Hair Removal


1. Home Waxing

Do-it-yourself kits have made waxing from head to toe easy and no more painful than having a pro do it. New at-home waxing kits contain professional-quality wax to minimize post-treatment bumps. Results last as long as salon waxing-about four to eight weeks, depending on your hair's natural growth rate.

How-To Wax

* Don't wax if you take Accutane. It can make skin sensitive and prone to scarring. For the same reason, pass on any skin areas where you apply Retin-A or Renova.

* Trim your hair first. Trimming bikini-line hairs to one-quarter inch before waxing will help minimize discomfort.

* Use enough wax. Apply in a banana-peel thickness against the hair growth for best results.

* Hold on to your skin. Hold skin taut as you rip away wax. This seems to help hairs slip out more easily.

* Be quick. The faster you rip it off, the sooner it's over.

* Soothe post-waxing irritation. To soothe post-removal redness and bumps, apply a 1 percent hydrocortisone cream (available at drugstores), which is an anti-inflammatory

2. Creams

Vaniqa is the only cream that slows hair growth. In clinical trials, Vaniqa, a FDA-approved prescription cream, slowed the growth of facial hair in 60 percent of women when applied twice every day. But it has only been approved for facial hair. And don't expect miracles: Vaniqa doesn't get rid of hair permanently; it only slows its growth by impeding the enzyme that makes facial hair grow. Once you stop using it, the hair grows right back. Vaniqa is bet for women with excessive facial hair-not those who have to wax only every once in a while. Results can be seen after two months of use. Possible side effect: skin irritation.

3. Electrolysis

It's expensive ($1 per minute or more) and time consuming (the upper lip alone requires at least eight 15-minute sessions), but electrolysis remains the only permanent hair-removal method available.

Stay out of the sun and avoid moisturizers or cleansers with alpha-hydroxy acids or glycolic acid, which can sting traumatized hair follicles, for at least two days after treatment.

4. Lasers

Despite claims to the contrary, laser hair removal is not permanent. Still, if you're willing to pay the high cost (anywhere from $250 for the upper lip to $750 for legs) you can get a few hair-free months out of it. How it works: New Laser treatments target the pigment in the hair rather than the pigment in the skin. As the hair absorbs the light, intense heat causes damage to the hair follicle. This leads to gradual destruction of the hair, resulting in an average 20 to 25 percent reduction with each treatment.

Tip: Don't wax or pluck six weeks before you go in for your treatment. Both pull out the hair shaft, lessening the laser's effectiveness.

5. Exfoliation

The best way to prevent ingrown hairs, say experts, is daily exfoliation, especially in the bikini line. It keeps follicles clear and open by sloughing away pore-clogging dead-skin cells, preventing hairs from getting trapped underneath. Use a loofah, a gentle skin scrub or a salicylic-acid-based toner or lotion. But, since acids may sting, don't use them immediately after removing hair.

6. Depilatories

Unlike depilatories of yesteryear, today's treatments work in as little as four minutes. They come in a variety of formulas (sprays, creams, gels, and lotions) designed to stay put as they do their job and thanks to hydrators, create a buffer against potentially irritating ingredients.

To make results last longer, use a depilatory after a warm shower or bath. Hairs will be softer and more readily removed. Results can last three to five days depending on your hair-growth rate.

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