Wax On, Wax Off. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Hair removal is something that many men and women, myself included, strive to perfect. Whether it is through the drawn blood of shaving, expensive laser treatment, or painful wax pulling, we are all after that chic bald look. Some do it for their own pleasure, some do it for the pleasure of their partners, and some like me do it because they swear they can run away from their problems faster. I have been waxing my legs for almost a year now, and when six weeks post-wax arrives, I’m anxious to get them back in a salon again. The trouble, though, is that those services can be very pricey. To my delight on Christmas morning, I unwrapped my very own wax warming pot, complete with strips and various versions of goo to help calm the fire ripping little hairs from your body tends to ignite. I thought to myself, this is great! I’m going to save so much money with this! My mind happily skipped over the process of what it might mean to wax your own legs.

However, Christmas day came and went and before I knew it, it was December 26. Around noon I decided I’d give my wax pot a go, since my legs were in dire need of some attention. The instruction manual was thick enough to kill a rodent if it was rolled up, but I didn’t let that intimidate me. In fact, to reduce the intimidation, I disregarded all those warnings and do’s and don’ts all together. What I don’t know can’t hurt me was my frame of mind. Besides, I’d seen the bored salon ladies do it dozens of times without so much as a second thought. This should be a breeze.

I set up the wax pot in my bathroom, plugging it in and turning it on. After waiting a total of seven minutes I impatiently concluded my wax was never going to melt, so to ensure I hadn’t received a defect I consulted the instruction manual. As it turns out, the wax can take up to 40 minutes to melt. This was my first encounter with misconceptions around at-home waxing. I busied myself with other tasks, and finally my wax had become thin and pliable as the manual suggested. It was time to get to work.

I threw my leg up onto my bathroom counter, and I thought to myself how lucky I was that I was flexible enough to get my leg up that high. But after about 30 seconds with my leg up there, I started cramping up and realized that maybe I wasn’t all that flexible. Oh well, no pain no gain. So, I proceeded to dip my fancy popsicle stick into the wax. It was pleasant to apply, warm and smooth, but when I saw that there was still a thick bubble of wax on the stick and tried to re-apply in the exact same manner, my skin felt like it was ripping away with the already cooling wax. Sweat began beading on my hairline at this point, and I knew it would be a long road from there.

That first pull on the strip almost made me shit myself, and I had a wax strip that was hanging off my ankle with still half a pull to go. Tears blurred my eyes but I refused to let them fall. I swallowed the pain and decided there was no turning back, so on the exhale, off the strip came. After my first few attempts, the actual ripping off the strips was really not that bad, I will admit. I even got the hang of how to apply the wax in a smooth motion, and things were going great. This was until I was ready to start on the back of my leg. My hamstring was pulled, I was in a full sweat, and my hands were starting to shake. I realize this may sound like I was just being a wuss, but I have a high pain tolerance and can usually endure more than most. I turned on my heel with my leg in the air trying to achieve that perfect angle. My back arched at a ridiculous angle and the wax residue on the front of my leg was sticking hard, and fast, to the counter top.

I applied the wax to the back of my upper calf despite the awkward contortion of my body, and reached for a clean strip. I lost my balance a little bit though, and the back of my thigh squished right into the hot wax I’d applied to my calf. This was becoming very messy, and now my leg was basically glued in a bent position. I checked the time; 45 minutes had passed since the first application of wax. My waxing appointments usually don’t take longer than 30 minutes. “At-home hair removal is the way to go!”, they said. “At-home hair removal is quick and easy!” they said.

Balancing and juggling hot wax, applicator sticks, and cloth strips was becoming exhausting. My hands at this point were covered in sticky, unforgiving wax and there was so much residue on my legs that I was sticking to everything I went near. Finally, I finished my first leg. Out of breath, I took in my work. My leg was bald and beautiful, just the look I had sought after. Along with my hairlessness, though, were broken blood vessels, a bruise forming, and patches of fine blonde hairs I had missed but didn’t care enough to revisit with the wax. At least my skin was soft.

All in all, it had taken me almost two hours to complete my at-home hair removal adventure. As I write this almost twelve hours later, my hamstrings are aching from the stretching and the skin around my ankles is still faintly burning. But my calves are smooth as hell in between the missed patches of hair. This experience made me appreciate the work those bored salon ladies do, but you can bet I’ll be facing this task again in about six weeks.