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How To Prep Your Skin For Summer Hair Removal

Swimsuit season is coming, which means it’s a great time to consider how you want to deal with unwanted body hair. It’s also a perfect occasion to give your legs, underarms and bikini line the thought and attention they deserve. Whether your removal method is a DIY shaving session at home, a new gadget you saw on Instagram or a spa visit for waxing or laser hair removal, there are a few things to keep in mind that will make the experience run smoothly.

How To Prep For Hair Removal

When it comes to body hair in general, one of the most common issues that can make for a bumpy ride is ingrown hairs. These pesky little spots show up when a growing hair starts to curve or loop into the skin instead of straight out. Ingrown hairs can cause tiny, swollen bumps that look like blisters or acne – pus and all. They can also form cysts (sacs of fluid beneath the skin) and can range from small and painless to large, swollen and infected. Sometimes they will burn, itch or sting. All in all, an unpleasant scenario – especially in some of the more sensitive areas of your body. This can happen at any point in the hair growth cycle. However, shaving, tweezing and waxing are known to trigger this response, so doing a little “leg work” before hitting the blade or your waxing appointment can pay off big time.

How To Prevent Ingrown Hairs

Cell turnover is much slower on your legs and underarms, meaning dead skin cells can build up quickly, hiding stubborn ingrown hairs or clogging your razor and causing uncomfortable razor burn. So the goal when trying to prevent ingrowns is to lift any hair that may be tucked under the dead skin so that it can be removed more easily. Gently exfoliating a day or two before your hair removal session – and every other day after – will help minimize the risk of a rogue hair curving back into the skin. A simple way to do this is with your favorite Eminence Organics body scrub to slough away the dead skin and reveal a razor or wax-ready surface.

You can also try salicylic acid or glycolic acid a couple of days before a hair removal session. These exfoliators use acids (not as scary as they sound) to encourage faster cell turnover and, in doing so, get rid of any dead skin cells that might otherwise cling on longer than you’d like. A swipe of the Clear Skin Willow Bark Exfoliating Peel should do the trick. 

With the dead skin gone, you’re ready to move on to your shaving or waxing. Let’s cut to the chase!

Shaving Best Practices

Shave In The Evening

While it may be more convenient to shave during your morning shower, you’ll actually get a closer shave at night. According to Allure, “As you sleep, legs swell slightly, which can hide a portion of the hairs.” For a closer shave, wait until evening to pull out your razor and tackle hairs that will go into hiding overnight. Expert tip: Shave towards the end of your shower when your hair follicles have warmed up and are the softest.

Ditch Your Shaving Foam For An oil

Swapping your shaving foam for an oil provides a barrier between your skin and the blade, resulting in a closer, smoother shave. Using an ultra-hydrating oil like the Apricot Body Oil replenishes your skin’s moisture (thanks to jojoba and grapeseed oils) and improves your shave, leaving your limbs soft and silky.

And even with the most thorough prep, sometimes skin can get a little irritated. A few sprays of Soothing Chamomile Tonique post wax or shave can help. With ingredients like aloe vera, lavender and chamomile, it has a soothing, calming and hydrating effect on the skin.

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Some Other Important Shaving Tips

  • Make sure your razor is sharp: If it’s tugging more than gliding or looking less than fresh, toss it. It could be harboring bacteria, and a dull blade can cause nicks, cuts and razor burn if not something even worse, like infection.

  • Rinse your blade between strokes: Seems simple but sometimes you just want to speed through the shaving process. A razor covered in hair, dead skin cells and too much oil or foam isn’t doing you or your skin any favors.

  • Don’t try dry: We’ve all been in a rush or needed a quick touch up outside of the shower, but this is a recipe for disaster. Razor burn, nicks and irritation are among the very likely scenarios when you try to cut corners like this. Even a splash of water is better than nothing!

Another At-Home Option 

What is the crystal hair eraser? We can’t talk about hair removal without mentioning the tool that went viral on social media recently. The crystal hair eraser, also known as the magic hair eraser or hair removal stone, is a hair removal device that fits in your hand (think: computer mouse or bar of soap in size and shape). The top is smooth and the bottom is a “crystalline” surface – which is basically a less scary way of saying it’s made of etched glass. 

Now for the how-to: The crystal hair eraser is pretty easy to use. Lightly rub it on dry skin in a circular motion, the hair will clump together and slough off. The result is similar to shaving, as you’re removing the hair at the follicle opening, not the root (like you do with waxing). 

Like shaving, it’s easy to do at home and is a good last-minute fix when you want to throw on shorts or a swimsuit. Unlike shaving, it’s done on dry skin – meaning that it can be done anywhere and with no foam or oil. Just wet the crystalline surface with water and you’re good to go. 

