If you're reading an article that waxes poetic on hair removal, it's possible one of these descriptions fits you: You're a DIY brow shaper with a Tweezerman at home, but are interested in waxing. You occasionally or often visit local salons to get a clean-up and want to know if there's something you don't already know. Or, you could care less about maintaining your mane and just want the hairy details. Either way, you've come to the right place. Read on for all things waxing.
THE BENEFITS OF WAXING
While the objective is the same, there's a lot to be said for the differences between tweezing and waxing. If you only tweeze, here's why you may consider the latter. For starters, waxing removes a large area of hair at one time -- making it less painful -- while plucking one hair at a time takes longer, explains Jessica Coba, CEO of European Wax Center in Latham and other locations. "Waxing also removes the hair from the root, whereas tweezing can cause hair breakage due to the hair not being gripped or pulled out correctly." In addition, waxing professionals can help you enjoy longer-lasting results -- minus the pinch and accidental cuts tweezing can cause.
PICKING A PLACE
Whether it's your first or your 50th time getting a wax, don't just go wherever a neon sign indicates waxing is an available service. Read reviews online at sites such as yelp.com to get an idea of what's around, and then investigate. "Don't be afraid to call the salon and ask their waxing specialist if they follow New York state laws by not redipping their waxing spatulas, using proper disinfectants and wearing gloves," suggests Paula Caldwell, waxing specialist and co-owner of The Image Studio on Troy-Schenectady Road. Also pay attention to titles. "In New York, cosmetologists and aestheticians are allowed to perform waxing," says Nico DeMeo Teta, spa director, aesthetician and makeup artist at Rumors Inc.
WHO SHOULD AVOID WAXING
Anyone with active dermatitis or who takes Accutane should hold off, says Dr. Elizabeth C. Smith, a dermatologist. If you use hydroxy acid products such as glycolic acid or retinoids like Retin A, you should stop at least five days prior to your waxing.
Made your appointment? Follow these Dos and Don'ts.
Grow out your leg, bikini and underarm hair at least two to three weeks from your last shave before waxing.
Let your wax specialist know if you're there for a clean-up, or if you're looking to reshape your brows. Photos help! (They'll help you set realistic expectations and guide you in the right direction, says Coba.)
Tell your wax specialist about any medications you take. No judgment here!
Pop an Advil before you go, if you're nervous about the pain. Afterward, aloe can help soothe.
Come right around your period, when you're extra sensitive. ("Stay away the week before and the week of," suggests DeMeo Teta).
Use any harsh scrubs when you get home.
Go after you've just been spray tanning.
Keep going to the same person if the pain is nearly unbearable, or the wax is always too hot. A good technician knows ways to lessen the pain and minimize discomfort. (DeMeo Teta, for instance, applies pressure on the spot immediately after removing the wax.)
MY FIRST BIKINI WAX
Before this article, I had never had a below-the-belt wax. But if I was going to make a case for waxing and promise that it doesn't hurt much (it doesn't!), I knew it was time to get one. Here's how it went¦
First, I signed a release form, something everyone should have to do when getting waxed. Signing a release is a way of checking that you're not on any antibiotics or medications that prevent waxing. My specialist, Nico, and I then talked about my concerns. Then she gave me a choice: disposable thong or wear my own. I went with the former, as it's easier for the specialist to work with and I wouldn't have to worry about wax getting on my panties. She left the room and a few seconds later, my lady parts and I were lying on the cozy chair, awaiting our fate. Dun dun dun dun¦
Upon her return, Nico showed me the hard blue wax she'd be using. She explained that while soft wax is good for eyebrows, legs and upper lips, hard wax is better for this -- it doesn't remove any dead skin, just the unwanted hair. This type of wax also doesn't require strips; it peels right off. With that lesson done, off she went ¦ with gloves on, of course.
Truth be told? No. Big. Deal. I'm extremely sensitive to pain -- a wimp, if you will -- and I barely flinched. Nico distracted me with friendly conversation, so I hardly noticed each peel when it happened. (She made a good point: If a waxing specialist were to count down, "3, 2, 1," the anticipation would make it worse). She applied the wax, waited a few seconds, peeled it off, applied pressure, and repeated. The entire process, including the explanations she gave me here and there, took less than 20 minutes. I was out the door in no time, no pain at all.
A few things I'll take away from my very professionally intimate time with Nico and her waxing savvy: There's no need for embarrassment. "We've seen it all," she says. There's no reason to be afraid -- they're professionals. And there's also no need for frequent visits. I asked Nico if it was OK to get this done just when you're beach-bound. Her answer -- it's totally fine.
I'll be back for sure.