In your head, waxing, whether at home or in a studio, probably just sounds torturous. Ripping, screaming, and of course, that infamous scene from The 40-Year-Old Virgin all come to mind.
But here's the thing: if you're determined to remove your hair, it's gotta come off somehow. And it's no simple feat to get the razor to hit the right spot on your back or to avoid an itchy, irritated chest. The only way to stave off those two painful phenomenas is a good, old fashioned wax.
So before you grab the wax and go to town, it's best to know exactly what you're in for – and how exactly it should be done.
According to Wax Club co-founder Marcy Kornblum, whose New York City waxing salon serves hundreds of people both male and female, it's nowhere near as bad as the image in your head.
In fact, it's quite the opposite. Here's how you can turn waxing from a red, hair-coated nightmare into a pain-free, hair-free dream.
1. There are different kinds of wax. Beware.
Not all wax is necessarily created equal.
Hard wax, which Wax Club uses predominantly, tends to "take off more of the hair and it's less painful," according to Kornblum. Hard wax also tends to be more universal, best for different types or quantities of hair.
Soft wax, which is most commonly found on strips, tends to rip off the skin, making it more painful than its counterpart. Kornblum says soft wax is better for removing fine hair. "It's good for peach fuzz," Kornblum advises.
Whether you're going to the salon or doing it at home, be mindful of which type of wax you're using.
2. No, it doesn't hurt that bad. Calm down.
Part of the pain, Kornblum says, is a mental game.
"If you go in and you're all tense and you're thinking it's horrible, it becomes a less enjoyable service," Kornblum says.
Instead, got into your wax with a positive or, at the very least, a realistic attitude. It's not going to be nearly as painful as it looks or sounds. It's particularly helpful if you've done your research beforehand and the salon environment is relaxing.
3. There are ways to prepare beforehand if you're nervous.
Yes, you could go with the usual pre-wax hacks of grabbing Ibuprofen or doing a shot of vodka to relax. Those things won't necessarily hurt, but the most foolproof way to face your fear is to do it head-on.
Kornblum advises you try waxing a small patch or do only one single, less intimidating area in order to make sure you're comfortable. Want to get everything below the belt waxed off? Try just doing your back first or only having a small area done in preparation. You'll get a sense for just how a wax actually feels.
4. And afterward, you'll have to switch up your routine a little bit.
Immediately after you get a wax, you should avoid working out. And by avoid working out, we mean that it's a must that you skip the gym for the day. If you sweat heavily into the open, irritated pores, you're going to end up with bacne like you've never seen before. No thanks.
5. Next time, it'll be even easier.
Once you wax the first time, your skin becomes used to the feeling. If you keep going, your skin will only continue to become increasingly acclimated to the practice. In fact, the exfoliating processes actually make your skin smoother and softer, which is always a plus.
With each session, you'll likely be more and more prepared physically and mentally. Look at it as a self-care practice and not an annoying chore or an obligatory ritual.
6. More and more men are choosing to get waxed.
Thousands of people search for phrases like 'body waxing for men' and 'waxing for men' each month. Body hair is becoming increasingly personal and arguably, men's grooming practices are on the rise (thanks Queer Eye). Men are also continuing to embrace healthy ideas like wellness and self-care. And according to Kornblum, more and more men are coming into the salon than ever before.
Why? There are a myriad of reasons.
"Some men do it because they're in sports and some men do it because they like the look," Kornblum says. "Some men have never even thought of it, but we're finding that afterward they love that clean feeling. They're not as sweaty or it's just much better."
No matter the exact reason why men are getting waxed, they're doing it in pretty considerable amounts.
"Our average member gets about $300 worth of services [monthly]," Kornblum says, pointing to the salon's $129 monthly subscription option.
7. You don't need to be self-conscious, whether you prefer to be hairless or hairy AF.
"If women can do it, why can't men?" Kornblum asks.
No matter how much hair you prefer, your choice of whether or not to wax or which hair hair to remove is totally up to you. You should determine whether you want to head to a waxing appointment – and if you do, you should be able to do it proudly.
"All men should try it once," Kornblum says. "Before, they were like, 'oh, that's for women only,' and now, everybody does it."
Waxing doesn't need to be a pain, nor does it need to be a shame.
Louis BaragonaLouis is a New York-based writer focusing on style, gear and grooming
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