Did I break my follicles?
October 9, 2006 1:46 PM   Subscribe

Are some people unwaxable?

Waxing as a depilatory sounds fine in theory.

The first time I had my legs waxed, it was great (2 different technicians at the same time - the one on the left was less experienced). Textbook outcome. Fine hairs starting to come in about 3 weeks, reasonable lack of hair for a full 6 weeks.

Second time I had my legs done (at the same place, by the techician who did my left leg the previous time), about 80% of my follicles were ingrown by 3 days post-depilation. Very very annoying. Spent about 3 months picking them out with needlenose tweezers.

Third time, I went to a different (and much more expensive) place and asked ahead of time whether the technicians were comfortable waxing men's legs that was met with an affirmative. Got the same problem, about 80% of the follicles were ingrown by 3 DPD. Instead of the tweezers I aggressively scrubbed using a loofa daily during the morning shower. Far more annoying chronically but less annoying acutely than tweezering.

In none of these occasions did I experience acute pain (although I think the wax the first time around was a higher temperature than the other two times) and that was commented by the first and last technician.

Are my legular follicles unsuitable for extraction by waxing? Did I "ruin" my follicles for waxing?

Is there anything I can do to "prep" the skin/follicles so that the hairs are more likely to be yanked out of my follicles rather than being broken off at the skin surface?
posted by porpoise to Health & Fitness (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have curly body hair? That's probably the biggest reason why it never works for some people.
posted by randomstriker at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2006

Best answer: Every waxer I've ever had has tried to get me to buy various potions designed to cut down on ingrowns. (I never use them regularly enough to notice a huge difference.) You should be able to find something that will help with that.

As for the hair breaking, I'm pretty convinced it's 99% dependent on the skill of the waxer. I pretty much always get ingrown hairs (which is why they're always trying to sell me those products!), except the one time I went to a Turkish, I think?, woman who had been waxing women for 20 years and who spent the first 10 minutes of the session lecturing me about hair type, different waxes, and the history of waxing. With her, it was totally painless, I had no ingrown hairs, and the hair stayed away for about twice as long as usual. It may just be worth shopping around some more.
posted by occhiblu at 2:04 PM on October 9, 2006

Best answer: Exfoliate!

I notice a marked difference in the number of ingrown hairs when I exfoliate versus when I don't. Starting the week or two before waxing and start exfoliating, right up to taking a shower and exfoliating before you go get waxed.
posted by teleri025 at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2006

Several women I know swear by Tend Skin to prevent ingrown hairs after a bikini wax.
posted by xsquared-1 at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2006

You can amke tendskin. I can never remember if I got this recipe off AskMetaFilter or not, so props to whomever.

solution 1:
18 tablets uncoated aspirin, crushed
5 oz. rubbing alcohol

solution 2:
8 tablets uncoated aspirin, crushed
2.5 oz. witch hazel

combine the two solutions. the aspirin will settle a bit, so shake it before use. apply to the bikini area to prevent ingrowns. it can also be used to spot treat blemishes. (aspirin is acetic and salicylic acids.)
posted by oflinkey at 3:53 PM on October 9, 2006 [6 favorites]

Best answer: One theory I've heard from a dermatologist, is that some people are also more prone to ingrown hairs and razor bumps, because their skin has a greater number of follicles with excitable tiny muscles that raise the hairs of the skin. The thinking behind it being that some people have a much stronger and more frequent hair raising response than most, and that this muscle, also being responsible for providing sebum from the sebaceous glands, tends to force excess sebum into the follicle when the hair is torn out, or shaved closely, and the skin is thus irritated. The excess sebum tends to plug the follicles, and thus exacerbate the problem of ingrown hairs/shaving bumps.

Treatments that may be effective for this consist of

1) Soothing, to minimize the hair raising reaction, by reducing skin irritation, consisting of emollients and sometime topical analgesics like lidocaine, and/or
2) Cleansing, to try to dissolve and remove excess sebum that would normally be lubricating hair shafts, and/or
3) Lubrication, where the primary use of frequently applied emollients is to deeply lubricate the follicles, and ease the growth of early sub-dermal hairs through the follicle, and above the skin.
posted by paulsc at 3:53 PM on October 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Seconding exfoilating after waxing!
posted by k8t at 4:09 PM on October 9, 2006

I read this as "Are some papers unwaxable?"</small
posted by oxford blue at 4:59 PM on October 9, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone - it looks like the hairs are broken off just under the skin; the necessity of applying ingrown-hair treatments obviates the benefits of waxing over shaving (stubble).

