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Get Your Best Bikini Wax: 6 Steps to Take Before and After Your Appointment

Everything you need to do to get a painless, smooth wax.

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Before a wax: Time it right

Although there’s no perfect time for a wax (your experience will likely be moderately uncomfortable regardless), some times are better than others. Most estheticians recommend a fresh wax every three weeks, or until hair has grown at least a quarter of an inch. For your first wax, that might be about two weeks after your last shave. You might also want to schedule your appointment during a time your skin is least sensitive: if you’re pregnant or menstruating, a wax could be even more painful than usual. (These are other unusual effects of your menstrual cycle.) Additionally, you can expect to have a higher pain tolerance in the late afternoon as opposed to early in the morning. Finally, consider any medical conditions or medications you’ll be on at the time of your wax. It’s best to schedule around antibiotics and the use of anti-aging products like Retinal and alpha hydroxy (wait about one week after your last use). The American Academy of Dermatology also advises against waxing while on the acne medication Accutane.

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Before a wax: Pop a pain reliever

Take an ibuprofen or aspirin about an hour before your wax. That way, it’ll kick in right when you need it to reduce pain and prevent swelling. Some salons even recommend treating the area with a numbing cream. Ask your esthetician what she suggests.

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Before a wax: Take time to exfoliate

Take a warm shower and gently exfoliate skin with a scrub or loofah (you might also try these natural recipes for amazing skin). A thorough exfoliation will remove dead skin cells that might be blocking hairs, which will result in a more pain-free wax. This step will also help prevent ingrown hairs. Skip exfoliating for 24 hours after your wax: anything too harsh could backfire and irritate skin.

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After a wax: Apply a soothing oil

If you find your skin inflamed or irritated after your appointment, soothe it with oil. Tea tree oil is a great option: It protects and moisturizes skin, and also works as an antiseptic. That means it will ward off ingrown hairs and prevent bacteria-related bumps. Try CVS 100% Tea Tree Oil for a reliable low-cost option. These are other amazing uses for tea tree oil.

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After a wax: Soothe a burn

If you leave the salon with a slight burn, treat it as you would a run-of-the-mill sunburn. Create a cold compress by soaking a washcloth in cold water or milk and press it to your skin. Apply aloe vera gel onto the burn three to four times a day. If you feel your burn needs further attention, apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone ointment. See a doctor if the burn looks severe, or if it doesn’t dissipate within 24 hours of your wax. Or consider these sunburn home remedies.

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After a wax: Avoid these common irritants

After a wax, expect skin to be extra sensitive for at least 24 hours. Until everything goes back to normal, avoid common irritants such as sunlight (if you must expose your skin, use a high-SPF sunscreen), tight clothing, and heavy exercise. Sweat and chaffing could cause bumps and discomfort.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest