This is one of the most common questions among people, and according to experts, the answer is yes. Waxing reduces hair growth as the hair is pulled out from the roots.
You must wax every 4–5 weeks to achieve reduced hair growth. (1) The hair follicles (the opening on the surface of the skin through which hair grows (2)) get damaged, requiring a longer time for hair to grow back and thus resulting in reduced hair growth. You might also notice the growth of thinner and finer hair with regular waxing.
Waxing is common among women and has been since ancient times. Sugar- and beeswax-based waxes were used to remove hair from the underarms, legs, and face. Waxing has been around for a long time, and it became popular among men in the 1990s.
Waxing is one of the popular methods of hair removal, and it involves a cold or hot wax application to the skin, followed by pulling out unwanted hair. (3)(4)
Read further to know more about how hair growth reduces after waxing.
Why Hair Growth Reduces After Waxing
The reasons hair growth reduces after waxing are as follows.
1. Waxing damages the hair follicles
Waxing damages the hair follicles (hair-producing structures) and thus reduces hair growth. (1)
Pulling the hair from the root causes trauma to the hair follicle, weakening the follicle and preventing new hair production. The hair that now grows is finer and thinner, and over time, it may become less noticeable and stops growing altogether.
2. Waxing alters the hair growth cycle
A disruption in the natural process of hair growth is the reason for the reduction of hair growth when waxing.
Anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition phase), and telogen (resting phase) are the three phases in the hair growth cycle. Only small amounts of hair are in the anagen phase at any given time. Most of the hair is in the telogen phase. (5)
Waxing your hair removes it from the anagen phase, forcing it into the telogen phase. Then, your will take longer to grow and may be unsynchronized with other hair.
Thus, waxing can influence the hair growth cycle, remove unwanted hair, and reduce hair growth.
Note: Women should not wax their facial hair, as facial skin is very sensitive, so it may cause itching, redness, and even acne.
Does Waxing Reduce Hair Growth Permanently?
No, waxing does not stop hair growth permanently or reduce the number of hair follicles. The distribution and number of hair follicles depend on age, hormones, genetics, and more. (6)
Only the visible part of the hair is affected by waxing. It does not affect the underlying structure of the follicle.
Waxing is a convenient way to eliminate unwanted hair and can lessen the growth of the hair gradually and temporarily. However, it is not a permanent answer.
How to Make Wax at Home?
You can make wax at home using sugar. Sugaring is the same as waxing. (7) A syrup is formed by heating sugar, lemon juice, and water. (3)
How to prepare:
- Take 1 cup of regular/brown sugar in a pan.
- Add 2 tbsp of water and 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Stir the mixture while you heat it on low flame. Gradually increase the heat and wait for it to reach a boil.
- Once the mixture boils, bring down the heat. The color of the mixture should be golden.
- Check the consistency of the mixture by taking a spoonful and letting it cool.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl and leave it for about 30–45 minutes to let it cool. Your wax is then ready to be used.
Tips and Tricks for Effectively Waxing at Home
Waxing at home is an affordable hair removal method, but taking precautions is imperative. If your skin is sensitive or sunburnt, don’t wax. Also, leave Brazilian waxing to the professionals as the skin in that area is quite sensitive. (8)
Follow these waxing tips by dermatologists for the best results and techniques:
- Ensure optimal hair length. Trim your hair to ¼–¾ of an inch long to prevent painful or messy waxing. Use scissors to shorten the length. (8)
- Avoid retinoid creams before waxing. Avoid using skin care products with retinol and prescription retinoids 2–5 days before waxing your face. It ensures you do not remove skin along with your hair. (8)
- Reduce discomfort. Look for ways to reduce discomfort, as waxing can be a painful experience for a lot of people. You can apply cold packs to the skin 30 minutes before waxing or take ibuprofen. (8)
- Wash and dry the area. Gently wash the region you are about to wax before waxing to remove product buildup, dead skin cells, and dirt. Thoroughly wipe your skin dry. Wax can cling to clean, dry skin. (8)
- Warm the wax. Follow the instructions given on the package. Always test the temperature before wax application. Use the inside of your wrist to test using small amounts of wax. It should be warm but doesn’t burn or hurt. (8)
- Apply the wax. Start with wax application to a small section of your skin with unwanted hair. Spread in the direction of hair growth for best results.
- Apply the cloth strip. Place the strip of the cloth over the wax after the wax application. Press the strip down firmly and leave it for 2–3 seconds. (8)
- Remove the cloth strip. Tightly hold your skin with one hand and pull the strip from the other in the opposite direction of hair growth. (7) Ask for help if you are waxing a tricky spot to reach (such as the underarms).
- Soothe your skin. Soothe your skin post-waxing to relieve pain. Avoid hot showers or baths. Wear loose-fitted clothes and apply moisturizers labeled as noncomedogenic or oil-free (8) to avoid clogging your pores. A clean terry towel soaked in ice water can be applied to the area after waxing to soother the skin and remove any remaining wax. (9)
When should I avoid waxing?
It is recommended to avoid waxing when you are:
• Using an antibiotic
• Taking or have taken isotretinoin in the past 6 months
• Applying tretinoin (or retinoic acid) to your skin
These medications make your skin thin, and when you remove wax, your skin might get pulled with it. (10)
What happens if you wax too often?
Frequent waxing can cause some side effects on the skin:
• Loss of skin elasticity. Waxing pulls your skin as well, and frequent waxing will pull your skin frequently as well. It will loosen your skin, resulting in reduced elasticity and speeding up the skin aging process of the affected skin.
• Increased risk of infection. Waxing too often can lead to the removal of short hair too. It makes wax stick more to the skin than the hair. It causes irritation and damage to the skin, making it prone to inflammation and infection.
• Post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Frequent waxing can lead to discoloration, especially on darker skin tones, if your skin has been inflamed or injured. (This means that due to the hot wax being applied on your skin and ripping action, your skin may react by producing pigment that causes dark spots.)
• Irritable skin. Depending on your skin sensitivity, you may experience some irritation or redness. Depending on the severity, it may take a day to reduce. So, avoid using wax too often on your skin.
• Ingrown hair. Ingrown hair is the type of hair that curls back into the skin and causes inflammation or bumps. Thus, waxing often can cause ingrown hair if you don’t moisturize and exfoliate properly.
If you want to remove unwanted hair from any part of your body, waxing is the way to go. It can reduce the speed of hair growth, make the new hair thin, or stop hair growth altogether.
The effects of waxing vary from person to person and depend on factors such as the hair growth cycle.
Follow the tips and tricks mentioned above and wax regularly to avoid complications and to get the best results.
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- NCI Dictionary of Cancer terms. National Cancer Institute. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/hair-follicle.
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- US20040175340A1 – cold wax hair removal (depilatory) compositions. Google Patents. https://patents.google.com/patent/US20040175340A1/en.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546248/.
- Grymowicz M, Rudnicka E, Podfigurna A, et al. Hormonal effects on hair follicles. International journal of molecular sciences. July 28, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432488/.
- (PDF) energy based hair removal – researchgate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283178489/.
- Hair removal: How to wax. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/hair/how-to-wax.
- A comparative clinical study of different hair removal procedures and … https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286541729/.
- 7 ways to remove unwanted hair. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/hair/remove-unwanted-hair.