At-home Tips

If you decide to try waxing at home, you might want to purchase pre-waxed strips designed for small areas. If there are a few hairs left afterward, you can just pluck them out with tweezers. If you shave over the waxed area, you are risking irritation and you will not get the root, so the shaved hair will grow back faster than the waxed hair.

Preparing Underarms for Waxing

Before you break out the waxing kit or head to your appointment, get your underarms ready by following a few simple steps.

First of all, unblocked hair follicles release hair more easily, thus making the waxing process less painful. So if you've never spent a lot of time exfoliating your underarms, this would be the time to do it. Try exfoliating with a gentle scrub or washcloth a few days before the waxing. Also, smooth on a light lotion or cream to soften hair follicles and the skin underneath. And don't use deodorant on the day of your waxing because it could cause irritation.

Additionally, the adage "no pain, no gain" is true when it comes to waxing. To make the process as painless as possible, though, you might want to take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen about half an hour before your wax. You will get some pain relief, and it will also protect yourself from minor swelling. Another thing you can do is apply a numbing cream. An over-the-counter topical solution that contains lidocaine might be effective. Follow the directions carefully to apply it. Be aware that lidocaine can cause a serious allergic reaction in some people, so you might want to check with your doctor before using it [source: Goins].

You also need to consider the length of the hair you're trying to get rid of. If the hair is too short, the wax won't be able to grab it. If it is too long, the process will be more painful and the hair more likely to break off above the root. Getting the root is the whole point of waxing, so if it's been a long time since you've done anything with your underarm hair, trim it down before you wax. It should be about a quarter of an inch long (about 6 millimeters) [source: Carrillo].

If you're still not sure whether waxing is right for you, take a look at the next page for lots more information about getting smoother skin.