Whether you shave or wax, readying your skin for hair removal is crucial to avoiding injury, irritation and patchy results. Begin by cleansing the areas where you want to remove hair, recommends New York City dermatologist Michele S. Green, M.D. Next, exfoliate the skin to remove dead cells from the surface and make hair more accessible for removal, advises Margarita Kouzmina, aesthetician at Bliss 57 in New York City. Just make sure to use a gentle exfoliant. “Harsh scrubbing can make the skin vulnerable [to injuries or abrasions] when it’s shaved or waxed,” says Green. Further prep skin by smoothing on an emollient oil or cream before removing hair.
(a) Earth Therapeutics Loofah Exfoliating Scrub in Peaches & Passion ($8; earththerapeutics .com) is a vegetable-based formula enhanced with loofah fibers (dried tropical vines) to gently remove dead skin cells. (b) The Art of Shaving Pre-Shave Oil ($22; theartofshaving.com) is free of alcohol and synthetic ingredients, and contains essential oils and botanicals to soften stubborn hair, making it easier to remove. (c) With no parabens, artificial colors or fragrance, Shobha Talc-Free Powder ($7; myshobha.com) absorbs excess moisture and oil before waxing with a blend of cornstarch, kaolin and oat kernel.
Once you finish shaving or waxing (see next page for tips and product picks), there are plenty of ways to keep your skin smooth and irritation-free. A light posthair- removal cream or gel can moisturize traumatized skin and prevent ingrown hairs and bumps. “We recommend applying an azulene oil to soothe skin and remove residue after waxing,” says Kouzmina. Freshly waxed skin is sensitive to sunlight, she adds, so “depending on the area, apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.” You want to be gentle with your skin after waxing, but a light sugar scrub one or two days later can help remove dead skin cells so pores don’t become clogged and cause ingrown hairs.
(d) Kiehl’s Razor Bump Relief ($28; kiehls.com) is a silky blend of ginger root extract and willow herb. Apply it to irritated bikini lines or sensitive underarm areas to prevent pesky razor bumps. (e) Rub on Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes ($6.50; walgreens .com) after waxing or shaving to soothe and cool irritated skin with 100 percent natural witch hazel. (f) Whish Shave Savour Hair Inhibiting Gel ($26; whishbody.com) contains organic aloe, organic shea butter and panthenol (a form of vitamin B5) to moisturize, while herbal chaparral extract slows future hair growth.