It can be used on most parts of the body, including legs, arms, bikini line and back or chest. One area to avoid is the armpits, as the skin in that area can bunch up, making it hard to get to the hairs. 

Much like shaving, the prep is minimal. A body scrub to coax out any hairs that might otherwise get stuck under dead skin couldn’t hurt. But because crystal hair remover exfoliates the skin as you go, you can get away with zero prep. You’ll need to moisturize after though. Slather on some Mangosteen Body Lotion or Yuzu Solid Body Oil (and then your SPF) to help with the dryness. 

So is it worth the hype? Yes and no. It’s an easy and convenient alternative to shaving, but it’s not without its downsides. First of all, because it is a super exfoliator (the dead skin gets sloughed off with the hair) it can be messy – dead skin flakes and discarded hair everywhere! And according to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Mona Gohara, some skepticism is warranted. She tells Allure that even the basic mechanism by which crystal hair erasers work is unclear, saying "I've read a lot of articles and ads about this and I'm still dubious on the mechanism of action. Most claim that an etched crystalline surface makes the hair clump and fall off. When etched glass hits the skin, I think 'cutting' instead of 'clumping' is the more accurate verb." 

Bottom line? It’s another option to try at home, but it’s not groundbreaking and probably won’t change your hair removal game too much. But because of the price point and potentially saving lots of disposable razors from the landfill, it can’t hurt to try it out!

How To Prep For Waxing

While waxing has many benefits (hello weeks of smooth skin with little maintenance), it’s not always the best option when spontaneous beach trips pop up. According to Healthline, for the most precise wax: “Hair has to be at least 1/4-inch long before you wax. This helps ensure that hair is completely removed from the root.” To get to that point, it’s best to let hair grow for at least two weeks before your appointment. And shaving between waxing appointments is not recommended. With proper planning, waxing can be a great option, but it’s not for everyone.  

Keep Your Skin Hydrated

Like with shaving, keeping your skin hydrated is essential for preventing uncomfortable ingrown hairs and other irritations. Cosmopolitan says, “your legs have almost no oil or sweat glands, which means zero natural moisture.” In the days leading up to your appointment, keep your skin moisturized with your favorite Eminence Organics body lotion. Try our Stone Crop Body Lotion, which includes hydrating stone crop, to soothe skin after waxing.

Time It Right 

Ease the pain of waxing by booking an early morning appointment when your body is under the least amount of stress. Whether you’re a seasoned waxer or first-timer, picking appointments at the time of the day when your skin and muscles are the most relaxed is ideal for minimizing pain and discomfort. And the days leading up to your period can be extra sensitive. Try to avoid booking then if possible.

Don't Feel The Burn 

It’s not always practical in the summer, but try to avoid steam rooms, saunas, swimming pools and ocean swims for at least 24 hours after your treatment, as they can irritate the skin.

How To Prep For Laser Hair Removal

Laser hair removal is becoming more and more popular and for good reason. As well as getting rid of unwanted body hair forever (after a few treatments), you can (and should) shave in between appointments. And while this option makes beach season even more carefree, it’s actually better to zap those hairs in the winter. 

Since laser hair removal targets the pigment of your hair follicle, it works best when your hair is darker than your skin tone. According to Mayo Clinic, “A tan increases the risk of side effects, such as skin lightening … Some doctors recommend staying out of the sun for up to six weeks before laser hair removal.” If you have a summer appointment, make sure you shield your skin with SPF protection like the Lilikoi Daily Defense Moisturizer SPF 40 before heading outdoors. 

Don't Pluck Or Wax

For laser hair removal to work, the hair follicle has to be present. Hair removal methods that disturb the hair follicle and interfere with the laser’s target (like plucking and waxing) should be avoided. To maintain smooth skin between appointments, steer clear of tweezers and wax strips and opt for a method that preserves the hair shaft and follicle, like shaving.

Shave The Night Before Your Appointment

Unlike waxing, you want the targeted area to be clean-shaven before your appointment. This way, “the laser can penetrate into the root of the hair -- not target or singe any hair on or outside the skin,” according to Good Housekeeping. After shaving, skip your moisturizer, as lotions, sunscreen and makeup can “react with the laser and cause discoloration,” so it’s best to leave your skin bare before your appointment. (Reader’s Digest).

Skip The Exfoliation 

Since ingrown hairs are not an issue with this type of treatment, there is no need to exfoliate beforehand. In fact, it is best to keep all chemical exfoliants and acids away from the area – especially important for facial hair, like the upper lip, so that the laser doesn’t do any damage.

Are you ready for a smooth transition into summer? Visit an Eminence Organics Spa Partner for your next hair removal appointment and tell us how you keep your skin smooth in the comments below.