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When Wax Attacks: How to Remove Wax From Hair

When Wax Attacks: How to Remove Wax From Hair

What’s worse than a waxing gone wrong? It either takes off more skin than intended or gets stuck somewhere–usually on your skin or in your hair. For those dealing with a new and unexpectedly waxy ‘do, you might feel the only recourse is to chop off the compromised hunk in question. Fortunately, there are few alternatives that will remove wax from your hair without making it look like you lost a battle with a pair of shears.

Help! There’s Wax in My Hair!

jar of wax and flowers

Don’t worry–that’s the whole point of this article. If we had to take a guess, you more than likely have a beeswax and rosin mixture stuck in your hair, so most of our methods will target the removal of those kinds of waxes specifically, but many of these methods will work with any wax.

Styling Wax: Hot Water Rinse

Surprisingly, gobs of hot styling wax will be easier to work out of your hair than cold wax, if for no other reason than it’s liquified when it’s hot. However, you’ll also need some shampoo, conditioner, and a comb. To get wax out of your hair with a hot rinse, do the following:

  • Rinse hair with hot water only; use a temperature that’s hot enough to stand, but don’t burn yourself
  • Wash hair with a salon-grade conditioner
  • Massage scalp for 2-3 minutes with conditioner still in
  • Rinse conditioner from hair–be sure to thoroughly wash it out
  • Comb out excess wax with a brush
  • Shampoo afterward if necessary

The conditioner will lubricate your wair so that it’s easier for the wax to slide off. Of course, using shampoo here is recommended, as you’ll want to wash out any remaining conditioner or bits of wax after the rinse.

Just be careful not to use a shampoo that has wax in it itself–using a shampoo with wax in it could achieve the opposite effect you’re after and make your hair even waxier in the process.

For those with hair relaxers in their hair, you might need to visit a hair care professional who can safely remove the styling wax from your hair. Because your hair had already been treated with chemicals before you got wax in it, you’re at a higher risk of damaging it while trying to remove the styling wax yourself.

Eyebrow and Bikini Wax: Warm Olive Oil

Fight fire with fire with this wax removal method: the warm oil will heat up the wax and make it easier to get out. For this, you’ll need some olive oil, cotton pads, shampoo, and conditioner (if necessary). To get sticky eyebrow or bikini wax out of your hair, just:

  • Apply slightly warm olive oil to the section of the hair with wax in it
  • Let the oil sit in your hair for a few minutes to warm up and loosen the wax
  • Wipe off the oil and wax with a clean cotton pad
  • Pull excess bits of wax out of your hair with your fingers–be gentle
  • Wash hair with shampoo (and conditioner, if need be)

For smaller pieces of eyebrow or bikini wax stuck in your hair, you might be able to remove it easier by cooling it down with ice cubes before chipping it off. Ultimately, it comes down to how much wax is in your hair; cool smaller pieces down and heat bigger pieces up.

Candle Wax: Hairdryer Method

Hard waxes that have low viscosities when melted, like candle wax, will respond well to this method. This is because the wax is almost water-like when hot, so it soaks easily into a paper towel without creating a big sticky mess.

To get candle wax out of your hair with a hairdryer, follow these steps:

  • Wrap the sections of your hair with wax in them in paper towels
  • Blow your hairdryer on the paper towel-wrapped sections, but don’t make it so hot that the wax burns you
  • Remove paper towels after blow drying for a few minutes
  • Comb out excess wax
  • Repeat the entire process if wax still remains
  • Wash with shampoo and conditioner once you’ve removed the wax

You might find that sometimes you can chip off the pieces of wax out of your hair with your fingers. However, larger chunks of wax may need this method to get the wax out without sacrificing your shiny strands.

The hairdryer method also works well on paraffin wax, too. Since paraffin wax is soft and made to dissolve into the skin, it melts easily and will soak into a paper towel quickly and (relatively) neatly as well.

What Not to Do

If you’ve browsed any other wax removal tips online, you’ve probably seen a few wacky methods that promise to restore your hair to its natural, non-waxy sheen. However, we feel we should debunk a few of these wax removal myths in particular. To round out our list of home remedies for removing wax from hair, we’d like to talk about what you shouldn’t do.

Dishwashing Soap

While it’s true that dishwashing soap is great for getting out oils and waxes, its chemical composition is not very hair-friendly, and may even damage your scalp if too much is used. It’s fine to use it on inanimate objects, but look for safer alternatives when it comes to living things.

