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Wax On, Wax Off - SMH March 2003

Wax on, Wax off

March 5 2003

Gee-whiz: hair removal has come out of the closet with Gucci's controversial new advertising campaign.

The latest Gucci campaign, which appeared in the March edition of Vogue, features pubic hair that has been waxed into a squared-off G. And so it is, designer pubic hair is in.


When designer Tom Ford gives a trend the nod, you know it has left the fringe and entered the mainstream. The latest Gucci campaign, which appeared in the March edition of Vogue, features pubic hair that has been waxed into a squared-off G. And so it is, designer pubic hair is in.

Of course, what you do down there has been in the news for a while. The Brazilian has been around for several years now. Just in case you have been meditating in a cave, it consists of paying your beauty therapist about $60 to remove everything.

Waxing is no longer something you do discreetly. It is something you chat about over lunch with friends. Something you read about in magazines. Something you even watch live on television. And for those of you who missed Gretel Killeen's commentary of the Live Brazilian, you may be unaware of the new tack the trend has taken. It is now popular with men.

Ina Clow of Ciao Bella is one of the best in the industry. She recalls the days, 25 years ago, when waxing was an underground activity. Now, she says, it accounts for 70 per cent of her Darlinghurst beauty salon's business. Of that, 45 per cent is made up of one request: the Brazilian. And another hefty slice of the pie is men asking to have their pubic hair ripped out - and contrary to what you might assume, most of them are straight.

"A lot of men come in for a Brazilian because their partners have it done and they love it," says Clow. "They are very comfortable to call up themselves and only whisper if they are calling from the office." And apparently, they're the perfect clients. "They let the hair grow back and they don't tweeze it or pick at ingrown hairs. They leave it to the professionals."

Waxing basics

You can have any hair on your body removed via waxing. Women favour the underarm, leg, bikini, forearm, lip and eyebrow, while men zoom in on the back, chest, shoulders, hairline, ears, nose and, increasingly, the legs.

The best way to choose your therapist is via word of mouth - when someone is good the word gets around. And once you find a good waxer, stick with them. "A hair's growth cycle is three months," says Clow. "It takes a therapist a while to understand how your hair and your skin work." That's why tweezing between waxes is a no-no. "You have to see how the hair grows, then take it out slowly and in the right direction and remove the root as well," says Clow. Because most people just pluck and tear, you risk disrupting the growth pattern of your hair follicle, making your waxer's job harder next time.

Should you or shouldn't you wax your face? The experts concur that electrolysis is a better option for persistent, unwanted facial hair. Waxing can stretch and damage the skin on your chin, lip and even brow. But waxing is better than shaving, says Nicole Weinberg of Paddington's Skin & Tonic. Weinberg also specialises in the ancient art of threading, which involves manoeuvring cotton thread to pluck out hairs selectively and hence can be ideal for the lip.

If you wax regularly, it is recommended to shave every now and again between waxes to toughen up the follicle. The hair can weaken and become too fine for the therapist to work with and shaving offers the solution. But, despite the hair weakening after prolonged waxing, it is a fallacy that regrowth will one day reduce to zero. Sorry.

More bad news. If you are predisposed to spider veins, waxing your legs might draw them out.

Good news. If you're a woman who finds the pain of waxing intolerable, try booking in on the first 10 days of your menstrual cycle when your pain threshold is slightly higher. Failing that, get shaving.

How to handle ingrowns


You wax, therefore you suffer ingrowns. It's almost that simple. People with dark skin, who wear tight pants, stockings or who have curly hair are more prone to ingrown hairs. Conversely, they're less likely to occur when the wax job has been well done. The other secret to warding off painful and pesky little pustules is to loofah regularly (but don't leave your gloves hanging in the moist shower where bacteria will thrive) and to exfoliate with an AHA exfoliator such as YSL Gommage Action Biologique, $81.

Ina Clow explains that forcible removal of hair stimulates oil flow to the follicles. This can attract bacteria and a little pustule forms, trapping the hair shaft. But according to those in the know, ingrown hairs are not a case of better out than in. "We absolutely do not recommend digging them out," she scolds. "If you must, then have it done professionally." Use an anti-bacterial wash, such as Dermalogica Anti-Bac Skin Wash, $19, to cleanse the area and discourage bacterial growth.

Exfoliate once the hair begins to come through, anywhere between three to five times a week, and daily for the week leading up to your next wax. But go gently. Over-exfoliation can inflame the follicle and cause red, pus-filled bumps that most women can't help but pick. If you use a loofah or gloves, do so under the shower but without soap, which dries the skin. And if you prefer a body scrub, look for one that contains lactic acid or glycolic acid, Weinberg recommends.

Meanwhile, the secret weapon of those in the know is High Time Bump Stopper, $35, in two strengths (available at Skin & Tonic) - one for men and one for women. This cream must be massaged into skin daily for 30 days, although it will work within three days to draw out the hair. And it is safe enough for men to use on their facial skin.

Ciao Bella: 9361 0612
Skin & Tonic: 9331 1016
Dermalogica: 1800 659 118
YSL 9965 9700


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