The quest for smooth, silky skin can be endless, especially if you're relying on shaving or plucking. Waxing, on the other hand, can save you time and provide results lasting up to four weeks. "I recommend waxing for facial hair and for people with lighter, finer hair," says Cindy Barshop, owner of Completely Bare High-Tech Spa in New York. "People who wax get a smoother, longer lasting effect."
How It Works
In this treatment, warm wax adheres to the hair, cools, and is pulled off in strips. There are two types of wax: hard wax and soft wax. Hard wax is usually better for more delicate areas like the face, underarms, and bikini area, because it is easier on the skin. Soft wax is good for the coarser hair on the legs, arms, back, and chest. Hair generally needs to be at least a quarter of an inch long, except on the face, where it can be shorter. Barshop explains that your skin care professional will ensure the area to be waxed is completely dry so the wax can better attach to the hair follicle. The wax is then applied in the direction of the hair growth, and the skin is pulled taught. The esthetician then pulls the wax off in the opposite direction, removing the hair follicle by the root and ensuring there are no ingrown hairs.
Waxing reduces hair growth when sessions are performed at regular, thirty-day intervals. While shaving crops the hair level with the skin, waxing pulls it out by the root, so it grows back softer, finer, and thinner. In fact, the more you wax, the less hair grows back. Plucking can have the same results of waxing, in that the hair is removed by the root, but it can be time consuming and less ample in getting all the hairs.
Because waxing pulls off a couple of layers of skin (along with hair), it can cause tenderness and swelling and should not be performed if you have particularly sensitive skin. In addition, if you're taking Retin-A, Accutane, or any prescription acne medication, skin sensitivity is heightened, and waxing should not be done at this time. If you have any questions or concerns, discuss them with your skin care practitioner and/or dermatologist.
What to Expect
First, it's important to make your appointment with a trained professional to ensure you receive a high quality wax job. Barshop suggests that women schedule waxing appointments in the middle of their menstrual cycles rather than right before or right after their periods, as skin can be more sensitive during this time.
Next, be sure the hair you want waxed is grown out to about a quarter- to a half-inch above the skin. If hairs are left too short, the wax won't be able to adhere to them strongly enough to pull them out. Refrain from taking a shower or bath just prior to the treatment, as soaking the hair will soften it, allowing it to break more easily and making waxing less effective.
Barshop recommends considering the following factors when deciding if waxing is right for you: "Make sure you're not on acne medication or glycolics. If you tend to get red or swell easily, inform your esthetician of your skin sensitivity and ask them to use smaller strips of wax. Afterwards, apply cold compresses to take away the sting. Remember that the coarser the hair, the more it hurts. Also, if the skin is thinner, like on your bikini line, it's going to hurt more." Barshop recommends taking ibuprofen before the appointment if your skin is particularly sensitive.
Once you're wax-ready and at the practitioner's salon, she will take you through the following steps:
- A preconditioning lotion for waxing is first applied to the area to be waxed.
- Warm wax is poured or dabbed onto the skin, and, usually, strips of cloth are pressed into it.
- When the wax dries, the cloth is quickly removed. If cloth isn't used, the wax is pulled away directly.
Discomfort may occur when the wax is pulled off, but relaxing will help alleviate the sensation. The more you experience waxing, the less it hurts.
It's important to care for the waxed area properly after treatment to prevent ingrown hairs, breakouts, or other reactions. The following steps will give you the best results: -Use a pumice stone or exfoliating gloves with a bath gel on the recently waxed skin to help keep the skin clear and less prone to blemishes. -Avoid using a bar soap, because it leaves a film on the body that could cause ingrown hairs. -For breakout zones, defined as the face, back, and chest, use a gentler exfoliant and an anti-breakout lotion. -Stear clear of direct sunlight and tanning booths directly after waxing, especially while the skin is still red from treatment. -Apply only gentle moisturizers in the twenty-four hours after treatment. -Don't use products with harsh chemicals, perfumes, or dyes.
Smooth, soft skin can leave you feeling confident and secure, and the less you have to think about it, the better. Achieving smooth skin depends on finding a hair removal technique that works with your skin and hair type. Waxing offers a lasting, effective answer to hair removal, and the sessions are relatively short with a minimum amount of discomfort. Ask your skin care professional if waxing might be right for you. If so, you can look forward to weeks of smooth skin.