It is interesting to realize that waxing is less painful than tweezing, epilators, and plucking hairs by hand. There are three main reasons for this amazing phenomenon: nerve distraction, stretching of the hair, and the temperature of the wax.
One of the best ways to reduce pain (any pain in the body) is by distracting the client and their pain-conducting nerves by stimulating other nerves in the location of the pain. Rubbing the skin, for instance, distracts the pain nerves, and you feel less pain while you are rubbing or even scratching your skin. Wax sticks to the skin like a piece of duct tape. As you pull the wax off of the skin, the stickiness of the wax distracts the skin’s nerves, and you feel less pain.
The second reason why waxing is less painful is due to the length of hair you grab before pulling it from the hair follicle. A strand of hair is stretchy, and as you pull it, it stretches to some extent and either comes off of its root or snaps somewhere inside the hair follicle or outside of the skin. Pulling the hair while it is still attached to the hair follicle is painful. The pain of one strand of hair may not be noticeable, but a bunch would definitely make for a lot of pain.
When the hairs are long, waxing is more painful. Long hairs overlap each other and cover hair roots; thus, wax sticks somewhere other than the base of the hair and stretches the hair instead of pulling it from its base. Most estheticians trim long hairs to less than an inch. They would rather trim in the salon to make sure all hairs are the right length before the waxing treatment.
The third reason why waxing is less painful is the temperature of the wax. Wax has a higher temperature than skin, and warm wax calms the skin down and makes the process less painful. Higher temperatures also relax the hair follicles, and so there is less resistance against pulling the hair from its root.