Choosing to go hair-free on areas like your legs, arms and pubic area is your prerogative, but when it comes to the hairs living inside your nose, they’re better left untouched.
“The nose is a delicate area with numerous blood vessels and mucous membranes,” said Dr. Don J. Beasley, an Idaho-based board-certified otolaryngologist (also known as an ear, nose and throat specialist). Whether you’re DIYing it or getting serviced at a salon, yanking out your nose hairs — especially if it’s done improperly or without proper hygiene practices in place — may increase the risk of infection, leading to complications such as folliculitis or nasal cellulitis.
Below, we spoke with experts to learn the risks of nose hair waxing and tweezing, as well as the safer alternatives.
The Importance Of Nose Hairs
You may not have given your nose hairs a second thought (aside from how unpleasant they may be), but the fact is, they’re there for a reason.
“The primary role of nose hairs is to trap dust, pollen and other airborne particles in the air so that the air you breathe is partially filtered,” said Dr. Michael Jacobs, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. He explained that the hairs act as a physical barrier, preventing these allergens from entering the nasal passages and potentially causing irritation or harm to the respiratory system.
Nose hairs also play a protective role by alerting us to potential dangers, Beasley said. “When something touches the nostril hairs, such as a small insect or other irritants, it triggers a reflexive sneeze, which is the body’s way of expelling the intruder or irritant,” he explained.
Beyond this, nose hairs help to maintain optimal moisture levels in the nasal passages. “Nose hairs trap moisture from exhaled air, preventing the nasal passages from becoming too dry,” Beasley said. “This moisture helps to humidify the air we breathe, making it more comfortable for our respiratory system.”
What Are The Risks Of Nose Hair Waxing?
Nose hair waxing can be tempting because it provides longer-lasting results compared to alternative methods like trimming. But completely removing your nose hairs means removing the filtration system that’s essential to keeping you healthy and warding off infections like nasal vestibulitis and nasal abscess, said Dr. Nicole Aaronson, a Delaware-based board-certified otolaryngologist. “While waxing doesn’t necessarily weaken the immune system, it does breach the skin barrier by creating openings for bacteria to get into the deeper tissues, thus creating the opportunity for infection,” she said.
Nose hair waxing can also come with some side effects, especially if performed in the hands of an untrained person ― or if you do it yourself, for that matter. For one, Aaronson said that wax that’s too hot can burn the nasal mucosa, or the tissue lining the nasal cavity. This removal of the top layer of skin can also create small lesions in the nose and put you at greater risk of infection. Plus, waxing can be an irritating process in general. “Nose waxing can be an uncomfortable experience, as the delicate nasal passages can be sensitive to the pulling sensation, potentially causing temporary pain, redness and irritation,” Beasley said.
Ingrown hairs may also be an issue with nose hair waxing. “An ingrown hair occurs after a hair is removed when the new hair that regenerates from the follicle can’t break through the skin,” Aaronson explained. “Because waxing pulls out the hair by the roots, the hair must find its way out through the outer layer of the skin again (unlike other hair removal methods where the hair is left at the skin’s surface).”
So, what about partial nose hair waxing (that is, removing only the hair located at the front part of the nose)? Aaronson said to avoid this practice, as it “carries all of the same risks of nasal vestibulitis, ingrown hairs and burning.” Ultimately, Jacobs warned against nose hair waxing altogether to avoid the risk of inhaling more toxins and particles, irritating the nasal membranes and creating ingrown hairs.
Alternatives To Nose Hair Waxing
Waxing and partial waxing are already off the table, and you can also add tweezing to the list. Aaronson said to avoid plucking out your nose hairs, noting that she has had to perform incision and drainage of nasal abscesses related to plucking of nasal hairs. “I would not recommend this method of hair removal for the nose,” she said.
If you find that your nose hairs are reaching lengthy, unsightly heights, you can try carefully trimming them with a clean pair of eyebrow scissors, which are effective for removing straggling hairs that are visibly sitting underneath the nostril. If you’re concerned with hurting yourself during this process, opt for angled scissors with rounded tips, as they reduce the risk of accidental nicks and cuts and are strategically shaped to get to those hard-to-reach areas. For trimming hairs deeper inside the nose, opt for an electric trimmer — these are both safe and easy to use, and require minimal effort on your part.
These two methods of nose hair trimming — rounded scissors and electric trimmers — are much safer alternatives to waxing and help prevent the risk of ingrown hairs and irritation.