WAX, SHAVE OR CLIP?

So: should you give up the ease of those clip­pers, or is wax­ing your legs re­ally bet­ter? Dino Lloyd got the root of the prob­lem and didn’t scream once.

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Front Page - BY DINO LLOYD

“Bi­cy­cling is in Cape Town, so it’s a bit far for us. But Dino, our gear ed, is cur­rently based in Joburg – and he would be per­fect for tak­ing on a story about leg wax­ing.”

When I read this, my eyes pre­emp­tively teared up; al­though out­wardly, via email, I jok­ingly ac­knowl­edged our ed­i­tor’s sug­ges­tion with a quip about once hav­ing tried leg wax­ing as a pre­cur­sor to watch­ing the movie The 40-Year-Old Vir­gin – that would be the wax­ing scene, not the vir­gin part (Yeah, right! – Ed) – while at the same time af­firm­ing the con­sen­sus that it’s best to rely on elec­tric trim­mers to keep our pins primed and fol­li­cle-free.

Meghan, our wax­ing con­tact and Di­rec­tor of →irst Im­pres­sions at Naked Cherry, a leg-wax­ing and skin­care clinic in Jo­han­nes­burg, came up with the idea af­ter read­ing an ar­ti­cle in Bi­cy­cling on Viagra as a per­for­manceen­hanc­ing drug (PED). I still wasn’t sure how they were linked; but I de­cided to go with it, since Meghan sounded gen­tle.

Clichéd trep­i­da­tions aside, we set up two ap­point­ments over two months, and Meghan pro­vided guid­ance on the, er, pro­ce­dure. There’s a help­ful on­line guide to avoid­ing ir­ri­ta­tion and skin sen­si­tiv­ity, with some rec­om­mended Do’s and Don’ts - a shower be­fore to cleanse and ex­fo­li­ate the skin, avoid­ing caf­feine be­fore­hand if pos­si­ble. I ig­nored the sec­ond tip, since I’m a cy­clist and am un­able to op­er­ate with­out a morn­ing espresso.

HOW AERO?

There are a num­ber of op­tions, de­pend­ing on how aero you want to go. The more usual choices are the Three­Quar­ter Leg, from mid-thigh to the toes, or the →ull Leg, from the brief/ bikini line to the toes.

Oth­er­wise, if you’re feel­ing more ad­ven­tur­ous and want to test your bound­aries, there are op­tions in the dan­ger zone: the Twig & Ber­ries: wax­ing of the shaft, scro­tum and anus (bum cheeks not in­cluded, phew) or the MANi­fico Bikini: ev­ery­thing from front to back in­clud­ing pu­bic area, shaft, scro­tum through to anus (mi­nus bum cheeks again). There are fur­ther op­tions and var­ied pric­ing, but the first two are the most ap­pli­ca­ble here, so we opted for a bal­anced ap­proach and went with the →ull Leg.

On my ar­rival at the Naked Cherry premises in the north­ern suburbs of Joburg, Meghan in­tro­duced me to So­neni, my ther­a­pist. Who gave me a sense of ease im­me­di­ately: So­neni has an im­pec­ca­ble bed­side man­ner – she has an eight-year his­tory in the in­dus­try, and has never lost a pa­tient.

Then So­neni with­drew, al­low­ing me to get com­fort­able in a pri­vate con­sult­ing room pristinely laid out with a com­fort­able bed and the ap­pro­pri­ate tools of the trade. Hon­estly, I was struck by the level of hy­gienic prep and com­fort. She re­turned shortly af­ter­wards, and we made idle chit-chat while she prepped the muti for fol­li­cle re­moval – a pur­ple mix­ture that looked rub­bery, and noth­ing like the syrupy stuff I’d imag­ined. Proudly I man­aged to re­sist dip­ping my fin­ger, or try­ing to taste the stuff.

As I lay back for the first wax strip, a mem­ory popped up of a fam­ily dog I once had to take to the vet. Specif­i­cally, the mo­ment he was propped up on the stain­less steel surgery ta­ble, of­fer­ing his jubilee re­gions to be shaved (à la Twig & Ber­ries) be­fore a catheter was in­serted. I’m sorry, Max!

Zzzzzt... what? The first wax strip done, a grin­ning So­neni, and my be­mused face. That re­ally wasn’t bad at all – a slight sting, but rid­ing in a Highveld rain­storm stings more. Rule five, yeah baby!

With any dis­com­fort or awk­ward­ness evap­o­rated, So­neni and I chat­ted as she fin­ished off the leg wax­ing with the prac­tised ease of a Jedi, and left me to change back into civvies.

→or a first ses­sion of any­thing it

was ac­tu­ally a pain­less, has­sle-free ex­pe­ri­ence; and af­ter­wards, Meghan cov­ered some ba­sics, dis­pelling the myths around leg wax­ing.

IS IT RE­ALLY THAT PAINFUL?

“It re­ally de­pends on the in­di­vid­ual’s tol­er­ance for pain, and anx­i­ety about treat­ment. The hair Is be­ing pulled from the root, af­ter all – but the pain is man­age­able. I think a lot of male first­time wax­ees think that the sen­sa­tion will be akin to, say, be­ing kicked in the go­nads; but with proper sup­port (the skin be­ing held taut) and pres­sure (the ther­a­pist press­ing the just-waxed spot as soon as the strip is re­moved), the pain isn't a sus­tained event and only stings for a sec­ond.

