I guess it is because summer is just around the corner, but lately I’ve been seeing more than a few articles about hair removal. Estheticians don’t just help people with their skin; a big part of our job is hair removal and eyebrow shaping so anytime I see something about hair removal, particularly waxing, I take notice.
First of all we can get philosophical about the issue of hair removal in general. Do you even want to remove any of the hair on your body (that isn’t on your head and actually some people remove that too of course)? The New York Times just published an article all about women who don’t shave using Oscar winning actress MoNique as an example; she seems to have helped touch off the debate about shaving almost single handedly. But this post won’t be about the issue if you should shave or not though if you want to comment about the issue feel free. Keep reading if you are concerned about hair removal.
Shaving is inexpensive, quick, and you can do it at home. I would not recommend shaving the hair on your face because it will grow back quickly so basically – what’s the point? Instead get that hair waxed or removed with laser hair removal. There are two main problems associated with shaving. The first issue is that the hair grows back quickly since you only remove the hair at the skin’s surface, not the root. The second problem associated with shaving is really a triad of problems: red bumps, irritation, and ingrown hairs. (By the way, it is a myth that shaving will cause hair to grow back thicker and darker) Using moisturizing shaving creams and a sharp, new razor when you shave can help eliminate those problems, but I would recommend waxing or having laser hair removal instead if you continually suffer from those problems. Both of those hair removal efforts involve an investment of both time and money on your part, but I feel both are well worth it for the results.
Estheticians spend a lot of time in school practicing waxing. Practice makes perfect basically. Waxing removes the hair from the root so that it takes a lot longer to grow back – between 6 to 8 weeks usually. There are plenty of home wax kits that you can buy and try in the privacy and comfort of your home, but ideally I think you should leave waxing to a professional especially if you want your bikini area and face waxed. By the way, never wax your own eyebrows! That is just a recipe for disaster; leave that one to the professionals. Tweeze at home if you need to touch up your eyebrows. Waxing is actually more complicated than it appears. The esthetician needs to understand how the hair grows in the area that is being waxed, what temperature the wax should be at, and she also needs to prepare the skin properly before the wax treatment and treat it properly after the wax treatment. Like I said – perhaps you want to leave this one to the professionals. Also it is extremely important to be very sanitary while waxing. So if you do go to a spa for waxing be sure it is very clean. Another reason to go to a spa for waxing is the fact that wax is messy. It drips everywhere very easily and is not easy to clean once it has dripped. Waxing can be quite painful so if you have a low pain tolerance take a painkiller about an hour before your treatment. The area that has been waxed can remain red and sensitive for a long time after waxing; you can even bleed from waxing. Personally I’ve been red for an hour or more after waxing. So I wouldn’t plan on going on a date right after having your upper lip waxed. Waxing leaves your skin very smooth, but you can breakout after waxing. Use a little salicylic acid on the area of the breakouts. Sometimes you can have ingrowns after waxing so be sure to exfoliate the area that was waxed regularly. You can even use a washcloth for the exfoliation. There are many different types and formulations of wax available. That is another reason to leave the waxing to a professional who knows the different options.
Personally I’ve stayed away from depilatories ever since I used one at age 14 or so on my bikini area and gave myself a horrible, painful, red rash. I also think they smell horrifying. So I’m not a fan of depilatories though that doesn’t mean they don’t work for some people though personally I also don’t think they work very well. In my opinion skip the depilatory and just shave since both shaving and depilatories are the same method of hair removal and last the same amount of time. Depilatories are made from caustic ingredients like calcium hydroxide and sodium thioglcolate which literally melt and dissolve hair on the surface of your skin. Once again, in my opinion, just shave if you want to temporarily remove hair.
Electrolysis is the only permanent form of hair removal since it kills the hair bulb at its source with electricity. Even laser hair removal is not considered permanent just electrolysis. The person who performs electrolysis has been specially trained just in that field and will licensed just in that area of hair removal. I’ve never tried electrolysis, but I know from a friend who has that it is quite painful. It also takes a long time to get the desired results from electrolysis, and as far as I know, please correct me if I’m wrong, you can only get electrolysis on your face. I think it would just take too long and be too painful anywhere else on your body.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is becoming more and more and more popular for a reason – it works. Well usually. Results vary so don’t expect a miracle when you get laser hair removal. But I definitely think that if you have the budget for laser hair removal you should try it. I had IPL hair removal on my bikini area and it worked wonderfully. I also had it done on my underarms and it didn’t work at all, but I felt that my money was well spent because of the results on my bikini area. Laser hair removal is considered a permanent hair reduction NOT removal. Do not go to a place that guarantees to remove all your hair permanently with laser treatments. It is actually illegal to make that claim. There are so many different types of lasers on the market and new ones are coming out each day so I am not going to go into specific in this post about lasers. Just be aware that it will take at least four if not many more sessions to get the results that you want with laser hair removal. The process shouldn’t be particularly painful but the pain issue varies from laser to laser and person to person. Laser hair removal should not be taken lightly. Be sure to find a reputable place to get your treatments at and ask a lot of questions before paying any money. If you don’t get the answers you want during your consultation take your business elsewhere.
I’m a huge fan of Barbie so I couldn’t resist including the above image in this post. I guess even Barbie takes her hair removal seriously while wearing heels.
Sources and Further Reading
Philosophical Waxing Eases the Ouch The New York Times April 16, 2010
The Beauty Bible, 2nd edition by Paula Begoun – chapter 13
Milady’s Standard Fundamentals for Estheticians – chapter 16