Oh summer, the season where beach trips are necessary and sun dresses are a wardrobe staple. What better way to beat the heat than laying out by the pool all day? But with all the heat (especially here in the South) you can't help but want to take extra time to make sure you don't have any unruly body hair. Unlike winter, you can't hide the fact that you haven't shaved in 2 weeks under a pair of jeans. But if you're anything like I am, your hair starts growing back about 45 minutes after shaving. This makes shaving everyday a hassle, and don't even get me started on the razor burn and ingrown hairs. There's got to be a better solution to this, right?
Thankfully, the aesthetics world has come up with a few different solutions for this issue. So what are some alternatives? I believe one of the most well known procedures preformed is waxing. Majority of people are candidates for waxing. Waxing is a sticky substance that attaches to the hair whenever applied directly to the skin, and pulls the hair out from the follicle when removed. Since this removes the hair by the follicle, the hair does not grow back as fast as traditional shaving. Wax is available in two different forms: hard wax and soft wax. Soft wax is applied in a thin layer, and uses strips to remove. This type of wax is best used on larger areas, such as the back or legs, since you can apply and remove it easily. Hard wax is a no-strip wax, and is best used for more sensitive skin types. This type of wax is especially effective in areas where the hair is growing in multiple directions, such as the bikini or underarm areas. Proper technique is the key to the best and least painful experience, so be sure you are going to a licensed esthetician if you decide to try it out. Another form of hair removal similar to waxing is sugaring, which has become popular in recent years. This method is similar to waxing in the form of using a paste to grasp the hair and pulling to remove the follicle. The paste is made from water, sugar, and lemon juice which is heated to form a syrup. This method is especially appropriate for more sensitive skin types, and is less irritating than traditional waxing since the paste only adheres to the hair, and not the skin. Waxing/sugaring can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks; and the more frequently you wax, the thinner and less frequently your hair will grow back.
Another popular hair removal method is photoepilation, or laser hair removal. Although the procedure is know as 'laser hair removal' it is actually an IPL treatment, or intense pulse light. This treatment targets pigment in the hair follicle, and in doing so, impairs that follicle. In order for the treatment to be effective, we have to hit that follicle in the growth, or anagen stage. Since we can never tell what stage of growth your hair is in (there are 3 stages, and each follicle can be in a different stage at the same time), it can take 4-6 treatments 6 weeks apart to get the full effect. This treatment is great for people who are prone to getting ingrowns, or who just don't want to deal with the constant shaving or waxing routine. Laser hair removal gives a 60-80% reduction in the hair growth. Although it is not guaranteed to get rid of every single hair, the hairs that do still grow back are lighter and thinner. This also makes the pores around the follicle shrink, due to the hair follicle shrinking. Since the laser targeting the pigment, this procedure is not suited for everyone. An ideal candidate would have paler skin and dark, coarse hair. If a patient has tanned skin or lighter hair the laser has a harder time differentiating between your skin and the follicle, increasing the risk of getting burned. This procedure is preformed in a medical setting, such as a med spa or doctors office. Personally, this is my preferred form of hair removal. The tolerance is more bearable than waxing, and the results are more permanent.
All in all if you'd just rather stick with shaving, here are some tips to get the best shave possible and avoid those pesky ingrowns:
1. Make sure to exfoliate 2-3 times a week. This prevents dead skin from building up and blocking the hair from coming to the surface.
2. Always make sure you are using a sharp razor. A dull razor does not give you as close of a shave, and can also be the culprit of razor burn. Also, just think of how much bacteria is sitting on an old razor. Imagine what can happen when you cut yourself with a dirty razor...it is recommended to change razor heads after every 2-3 shaves.
3. Shave at the end of your shower. Warm water softens your follicles, making it easier to get a closer shave.
4. Moisturize afterwards! Shaving causes your skin to become dry, so moisturizing afterwards helps prevent any sort of razor burn.
5. Shave in the direction of the hair growth. Shaving against the grain makes it easier for hairs to get stuck under the skin as they are growing back.