Sometimes, the road to beauty can be… bumpy. Whether you’re waxing your legs or your bikini area, it’s not uncommon to develop post-wax “pimples” or “waxing bumps.” These can appear as raised, red skin or even look like razor burns.

This stress-induced irritation can show up after using at-home wax products or even getting a professional hard wax, but it is usually painless. Even though it is normal, it’s important not to ignore wax bumps for too long – they can worsen if not treated properly.

What Causes Waxing Bumps?

The answer isn’t as complicated or scientific as you might think. When getting waxed, your hairs are forcefully pulled from their follicles. They swell, briefly developing folliculitis and appearing as an acne-like, sometimes itchy rash.

Don’t fear the “-itis,”  it’s just a fancy term to describe inflamed follicles. If all is normal, this happens immediately after waxing and goes away after a couple of days.

If bumps appear about a week after your wax appointment, they could be a sign of ingrown hairs. These show up when hair goes haywire, growing back into the skin rather than outward, forming red bumps. Ingrown hairs can either grow out on their own or remain trapped in the skin.

Keep an eye on them – ingrown hairs can get pretty pesky. If your follicles turn white and fill with liquid, they are most likely infected.

From household items to store-bought items like depilatory creams, there are a number of ways to both prevent and treat post-wax bumps.

Tips to Treat and Prevent Waxing Bumps

Invest in a professional hard wax

Your budget might not always allow a professional wax appointment, but your skin will love you for splurging a bit. Professional hard wax or stripless wax “shrink wraps” your hairs as it cools, making it more precise than soft or strip wax. Strip waxes stick to your hairs and the surrounding skin making the area more susceptible to irritation.

Before putting on the wax, your specialist will cleanse your area and apply oils to prep your skin.

Aftercare, aftercare, aftercare!

Professional wax brands will usually provide you with detailed aftercare information – don’t ignore it! It’s more about avoiding harm than actually treating it, so it’s fairly easy to take care of your post-wax area.

Immediately after waxing, apply a cool compress to the area. Avoid hot baths/showers, perfumed products, and tight-fitting clothing that may cause friction and irritate the skin. Also, avoid doing any exercise or excess activity that will cause the area to sweat.

Between your regular waxings, make sure to clean and exfoliate regularly, but not so often that skin becomes irritated. This will remove dead cells, possibly freeing any ingrown hairs and preventing them later.

Use at-home and natural remedies

You don’t need to rely on professional wax brands for aftercare products. From tea tree oil to apple cider vinegar, several everyday items can soothe your post-wax rash.

Apple cider vinegar and witch hazel are both antiseptics that can calm and prevent skin irritation. Soak a cotton pad into either product (but don’t mix and match!), and apply it to the affected area up to three times daily.

If your waxed area needs to be moisturized, pick up some tea tree oil or aloe vera. If you own an aloe plant, just snap a leaf in half and use the natural contents. Aloe vera essence can be applied directly to the skin up to three times a day.

Tea tree oil, however, is best diluted with carrier oils like olive or coconut oil. Measure 10 drops of either carrier oil to one drop tea tree oil and apply the solution up to three times a day. Avoid using oils within a day or two of waxing, since they can clog your pores.

Use over-the-counter treatments

You can pick up post-wax products at your local drugstore, whether they’re creams, gels, or exfoliants.

Hydrocortisone cream is usually used for inflammation and irritation. This topical steroid is excellent for reducing swelling and soothing your skin.

To exfoliate the affected area, you can decide between exfoliating pads or solutions. Because they’re already prepared, pads help prevent over scrubbing. However, solutions tend to be less expensive, and you can apply as much is needed.

Opt for depilatory creams

Depilatory creams dissolve your hairs, rather than yanking them from their roots. This prevents irritation caused by the actual action of waxing. The process is also pretty speedy, taking no longer than 15 minutes total.

Depilatory creams can be bought at the drugstore, and they’re relatively inexpensive. These products tend to cost less than professional wax brands, and sometimes, you can get more use out of a bottle of the cream than a pack of wax strips.