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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Hair Removal: Waxing

*This is the first post in a three-part series on hair removal.

With summer and warmer temperatures (finally!) approaching, it’s time to talk about something no one wants to talk about – undesirable hair growth. It’s a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to be inconvenient. I have patients ask me all the time about options for hair removal, and as it happens, there are three very good solutions: waxing, shaving and laser hair removal.

In this first post, let’s talk waxing.

What is waxing?
Waxing is a semi-permanent form of hair removal. It can be done at home or at a medi spa or salon. There are various forms of wax, but most of the time it involves a warm wax that adheres to the hair and removes it from the root. This prevents the hair from growing back for at least a few weeks.

Are there different types of waxing?
  • Strip waxing involves spreading a thin layer of a warm wax combination over the hair and desired area, laying a strip of cloth or paper over it, allowing it to harden and then, pulling the hair out.  
  • Hot waxing, or hard wax, involves a product that is often warmer than strip wax. Some people don’t like the heat involved here, but this method does not require a strip. The wax hardens around the hair, which may also keep the skin from getting as irritated.

What areas are safe to wax?
It’s safe to wax just about any area you want. This includes eyebrows, legs, arms, underarms, bikini area, chest, feet, back or anywhere else on your body. I always recommend letting a professional do this for you.

What are the cons of waxing?
Although it is an effective method to remove hair for several weeks, there are some drawbacks. These include:
  • Pain at the site – This depends on the area – for example, bikini waxes are often more painful than eyebrow waxes because the area is larger and more sensitive.
  • Expense – Waxing can get pricey, depending on how many areas you’re waxing and how often.
  • Skin irritation at the site – All skin is different. Redness is typically short-lived and common, but if you experience frequent ingrown hairs, red bumps or other side effects, consider changing the type of wax or avoiding waxing altogether.
  • Potential for burns – If you opt not to use a professional, be very careful that your wax is not too hot when applying to skin. Be sure to read instructions for do-it-yourself wax kits carefully to prevent accidental burning.

How should I prepare for waxing and care for the site afterward?
Before the wax, make sure to:
  • Avoid exfoliating. Waxing will exfoliate your skin, and exfoliating before can cause more irritation or even tearing.
  • Make sure the hair in your desired area is at least ¼ of an inch long. That will ensure it is long enough for the wax to adhere to the hair.
  • Don’t schedule a wax if your skin is already in a sensitive state. This includes immediately before or during your menstrual cycle, if your skin has recently been sunburned or if you’ve used aggressive skin care products or had a procedure like a chemical peel.

After the wax:
  • Avoid hot water or anything else that might further dry out the skin.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing around the area to keep the skin cool and dry.
  • Redness and bumps will usually go away within a few hours, but if your skin is extra-sensitive, look for a soothing oil or moisturizing cream to aid in the process.

Have any questions about waxing that I didn’t address here? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to answer them


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