The Regimen

Why Waxing and Retinoids Don’t Mix

Why Waxing and Retinoids Don’t Mix


Are you using vitamin A retinoid therapy? Thinking about a brow or upper lip wax? Slow down and read this first.

Both waxing and retinoids are exfoliators. Why does that matter? Because exfoliated skin is more vulnerable to environmental or physical aggressors.

Waxing doesn’t just remove hair. It pulls away dead skin cells from the outer layer of skin as well.

Retinoids are cell turnover accelerators. They work by exfoliating dead skin cells to reveal fresh new skin cells.

That puts waxing and retinoids at odds because the removal of the outer layer of skin leaves the newly regenerated layer of skin exposed. When you apply wax on top of that new skin and rip it away, you are very likely to rip away some tender, living skin cells along with the unwanted hair. That’s going to be painful and also damaging to your skin. It leaves the skin open to infection, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and the potential for scarring.

To illustrate, we’ll share this excerpt from our interview with Bart Kaczanowicz who writes the popular male beauty blog (OMG) Bart:


What’s the worst skin care mistake you ever made?

There’s one that I will never forget. I used to be on Tazorac, not for acne, but for anti-aging. I went in and got my eyebrows waxed. I had no idea you’re not supposed to get your eyebrows waxed when you’re on prescription strength retinol.

She actually ripped half my eyelid off. I was bleeding, and there was brow missing, and she’s like, ‘Did you start something like retinol?’

And I was like, ‘Yeah, how great does my skin look?!’

Then I felt the blood streaming into my eye.

You can read the full interview here.

Does this mean if you want to do hair removal you have to give up your skin enhancing retinoids? Definitely not. But you should temporarily halt their use during the two weeks prior to waxing. Then you can go back to your regularly scheduled regimen. Or you could try an option like threading that doesn’t disturb the skin surface. Laser hair removal is a no-go while using retinoids.


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