Beauty · Life · Skin care

Want smooth legs for summer? Time to start synchronising those hair-growth cycles…

We are a mere four hair growth cycles away from the first day of summer, so now’s the time to start preparing for long-lasting, silky smooth pins! We’re talking about waxing people and here’s why it’s a good idea to start early…

Waxing is a temporary method of hair removal (one of many to choose from!) and it removes the whole hair from the root. So you’ll have weeks of hair-free, care-free until another hair grows back again in its place. Getting your legs (or whatever) waxed is all very well but so often, people pay to get waxed but don’t actually feel silky smooth afterwards and end up feel like they’ve been conned into half an hour of pain for nothing (it’s not really painful, not really… Maybe just for your first visit but not very, honest).

When you first start waxing, the hair on your legs is all in different stages of growing. Some hairs are long, some hairs are growing but still under the skin (so you can’t see them yet), some are in the process of falling out and some already have. Here’s our hair growth cycle explained:

  • Anagen – this is the first stage of hair growth: the hair is ‘actively’ growing in the follicle and you will eventually notice it above the surface of the skin, getting longer and longer.
  • Catagen – the ‘changing’ phase, where the hair detaches from the blood supply that feeds it to grow.
  • Telogen – the ‘resting’ phase: the hair is no longer active but is just fully keratinised, dead material, which will eventually fall out.

So when you first wax, you’re only removing the hair that is above the surface of the skin (that’s long enough for the wax strip to actually grip) and after the wax, you might still have some short hair (that’s too short for the wax strip to grip and remove) and you’ll also have hair, which is actively growing; it’s not yet appeared above the surface of the skin but it soon will (you’ll likely be annoyed that you haven’t been bald for very long at all!).

This can be the most frustrating wax that you’ll have (and also the most uncomfortable! If you shaved previously, your hairs will be fat and blunt from the shaving, making it harder for the wax to pull them out, so it’ll be the most sensitive wax you’ll have but every wax thereafter will get less and less uncomfortable, I promise). You’ll go into it with high hopes of long-lasting smoothness but the reality is quite different. I know a lot of people who experienced all of the above after their first wax and it was enough to make them give up altogether but if you hang in there, if you know all of this beforehand and stick with it anyway, you’ll reap the rewards in a few waxes time.

Tip: Hair that’s waxed is softer and finds it harder to push through the skin, so give it a helping hand by exfoliating 2-3 times weekly and moisturising daily to soften the skin and prevent ingrowing hairs from occurring. Don’t get your cream all over the cushion though, like this silly lady…

Generally speaking, body hair tends to take about 4-6 weeks to go through an entire growth cycle, which is why people go for their waxing every 4-6 weeks. If you get into a regular rhythm with your waxing (I do it every four weeks precisely), your hair growth cycles will synchronise. Each time you wax, you’ll be removing the hair that is long enough to be removed and all the remaining hair will grow to be long enough for removal at your next wax and so on and so on. Eventually, at each wax you have, you’ll be removing almost an entire leg’s worth of hair all at the same time, which means you’ll have the longest lasting bald period possible before it all grows back together again (this principle applies for hair all over the body too but hair growth cycles in different areas of the body last for different lengths of time). So get started now and you’ll be at your smoothest for longest in time for the summer season!

I’ve been waxing my legs for over ten years now (I’ll admit to a sneaky shave just before I went into labour with Sadie; there’s no way I could’ve waxed my legs then and I didn’t want to subject another therapist to my hugeness or my midwife to my hairiness!) and it’s totally worth the four-weekly contortionism I put myself through. I now enjoy completely bald legs for at least two and a half weeks, after which my regrowth is so fair and fine that you’d only know it was there if you felt it. I have large areas where hair has got the message and completely given up growing (I’m hoping the whole of my legs will do this one day soon!).

You can get your legs waxed professionally (definitely giving the best result) and there’s the cost of that to consider, of course but there are tonnes of home waxing solutions to try as well, if that’s your preference. There’s lots to choose from out there… What’s your preferred method of hair removal? Do you have any funny waxing experiences to tell? I’ll never forget my first bikini wax client: she was 78 and wearing a string thong to (and I quote) “make the job easier” for me…

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Thanks for reading x

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