Pro Waxing Tips for Skin of Color

Hair removal is a delicate process

Smooth brown legs
Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Yes, it's a pain, but waxing remains one of the preferred methods of removing hair from the underarms, upper lip, chin, eyebrows, bikini area, arms, and legs. Since it plucks hair from the root, it leaves skin smoother and provides longer lasting results than shaving. Waxing does pose some potential problems, though. Good techniques and maintenance are essential. 

One thing to keep in mind is you usually need about a quarter-inch of hair growth in order for the wax to have a better grip; this means you won't be able to be hair-free 100 percent of the time.

The method also leaves hair follicles open, making the skin more susceptible to infection. If done improperly or under unsanitary conditions, waxing can lead to irritation, bruising, and/or scarring. It can also cause ingrown hairs, especially with coarse and curly hair.

For skin of color, there are some unique issues to address. Noemi Grupenmager, founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers, has some pro tips.

Black Skin

"African American skin can be very dry, and is, unfortunately, more prone to ingrown hairs," says Grupenmager. She advises keeping skin optimally moisturized before and after waxing, and limiting the number shaves in between. She also warns that other hair removal treatments like lasers or IPL are not recommended for darker skin, which is more prone to burning.

Asian Skin

"Since Asian skin tends to be more sensitive, I suggest using an elastic wax for a more comfortable waxing experience," she says.

 "It's applied at body temperature and stretches to remove hair without using waxing strips."

Latinx Skin

"[Latinx] skin is often thicker, which means there are higher concentrations of hair follicles." She says waxing is an ideal form of hair removal in this case, since the hair grows back thinner in between services.

Before You Wax

If you're using a retinoid (e.g. Retin-A, Renova), fade cream, AHAs, or BHAs—even if they're not prescription—stop using them three to five days before waxing. Also, let the esthetician know of any medications you're taking, such as Accutane or antibiotics. Even if you're just having a small area done, like your eyebrows, stop using anything that sensitizes or thins the skin. 

Avoid stimulants like alcohol before the service because they can tighten the pores.

The Waxing Process

Before your esthetician applies the wax, make sure that they test the temperature; it should be just a little bit warmer than body temperature.

The esthetician should be able to remove the hairs quickly and skillfully; reapplying and removing the strips can damage the skin.

After waxing, the skin should be cleaned with a mild cleanser, and then an antibacterial lotion and a soothing moisturizer should be applied.

Waxing After Care

Keep your skin moisturized after waxing. If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, use an exfoliating moisturizer like Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Glow Moisturizer ($65), which contains fruit enzymes on top of glycolic and lactic acids.

Avoid sun exposure on the area for 24 hours, and use sun protection when you do go out.

Stick with these tips, and your skin will have a much better shot at staying smooth and healthy.