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Read This Before You Pluck Another Chin Hair

If you’ve got brown skin, you’re over 40 or you’re managing a health condition, your go-to hair removal methods may require a re-think, Sis.

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Tweezers
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Hormone changes often mean hair gets thicker where we don’t want it to grow and thinner where we do. Getting older can also make skin more sensitive and delicate. How you remove hair after 40 may require a rethink. Brown skin? Be careful. Any woman of color who has ever removed an at-home wax strip and had skin peel off along with hairs, leaving an obvious patch of lighter or pink skin knows this: Some methods are more suited to the pros than do-it-yourselfers.

As our skin becomes more delicate with age, an expert touch is essential. So is checking with your doctor before booking services. If you’re using antibiotics, blood thinners or certain retinoids, for instance, you may be advised walk away from the wax salon. If you’re on hormone replacement therapy, have diabetes or are undergoing chemo, also check with your doctor about the safest methods for you. As we get older, we’re more likely to be managing chronic conditions—another reason to retool our grooming routines.

Check reviews or get referrals before stepping into a salon. Sisters must be discerning when it comes to certain services because in the wrong hands, accidents like wax burns can leave behind scarring and hyperpigmentation on brown skin. Sisters asked board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD about popular hair removal options.

Shaving

Shaving is the easiest way to remove hair fast! It doesn’t require a great deal of skill, and you can do it in the privacy of your bathroom. What’s not convenient, though, are the razor bumps, nicks and cuts, as well as regrowth that appears in as little as a couple days. For this reason, it’s better to shave areas where hair grows at a slower pace.

Suitable for: Upper lip, toes, in-between brows, legs, armpits—especially if you de-fuzz on your own at home.
Does it last? Shaving is effective for hair removal, you just have to do it every day, according to Dr. Downie, “People don’t want temporary, so therefore they consider it ineffective,” she says.
Pain on a scale of 1-10: 1— Unless you cut yourself by mistake, shaving should be painless.
Cost: Most disposable razors run for as little as a few dollars, though you may have to shell out a little more for higher quality ones that contain moisturizing effects.
Other considerations: “[With shaving], a lot of times the rubbing areas [like] the groin and under the arms [appear] darker due to friction that’s happening,” explains Downie. “You can avoid this by using a sharp blade, a thicker, richer shaving gel and a single or a double-edged razor rather than a triple or a quadruple.”

Plucking

The risks of plucking—dark spots, infection—outweigh its benefits, so it’s best to avoid it altogether. However, if you still decide to pick up tweezers, it should be reserved for the occasional chin hair or that one brow hair stuck in a pesky spot.

Suitable for: That occasional stray hair the wax missed
Does it last? Results from plucking last anywhere from a couple weeks to six, but there's always a chance that the hairs will never grow back if trauma and scarring occurs.
Pain on a scale of 1-10: 2 To help ease the plain beforehand, let warm water run over the area to open up the follicles, dab on cortisone cream and always pull the hairs in the direction they grow.
Cost: High-quality stainless steel tweezers from beauty brands like Anastasia, Tweezerman and Benefit Cosmetics can cost around $20 to $30, but plenty of durable options are available for under $10.
Other considerations: Dr. Downie warns against plucking due to the risk of hyperpigmentation and folliculitis (aka when the hair follicles become infected).

Laser Hair Removal

The goal of professional laser treatments is to achieve permanent or long-lasting results, which is most ideal for areas of the body where the hair tends to be thicker and coarser.

Suitable for: Underarms, legs and bikini line
Does it last? With each treatment, you should see less regrowth. Most people require six to eight sessions, and if there’s any regrowth, the hair should at least become much finer and sparser over time.
Pain on a scale of 1-10: 3 to 5— If you’re not sure how laser hair removal works, the device releases light that gets converted to heat to break down the follicle and reduce unwanted hair, which gives off a stinging sensation. People tend to report higher levels of pain and discomfort along their underarms, back, bikini line and upper lip. For what it’s worth, a topical numbing cream paired with a close shave ahead of your procedure should help keep the pain to a minimum.
Cost: The price depends on the targeted areas, the city where you live and the number of required sessions. Generally though, the closer you get to full body laser hair removal, be prepared to shell out thousands of dollars. In short, the larger the area you’re targeting, the more expensive it’ll be. For instance, the average cost for a session targeting your legs is $600, whereas your upper lip is $250.
Other considerations: Working with a board-certified dermatologist (not an aesthetician) who’s knowledgeable and experienced with treating darker skin is key here. Failing to do your homework before booking an appointment can disrupt your gorgeous glow — just as hyperpigmentation is a possible side effect, so is hypopigmentation (the lightening of skin).

“Some lasers are fine for Black women, some lasers are not. Make sure it’s a laser that’s FDA cleared for darker skin,” Downie advises. “Make sure you see people in the waiting room that look like you and ask the doctor if they have experience treating your skin type. If you don’t feel comfortable, leave and if they’re not willing to do a patch test, then that's another reason you should leave.”

As of now, laser hair removal has been ruled as ineffective for white or gray hair.

Waxing

Not ready for the level of commitment that laser hair removal requires but still want to break up with your razor? Waxing is your friend, sis.

Suitable for: Areas where you want long-term results
Does it last? The hair is removed from the root during a waxing session, which can last around six weeks.
Pain on a scale of 1-10: 4 to 8— The uncomfortable sensation you feel when you rip a bandage off a hairy part of your arm? The pain from waxing is comparable: intense but over with quickly. Facial skin, the pubic area and underarms tend to be the most painful to wax since the skin in those places is more delicate.
Cost: A full body wax will range from roughly $100 to $250 since it naturally takes the most time, whereas isolated areas like your upper lip or underarms should cost an average of $20.
Other considerations: If wax is too hot, it can leave behind serious burns, but a trained professional will know the perfect temperature.
Always wear loose-fitting clothing on the day of your wax to avoid irritation, and steer clear activities like sex and swimming in the days after to lessen your chances of an infection.
It’s tempting to want to shave in between waxes, but doing so only stimulates more hair growth. That said, do not shave beforehand either.

Threading

Waxing can aggravate sensitive skin and cause unsightly redness, bumps and rashes. For this reason, many sisters opt for threading when it comes to keeping their brows tidy especially. Not only is threading more precise, it’s a gentler way to remove the hair from the follicle. Plus, you’re less likely to experience ingrown hairs.

Suitable for: Brows, upper lip, chin, sideburns
Does it last? The follicle is removed from the root, so results should last anywhere from a couple weeks to a month.
Pain on a scale of 1-10: 3 to 5— The pain from threading is less intense than waxing, but ongoing.
Cost: Threading services ranges from $15 to as much as $45 depending on where you reside, as well as how much hair is being removed during the session.
Other considerations: If your skin is sensitive, you’ll likely experience some redness due to the fiction of the thread repeatedly moving against your skin. Aloe vera or an ice pack should alleviate that though.

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