Waxing Wisdom

Proceed With Caution
Most women tend to be more sensitive to pain right around menstruation, so if you can, avoid waxing four days before your period, during and four days after, says Jodi Shays, owner of the Queen Bee Salon & Spa in Brentwood and Culver City, California. Retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids and benzoyl peroxide can increase skin sensitivity and fragility, so stop using them one week before you wax, advises New York City dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD.

The Primer
To prep the skin, take a warm shower and gently exfoliate with a loofah or a mild scrub. Twenty minutes before waxing, you may want to pop an ibuprofen to help alleviate pain and inflammation.

Starting Point
Wax won't adhere if hair is too short, so let it grow out for two to three weeks before waxing. Until you're a complete pro, it's best to take your upper lip and brows to a salon, Shays says.

Wax On, Wax Off
Sensitive skin? Use hard wax, which tends to be less irritating. Apply it in the direction of hair growth, and quickly remove it in the opposite direction, says Shays. Equally important: Avoid pulling up (toward the ceiling), which can cause the hair to break off and lead to bruising.

Mixologist Magic
To soothe redness, soak a washcloth in a bowl with milk and ice and apply it to the area for five to ten minutes daily until inflammation subsides, says Bowe. Then coat the skin with a moisturizer. You can also massage a blend of organic aloe vera and cortisone cream into the skin, says Shays.

Smarter Shaves

Smooth Operator
For the closest shave, look for a four- or five-blade razor with a moisturizing strip (to help the razor glide easily and to hydrate your skin, preventing razor burn and irritation) and a skin guard (to stop the blades from hitting your skin unevenly, which can cause cuts and nicks), says Bowe.

Wash Cycle
Wait till you've been in the shower for at least five minutes before shaving, recommends Bowe. The warm, moist air softens your skin and body hair, making it easier to get a precise shave.

Technical Support
The right technique minimizes ingrown hairs, irritation and even stubble, says Bowe. Shave first in the direction of your hair growth and then in the opposite direction, making sure to rinse the razor after every few strokes.

Special Care
To treat ingrown hairs, apply an over-the-counter 1 percent hydrocortisone cream twice daily. For razor burn or irritation, apply a soothing moisturizer containing glycerin, shea butter, vitamins A or E, ceramides or colloidal oatmeal, says Bowe.

Never A Dull Moment
Is your razor dragging rather than gliding? It's time to replace it. To extend the life of a razor, allow it to dry completely between uses.

Photo: Elinor Carucci/Trunk Archive, Spiderstock/Getty Images, David Turner/Studio D


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