No doubt, falling into a bedroom routine can make things kinda stale—reverting to a go-to sex position again and again while your Netflix binge of choice plays in the background doesn’t exactly scream hot. But you know what does? Wax play.
If you’re looking to **literally** add some heat to your next romp, wax play might be just the ticket to taking your sex life to the next level.
A practice made popular by BDSM and the kink community, wax play involves dripping candle wax onto your partner, having your partner drip it onto you, or dripping it on yourself. “It’s a type of sensation and temperature play,” says Neil Cannon, PhD, a kink-competent sex therapist in Denver.
Wax play is typically used as a power tool for partners who take on sadist and masochist roles. But even if your sex preferences are more of the vanilla variety, Cannon says wax play is a practice you can adapt for your own bedroom to simply make sex more exciting, enjoy doing something “naughty,” or experiment with a little pain-as-pleasure for an evening (or three). After all, you won’t know if you like it until you try it.
Because wax play involves candles, which, duh, involve fire, the first step is educating yourself about how to keep things safe. So here’s how to do that—plus how to make wax play even sexier (and less messy, too).
Okay, cool…but what happens during wax play, exactly?
You can tweak it so it fits your needs but, in most situations, wax play calls for lighting a candle (not just any candle! but I’ll get to that later), letting the wax pool for a bit, and dripping the melted wax onto skin.
You can experiment by pouring the wax from near the skin for a sharper sting or pouring from further away, so the wax has a little more time to cool off, says Cannon. For some, the feel-good sensation doesn’t even come from the warmth of the wax on their erogenous zones—their backs, chest and breasts, neck, penises or vaginas—but from the sensation of having the wax slowly peeled off those areas once it’s hardened and cooled down. Yep, that’s all part of it.
For others, still, wax play is all about pouring layer upon layers of wax onto various parts of their partner’s bodies and treating them like a human canvas during the experience. Some also like to bring in a blindfold, for the surprise element. “Having their eyes covered can help the person on the receiving end fantasize and lean into role play-more easily,” says Cannon.
If that sounds like too much, you could also try alternating between hot and cold, by bringing ice into the mix and running it over the skin after or during wax play. There are no wrong answers here.
Ooh, interesting. So how do I prepare for wax play?
Let’s face it, wax is messy—and if you don’t properly prepare for playing with it, hot wax can even be legit painful (not the hurts-so-good kind).
Take time to prepare your skin, says Cannon. He’s talking lotion or oil on the skin so the wax is easier to clean off and won’t cause irritation. Shaving beforehand is also a good move so that the wax doesn’t make a tangle of your body hair (ouch). Next thing to consider is the type of candle you use. Chances are, the glittery lavender-scented candle you have sitting on the coffee table won’t do the trick. It will burn too hot and all the additives will irritate your skin. Instead opt for a soft massage candle meant to interact with the body, or one made from paraffin or soy that doesn’t burn as hot.
Once you settle on a candle, you still can’t get into playtime just yet. Well, at least not until you clear the room of flammable materials (alcohol and hairspray) and have a fire extinguisher or bucket of water nearby that you can use to put a fire out. I know it sounds extreme, but the flipside? Having the fire department knock down you’re door when you’re naked (everyone’s nightmare…or just mine?). The final thing you have to do is consider pain tolerance, says Cannon. If you’re playing with a partner, always test the wax on the back of your hand or your wrist first to make sure the temp is bearable. Then, test it out on your partner’s hand. Even if you agree the wax isn’t too hot on your wrist, continue testing on various areas of the body throughout your play, since certain parts of the body are more sensitive than others.
Done. Now what’s that about keeping it safe?
Oh, yeah. Once you get into the wax play itself, keep the candle at least 15 inches from the body at all times so you don’t burn yourself or your partner. (That’s not the goal here.)
But make sure you don’t pour from too far away either, so you can avoid hot splashes of wax from landing on unintended areas of the body and bed. And even when you’re pouring from a safe and agreed-upon distance, consider blowing out the flame just in case. You can relight it when you need more wax.
If at any point the wax starts getting uncomfortable, tell your partner immediately so you can stop. Communication is top priority during wax play and all sexual experiences—not just those that fall into the BDSM camp, says Cannon. The best way to communicate that the sensation or pain is too much for you is a with a safe word other than “stop,” he adds. Try something random that you’d never say during sex, like “purple” or “sledgehammer,” so you both know playtime has come to a definite end. Once you hear it, listen for what your partner needs—it might just be a request to slow down, or they might need the first-aid kit (oops).
Another biggie is being 100-percent present for your partner, which also means being sober. If you’re on the receiving end, drugs and alcohol can increase your pain tolerance, making it difficult for you to know when you’ve reached your actual limit. And if you’re in the dominant position and pouring the wax onto your partner, alcohol will slow down your faculties, meaning you might not stop as soon as your partner says the safe word. Not okay.
Anything I should know about what happens after wax play?
Aftercare, aftercare, aftercare. This involves cuddling and talking through the experience with your partner to gauge how they’re feeling and figure out which parts they enjoyed and which they’d rather not repeat. This vulnerability after an intimate experience like wax play helps build trust and can even strengthen your relationship. It’s also the time to apply tangible aftercare—as in, aloe or unscented lotion to soothe the areas of the skin that might still sting from the wax, says Cannon.
When you’re ready to clean up the sexy scene, first let any wax on objects cool down and dry, since the hardened stuff is easier to clean off sheets and other surfaces than when it’s sticky and warm. As for your bodies, wipe yourself (or each other!) down with a wet towel and wash any residue off in the shower with a gentle cleanser.
And remember, if your experience didn’t go well the first time (perhaps you spilled wax on your favorite throw pillow, burned yourself, or found it kinda awkward), don’t write it off for good. If you think you might like it under smoother circumstances, it’s worth another try. Like most things, wax play can take a little practice…and that’s half the fun.