Introduction: How to Wax

An example of removing body hair with my favorite wax, Zip wax.

Things I used:
- Zip wax with included wooden stick
- Container to heat wax in
- Electric candle warmer
- Soap
- Water
- Faucet
- Light
- Towel
- Hands

Step 1: Heat Up Your Wax

First thing's first: Put your wax inside of a glass container of suitable size and thickness for the task. I'm using a thicker candle container that I picked up at a craft store years ago. Use what you think is appropriate.

Plug in and turn on your candle warmer. It will take a while, since candle warmers are designed to slowly heat scented candles to give off the scent just as slowly. It helps the wax last longer. While you're waiting you can catch up on your e-mail, watch a show on Hulu, read, or whatever you think will keep you occupied for 15-20 minutes. When it starts getting thin enough, stir it with the stick they included in the box every few minutes so it heats evenly more quickly.

When the wax gets to a consistency similar to syrup and doesn't look grainy, you're ready to head over to step 2.

Step 2: Prep Your Hairy Self

Now that your wax is hot and melted, you'll want to strip off any clothes near the area you want to wax. I'm doing my armpits, so I took off my shirt (hence my greying out the reflection on the faucet). After you're finished with your little stripping dance, go ahead and grab some soap, run some water, and wash the area you plan to wax. Be sure to dry thoroughly and completely or else the wax will not stick and then you're just wasting money. If need be, trim the underarm hair to around 1/2 inch long.

I do not recommend waxing after a hot shower as your skin is rather sensitive from soaking up the water and heat, not to mention that it may be hard getting the wax to stick even after toweling off. If you take quick or cold or cold and quick showers, you may be able to pull it off. I can only endorse the way I did it since it's the only way I've tried.

Step 3: Get Ready, Get Set

Clean now? Good! It's time to get this orange goop on your skin.

Stir the wax and pull the stick up out of it. Let it run off a little so you have a good but not overwhelming coat of wax on half of the stick.

Scrape any wax that is on the bottom of the stick onto the side of the container.

Be sure to test the wax on the stick by gently touching it with the back of one knuckle. If it burns, quickly get your finger under cold water and peel off the wax. If it's uncomfortably hot but doesn't actually burn, it's ready to get on your hair.

Spread it on the area you want to wax. For armpits, raise your arm all the way up so that the skin flattens out. Then, spread the wax up and down from the center of the armpit. See Other Body Parts for how to put it on other parts of your body. Make it thick enough that you'll be able to peel it off when it's dry enough, but not so thick that you're being wasteful. It should be thin enough that you'll be able to see the hairs.

Other Body Parts
Eyebrows: Have a friend follow these instructions to help you with this one. Cover eyelids and lashes before applying wax, then have your friend apply the wax to the area you want done.
For upper lip and chin: Apply in short strips out from the center of your face.
Bikini line: Wear underwear, but cover edges with paper or foil to prevent damage from the wax. Apply in strips that around about 2 inches wide.
Legs and arms: Apply in long strips about 2 inches wide. You'll probably need more than one box of Zip for this.'

Step 4: Bring on the Pain

I won't deny that it's painful. It is quite painful, but only for a few moments. What do you expect when you're ripping hair out at the roots?

Once you've applied the wax, let it cool until it's not sticky but still warm and flexible. This is usually only a minute or two. Hold the skin down with one hand in order to keep it as taut as you can, grip wax with fingers from your other hand and pull as quickly as possible along the skin, against the direction of hair growth. DO NOT PULL STRAIGHT UP OR YOU WILL BRUISE AND IT WILL BE EXTREMELY PAINFUL.

Immediately afterward, apply firm pressure to reduce the pain and swelling. Apply a preferrably fragrance free moisturizer to help soothe and protect the skin. Or don't. See what I care. For the next 24 hours, if you've done your underarms, DO NOT USE DEODORANT. For other parts of your body, DO NOT TAKE VERY HOT BATHS OR SHOWERS for 24 hours.

Step 5: Final Words

Here are some final tips to make this a fairly painless and worry-free endeavor.

If you have been known to have skin allergies to certain things, or you're worried you might, do a patch test first. Apply a little bit of wax to your wrist, wait a minute, take it off, and wait 24 hours. If you have an allergic reaction do not use this product! If you don't have an allergic reaction, congratulations!

I wouldn't wear jewelry while waxing. Also, be sure to protect any furniture, clothing, and floors that may be around you. You wouldn't want any wax to get on them, trust me!

Do not apply wax to warts, moles, or wounds! This should go without saying, but I must be thorough.

To help make sure the wax picks up the hair, it's best if the hair is between 1/8 and 1/4 inch long.

Since it's your first time waxing, you may want to start with smaller strips of wax than the 2 inch wide sections I recommended. Apply only one strip at a time until you've learned the rhythm (yes, there is a rhythm) to the whole waxing thing. Once you're comfortable with your abilities, you can apply and remove several strips at the same time. However, do not make the strips wider than 2 inches.

If the waxing doesn't remove all the hair you must ask yourself, "Did I remove the wax too soon? Did I wait too long to remove it?" In either case, it's okay to reapply the wax up to twice more on the same area. Take it off too soon and the wax isn't hard enough to grip the hair. Take it off too late and it might harden so much as to lose the grip on the hair.

If you bruise, you've probably pulled straight up instead of along the skin.

If you burn, your wax is too hot.

If you have any little bits of wax that remain on the skin after you've removed the big pieces, you can
a. Apply a new coat of wax to the bits in order to remove them.
b. Rub flyaway wax with baby oil or Vaseline and pick it off.
c. Ignore it and eventually it'll come off on its own.

Added 5/6/10: I've found that if having bits of hair in the wax doesn't gross you out, you can reuse it several times. Last July I bought 8oz of Zip and am still using it. What I do is break off one or two blocks at a time and reuse them until there starts to get too much hair to stick properly. I found that doing this, I saved approximately $200 in the past year!

If you have any questions this instructable does not address, leave me a comment and I'll do what I can to help out.

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Burning Questions: Round 6