Smooth As Silk
The Latest In Hair Removal
By Abby Gardner
Sure, summertime hair removal might not be the sexiest topic — or experience, for that matter. But it is a woman's reality, especially during warm weather months. There's always the most common (and affordable) method: the good old razor. And there are the (unfortunately still smelly) depilatory creams that dissolve the hair, which you then wipe away. And while we love the speed of our Gillette Venus and our Surgi-Cream as much as the next girl, we like to have all our options laid out in front of us.
"No pain, no gain" has always been our motto, when it comes to the dreaded bikini wax. But each season, technology seems to be working in our favor, as chemists develop less painful ways to rip unwanted hair from our bodies. Cindy Barshop, owner of the Completely Bare Hi-Tech Spa, has developed what she calls "ouch-less" low-temperature wax that you can use in-spa or at home. She says the difference between this wax and others is that their version "surrounds, grips and locks in hair, without adhering to the skin."
Check with your spa and see what kind of wax they use. Hard wax, in theory, will stick to the coarse hair in the bikini area. But some prefer a soft wax, which is more malleable and often used on the softer hair on the arms and legs. You just need to find what works best for you.
And if you're super-sensitive to pain, taking ibuprofen about thirty minutes before your appointment may help. (Ask your doctor.) Or you can try a numbing spray that goes directly onto the skin before it's waxed.
According to Barshop, laser hair removal and Advanced Intense Pulsed Light offer the greatest range of permanent (or about as close as you can get to it) ways to remove unwanted body hair. But it's also the most expensive. Prices will vary, based on where you live, and you should always schedule a consultation with your dermatologist or spa prior to your first appointment to discuss the estimated number of visits.
Lasers work by emitting a light that is absorbed by the melanin (or colored part) in the skin, heating the hair follicle and destroying the hair at the root, without damaging surrounding areas. This means that people with pale skin and dark hair are the best candidates for laser hair removal.
But recent developments in technology are making it easier for doctors and trained specialists to treat tanned and dark skin. Barshop's Completely Bare was one of the first spas to use the Sciton (YAG) Laser System, which she claims is very precise and contains a high-tech cooling system, making it more effective on a wider range of skin tones.
Other models that Barshop likes to use (which you can investigate at doctors' offices or spas in your area) are the Diode Laser System (designed for small areas with coarse hair, like the bikini area) and four different types of Intense Pulsed Light: Quantum (which is purportedly less painful and geared toward both fine and coarse hair); Epilight (for small areas); Acculight (for fine to coarse hair); and BBL (which can be used on both large and small areas). A trained expert will be able to discuss your specific needs and which laser would be right for you.
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Peyman Solieman, MD says that the newest wave of lasers is the pulse diode (he likes the Soprano model). Solieman says this technology works on even the darkest skin tones, because it emits multiple lower frequencies of heat to the follicle itself, instead of one big blast. This decreases the threat of hyperpigmentation and burning. "It's almost pain-free," says Solieman. "And you can cover large areas much more quickly. A leg used to take 45 minutes and can now be done in 10-15 minutes."
Here's to a hair-free, smooth-skinned summer at the beach and pool!
Check out more ways to get ready for the season at Glo Knows Summer
Hair removal may not be the most fun, but is a necessity for getting ready for the beach this summer.Trinette Reed / Getty Images