Waxing is unpleasant enough as it is, but deciding on which type of wax to use for hair removal can be just as painful. All waxes were not created equal, but they were created to remove hair in one capacity or another. It can just be a little confusing which kind to use for what. While traditional waxes can be decidedly split into either the soft or hard variety, things get a little more complicated from there.Which type of wax should be used on the bikini area?

We got the scoop on all the forms of wax from esthetician and waxing wizard Jodi Shays and European Wax Center Education Manager Gina Petak. Shays says when it comes to choosing a wax type, “Use whatever wax you feel you could be more efficient with.”

Ahead, we break down the different types of wax to use for hair removal.

1. Warm Soft Wax

Soft warm wax is cream or resin-based and used for strip waxing. It is gently warmed and applied in a thin layer over the skin. A cloth strip is pressed on and removed, taking the hairs with it. The spreadable wax is often used to cover larger areas like the legs and arms. While extremely efficient at picking up even fine hairs, soft wax sticks to the skin as well, so it should only be applied once per area.”Cream-based warm waxes are more gentle on the skin,” Shays explains. “A honey/resin-based warm wax is considered old school, it can be too hot and sticky, which will leave the skin irritated after. However, there are many skilled estheticians who can still deliver a great wax with a honey/resin-based wax.” Shays does not recommend honey or resin-based products for sensitive skin. “It can be too hot, sticky, and abrasive.”

2. Warm Hard Wax

Hard wax is an effective option both for areas with thicker hair and fine, thin hair. The wax is applied warm and hardens as it cools. It’s also known as strip-free wax because, in its hardened form, it acts as the strip itself. A small amount of pre-epilation oil typically goes on the skin after it’s cleansed to protect it from the wax. Shays explains that after warming the wax to a spreadable state, it “hardens to a flexible material that is pulled off by a ‘lip’ created by the provider.”

Hard wax is applied in a thicker layer than soft wax, but also in the direction of hair growth—an important detail. “Pulling in the wrong direction of hair growth can cause hair to break and become ingrown,” warns Petak. The wax grabs on to the hairs in a shrink-wrapping manner as it hardens rather than sticking to the skin like soft wax. This makes it more suitable for smaller, more sensitive areas like the lip, nose, underarms, and bikini area. When used on larger areas, like the legs, Shays explains it “can create breakage of hair towards the end of the pull.”

Its gentle nature is great for those with sensitive skin but on the flip side, it’s not strong enough to grab the hairs from the bulb, meaning you may have to go over a single area multiple times. “This will lead to irritation on the skin,” Petak explains. Be sure to use a quality product when working with hard wax. “Cheaper varieties of hard wax can cool down to be brittle and not flexible,” Shays says this creates a mess and an inefficient wax.

Like with soft wax, the hair needs to be long enough for the wax to grab. “We recommend hair be at least 1/4″ long (about the size of a sprinkle),” Petak says. “It’s a good idea to stop shaving at least five days prior.”

3. Cold Soft Wax

Cold wax is either taken right out of the pot and applied directly to the skin, or comes prepared on a strip. This method is appealing to many because it eliminates the risk of burning your skin from wax that’s too hot. Although it’s convenient, it’s firmer, and it can be tricky to get a thin layer on evenly. Shays says it’s typically not as effective as warm wax and can leave hairs attached to the skin. Many also find cold wax more painful to remove than wax that’s heated. Some even find it easier to slightly warm the wax before use to soften the formula for spreading.

4. Pre-Made Wax Strips

Pre waxed strips come with the right amount of cold soft wax already attached and are ready to use, no heating required. This method is the most user-friendly, mess-free option and is recommended for beginners. Not only are they easy to use, but there’s no chance of putting on too much product. And depending on how much hair you’re removing, a strip can often be used more than once per area.

It’s always recommended that wax strips be slightly ‘heated’ up a bit by rubbing them between your palms, which allows them to stick more to the hair. Cold strips require the least preparation and with less moving parts of the whole operation, this is by far the most convenient option for traveling. As with any cold wax, there is no risk of burning your skin. Shays suggests using pre-made strips for smaller areas because they aren’t spreadable like warm wax.


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What are the different types of wax?

There are two different types: soft wax and hard wax. Although both do a good job of removing hair from the follicle, hard wax is better for smaller, more sensitive areas like your bikini line.