Waxing is an effective way of removing unwanted hair, but did you know that it has the potential to harm the skin? Before you schedule a waxing appointment, it’s important to consider the common “side effects” of waxing that can leave you with more than you bargained for. We spoke to the experts at The Laser Beautique, local leaders in laser hair removal, to understand the risks.
Waxing creates tiny wounds under the skin
This means your skin may be exposed to harmful germs that have the potential to cause infections. The risk is significantly elevated in the bikini area, and especially in a Brazilian wax, where bacteria is more likely to be present. In addition to more superficial infections, bacteria can migrate to deeper levels of your skin, causing dangerous cellulitis infections.
Bikini waxes leave you more vulnerable to a viral infection
A viral infection could cause wart-like growths around the anus, vagina and vulva. The virus, called molluscum contagiosum, can be treated, but it can take a long time for it to clear up, leaving you with unsightly bumps in the meantime.
Waxing can cause skin irritation and redness
Especially if you have sensitive skin. Most redness is temporary and clears up within a day or two, but you need to take special care of your skin to prevent sores and infections from developing.
Waxing causes the hair bulb to become damaged
It means when hair does grow back, it will be much finer than before. That may sound like a good “side effect,” but if you decide to stop waxing, and start laser, this causes issues as it’s much harder to treat finer hair with laser. Hair may even be too fine to laser and you may need to opt for electrolysis.
Hot wax can burn your skin
Especially if you use skincare products that contain retinoids, acids, or other anti-ageing compounds that make skin more tender and more susceptible to heat damage.
You have to grow the hair out
For the best wax, the length of hair is key. For maximum results, it is ideal to grow hair out to at least one-eighth of an inch before going in for your wax. This means that if you pick waxing as your preferred method of hair removal, you are really only smooth for about one week of the month. A week after waxing, skin starts to feel prickly and then you got to grow the hair to wax it. Not ideal!
Not all waxes are created equally
There are several wax options and all are not created equally. While hard waxes are offered at many salons, they tend to break and crack, making the wax difficult to remove and also reducing hair removal efficiency. Another major difference between the two is that while elastic wax is applied at body temperature, hard wax is applied hot, which as we mentioned, can sometimes lead to burns if not done properly.
Waxing can cause pigmentation
You may have read that waxing and shaving can cause darkening and darker skin patches called hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation can occur after skin lifting, burning, irritation and bruising, all of which are possibly side effects of waxing and shaving.
Hyperpigmentation occurs when excess melanin forms deposits under the lower layer of the epidermis and darker patches begin to appear. There are two types of hyperpigmentation: Passive Pigmentation and Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH).
Passive Pigmentation occurs when an internal imbalance stimulates our melanin-producing hormones and generally occurs in women around times of hormonal changes such as puberty, pregnancy, contraceptive medication, and menopause. Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation is the result of skin trauma. When our skin is in distress, our melanocyte cell is stimulated to send melanin to the skin’s surface (between the dermis and the epidermis). Where waxing is concerned, the preventable trauma associated with hyperpigmentation occurs when the skin layers have been damaged due to lifting, burning, irritation and subsequent bruising. When shaving is concerned, the irritation of shaving causes similar effects that waxing does.
Waxing may lead to ingrown hair
An ingrown hair is what happens when a hair curls back and grows into the skin. It’s a red, raised bump that looks like a pimple. They can be itchy and uncomfortable and in some instances, they can become infected and turn into painful sores. No one wants that. Even if you can’t feel your ingrown hairs, they’re frustrating to look at, especially when you want to show off your smooth skin!
Although anyone can get ingrown hairs, they’re most common among people with coarse or curly hair. They often occur when a hair follicle becomes clogged with dead skin cells. We shed about 600,000 particles of skin every hour. If those particles – also known as the “dead layer” or the stratum corneum – aren’t removed, they trap hairs under the epidermis, causing ingrowns.
Each hair follicle is connected to a small tube, which is responsible for guiding the hair to the surface when it grows back. Waxing pulls the hair so quickly that the follicle and tube become damaged. When the tube’s lining is damaged, it can’t guide the hair. The hair becomes caught under the skin, causing ingrowns. An ingrown hair can then cause scarring and darkening of the skin if it gets infected.
Waxing may lead to premature ageing
After waxing, your skin might end up looking a little blotchy. It may leave sensitive skin with some discomfort, redness and irritation. All of these reactions in the skin are a result of the force with which the hair follicles are pulled from the roots, which leaves the skin inflamed. When the wax strip is pulled from the skin, it stretches one’s skin, which, over time, can have an effect on the skin’s texture and elasticity.
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