Shampoo and Water

You’d think that using cold water would help the wax in your hair stay solid, and therefore, be easier to remove. Unfortunately, that’s not the case; like dishwashing soap, shampoo will also just dry out your hair, and therefore damage your scalp, too.

All the shampoo and hot water in the world won’t do you any good when it comes removing wax from your hair, either. If anything, it’ll make your scalp and hair drier, thereby making the wax stickier and harder to get out.

Brushing Out the Wax

One word: ouch. You’ll do much more harm than good trying to brush soft lumps of wax out of your hair, such as ripping your hair out of your scalp, breaking and damaging the surrounding hair, or getting a gunked-up brush. Admittedly, it’s possible to remove a small amount of wax from your hair with the brushing method, but you have to prepare your hair first.

Why Is Wax So Hard to Remove?

Waxes are hydrophobic by nature, meaning they aren’t soluble in water. This makes it almost impossible to wash out with a quick shampoo and conditioning, but when targeted with heat and oil, removal can be relatively painless.

For this reason, most of our methods involve some combination of washing and heat or oil application. Liquid oil can help solid wax slip off easily, since their lipophilic properties cause them to slide easily against each other.

The Business on Beeswax (and Other Kinds of Wax as Well)

Wax is a malleable, lipophilic organic compound; in layman’s terms, it’s a soft, water-resistant, and naturally-occuring substance. Most waxes start melting above 104 °F, which is when they turn into liquids with low viscosity. Both plants and animals produce different kinds of wax, and you’ll find them in more everyday products than you had ever imagined.

Plant Waxes

Plants create wax to control their hydration and evaporation levels. The most popular plant wax is carnauba wax, a wax derived from a special type of Brazilian palm tree that pops up in edible and non-edible items alike: surfboard wax, fruit snacks, car and furniture polish, confectionary, and floss coating.

Other plant waxes have more specific uses, such as jojoba oil and candelilla wax, which are appearing with increasing frequency in all-natural beauty products.

Animal Waxes

The animal wax people are most likely familiar with is beeswax, which is collected from honeycombs produced by bees. Other animal waxes include spermaceti that’s found in the head oil of sperm whales, lanolin, which is derived from wool, and earwax, which a lot of us seem to make too much of!

There are a few other types of wax that are derived from petroleum as well. Many times, these waxes’ chemical compositions are modified for industrial purposes, and almost always with an environmentally-friendly motive in mind.

What’s All This Wax For?

You’re probably familiar with some of wax’s most popular uses, such as candles, lubricants, polishes, sealants, hair removal products, cooking materials, and even lava lamps. As you can see, wax comes from a host of different sources, including sheep, insects, palm trees, soybeans, and even coal.

What Are Wax Products Made Of?

Most commercial hard waxes you see are made of some mixture of beeswax and rosin, which are pretty effectively removed with a combination of heat and oil. You’ll see these two ingredients in styling wax, eyebrow and bikini wax, candle wax, and even wood lubricants and finishes.

Beeswax has anti-inflammatory and hypoallergenic properties that make it ideal for use in beauty products. It soothes and moisturizes sensitive and easily-irritated skin, especially skin that suffers from chronic conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis.

Another popular type of wax you’ll see is paraffin wax. Paraffin wax is a soft, solid, colorless wax that’s good for softening skin, nails, and cuticles in spa treatments. It can also relieve pain when rubbed onto sore joints suffering from painful conditions like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis, to name a few. This is because paraffin wax increases blood flow and relaxes stiff joints and muscles.

People often think that beeswax and paraffin wax are interchangeable, but there are actually some key differences between the two that are worth exploring. To learn more about what distinguishes beeswax and paraffin wax from each other, watch the video below.

Wax on, Wax Off

By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to getting nasty, sticky, stubborn wax out of your hair. We hope you can get your hair back to its luscious, waxless glory with our DIY wax removal methods!

Team Beauty Mag

At Beauty Mag, all of our writers are passionate about skincare, makeup, haircare, and beauty. From lipstick experts to those who know everything about Korean face masks or how to tame frizzy locks, we’re here for all your beauty and style needs. The only thing we love more than finding our holy grail mascara? Sharing that knowledge with you. No matter what your style is, we’ve got the tips, tricks, reviews, and tutorials to help you shine.