learn how to do it right. It can be done safely on the face and the body, and best of all it is water soluble, so you don’t need any special oils or solvents to remove sticky residue. It washes off easily with warm water. It washes off the fabric strips too, which is great because it makes them reusable. The actual technique is different from waxing: with waxing you apply the wax in the direction of hair growth and you pull it off in the opposite direction. With sugaring (according to the following video) you apply it against the grain and pull it off in the direction of hair growth. I don’t know why it works better this way, but it does. I have tried it both ways with good results, so I encourage you to try it both ways as well to see what removes the hair better for you and what is more comfortable. Check out Part 2 for techniques to remove both body hair and facial hair.

People with sensitive skin (either existing or acquired) do not have to be stuck shaving to have smooth, hair-free skin. There are other options, both at the spa and at home.

*Image 2 credit: “Homemade hair removal wax” by digipam, 2009, Some rights reserved. 

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