Cold wax vs Hot wax: All you need to know!

All you need to know about the difference between hot wax and cold wax to make the right hair removal choice for yourself. Love it or hate it, your ...

5 min read

All you need to know about the difference between hot wax and cold wax to make the right hair removal choice for yourself.

Love it or hate it, your body hair is here to stay. And, unless you’ve emerged from hiding after several months of having no access to hair removal tools, chances are you will lean towards waxing to get rid of the peach fuzz. The world over, waxing is the most preferred way to get rid of body hair for a reason. The results of waxing last longer, and it makes your skin look smoother. But there are two major types of wax – hot wax and cold wax – and each has its own benefits.

Confused and wondering what’s all the fuss about cold wax vs hot wax? Does it even matter? Turns out, it does, and you should make the choice carefully. Each has its own levels of difficulty and effectiveness. In addition, there’s the whole element of how your skin will react to the wax. Read on to learn more about these hair removal waxes.

Cold wax vs Hot wax: What is the difference between hot wax and cold wax?

If you’re wondering what hot wax is, all you need to do is remember your last visit to the salon. It’s the one that’s most preferred by aestheticians in salons, who use the melted wax to remove unwanted hair.

The process is all too familiar, especially if you’re someone who books a waxing appointment regularly. The aesthetician warms up the wax in an electric-powered bowl. They then spread it over your skin using a wooden or steel waxing spatula (not unlike a generous jam or butter spread over a slice of bread) or a wax roller. Then you wait. As you wait for the wax to cool down, it hardens and grips the hair strands.

Now, hot wax too has two subtypes – soft hot wax and hard hot wax. 

If it is a hot soft wax, the aesthetician will press down a strip of waxing cloth or waxing paper on top of the layer of wax. After the wax has hardened and grips the hair strands, they pull it off, in the opposite direction of the hair growth, in one swift action, thus removing the hair. 

This is the type of hair removal you’ve likely seen being spoofed in movies or comedy videos. For those undergoing this hot wax treatment for the first time, it can be particularly painful. 

Then there is hard hot wax. In the case of hard hot wax, the warmed-up wax hardens in place after application. As the wax cools, it grips the hair strands. 

No strip is necessary in the case of hot hard wax. The hardened wax is pulled off in one piece, along with the unwanted hair. The wax is pulled in the opposite direction of the hair growth. The process can be difficult to do on your own, so it would be best if you consult an aesthetician.

Then there’s cold wax. 

In cold wax hair removal, the wax comes either pre-applied on a strip or in a tub. If you’re using a cold wax strip, you need not heat it first. But you can rub the strip between your hands to bring it to a slightly lukewarm temperature. You can then apply the strip to the desired area and then pull it off in the opposite direction of the hair growth to remove the unwanted hair. 

If you use cold wax from a tub, you’d typically use a waxing spatula to spread a thin layer on the skin. A waxing strip is pressed onto the area and pulled off, removing the hair. The difference between this waxing procedure and a hot waxing procedure is that you’re not heating up the wax in this one. 

What are the benefits of hot wax?

  1. Hot wax is ideal for large areas, creating a firm grip around each strand.
  2. It is more effective than cold wax at removing shorter, finer and stubborn hair from the roots, leading to less hair breakage.
  3. This makes it an excellent option if you don’t want to wait too long between waxing sessions and want to get rid of short hair.
  4. Despite the overtly violent nature of the process, hot wax hair removal is actually a lot less painful than the closest equivalent – quite literally, plucking your hair. 
  5. The reason this is so is because the heat from the hot wax also opens up the pores, making it easier to remove the hair and therefore causes less pain. This also makes hot wax ideal for use in sensitive areas. And, because of its effectiveness, you don’t have to go over the same area multiple times, like in the case of cold wax, to get the desired result.
  6. So, while you will experience redness of the skin, you are likely to have far less skin irritation, damage or discomfort as compared to cold wax hair removal. 
  7. Because hot wax is quite literally like ripping off the bandage, it takes a lot less time than cold wax and is a lot more effective. The results of hair removal by hot wax last longer.
  8. Yet another benefit is that hot wax, unlike cold wax, doesn’t leave a sticky residue on your skin that has to be cleaned off with wipes or oil.

What are the benefits of cold wax?

  1. Cold wax strips are quicker and more convenient. You can use cold wax strips anywhere and anytime, because you don’t need an external source to heat them up.
  2. Cold wax strips are also less messy and easier to use as you don’t need accessories to keep the wax warm or apply it. 
  3. This makes cold wax strips a great travel companion and suitable for beginners wanting to try waxing alone, as there is less room for error.
  4. When you use hot wax, you run the risk of getting burned by hot wax applied by an inexperienced aesthetician. This risk is completely eliminated with the use case of cold wax. 
  5. While choosing between hot and cold wax, weighing the benefits and drawbacks of each with regard to your skin type and lifestyle is essential. 
  6. Evaluate what type of wax is most comfortable and suits your needs.
  7. Generally, hot wax is preferred because of its effectiveness, but there’s something to be said for the convenience of cold wax strips too, don’t you agree?

Pre- and post-wax treatment is key

How you treat your skin before and after waxing is crucial to the outcome. 

The basic rules apply. If you’re suffering from any kind of skin disease, avoid waxing. Experiencing inflammation, rashes, or skin breakouts? Please let your skin heal before you put it through a round or three of waxing.

Once you’ve set a waxing appointment, start at least 24 hours earlier to prepare your skin for the procedure. Gently exfoliating your skin as it helps unclog your pores, remove any dead skin cells, oils and other irritants, while also releasing hairs trapped under the dead skin. Before the actual waxing session, cleanse your skin to ensure it is clean and dry, and free of any oils. 

Waxing can remove the topmost layer of your skin, which is what makes your skin appear smoother. But that also means your skin is more vulnerable to irritation. 

So, you absolutely must moisturise after waxing to soothe the inflamed skin and replenish the moisture lost. But it is also not advisable to use products directly on skin that has just been waxed. So, wait a few hours before applying any product.

It is best to talk to your aesthetician for guidance on when, what, and how to apply products that are best for your skin type. 

When you wax, you put your skin through a lot. Remember, even though waxing has a lot of benefits, it is by nature, very violent on the skin. So you could do well to avoid hot showers, saunas and steam rooms for at least 48 hours after waxing. When you expose your skin to heat and humidity, it can cause irritation on your sensitive skin. 

Whether it’s choosing between cold and hot wax or the kind of skincare regimen you should follow for prep and aftercare, most of the decisions about waxing will be determined by your skin type and hair growth. 

So what should you choose?

The best way to approach waxing is to understand your skin type and hair growth pattern and consult an experienced aesthetician for guidance. Though we have to say that, generally speaking, soft hot wax is the most popular as it is effective at removing shorter, stubborn hair from the roots and it can be applied with precision (since it spreads easily and evenly), giving you cleaner, smoother results that last for days.


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