Ask Afrobella — That Furry Feeling

I am ashamed at how long it’s taken me to slog through these Ask Afrobellas. I need an intern! I am literally drowning in e mail. Mea maxima culpa, bellas who have asked questions in 2008. I will make it up to you! Here’s one I’ve been meaning to get to from a regular reader.

Bella-

I am happy to actually feel comfortable enough to send you a question. Sometimes while reading the posts on your site, I hear “i know that’s right” in the background of my mind. I truly value your opinion as someone who has devoted quite a bit of time to help strangers with their beauty predicaments. I recently became engaged and am completely overwhelmed with happiness. But now the emotions of planning the wedding have rushed in so quickly that I sometimes forget that it is supposed to be a joyous occasion.

My question is regarding hair removal techniques for the big day. I have always been on the hairy side and am still searching for the best way to get silky smooth legs and underarms. My hair is course and is very resistant to removal. Shaving is a nightmare as I am the queen of in-grown hairs. When using those creamy chemical hair removers, I usually have super irritated skin and nubs of hair left by the time the whole process is over. Not only that but they totally give me scary flashbacks of squirming in the beauticians chair as a child while getting a touch up. All the beauty articles I have read never address women of color’s naturally curlier body hair, tendency to scar or get in-grown hairs. I am also interested in permanent body hair removal but am very apprehensive after seeing “post-op” pictures of black women scarred after laser hair removal procedures performed by reputable doctors not familiar with black skin. So please pass on whatever information you may have… My family wasn’t very much help on this subject as most of them don’t even shave or need to. I really appreciate your time and whatever information you or any of the readers might have.

Lauren

Lauren, girl – I hope I made this answer in time for the wedding! The weeks have become months and just flown by. I am so sorry for taking so long to write back. BUT in that time, I’ve been doing quite a bit of personal research on the topic of hair removal, so I’ve got answers for you!

Before I dive headfirst into answering, I gotta say… the topic of body hair removal has been surprisingly touchy on this blog in the past. The decision of whether or not to shave your legs, or to wax the hair off your body, goes directly against some natural women’s definition of “natural.” I respect that completely. I won’t let a chemical straightener touch the hair on my head, but I’ll willingly slather on Nair anywhere else? It’s an inconsistency that I think about often. Also, it goes against the sensibilities of most feminists — why should we conform to male standards of beauty? Why is looking like a prepubescent girl the standard for women in Western society? The Europeans don’t do it, so why should we? All good, valid questions that are worth considering before you make a decision.

So why do I choose to inflict pain on myself and remove my body hair? Because I love feeling clean. I love feeling smooth and pretty and feminine, and for me, hair removal adds to that. My husband loves it, and he does things to make me happy, and I know this makes him happy. If I’m going to the beach, I don’t want to be worried about having a hairline if you know what I mean. If I’m wearing a skirt, I want to know my legs go well with the general appearance of manicured beauty I try to present from head to toe. I’ve got quite a few reasons why I choose to wax, thread, and shave away unwanted body hair. You should consider yours before you take any kind of plunge. OK — having said all of that, let me tell you what works!

You say shaving is out, and so are depilatorys. (Really? I love Sally Hansen, it works great for me!). I recently tried this $250 TBS product from Sephora, the no!no!. It sucked sucked. Unless you enjoy the stink of burning hair and leftover crispy curlies still growing out of your skin after repeated uses, I’d suggest forget it. $250? REALLY? I scoff at you, no!no!

I have never had laser hair removal, so I can’t speak to that. A very close friend of mine runs her own American Laser Center up in NYC, and she’s very pro-lasering, and recommends it to me. I’ll have to ask her about the potential for scarring — but the response might just be, “then you can have microdermabrasion to remove that!” Yippee, and pay another grand! No thanks.

I shave my legs (always using some kind of cream or oil — I love Skin Milk Shaving Milk and sometimes I steal my hubby’s Pacific Shaving Oil, loves it), because I don’t have the “naturally curlier body hair, tendency to scar or get in-grown hairs” you referred to, at least not on my legs. But I DO have those problems under my arms. Boy howdy.

