Hair Waxing Skin of Color

Photo: Adam Gault/Photodisc (Getty Images)

Waxing, in spite of the pain involved,  is a popular hair removal method.  Waxing can remove hair anywhere on the body and is typically used for the underarms, upper lips, chin, eyebrows, bikini area, arms and legs. One problem with waxing is that you need at least one-eighth to one-fourth inches of hair growth, so that the wax will have a better grip. 

Pros

  • Waxing leaves skin smoother than shaving because it removes the hair from the roots.
  • It lasts longer.  

Cons 

  • If it is done professionally it can be expensive and has to be repeated every few weeks.
  • It can be painful.
  • Since the hair is removed from the root, the hair follicles are left open and the skin is susceptible to infection. 
  • If done improperly or under unsanitary conditions waxing can lead to irritation, bruising, scarring, and/or infection. 
  • It can also lead to ingrown hairs, if hair gets stuck underneath the surface, which can especially happen with coarse and curly hair.

Waxing is done in a spa or salon, but there are also at-home kits available. There are different types of waxing: 

  • Hot Waxing  - a thin layer of heated wax is applied to the skin in the direction of hair growth.  As it cools the wax adheres to the hairs, the wax is quickly pulled off in the opposite direction of hair growth, taking the hair with it. 
  • Cold Waxing – this involves using strips that are pre-coated with wax.  The strips are pressed onto the skin in the direction of hair growth and then quickly pulled off opposite to hair growth.

    Noemi Grupenmager, Founder and CEO of Uni K Wax Centers says her number one tip for waxing is to “choose the right wax and moisturizer for your skin because everybody is different,” but she has these suggestions for women of color:

    Asian Skin

    "Asian skin is typically more oily and sensitive.  While keeping skin hydrated is important, you shouldn’t do so with an oil-based moisturizer.”  She suggests using something like Uni K’s Ultimate Balm.

    “The Ultimate Balm is ideal because it is infused with green tea and cucumber to replenish moisture."

    "Since the skin tends to be more sensitive," she continues.  "I suggest using an elastic wax, which is the only wax we use at Uni K.  It is applied at body temperature and stretches to remove hair without using waxing strips, which can make for a more comfortable waxing experience."

    Black Skin

    "African American skin is darker and can be very dry," says Grupenmager.  "They are excellent candidates for waxing because other hair-removal treatments such as lasers or IPL are not recommended for darker skin pigments because they are more prone to burning." 

    "African American skin is unfortunately more prone to ingrown hairs," she adds, "so you should limit the amount of times you shave in between services."

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    "While our wax works wonders for those with sensitive skin, it is strong enough to remove even the hardest type of hair without irritating the skin."  

    Latina     

    "Hispanic skin is often more olive and thick, which means there are higher concentrations of hair follicles.  Waxing is an ideal form of hair removal for Latinas because the more you wax, the thinner the hair grows back in between services."

    Before You Wax

    • If you are using a retinoid (Retin-A, Renova), fade cream, AHAs and BHAs (even if they are not prescription) stop using them three to five days before waxing.
    •  Also beforehand, advise the wax specialist of any medications you are taking, such as accutane or antibiotics. Even if you are just having your eyebrows done, stop using anything that sensitizes or thins the skin. 
    • Avoid stimulants like alcohol before the service because they can tighten the pores.

    At the Salon/Spa

    • Make sure that the temperature of the wax is tested.  It should be just a little bit warmer than body temperature.
    • The person who does the waxing should be able to remove the hairs quickly and skillfully.  Reapplying and removing the strips can damage the skin.
    • After waxing, the skin should be cleansed with a mild cleanser and then an antibacterial lotion and soothing moisturizer should be applied. 
    • If you’re prone to ingrown hairs, use a good product for bump prevention.
    • Avoid sun exposure on the area for 24 hours and use sun protection.
    • If the skin becomes irritated use an anti-inflammatory cream on the affected area.

    Between Waxing 

    • Keep your skin moisturized before and after waxing.
    • Exfoliate between waxing to reduce the occurrence of ingrown hairs.

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