Waxing is just one of the many types of hair removal available aside from traditional shaving, plucking, and depilatories. It’s ideal for use on the face if you want to target large amounts of hair at once.

Facial wax works with either warm or cool wax that hardens against the area of skin with unwanted hairs. It’s then removed quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth, taking the roots along with it.

If you’re looking for long-lasting smoothness, then facial waxing may be an option worth considering. At the same time though, you’ll want to consider all the possible face wax side effects.

10 side effects of facial waxing

Face wax can easily be purchased at your local drugstore. However, this doesn’t mean that face wax products are automatically effective, safe, and foolproof. Consider the following 10 possible side effects of facial waxing and how you can manage them.

1. Pain

With any type of waxing, a small amount of pain is inevitable. This occurs when the strips applied to the wax are removed quickly — think of pulling a tight bandage off hairy skin. The amount of pain varies based on your overall skin sensitivity, pain tolerance, the amount of hair, and the areas of your face being waxed. For example, you might find your upper lip to be more sensitive than your chin.

2. Redness and irritation

Facial waxing can also cause mild redness and irritation temporarily after use. You may notice that freshly waxed skin is pink or red, and slightly sensitive to the touch. Your everyday facial products may also burn so you should avoid alcohol-based toners after waxing your face. Redness should usually disappear by the next day. Apply a cool compress if it’s tender.

3. Rashes

Redness and irritation from facial waxing are often temporary. However, a rash is a possible side effect. This can last for a day or longer. If your rash is severe, or if it spreads, discontinue using the product immediately.

4. Temporary bumps

After facial waxing, you may also notice some bumps. These develop on top of the pores where the hairs and roots are removed. You can apply a calming cream or balm to help soothe these bumps, but they’ll go away within a few hours on their own.

5. Ingrown hairs

While you might associate ingrown hairs with shaving, these can occur with waxing, too. You have a lower risk of ingrown hairs if you pull the wax strips in the opposite direction of hair growth. You’re at a higher risk or ingrown hairs if the hair roots don’t completely come out and the hair shaft breaks below the skin.

6. Sun sensitivity

You should never apply face wax to a fresh sunburn. At the same time, you should take extra care with sun exposure after you wax your face. The process lifts away parts of your epidermis (the upper layer of skin) along with the hair you’re trying to get rid of. In turn, the effects to your epidermis can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, just as a chemical peel would.

7. Allergic reactions

Given the varying ingredients in face wax products, it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to them. To see how your skin will respond to the product at hand, try testing out a small area (about dime-sized) on your arm and remove hair as instructed. If there’s no rash within 24 hours, it should be safe to use. This way, you can see whether your face is too sensitive for that particular wax. Don’t use face wax if you notice hives, itchiness, or a red rash after testing it out.

8. Bleeding

Sometimes waxing can cause bleeding, but this is completely normal. This again has to do with parts of the epidermis being removed along with your hair during the waxing process. You should only see a small amount of blood, though. For those with more brittle or aging skin, choose a product that’s advertised as gentle or for sensitive skin. Continuous or significant bleeding should be addressed by your doctor.

9. Infection

In some cases, facial waxing can lead to an infection in an area where the bleeding or skin damage occurred. You’re also at risk if you use the wax over a fresh cut or wound. See your doctor if you experience swelling or oozing at the waxing site.

10. Scarring

While rare, it’s possible to get scars from facial waxing. The risk of this side effect is greater if you use the wax over cuts, get sunburnt shortly after waxing your face, or experience an infection.

Preventing side effects

While there are a number of side effects associated with face wax, there are ways you can prevent some of them. Minor pain and irritation are inevitable for the first several minutes at least. But other side effects, such as ingrown hairs and bleeding are preventable.

Carefully follow the instructions on the waxing product, and make sure it’s designed for your face only. Hence, avoid putting all-over body wax on your face. You can also prevent side effects by skipping out on a wax treatment if your skin is overly dry, irritated, or sunburned.

Avoid waxing areas of the face with an active breakout, wound, or rash as well. You should also avoid applying facial wax over any warts or moles. The cautions against using wax products if you have circulatory issues or diabetes.

For the best results, consider getting your face waxed by a professional, such as a licensed medical esthetician. They can help determine what’s best for your skin type and can employ the best techniques that have the least amount of side effects.