May 17, 2015

Q & A: Can you wax while using low-strength retinols?

Q: Question for you- I just purchased the Paula's choice retinol serum and am excited to start using it. It's the one you said worked well for you in the silver pump pkg. It will be my first try with retinol and I'm wondering if I will still be able to get eyebrow waxing done. I know with Retin A it's a no go, but I can't seem to find a clear answer for Retinol. Help!

A: It's a very good thing that you asked first. Unfortunately, all retinoids are contraindicated for waxing. There is a chance that with lower strength retinoids (lower than tretinoin/retin A) that the epidermis won't lift from a thicker, sturdier skin, but the consequences are so great that I would never, ever recommend trying it. Best to do tweezing/threading while using retinol products and wait a full month after stopping retinol before waxing.

My experience with waxing injuries*, which is the nice way of saying "traumatic removal of the epidermis" is that they make the skin in that area substantially more fragile for a very long time, making it more likely to lift again in the future--even 1-2 years later. I did wax one client who was using a mild retinol after she persuaded me, claiming full responsibility for the safety of her skin, and she was fine. However, everyone's skin is different, and it is absolutely not something I as a professional would be comfortable doing on a regular basis. It's just not worth it!


*These injuries are what most people incorrectly refer to as "waxing burns". 

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