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Monday, August 2, 2010

Secrets of Stress-Free Hair Removal

woman in bikini

Jupiterimages

As the summertime temps heat up, you’re probably looking to escape to the beach or pool. And that means you’re thinking about slipping on your swimsuit and keeping your bikini lines and legs looking good.

In my Beverly Hills practice, I typically see more appointments in the summer for hair removal for legs, bikini area and face. People tend to try out a few different methods of hair removal before figuring out what works best for them.

Legs
Removing the hair from your legs not as complicated as other parts of your body. In most cases, shaving is still the most popular method. A note of caution: don’t shave if the skin is broken, red, irritated or inflamed. For best shaving results, follow these simple steps:

1. Moisten the skin first.
2. Use a moisturizing shaving cream.
3. Use a clean sharp blade.
4. Apply moisturizer after shaving.

Legs are a large area for laser hair removal or waxing, but it can be done. Waxing should also be avoided if your skin is irritated.

Make sure the salon is clean, safe and keeps the wax fresh and at appropriate temperatures (at least 150 degrees Fahrenheit) to minimize the chance of bacterial growth.

Book your appointment in the morning since it increases the likelihood you will be treated with fresh utensils and wax. Ask your salon what their policy is on cleaning and discarding products that may be used on multiple clients.

Bikini Area
Laser hair removal is the most effective and best way to remove hair in the bikini area. Shaving and waxing may cause ingrown hairs, scarring and even razor bumps.

The best way to deal with razor bumps is to start with preventative measures. Razor bumps and the associated symptoms are caused by ingrown hairs and inflammation. So when you shave, use a sharp blade when the hair is wet and always shave in the direction of the hair follicle. You should shave toward the direction of the hair, not against the grain.

If you still develop razor bumps, add a moisturizer and exfoliating agents to your program after shaving. Exfoliating agents will help remove the upper layer of skin that may be contributing to the clogging of your pores. In addition, consider using a mild hydrocortisone cream after shaving. This will help soften the skin, hair shaft and help minimize inflammation.

Face
There are very few things more embarrassing to women than facial hair. I understand that it’s a sensitive topic and act fast to treat the problem.

First, I talk to women with facial hair to get a history. It’s important that we rule out any problems such as hypothyroidism, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), etc. I want to be sure to treat the cause, as well as remove the existing facial hair. Since facial hair is undesirable at any age, I recommend permanent hair removal.

Laser hair removal (LHR) offers close-to-permanent removal of brown and black hairs. The way it works is the laser targets the pigment in the hair bulb and destroys it. The hair follicle typically pushes the hair out after three to five days and becomes inactive. After five to 10 visits, most of the thick, dark burly hair is gone. Most of my patients cry tears of joy when they see the results.

Laser hair removal visits should be at least four weeks apart to effectively remove different hair cycles. In between visits, shaving is recommended, not waxing or plucking. Plucking and waxing removes the hair bulb from the follicle, and leaves nothing for the laser to target. Also, plucking and waxing can cause scarring over time. LHR can be costly, but is probably less expensive when you consider the total cost of waxing, threading and other methods over time.

The main concern is to make sure that the LHR facility you choose is comfortable with your skin type. I’ve seen many cases where patients with olive and brown skin, come to me after they were burned by  unsuccessful attempts at LHR. Also, if your hair is blond, grey, or white, don’t waste your time or money. Laser hair removal doesn’t work. There is no pigment for the laser to target. And don’t wait to get your hair removed because after you grey, it’s too late!

Another option is Vaniqa, a prescription-based, FDA-approved hair removal cream that works quite well. It works on all ethnicities, skin types and will reduce the rate of hair growth overtime. Vaniqa, similar to laser hair removal, will require treatments over a four to six month period. With any hair removal system, always pay attention to your skin for any new signs of redness, persistent itching, swelling or breaks in the skin. If you suspect any of these symptoms, always consult with your physician.

Enjoy your smooth, hair-free skin this summer!

Have you tried laser hair removal? Do you prefer to shave or wax your legs and bikini area? Post your comments on the Skin and Beauty Community.

Posted by: Susan Evans, MD at 2:18 pm

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