A lot of us come out of winter feeling a little prehistoric: we’ve been bundled up during chilly winter months and have let things get a bit overgrown. Nobody likes visible body hair—especially in summer–but we all know that shaving’s a drag. As the weather warms up, we all want to look great in bathing suits and fitness gear, without having to deal with constant upkeep.
A maintenance free bikini line in particular is always a winner, especially during the busy summer months. A wax or laser hair treatment by a professional esthetician saves tons of time–you can relax knowing you can throw on your suit and head to the pool on short notice and wear some of the great summer fashions you’ve been waiting to pull out.
Shaving only addresses hair above the skin line and, as most of us know, only lasts a day or two. (And for ladies, of course, shaving facial hair is an absolute no-no.) For those of us who hate to shave, there are two great options: waxing (a temporary fix but one that lasts much longer than shaving) and permanent laser hair removal.
Waxing: yep it hurts a little. Unlike shaving, waxing removes hair from the root instead of just the surface of the skin. It’s more painful than shaving but lasts a lot longer. Waxing is a great option for facial and body hair–eyebrows, chin, lip and bikini line are popular spots for a wax.
As regular waxers know, there’s a little pain involved, but it’s 100 percent worth it to go for a month or more without having to worry about visible body hair. Your esthetician will apply wax in patches, quickly let it dry, then pull off in a single quick movement. The good news is the pain only lasts a second, as your esthetician is trained to stop the pain by applying pressure immediately. The other good news is that waxing pain generally decreases a bit the more frequently you wax as hair growth slows the more you wax. Some regulars recommend taking an ibuprofen an hour or so before your appointment, drinking plenty of water and moisturizing the skin before waxing. Exfoliating the area to be waxed the day before an appointment can also be a big help.
First timers should note that you do need to let your body hair grow a little before getting a wax—hair should be about one-fourth of an inch to allow the wax to get a grip the hair. This usually takes 2 or 3 weeks to grow—so don’t bother shaving before you come in. This is hard for some frequent shavers but absolutely worth the wait. Your waxing results will usually last around a month (think Memorial Day to Independence Day without shaving!) Exfoliating between waxes helps keep skin healthy and avoid ingrown hairs.
Bikini and leg waxing is definitely something you don’t want to try at home. For the untrained home waxer, it promises to painful, messy (and think about all those hard to reach angles). This is absolutely a case where you want to call in a professional. And if it’s your first bikini wax, don’t be embarrassed. Bikini wax clients generally keep their shirts on and are given a pair of disposable panties to cover the areas not being waxed. Professional estheticians see hundreds or thousands of clients a year. They have truly seen it all, and they’re entirely focused on making you look and feel your best.
If even monthly waxing is too much, laser hair removal may be for you.
Now one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the U.S., laser hair removal is quick and efficient and generally less painful than waxing. And most importantly, it’s permanent, as the hair follicle below the skin is destroyed instead of just removing the hair from the root.
Laser hair removal destroys the follicle with pulses of concentrated light. Because hair removal lasers work by seeking out melanin (the pigment that makes hair dark), laser treatments only works on dark hair. A laser treatment can remove hair from anywhere on the body, but the bikini area is most popular (you can probably imagine why—just imagine never having to think about your bikini line again!).
A small area (like part of the face) can take just a few minutes, while a larger area (like your legs) can take about an hour. Treating one area requires three to seven sessions, with around three weeks between sessions. (As with waxing, hair should be allowed to grow for a few weeks before a laser treatment.) After treatment, the hair will fall out on its own. And the great news is, once it’s gone, it’s gone. Laser hair removal treatments are safe and FDA approved. However, because laser treatments involve a bigger time and financial commitment than waxing, a pre-laser consultation is recommended. Also, be sure that your salon has qualified laser technicians performing the treatments.
So, if you’re ready to ditch your razor this summer, you have some great options. Talk to your esthetician about what approach is best for you. In either case, be sure to select a clean, licensed salon staffed by trained professionals so you can leave happy, comfortable and ready to hit the pool.