Monday, 16 January 2012

Tips for Sensitive Skin.

So, many girls reading my blog know the tedious task of shaving your legs, underarms and wherever else you want hair to be gone... ehem.

Well, I myself suffer from overly sensitive skin, which I believe may be down to a lack of moisture in my skin, not to mention coarse, resilient hair, and skin as thick as 1-ply tesco's own toilet roll. Needless to say, no matter what 'sensitive skin care' soap or shower gel I used, no matter what 'closer shave' razors I used, I always seemed to be constantly tearing myself apart. Now, as I've gotten older in the past two years, this has gotten less aggressively painful, but if that is due to my body evening out the ol' hormones and balancing out whatever makes your skin greasy or dry, and whatever makes the hair thick or thin... it has gotten better, however, it still occurs.

As many women do, I opted to wax my legs quite some time back, thinking the short term seering agony will be worth the long term extended period of smooth legs.

Oh god I have never been more wrong.

I cannot describe the pain.

So to give a better description, I hand you over to my dear Wanda Sykes (Who incidentally looks a bit like a black version of an old friend of mine xD)

The worst part about my waxing ordeal, was that I not only had to grow out the hairs to do it, which gave me gross ass spider legs. When I pulled away the wax strip, and consequently, the first 6 layers of skin... the hair stayed where it was. Firm in place like a determined old man refusing to leave his soon to be demolished house, letting out bitter cries of "I WAS BORN IN THIS HOUSE. I'LL DIE IN THIS HOUSE."

No, the hairs stood to attention, staring at me and mocking me like some devil-sent follicle dwellers, and I stared back in disbelief and agony as what was left of my skin burnt like Satan himself was dry humping it.

So, needless to say, home waxing strips are not for me.

Soon after this, I knew i had to get rid of the hairs, so to do so I just opted to shave it off. However, the consequences of the wax strips made my already sensitive skin, a fucking lot more sensitive, and as soon as that tropical scented Imperial Leather (which in my opinion should be called Imperial Lather...) hit my shins, all hell broke loose and my legs stung like a bitch for a good few hours following, eventually they managed to calm down enough for me to shave them properly, but not without a great deal of discomfort. I do not recommend it. If you are going to get a wax, get it done properly by a professional, or else suffer the burning hand of hell sticking it's abrasive fingers in your pores.

So I went back to shaving for a while, but what really gets me, is that I have dark hair on my legs, from my ankles to the tops of my thighs, meaning not shaving past the knee isn't for me. Whilst lots of people with fair and light body hair can get away with not shaving their thighs, if I were to do it, I would resemble an effeminate rugby player. For that, I blame my fathers genes, as he is an actual rugby player. With not a hair on his head, but a stubble made of iron, and chest, arm and leg hair made of steel wool. That fucker gave me the shit end of the deal on genetics, then again, he's not exactly blessed with the best pick himself. At least the hair on my head is thick and full of volume. *Grumble*

The unfortunate thing about shaving when you have coarse hair and sensitive skin, is that it often leads to ingrown hairs, or body acne, no matter how careful you are, you'll almost always damage yourself in some way or another.

So recently I opted to try epliating.

For those who don't know what epilating is... think of this...

Combined with this

       And this...

What you end up with is a shaver containing tweezer like prongs that spin round at a high speed, plucking each hair as you run it over your skin.

Which looks a lot less threatening in pink, i'll give you that.

You can see from the photo where about the metal tweezer ends are, and how many there are, so you get a rough idea of what it does and how it works. Now, I suppose you're thinking "Why, why on earth would you put yourself through the pain of plucking each individual hair from your legs?! ARE YOU APESHIT?!"

The answer is yes, yes I am apeshit, however, that is an unconnected phenomenon to this scenario. 

The reason I decided to dust of the epliator I'd owned for years, but never used due to the pain factor, is because I was quite simply, running out of options. Hair removal cream didn't work, waxing didn't work, and shaving works with mild irritation and quick grow back.

Epliation works a lot like waxing, in that the hair is ripped from the follicle, not cut, meaning that it takes longer before it begins to grow back. In the same way that plucking eyebrows every now and then keeps the monobrow a way for quite some time, epliating is said to keep your legs smoother for longer. 

In starting my painful journey, I researched how best to epilate... however, they didn't tell you some of the things I have discovered for myself, some things that may come in handy.

1)No matter what the adverts tell you, or what it looks like on the box, freshly epilated legs are not smooth and soft, they are bumpy, red, sore and rough. This will fade over time, don't worry. After all, your hair has just been ripped away.

2)It is painful the first few times you do it, because it is fresh and coarse hair, and there is a lot more of it than there would be after prolonged epilation.

3)When epilating, make sure to bring the epilator, like a razor, up the leg, against the grain of the hair, whilst pulling tightly on the skin. Also, ensure you rub against the grain with your hands first, to make the hair stand up on end, and be easier to pluck.

