The Life Cycle of a Hair Follicle

Hair goes through three phases: growth, transition and resting. At any given time, only some of your hair follicles, or roots, are in the growth stage -- the number of follicles in each stage depends on the part of your body where the hair is growing. Waxing doesn't affect the follicles that are resting, which is why you sometimes see a few new hairs growing soon after the wax.

Preparing for a Bikini Wax

You've bitten the bullet and have an appointment for your first bikini wax. If it's with a licensed professional, you are already on the road to proper preparation. But no matter what style you choose, there are a few extra steps you can take before you go in to ensure that you get the best possible results.

Timing, for one, is very important when you're planning a waxing appointment. For example, you'll want to stay out of the sun for at least 24 hours before you go in. Sunburn or some other form of skin irritation will only add to the discomfort you'll feel when someone slathers hot wax on you and yanks hair out of an already sensitive region of the body. Women should try to get waxed during the week or two after your period because the body can withstand pain better during that time. Avoid the week before you menstruate, when your skin is most tender [source: Goins]. Finally, early in the day is better for a wax than later, when oil and sweat have built up on your skin.

Soft hair follicles release hair more easily, thus making the waxing process less painful. So it helps to exfoliate the bikini area ahead of time, then put on baby lotion or cream to soften hair follicles and skin [source: Sorgen]. Here's another tip to reduce pain: About a half an hour before your waxing appointment, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug like ibuprofen. One last trick is to apply a numbing cream. Over-the-counter topical solutions that contain lidocaine should be effective, but follow the directions carefully when you apply it. Also, be aware that lidocaine can cause a serious allergic reaction in some people, so you'll want to check with your doctor before using it [source: Goins].

You're now ready for your waxing appointment, but if you don't feel like shelling out upwards of $50, a home kit might be a better option for you. Read on to find out what you need to know about waxing at home.