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When I Wax the Hair Doesn’t Come Off?

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Woman Wearing a Vest Waxing Her Leg
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Question: When I Wax the Hair Doesn’t Come Off?

It’s normal for a couple of strays to be left when waxing. But there may be a couple different reasons why the majority of hair isn’t being removed or is just being broken.

Answer:
  • Too short. Generally hair needs to be about ¼" for the wax to fully grasp it. If it's any shorter than that, it may not be able to be removed (more: tips for waxing short hair).

  • Too long. This isn't, the more the better. If it's too long, there's more chance of not only pain, but breakage and missed hair (see: waxing hair long hair.)

  • Waxed on and off the wrong way. It must be applied in the direction of hair growth and removed swiftly in the opposite direction. If it's not removed fast enough (which can be hard to do on yourself), there isn't enough force to pull the hair out.

    Removing in the wrong direction won't lift the hair out either. Watch the growth pattern, as it can grow different ways, especially in the underarms.

  • Skin isn't clean. The skin needs to be free of dirt, makeup and oils. These invaders might be slightly repelling the wax, especially when using any kind that requires a strip. If you don't have a pre-wax cleanser, use a gentle facial or body cleanser.

  • Skin isn't dry. After using a pre-wax cleanser, take a clean cotton pad to swipe away any remaining moisture. Otherwise, leftover residue may also be repelling the wax. Putting on pre-epilation powder not only absorbs moisture, but helps wax stick to hair and not to skin. So along with being less painful, it allows more hair to be removed.

  • The wrong wax. Hard wax works well on coarse, thick hair. Soft wax can remove this type of hair as well, but needs to be strong enough. Check the label of your wax to see what type of hair it's recommended for.

  • Not smoothed enough. After applying the strip, firmly smooth hand or fingers over strip in the direction of hair growth a couple times. This allows heated wax to slightly cool and heated or non-heated wax (like pre-made strips and cold) to attach to hair. (This tip isn't for hard wax.)

Tips for the Kind of Wax Being Used

Soft (a.k.a. strip): Don't put wax on too thick. The strip will be working to remove all the wax instead of the hair. It should just cover the hair, not be a thick coat. Along with missed hair, putting on too much product can lead to bruising.

Hard (a.k.a. stripless): It needs to be applied much thicker than soft because it hardens becoming its own strip and 'shrink wraps' the hair. While the instructions tend to vary with the manufacturer it's generally about the thickness of a nickel. Hard wax that's put on too thin won't pull off in one piece, but usually flakes off when you remove it, and won't take the hair with it.

Hard wax also needs to cool to fully harden. It will look dull as it hardens and will sound like plastic when you tap it. If it's not fully cool, it hasn't completed 'shrink wrapping'. And you guessed it…the hair will still be there.

Pre-made strips: I think these work best on sparse areas of hair, on some people that means the toes and belly. In my opinion they're not a great choice for the legs, bikini line or back.

But be sure to 'heat' them up a bit before you pull them apart rubbing them between your hands so they're at least room temperature. Too cold of wax doesn't stick well to hair.

Cold: Like pre-made strips, they're not my biggest fan. My assistant Nicole likes cold wax but anytime I've bought some, it has only removed some of the hair. I think the kind of soft wax that's heated up in wax pot (versus a microwave) spreads much easier and attaches to the hair better.

While it does take some time to get the technique down (get how to wax instructions), it might be a poor quality wax that just isn't doing the job. I highly recommend getting a wax pot and buying professional products like Satin Smooth (compare prices) or GiGi (compare prices).

If the wax is staying on as well and tips for cleaning up see: How To Remove Hair Wax.

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