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What’s the difference between hot wax and strip wax?

By Brid McNulty, November 17 2020

Whether you do at-home waxing with LeSalon or go to your regular down the street, you’ve probably been given the choice between strip and hot wax at some point. Is one more effective? Less painful? Why is hot wax more expensive? Aren’t they both “hot’ wax? What’s the difference? So many questions! The good news is we’re here to answer them all. By the end of this article, you’ll understand everything to do with strip and hot wax.

The main difference between the two is that strip wax involves using disposable strips to remove the hair, whereas with hot wax, the wax is left to harden and then directly taken off. Carry on reading to find out more about these processes in detail, and how to decide which one is best for you!


Strip wax is what most people think of when you mention waxing. It’s runny wax that’s applied in a thin layer using a disposable wooden spatula stick. Hair is then immediately removed by rubbing a disposable strip against it and quickly peeling it off.

Hot wax is typically thicker in the pot and is applied thickly too. Like with strip wax, your therapist uses a disposable wooden spatula stick to apply it. She’ll likely put on what feels like a few layers, and move the stick around in a few directions, and then leave one edge with some extra wax. Over the next minute or so, the wax will harden slightly during which time your therapist will likely apply wax to another area to save time. She will then “pat’ the wax to check how soft or hard it is – waxing it off prematurely will be less effective. Once ready, she will peel away at that corner where she added more wax (for grip purposes) and then wax off the entire piece. So no wax strip involved, you can just directly peel off this wax.


You may be wondering, why do two such different types of wax exist? Is one better for certain areas? Well, yes, typically strip wax is used for larger areas as it is much quicker to apply and remove. It’s almost always used for areas like legs, arms and back. It’s generally better for thicker or less sensitive skin as it grips strongly to both the hair and skin. When used on sensitive skin, it can lead to bruising, tearing and ingrown hairs – not fun!

Hot wax is very suitable for waxing sensitive areas or thicker hair. Which is why it’s often the wax of choice for Bikini/Hollywood/Brazilian waxes, underarm wax and sometimes facial waxing too. As the wax is left on the skin for up to a minute, the heat opens the pores and hair follicles allowing the hair to wax out much more easily. This should theoretically be less painful. It also has a stronger grip on the hairs, which makes it ideal for thicker more stubborn hair. It can even wax hairs of 1mm in length!

When you think about it, strip and hot wax are almost complementary. They each have their pros and cons, and where one fails, the other does a better job. A bit of yin-yang!


So if hot wax opens the pores more and allows for a less painful removal, isn’t is always going to be less painful than strip? It’s true that it’s an ideal candidate for the typically painful Hollywood wax – as it’s good for both sensitive skin and thicker hairs. Though hot wax doesn’t perform as well on thinner hairs, so it wouldn’t be as effective on areas like arms or legs. There’s also the time factor. What would you rather – a shorter and slightly more painful treatment, or a drawn-out and less painful treatment? It’s a bit psychological, but some people dislike the waiting time and suspense that comes with hot wax.

Read more: 5 ways to reduce redness wax


Ah, the age-old question! Okay, not quite age-old, but you’ve probably thought about giving it a shot. Usually, therapists will go straight for hot wax when it comes to a Hollywood wax. They may quickly remove thinner hairs outside and above your bikini line with strip wax. While all signs point to using hot wax for this sensitive area, some therapists prefer and highly recommend trying strip wax.

It’s definitely worth trying it out once. Particularly, if you have thinner hair down there than the norm. For some, a few IPL treatments thin the hair out and make the root much weaker too. This makes strip waxing effective there. The best part – it takes less than half the time to do a Hollywood wax. We’re talking under 10 minutes with a good therapist! Of course, as mentioned, with thicker hair it might just double the pain and be difficult to remove in one go for each strip.

At the end of the day, what it comes down to, particularly with intimate areas, is the skill and training of the technician. A good technician, who has experience in both types of wax, will know which type of wax will work best and be least painful for you.

Is Hot Wax ‘Hotter’ Than Strip Wax?

Technically – yes. But only by a few degrees. It varies by brand but generally, strip wax is warmed to 40-43 degrees Celsius and hot wax to 48-50 degrees Celsius. Your therapist should always check the wax first on their wrist before applying it to you. They can often tell by the consistency of the wax in the pot if it’s getting too hot throughout the treatment. But do let them know if you feel like it’s getting too hot.

Why is Hot Wax More Expensive?

Some waxing menus may offer most treatments in either strip or hot wax, with differing prices. The hot wax is always more expensive. This is mainly because it takes more time, but also because it requires more skill.


Strip Wax:


Hot Wax:


There you have it – now you know the difference between strip wax and hot wax! And if you’re due a wax soon, take a look at our services – we send 5* expert technicians directly to your home.

Brid McNulty

Brid McNulty

Brid graduated from King's College London and has since gone on to manage and produce various content pieces within the beauty industry. She now uses her skills in her new role as Data Scientist.


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