4)It is advised to take a warm bath before starting, as the heat and water opens up the pores. DO NOT put ice on it to numb your legs, as the pores close and plucking becomes twice as painful, making the ice completely counter-productive. I didn't take a warm bath, nor did I numb my legs the first time I tried this, and it hurt as much as I imagined it would, but it wasn't tear inducing... just about. I advise a bath before, but not after. As the pores are open and will sting if submerged in hot water, it is best if your legs are hurting, to place a cold compress on the area. 

5)If you can't get a hair, try moving the epilator in small circles, or if it is one stray in a sea of baldness, grab a pair of regular tweezers and try to get the little shit out yourself.

6)NEVER put any kind of lotion on your skin afterwards, the only thing I can advice, is Aloe gel or cream, and perhaps Sudocrem, though I cannot say for sure that it will not sting, always ALWAYS do a test patch and leave it a minute or two before applying all over. 

7)Hair grows in at different lengths, and different times. When you shave your legs, you get the first layer, which might not start to grow in fully again until a few days later, however, there will be other hairs coming through. It's a little tricky to explain, and there isn't any explanations properly of it on the internet that I can find.

Basically, when you shave or epilate your legs, the longest hairs are trimmed/plucked, but you might find some shorter ones remain, this is because all hairs do not grow in at the same time or pace, making layers, some may be long enough for the epilator to reach, or the razor to shave without tugging the skin, but some may not.

I have found, in these situations, you can do a few things:-

  1. You can grab a tweezer and hand pluck all the strays, but on your legs, this is going to take a long, long time, and I tried it and gave in. 
  2. You can wait an extra day for the hairs to grow in, so that they can then be epilated properly, giving you a more even and smooth cover.
  3. You can wait for it to grow through and shave, you won't have as much hair if you have already epilated, so if you have excessive hair growth, but don't want to constantly epilate, this is good for you, as it means you will have less, and often much finer hair to shave, so if your skin is easily irritated, it may be slightly more able to cope.
I myself, go for option number two.

I attempted epilating my ankle and the surrounding area last night, and it was pretty much horrifically painful to start with, and I stopped because it was getting late and my epilator was noisy, which is never good when the parents are going to bed. 

The following morning I felt disappointed to see that I had hair growing through in that area already, but now I realise these were the shorter hairs I couldn't reach before. I have done my entire lower legs, as my pain threshold gave out after that, and there are still a lot of shorter hairs, however, I feel my skin has been through enough today, as it is still a little sensitive. 

If epilating is not your think, and you're a shaving kinda girl (or boy :D) but also have sensitive skin, and are often left with razor rash, bumps, or symptoms similar to acne, here are a few things i've recently learnt about what is possible!

1)Every time you finish in a shower or a bath after shaving, or even if you haven't (some people don't have very quick hair growth, the lucky bastards) then apply a moisturising cream to your legs, and just for extra measure, everywhere else. It's best to do this over a towel still in case you have a particularly runny moisturiser. I use Dove Intensive Lotion for Extra Dry Skin, just to be on the safe side, as I don't know if my skin would be classed as 'extra dry' but I'd rather get it a bit stronger than i probably need it, than too weak.

But i've also used Garnier 7 Day Moisturiser, though somehow I doubt it's 7 day abilities... but with that said, it still made my skin very soft, even with the stubble of regrowing hairs after shaving popping through.

I have also been reliably informed by my mother, who always seems to have really soft skin, that Palmers Cocoa Butter works well on dry skin. I tried it once myself and can say I agree, however, i'm not too keen on the smell of Cocoa Butter, or the prices charged by Palmers. But if you like the smell and have the cash to splash, then this is probably a good one for you to go with, but it's best to try a few things, as you never know what will work best with your skin.

Another thing many shavers suffer from is ingrown hairs and acne on the backs of the legs, neck, sometimes arms, chest and yes... unfortunately, the arse. However, all hope is not lost of those of you with bumpy behinds or enough spots on your chest to make a dot to do with. For women with more intense hair growth, shaving may have to occur in the more obscure places, such as on the chest, the trail leading up to the belly button, thighs, arms, sometimes around the nipples and again... the arse! I myself have to shave my entire leg, i sometimes get darker hairs leading to the belly button, and occasionally a stray dark hair will just pop up in the weirdest places. For stray hairs, they are pluckable, no problem, but for those suffering dark hair growth, especially those with dark skin, or more easy to tan skin, and in some cases, like my own, fair skin, and dark hair, resulting in it being all the more obvious, dark hair can be a nightmare and shaving can be a monumental task, especially if you have sensitive skin.

One solution I have stumbled across thanks to the good old internet, is simple Sudocrem. It's often used for sunburns, rashes, spots, irritated or inflamed skin... or babies and toddlers with sore arses.

However, it does have a healing property over ingrown hair, dry skin, and amazingly enough, acne!

For an example of what I mean, here is a woman on the internet, who had severe acne on her back...

But after six weeks of applying Sudocrem, it looked like this

A hell of an improvement for simple old Sudocrem.

So if you suffer spots or ingrown hairs, try some of this, as it may be just what you needed. 

Hopefully my pain and suffering with bad skin, has resulted in knowledge that will help other sufferers in the future.

No one wants a rash!

Contact me if you've any more helpful tips and tricks of the skin! 

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