Strip Wax vs Hot Wax:

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Have you ever noticed your waxing technician using wax with different textures? Some of it is thin and super spreadable, and yanked off using a cloth strip; some is thick and goopy, and clamped down. Well, these different textures do different things (I know…shocker). Strip Wax and Hot Wax have long been used simultaneously to remove hair from the body. But, have you ever stopped to wonder where the true differences lie?

First: What’s the difference?

Strip Wax, also known as Cold Wax, is a liquid-constant wax formula that binds to the hair follicle and the skin around it. It is applied to the skin either hot or cold, and smoothed over in a thin layer. Once it has settled onto the skin, it will need to be removed with a strip. The strip is patted onto the wax, giving your waxing technician purchase to remove it. Strip wax binds to the skin, which makes it the most abrasive of all the wax variants. Because of this, you can only go over the same area once. It is perfect for a large surface area as it removes hair quickly, however it is not recommended for use over any sensitive or delicate skin. Bikini line, face, and underarms are a no go!

Hot Wax, also known as Hard Wax, begins its life in pellet-form. It needs to be melted down in order to be applied to the skin. Hot Wax is especially useful in delicate areas like the underarms, bikini line or face, since it binds only to the hair follicle. So, you can go back over the same area 6-7 times, without causing any severe irritation. It does not require a strip, and can be pulled off once it hardens on the skin.

Second: What’s the Good?

Both strip and hot wax have a whole host of benefits, and are still in regular use in salons around the world. Strip wax is renowned for its speedy application, often taking a quarter of the time that hot wax would. It is also the most effective of the two, binding fast to hair follicles and ripping them out.

Hot wax has the advantage of not binding to skin, so it is much gentler. Not only that, but the ingredients in Hot wax often promote skin hydration. You can use it over the same area multiple times without harming the skin.

Now, What’s the Bad?

Waxing is never exactly a pleasant experience. The pain is, for the most part, bearable for the end result though. However, every single one of us would prefer that the treatment could minimise the pain. As much as possible! Strip Wax binds to the hair follicle and skin. Meaning, when the wax is pulled back, it lifts the skin with it. Not only that, but it can cause bruising and ingrown hairs. It isn’t suitable for sensitive areas, or thick hair.

Hot wax shrink wraps around the hair follicle, but isn’t as strong as strip wax. It may leave behind residue and hairs it couldn’t pull up. It also takes a lot longer than strip waxing and requires a much higher skill level from your beauty therapist. Because it takes so much longer, some report that the pain is worse than with Strip Waxing.

The Ugly

‘Kay, so you’re half a leg deep in strip waxing and your client is turning red. Like beetroot, blood close to the top of the skin red. And, then you remember that article once telling you that strip wax can cause severe skin irritation. Your client clearly has pretty sensitive skin.
Strip wax can cause more severe skin irritation, going so far as to lift the skin upon hair removal. It can also cause ingrown hairs and bruising

Hot Wax can easily be heated way too hot, and if you’re not careful, can burn your client. It can also be a finicky, tricky process, and cause clients more pain than other waxes.

Additionally, if you are not careful with hygiene practices, and observe the Single Dip Method, and restrictions on wax recycling, hot wax can cause your clients bacterial, fungal and other skin infections.

When do I Use Strip Wax vs Hot Wax?

There are a few guidelines we can follow to ensure correct wax application every time. It’s not always straightforward, since each client presents with different skin conditions and sensitivities. But, for the most part Strip Wax is recommended for use on larger surface areas like the arms, legs, back, chest and shoulders.

Hot Wax has been formulated specifically for delicate and sensitive skin. Though the process of application is a little more finicky, and requires better technique than Strip Wax, the results might just be worth it. Hot Wax is gentle on the skin, because it binds only to the hair follicle, shrink wrapping around it to lift it out without disturbing the skin. Because of this, it is perfect for use on any client with sensitive skin, or in delicate areas like the face, underarms, or bikini line. It can also be used on anyone who suffers from ingrown hairs, since it causes less ingrown issues than Strip Wax. However, Hot Wax doesn’t work well with extremely fine hairs, so it is not recommended on areas with slim or sparse hair.

To Recap:

The Good

Strip Wax

  • Fast Application and Removal
  • Cost effective
  • Binds to hair effectively
  • Technique is easy

Hot Wax

  • Gentler on skin than other wax
  • Hydrating
  • Discourages ingrown hairs
  • Perfect for sensitive skin

The Bad

Strip Wax

  • Promotes irritation
  • Not good for thicker or dense hair
  • Not recommended for use on the face, underarms or bikini line

Hot Wax

  • Not as cost effective as Strip Wax
  • Doesn’t bind well to fine or thin hair
  • Takes a long time (almost 4 times as long as Strip Wax)
  • Process can be tricky and finecky

The Ugly

Strip Wax

  • Promotes ingrown hairs
  • Can cause the skin to lift from body
  • Sensitive skin can also be prone to bruising
  • Can cause severe pain due to pulling on the skin

Hot Wax

  • The perfect breeding ground for bacteria if salon practices are unhygienic
  • The wax can easily be heated too much, and burn your client
  • Can cause your clients more pain, as the wax can have a weak grip on hair

We’d really love to tell you that there’s one type of wax that’s a cure-all. That it will lift the hair from your client’s body like feathered kisses from an angel, but unfortunately; that’s not the case. Strip Wax and Hot Wax are both in heavy circulation due to their efficacy in different areas, but the full benefits of each may surprise you. It truly depends on the client’s and your salon’s preferences to really determine the right product for use.