Catherine the Great of Russia told the French philosopher Diderot that while he had the luxury of writing on unfeeling paper, she had to write on human skin that is far more ticklish. Such are the trials of statesmanship. We can only imagine what Catherine might have said to anyone who offered her waxing.

Waxing to remove unwanted hair is the dominant practice in professional esthetics today and one would think the practice had achieved some sort of technical breakthrough long before the 19th Century. Alas. Read on.

The molten (warm) wax is applied near the area of choice, and allowed to congeal around the follicles. At which point the uh, volunteer, in more upscale studios is provided straight whiskey, hearing protection and a wood dowel to chew down on.

The skincare practitioner then carefully lifts a corner of the congealed wax and with a precision that would have brought admiration from Torquemada, swiftly and excruciatingly rips (is there any other word? No.) the wax to take with it the follicles entrained.

This proceeds until the area has been completely waxed free of follicles, right down to the root. Oh, baby.

There are other methods than waxing. Differing as a suitcase nuke does from a megaton weapon.

The depilatory for example employs a chemical attack on the follicle that usually satisfies only those with frog hair. Others are left with less than satisfying results. Visibly shaken is a phrase that comes to mind.

Blade shaving has waxed and waned in popularity. The technique is not recommended for those who are clumsy, have a phone, or a hangover. It misses key areas, too, often giving the overall unintended impression of a prizefight aftermath.

The use of electric razors has had mixed success over the years as well Burns and snags are not uncommon and the debilitating experience has been ignored by statisticians who tend to focus on product sales. The result only resembles a baby’s bottom insofar as a diaper rash.

Electrolysis has carried out feet first more than one volunteer and the epic nature of the ordeal, a marathon of electrical flogging, had none of the quick, it’s over, satisfaction of waxing. Moreover, it didn’t stop the regrowth, a critical feature of its uh, appeal. Home use devices are now available that will let most of the neighborhood be involved in the sound effects: weeping, gasping for air sniffling is not atypical.

Lasers were once hailed as the permanent solution to waxing. The magic promise turned out to be an ordeal that rivaled electrolysis in promoting volunteers into a high priesthood of pain reserved in the past for those passing kidney stones. And, like electrolysis the hair regrew “unexpectedly.” Discounts offered to volunteers for subsequent re-treatments have not been snapped up, I’m told.

Which brings us back to the professional waxing and its primacy in skincare. The difficulty arises after the first responders have left and the raw welts have stopped pulsing.

This is when the razor burn look: ingrown hair, pustules, flaring skin, and rough texture, take effect.

The number one wrong move to treat the area, and it is ubiquitous from improper training at the esty schools, is the use of salicylic acid.

The notion is that the exfoliating acid (actually a phenol) will keep the skin cells fresh, soft and new and prevent the re-emerging hair follicle from being turned back inside the skin.

It seems logical to think that exfoliated skin, the very surface of the epidermis, would be soft and easily penetrated by the tough hair follicle.

But, it ain’t so.

The hair follicle after the trauma of ripping it apart is quite weak AND the skin surface cannot be exfoliated either immediately before or immediately after waxing.

The skin, as we know from my previous rants, immediately responds to topical exfoliants and irritants with a rush of fragmented cells and proteins to act as sandbags against further intrusion by the offending substance or anything else.

During the time of recovery from waxing (starting within an hour) a very solid layer of skin stuff is emplaced. This, the skin estys are taught, needs to be exfoliated as soon as tenderness subsides so the follicle can grow out and not revert back.

Wrong. Wrong. And wrong. The exfoliant will create havoc and more tenderness. Despite millions of negative results from this technique, it continues to be taught.

The area must be kept soft, no exfoliant of any type allowed within several hundred feet of the volunteer. To soften the skin AND also keep the area sanitary, there are few cleanser choices on the market.

The 302 Skincare line has several skin softeners. The best is their FACE & BODY BAR. This is an exceptional product for this very purpose though it was not originally formulated to do this. Wiser, experienced estys found this solution and avoided the difficulties others fresh out of school were having.

Another useful product immediately post waxing is REMEDY a zinc oxide formula. Some find MINERAL MOISTURIZER more useful as a leave-on. This also is a zinc oxide formula, lighter and more easily spread than REMEDY.

Others claim that REVIVE as a leave-on is a brilliant idea as well. These all work.

Let ‘er rip.

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