“The type of wax used can also make a dif­fer­ence. We use hot wax on sen­si­tive ar­eas be­cause it never dries com­pletely, and so re­mains pli­able, which bet­ter grips the hairs, and means fewer re­peat strips and a quicker treat­ment.

“→or first-timers, we rec­om­mend tak­ing some­thing like a Panado half an hour be­fore wax­ing to take the edge off, and also ex­fo­li­at­ing – even just with a wash­cloth – be­fore the treat­ment. The ex­fo­li­a­tion re­moves dead skin cells so that the wax is more ef­fec­tive in fewer strips (and again, presents less op­por­tu­nity for pain).”

DOESN'T WAX­ING GIVE YOU INGROWN HAIRS?

“With­out proper home care, any form of de­pila­tion (hair re­moval) can cause ingrown hairs, which are the re­sult of blocked fol­li­cles; the hair can't es­cape and gets stuck un­der the sur­face of the skin. Cy­clists are es­pe­cially prone to them, as you know, be­cause of the com­bined sweat and pres­sure – ba­si­cally a match made in hell, for skin health.

“A home-care reg­i­men that keeps skin clean is key, with wax­ing or shav­ing. We rec­om­mend some com­bi­na­tion of ex­fo­li­a­tion and an­ti­sep­tic treat­ment; the ex­fo­li­a­tion re­moves dirt and oil, and the an­ti­sep­tic (such as saly­cylic acid) dis­solves what­ever's in the fol­li­cles. (We make a shower gel called Morn­ing Glory that con­tains saly­cylic acid, so that there's no ex­tra step to re­mem­ber day-to-day.)”

HOW DO YOU CARE FOR YOUR LEGS AF­TER­WARDS?

“Re­gard­less of treat­ment, it's im­por­tant not to work out/cy­cle, tan, or swim in the first 24 hours af­ter a wax. In fact, even a too-hot shower can ir­ri­tate the skin, since the fol­li­cles and pores are open and so more vul­ner­a­ble dur­ing that time. (This can also give rise to a his­tamine re­ac­tion many peo­ple mis­take for ingrown hairs.) And only all-nat­u­ral lo­tions or gels (like our Hooked on Hy­dra­tion, which con­tains aloe, laven­der, and rose­mary) should be used dur­ing that time, as syn­thetic per­fumes can in­flame the skin.

“To those rec­om­men­da­tions, es­pe­cially for leg wax­ing, I would add drink­ing plenty of wa­ter, which keeps skin sup­ple and in­creases the ef­fi­cacy of sub­se­quent wax­ing, be­cause the hair is less likely to break off.

“Ex­fo­li­ate ev­ery two to three days, use some kind of an­ti­sep­tic/ an­timi­cro­bial body wash ev­ery day, mois­turise af­ter show­er­ing, and drink plenty of wa­ter.”

HOW LONG DOES A WAX LAST?

“The short an­swer is two to three weeks, with the hair typ­i­cally be­ing ready to wax again in four weeks. But be­cause not all hair is on the same cy­cle, it can take two treat­ments for all of the hair to be waxed at the ideal time, which is when the hair hasn't yet de­tached from its blood sup­ply (the an­a­gen phase).

“It's gross to some peo­ple, but your ther­a­pist can ac­tu­ally look at your wax strip and de­ter­mine if you're wax­ing at the cor­rect time in the hair-growth cy­cle; they look for a lit­tle black bulb, which is the root it­self. (This is also why pin­point bleed­ing can oc­cur in first-time wax­ees; the root is de­tach­ing from the blood sup­ply, and can bring some of that blood with it.) If you pluck your eye­brows, you've prob­a­bly seen the der­mal papilla that I'm talk­ing about.”

WHAT SHOULD YOU PAY FOR A LEG WAX?

“I have to say that there's no price tag on hy­giene; and with wax­ing, typ­i­cally, you get what you pay for. If you walk in and no­tice that the place is dirty, then as­sume their wax will be the same (and then run away!).

“Dou­ble-dip­ping wooden spat­u­las dur­ing treat­ments trans­fers sweat and fluid from one waxee to the next through the wax pot, so a good sa­lon will never dou­ble-dip the spat­ula dur­ing an in­ti­mate or un­der­arm treat­ment. Strip wax spat­u­las are metal and can be dis­in­fected, so don't need to be dis­pos­able, but if the ther­a­pist doesn't wear gloves or change the bed cover be­tween clients, then the hy­giene breach re­mains.

“That said, I'd say the av­er­age price for that treat­ment is around R270, so any more than, say, R350 is a rip-off – and not the right kind!”

THE, ER, LOW-DOWN:

I was pretty much sold on the idea of wax­ing over the pain of clip­pers.

My skin feels bet­ter, and is stay­ing smoother longer; it’s bet­ter for mas­sages, and more hy­gienic – bet­ter for clean­ing and treat­ing wounds from any crashes. Plus, I don’t need to worry about my neigh­bour pop­ping round for some milk and catch­ing me in the gar­den de­for­est­ing.

What I thought at first would be a nov­elty has ac­tu­ally won me over as an al­ter­na­tive to the old ra­zor or clip­pers. And I didn’t ex­pect that.

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