I guess I'll shop around and also see if aggressive exfoliation the week prior helps (remove dead tissue that might be gripping the root shaft/bulb too tightly?).
posted by porpoise at 5:53 PM on October 9, 2006

Best answer: IANAW, however I have worked in a day spa with waxers specialising in men's hair removal

For a few days after waxing, use alcohol wipes a couple of times a day on the waxed areas. (get the big ones - Isowipes are the brand usually recommended).
Keep asking around for recommendations for experienced waxers. The hair shafts should NOT be broken, and is an indication of a bad job. If the wax isn't being pulled off correctly, the follicle can become deformed, which results in ingrowns.
posted by goshling at 7:42 PM on October 9, 2006

aspirin is acetic and salicylic acids

No, it's acetylsalicylic acid, not the same thing at all.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:30 AM on October 10, 2006

Best answer: Yep, exfoliate thirded here. Before and after waxing. I find the easist way is to use an exfoliation mit on my dry skin before my shower. Pay more attention to those areas that get ingrowns. Another significant feature in what you posts I think may be that you didn't leave enough time between waxes. people with strong, dark body hair (those most likley to have ingrowns) sometimes find that the hair needs to be longer than those with fine hair so it can be properly yanked out, or otherwise it gets broken off as you descibe.
However, saying that you are far more likely to have an ingrown hair from one that was properly yanked out. After all, if it is broken off it will come out in a day or two rather than the days it takes an ingrown to form. It sounds like to have two different problems, so yes, do keep shopping around BUT exfoliate
posted by Wilder at 5:25 AM on October 10, 2006

- Ask if they'll use hard wax instead of the kind that require strips. It's more expensive, but it makes a big difference in preventing ingrowns on my legs.

- Use a salicylic acid product before and every day after (Stridex pads are great). As I understand it, just as the salicylic acid clears dead skin cells to prevent them from clogging pores and causing blackheads, it will clear the follicles of anything getting in the hair's way when it regrows.
posted by saffron at 5:32 AM on October 10, 2006

Response by poster: The hair isn't curly, but it is wavy. Coarse (thick shaft diameter), long (4-5cm), but sparse (~3/cm2). Prior to all trials all the hairs have gone through a natural growth 'cycle' (the tips are pointed but round).

It's sounding like it's mostly the skill of the technician, but I'm starting to guess that exfoliating may help lower the difficulty level of yanking the hairs out without breaking them off.

Is there a different term for a 'new' hair that grows in and gets trapped under the skin as opposed to a broken off hair that continues growing but underneath skin? I don't have a problem with new hairs coming in; it's mostly the broken off ones that continue growing (and thus cause grievance very shortly after a waxing session).
posted by porpoise at 8:26 AM on October 10, 2006

Best answer: FYI

Basically, your hair grows in 3 stages, Anagen, Catagen and telagen, anagen is when its growing out and is like stubble, catagen is when its long, and telagen is when there is a new hair growing out underneath it..

The first time you get waxed, you remove all the hairs, but some grow back in up to 6 weeks (The ones that are growing under the Telagen ones ) and some grow back the next day (the ones in Anagen where they are only just coming out the skin!)

But the more you wax, the hairs all start growing at the same rate, so they all take up to 6 weeks to grow back!!
posted by Wilder at 10:35 AM on October 10, 2006

Oh and again for info, when I lived in Spain many of the women who waxed every five to 6 weeks, eventually were hair free. By the age of 40-45.
posted by Wilder at 10:38 AM on October 10, 2006

Best answer: I know a number of people, myself included, who regularly wax various body parts (including their bikini area) without any sort of pain or complications but who have disastrous results with their lower legs.

I have no idea why, but I know that's how it works for me. It tends to turn out better when I do it myself, but even then I have times where I just have to take a break and use the razor again because I spent too many days with ingrowns. And yet I've never had the same problems even when I do a rush job on my bikini area or armpits.

I've yet to find a solution, but I've definitely found certain things make it better. As mentioned, exfoliating is a must, and you're probably best doing it daily except for the 24 hours following the wax. Definitely make sure that you're booked with someone experienced - they should be pulling the strips off completely perpendicular to your leg and if done correctly it should feel more like a zip than a pull. If you think you can handle it yourself, and aren't too concerned with a few months of less than steller jobs while you're figuring it out, then buy yourself a sugar kit (water soluble). One thing that's nice about doing it at home is that you can figure out exactly what length works best, you don't have to wait for an appointment, you can save money, and you can take breaks. On the other hand, I find it takes a while to get used to the ripping, it just feels scary. (And if you do it yourself, seriously, don't try to pull perpendicularly, it MUST be parallel. Fold the strip right back on itself and pull along your leg.)
posted by sourlime at 5:11 PM on October 11, 2006

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