My chest doesn't get along with hair.
January 27, 2013 3:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm moderately hairy in a male eastern European sort of way. I have a thin cover of fine, straight, black hair on my chest. My skin is sensitive, and pretty much at all times I have 2-3 irritated spots.

This past summer I had the bright idea to try epilation using one of those sparkly SilkEpil devices. Although the pain subsided quickly, I never got satisfactory results. Repeated passes with the device were often required to clear a small area of skin. The epilator seemed to snap individual hairs at skin level, rather than pulling them out at the root. This led to the immediate resurgence of stubble (i.e., no better than outright shaving), lasting irritation, and a big increase in the incidence of ingrown hair. I have since stopped using the epilator, and my skin problems have resolved themselves to their previous baseline level.

I wash with olive oil soap and Cetaphil as fancy strikes me. That is the extent of my "skincare regimen."

How can I take care of the skin on my upper torso to minimize problems? What can I do to get better results from epilation if I decide to try it again?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You may have better luck with waxing, tbh.
posted by elizardbits at 3:26 PM on January 27, 2013

There is a product called Tend Skin that is for targeting ingrown hairs. Exfoliation would also help too. If you go to asian markets, you'll find scrubby mitts and towels that are rough for scrubbing the dead skin cells away. You could also try minimizing use of scented laundry soaps, dryer sheets and body products like cologne or lotion on the irritated area.

My husband has a similar issue to you and we use All Free & Clear and only a half sheet of Free & Clear dryer sheets. Fragrances are often made up of irritating and sometimes toxic chemicals, if you have sensitive skin this may be a cause of your problem.

I would say that you should go on yelp for your city and look up a good place for waxing or sugaring. I have never gotten a good result from those home machines. If you do decide to go ahead with your home machine, keeping all parts of the machine and also your skin sterile and clean would be very important.
posted by dottiechang at 3:34 PM on January 27, 2013

Hairy Eastern European male here. I can personally testify that waxing and Nair both work beautifully.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 4:21 PM on January 27, 2013

You want to aggressively moisturize and exfoliate well in advance of using an Epi thing. Daily for at least a month. Otherwise ingrowns galore. And you gotta keep doing it afterwards. Otherwise ingrowns galore. Also, trim it down first to the lowest your trimmers will go.

At least until they've all grown back.

For the long term, I used the Tria laser thing for 6 months (it hurt like hell and was a pita and took a lot of time [audiobooks]). A year out, it got maybe 50% but I'm reluctant to spend the time over the next year to get up to 100.
posted by porpoise at 7:58 PM on January 27, 2013

I have this problem with the hair on my legs, specifically on my shins (and I'm a woman with sensitive skin). I shave, and when I go too long between shaving, the stubble on my legs rubs against my skin and the skin gets irritated and painful. I used to soothe it mostly by shaving and then slapping a little lotion on it, but I was never a regular user of body lotion.
This past year, I decided to make an effort with the body lotion, using it after every shower. It has made a huge difference with my skin overall, and with this problem specifically. My skin is much happier and many chronically dry and irritated spots are now healed. The stubble still rubs, but it doesn't rub against skin that is already irritated. It isn't anywhere near as painful as it used to be.
I generally get a bad skin reaction from chemical depilatories, and I don't wax because of the expense and the fact that I would have to live with the rubbing stubble until the appointment. I don't have a problem with ingrown hairs (though I've heard great things about TendSkin).
But regular moisturizing has made a big difference with my skin, so if you don't moisturize daily and you have sensitive skin, you might want to give it a try for awhile and see if it helps. I use Cetaphil DailyAdvanced Ultra Hydrating Lotion daily after showering now, and it's great. I like Aveeno Skin Relief Body Lotion when my skin is particularly irritated as it has some kind of cooling agent that gives me instant relief, but it's too much for a daily lotion.
posted by aabbbiee at 8:16 AM on January 28, 2013

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