Winter is here! Let's talk... hair removal.
While it still says fall on the calendar, in many places it’s already starting to feel like winter, with freezing temperatures that can make even the most active person want to curl up under their warm blankets and hibernate for the season. But alas, life must go on, which means going to work or to school, shopping for groceries, paying bills – and removing unwanted body hair. While shaving only takes a few extra minutes in the shower, there’s something about winter that makes it seem like the most tedious and time-consuming chore you’ve ever had to do. Luckily, there are options. Waxing, threading, and laser hair removal are all available to remove that unwanted hair, but how do you decide which one is right for you? Consider this a bit of a primer to pick a treatment that will get you out of the shower and under those warm blankets sooner.
Even though this is the oldest form of hair removal, passed down through generations in countries now known as Egypt and India, this is a relatively “new” treatment for us on the western side of the globe. A cotton thread is pulled along the hair in a twisting motion, effectively “lasso-ing” the hair and pulling it right out of its follicle. It’s incredibly sanitary, as nothing is touching your skin at any one point except for the thread, and the thread itself is thrown out after use. Aside from being precise, which makes it great for brow shaping, it’s also quite fast; the average time to do a pair of brows can be from 5-7 minutes (actual completion time varies by technician). The major downside to threading is that it’s typically used for facial hair removal only. While the cotton thread can technically remove hair on other parts of the body, most salons use this treatment only to shape brows and remove unwanted hair on the chin, cheeks, and upper lip. In terms of discomfort, the pain has been compared to that of tweezing. The cost for this treatment can range anywhere from $6 - $50, depending on the area you want treated and the salon of choice, and results can last up to six weeks.
If you’ve ever seen The 40 Year-Old Virgin, the image of Steve Carell getting his chest wax is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this treatment. While Steve’s experience is exaggerated for comical purposes, there are some facts you have to accept:
Fact #1: Yes, this treatment literally rips the hair from its root via wax, which is applied to the area and removed with either paper or muslin strips.
Fact #2: Yes, it stings. And the pain is dependent on the aesthetician’s technique and your own personal tolerance level. However, the discomfort usually subsides right after the hair is pulled out.
If you’re not afraid of a little bit of pain, this is a treatment with good results – hair regrowth can anywhere from 3 weeks to a month! But if you want to get waxed, then you need to do your research, as so many salons have less than desirable hygienic practices. Look for an esthetician who is properly licensed by a state or provincial body, and who has gone through the proper training (a training program plus 600 hours of hands-on training). In short, look for one who has a few years’ experience under her belt and who is meticulous with detail and sanitation (no double-dipping!). If you have sensitive skin, definitely ask about the type of wax used to determine if your skin can handle it. A good rule of thumb is to wax a few days prior to a big event or a big date, as the area treated will be red and a bit swollen immediately following the wax, and sensitive for a couple of days after. It will also be sun-sensitive, so keep treated areas in the dark for up to 48 hours after the wax. To prevent ingrown hairs, exfoliate with a body brush to remove that pore-clogging dead skin. Cost for a wax can be anywhere from $35 - $80, depending on the area treated and the salon you use (brow waxing is usually a bit cheaper - $15-$20 on average).
Laser Hair Removal
This is the most expensive hair removal treatment, with prices in the hundreds range (and it’s not covered by insurance). But if you’ve got the money and time (you typically need between 2-6 treatments depending on the area) to invest, the results could very well be worth it – hair can take anywhere from several months to several years to grow back. It works exactly as it sounds. Lasers remove unwanted hair on the face and body by literally vaporizing it. Because this is a such a high-tech treatment, it is important that you use a board-certified dermatologist with plenty of experience. Otherwise, you’re taking a gamble and opening yourself up to burns, permanent damage to your skin color, and scarring (yikes!). In terms of discomfort, it has often been described as feeling like warm pinpricks or like a rubber band is being snapped against the skin. Just as in waxing, the areas treated will be red and swollen immediately after, as well as sun-sensitive. So keep treated areas out of the sun and avoid tanning beds and sun lamps as well.
Of course, if none of the above sounds appealing to you, or you’re trying to be frugal in order to afford Christmas presents for your loved ones, you can still turn to your trusted Venus razor. Or if you’re really brave, forego hair removal altogether until it starts to warm up – after all, nobody but you will really know what’s underneath all those long johns, pants, sweaters, and scarves! ☺