(All women yearn for a head of thick, luxurious hair, but very few are happy to tolerate body hair. The good news is that it is easy to remove it in the privacy of your own bathroom.)
If you are blessed with thick hair, the downside is that you probably have hairy legs and there may even be a slight fuzziness on your upper lip. In fact, 80 percent of women have facial hair and nearly every woman removes the hair from her legs. Facial hair, in particular, can be a very distressing and embarrassing problem, and it generally worsens from the age of about 40, when women’s bodies produce progressively less of the female hormone estrogen and more of the male hormone testosterone. Facial hair can also be a side-effect of taking antibiotics, anti-depressants, food supplements, steroids, the contraceptive pill, or even be due to poly-cystic ovary syndrome. If you are concerned, contact your doctor. Unwanted body hair can usually be removed simply and relatively painlessly using one of three different techniques: shaving, sugaring, or waxing.
Shaving is the fastest and least painful way to remove hair from the legs. You should not use this technique on your face, however, as it causes the hair to grow back in the form of stubble, which is scratchy and even more visible. Always shave in the direction of the hair growth, to prevent in-growing hairs.
(Cucumber and lavender are ideal ingredients for a shaving lotion – they are two of nature’s most effective skin soothers.)
Cucumber shaving oil recipe
This moisturizing, scented cream contains cucumber to soothe the skin, together with lavender and tea tree oils as natural emollients. It should be kept in a cool place and used within a few days. Always stir before use.
- 8oz (225g) cocoa butter
- 4tbsp (60ml) witch hazel
- 8tbsp (120ml) sweet almond oil
- 4 drops tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- 1/2 fresh cucumber, peeled
Melt the cocoa butter in a small bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir in the witch hazel and almond oil, then add the essential oils. Liquidize the cucumber and strain through a sieve. Add 4tsp (20ml) of the collected juice to the butter mixture. Mix thoroughly and pour into a screw-top container.
Apply the mixture to the skin with the fingertips before shaving. After shaving, remove any excess oil with a hot, damp cloth and gently pat the skin dry with a towel. Your skin will feel soft and moisturized.
(Almost everyone is tempted to shave in the opposite direction to the hair growth, since it is easier, but you should avoid doing so to prevent the problem of in-growing hairs.)
(Shaving cuts: You can buy special safety razors that will prevent most shaving nicks, but if you do cut yourself, smear the area with a little wheatgerm oil to stop the bleeding, then apply neat tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic.)
This ancient Middle Eastern technique involves the use of water and sugar, heated gently together to form a sticky paste. Sugaring can be used on your face, legs, and bikini line, but you will probably find it rather messy at first. With practice, however, it will become easy and fuss-free. Sugaring is generally thought to be less painful than waxing and is said to keep the hairs at bay for longer, usually up to eight weeks. You can buy ready-made sugaring preparations from beauty stores and some pharmacists, but it is just as simple to make your own from sugar and water.
- Mix together 4tsp (20ml) water and 4tsp (20ml) granulated sugar in a metal pan over a gentle heat. When the sugar has dissolved completely and the liquid is the consistency of runny honey, allow it to cool down.
- When the mixture has fallen to body temperature, apply it over the area you wish to depilate, using a small wooden spoon or spatula. Press a strip of clean, cotton gauze over the sugar solution. Allow it to set, then quickly rip off the cotton. Always pull against the direction of hair growth. Your skin may look slightly red afterward.
- Finish by rinsing the skin with cold water containing a single drop of tea tree oil, which is a natural antiseptic and also helps to prevent in-growing hairs.
(Sensitive skin: Depilating body hair can be painful, especially when waxing and sugaring, and many people find that their skin becomes inflamed and sensitive, or even develops a rash, when they first use these methods. If this occurs, spread a few drops of lavender, camomile, rose, or calendula essential oils over the affected area, then gently wipe away any excess with a tissue.)
The ancient Egyptians removed body hair with a mixture of crushed birds’ bones, sycamore gum, and cucumber applied in strips and then ripped off. Fortunately, the formula has now been updated, but in fact the method remains much the same and still requires a high pain threshold. The advantages are that there is no stubble and the effect is quite long-lasting – very fine hairs reappear after three weeks or so, thicker hairs after about 5-6 weeks. The hair also becomes finer with repeated waxings, which progressively weaken the hair follicle. The disadvantage, apart from the pain, is that you must wait for 1/4 – 1/2 (5 – 10 mm) regrowth before you can re-wax. Some beauticians advise against facial waxing for older women with thin, delicate skin. You can buy pots of wax or wax strips to use at home; solid wax works best.
(Solid wax has to be melted and is therefore more time- consuming to use than prepared wax strips. It is generally felt to be more effective, though.)
- If using solid wax, cut some cotton gauze into about a dozen 4 x 12in (10 x 30cm) strips. This will be sufficient to wax both legs; cut fewer and smaller strips for other areas of the body, as appropriate.
- Melt the solid wax over a gentle heat until it has liquefied, then use a small brush to apply the melted wax to the strips. Leave to cool until they reach body temperature.
- Lightly dust your legs with talcum powder, then lay the wax strips over your legs and smooth the strips down in the direction of the hair growth. Wait a few seconds for the wax to cool further, then quickly rip off the strips, pulling against the direction of the hair growth.
- Rinse your legs in cold water to reduce redness, then pat dry and moisturize.