Women love a little bit of chest hair. It’s a scientifically-proven fact that they prefer a light brush of fur over the pre-pubescent look. However, very few—if any—have a thing for back hair. To help you tame your Chewbacca-style lats, we talked to Shobha Tummala, founder of Shobha Waxing Studio in New York, about how to wax off your back hair at home.
Grab a Buddy
Waxing beats out shaving because you’ll stay hairless for up to four weeks after, whereas stubble can appear within hours after shaving. Even worse, back scruff feels like sandpaper because it cuts hairs at an angle. Waxing isn’t as hard or as painful as movies make it out to be, and you can heat up some—like this natural wax ($19)—in the microwave.
Odds are if you can’t see what you’re waxing, you’re going to hurt yourself. “The ‘You wax mine, I’ll wax yours’ concept works well,” Tummala says, so enlist your partner or friend to make the process easier—and memorable.
Your back hair will need to be at least one quarter-inch long to wax. No need to grab a ruler: If it lays flat on the skin, wax away. If it sticks straight out, you’ll want to wait a while. If you’ve shaved recently, wait at least two weeks from your last shave before waxing to ensure an even result.
You should be clean and dry before waxing, so skip the lotion and dust yourself down in baby powder to pick up any sweat molecules. You can wax around moles, but skip areas with acne or any other skin condition. Fix that issue first, then worry about the hair.
Apply the Wax
This isn’t going to feel great. You’ll live, though. “Men tend to complain more than women about the pain of waxing,” Tummala says. “We remind them that women withstand childbirth, so what’s a little waxing?”
You can make it easier on yourself by taking an Advil (don’t worry—there’s very little risk of bleeding during a wax) or using an over-the-counter anesthetic to numb the area. Make sure to allow the anesthetic to sit for 45 minutes, Tummala says, or you’ll still be yelping.
Test the wax temperature to prevent burns, then have your helper apply the wax thinly with a wooden stick in the direction of your hair growth. Then, take the provided cloth and press it firmly onto the wax. Remove it in the opposite direction in one fluid motion to help pull the strands out at the root. If you couldn’t get it all in one sweep, go over an area one more time. Any more, and you’ll risk irritation.
Take Care of Yourself
Soothing your skin after waxing is just as important as what you do before and during the process. A mild steroid, such as a hydrocortisone cream, can help soothe redness immediately after. If you prefer something more natural, Tummala opts for a rosewater calming gel in her salons. You’ll also want to exfoliate your skin a day or two after waxing to prevent ingrown hairs.
Tummala says she tells clients to avoid the four S’s—sun, steam, synthetic fabrics, and sex—for a couple days after the wax. Waxing removes your top layer of skin, increasing your chances of sunburn. Wax also increases your body temperature, so you’re better off cooling down with a cold compress than hitting a sauna or hot shower.