I shaved under my arms for years, and Mama Bella always warned me it would darken my skin under there. Now I couldn’t dream of striking the Beyonce pose — my armpits are easily two shades darker than my face. I’m taking steps to remedy that with waxing, and it’s definitely making a difference! I found a place here in Miami, the Aqua Day Spa, where the waxer explained that certain kinds of wax hurt less, and also result in less discoloration, scarring, and irritation. She used the Satin Smooth aloe wax on me, and for ONCE I didn’t cry involuntary tears when someone ripped out the hair from my pits. The wax stayed tacky to the touch for a long time, and the procedure took longer than it would had she used cloth strips. But it was worth it and I am SO going back for more. It definitely made a difference.

For me, cloth strip waxing hurts more, and for my curlier body hairs, the thick hot beeswax works best. Lots of waxers tend to use cold wax, or cloth strips for larger areas (like your legs). Areas like that are less sensitive, so it’ll hurt… if you fear pain, I can’t sugarcoat the truth or lie to you. Waxing hurts. Especially bikini waxing for the first time. That’s why I would never wax myself. I just… couldn’t. I’d be walking around with wax I was too afraid to peel off. You need someone who is gentle and reassuring, but firm and professional. And it really DOES hurt less the more often you go. Promise.

I actually wrote about my first full bikini wax for my New Times blog, Patrice’s Pretty in the City. (we changed the logo! Check it out!!) The lady who waxed me was super sweet and VERY good at her job. And as she told me, “70% of my customers get the full wax. Young, old… I have grandmas.” GRANDMAS? Yes, child. I had to ask Mama Bella about that, and her basic explanation is that age = wisdom + gray hair. Everywhere. Nuff said.

Have you ever seen this YouTube classic?

Yeah, that’s about right. I wept through my first bikini wax. I gasped through the second. Kelly Clarkson! It isn’t fun, but having it done in a booth where I could hear the squeals and screeches of a chorus of other women helped me through it. And afterwards… oh, afterwards I thought it was completely worth it. So fresh and so clean. Such a dramatic difference in everything. I’m a new convert, so I’m all about it. If you’re gonna GO for it, go for it all. Trust me.

BUT — I strongly recommend you do some research before you just randomly pick a waxer. Ask your friends. Ask your coworkers. Then visit the place. Maybe get something innocuous done first, like an upper lip wax. Look around the room where they wax you — is it shady? Is it dirty? Is it in a storage room in almost-abandoned strip mall? Then run, run, run! You need a clean, well lit place. I really prefer places that specialize exclusively in waxing, like Wonderskin here in Miami.

I’ve been to sketchier places, and from reading this horrific tale of a wax gone wrong, you’ll see why you should avoid back-room operations at all costs. Click here for another worst case scenario, where the patient had type 1 diabetes and was therefore susceptible to infection…. I don’t even want to say anymore. The point is, be smart about it. It’s better to know what you’re doing before you go ahead and do it, you know?

Post-wax care is essential — immediately after waxing, all you might be ready for is a cool shower and some aloe vera gel. But the next day or so, exfoliate with a sugar scrub to help alleviate ingrown hairs. Gentle exfoliation made a big difference for me, in terms of scarring, discoloration, and ingrown hairs. This site has some great post-wax tips.

And that’s my two cents about hair removal. I sincerely hope I made it in time for your big day — if you’re trying to get waxed for your wedding, definitely go the day or two before, just so you’re not feeling extra sensitive under your beautiful gown. Your wedding is a special day for you and your husband and your family — savor the moment and enjoy it to the max. Have a magical, beautiful, magnificent day — you deserve it, bella bride!

Do you have any hair removal advice to impart or experiences to share? Do tell!

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Comments

  1. Mr.Mckinzie says:

    Bella ,you are so funny! I thought that I was the only woman in the world suffering with the dark pits syndrome.

  2. YAY!!! You did make it in time for the wedding. Unfortunately, I live in LA and am currently trying to expand my negro friend list. I don’t really have other people of color to ask these kinds of questions. So if someone out these lives in LA and has a suggestion I would love, love, love it. Thanks for answering the question, Bella. Very thorough and heart felt. Even in all my light skinnedness, my pits are a slitly darker shade than my face as well. Not only that but I when I use Nair or shade, it still feels like I have a 5 o’clock shadow, 1 second after I shaved. Like you, I don’t feel striking any Beyonce poses anytime soon, but I desperately want to!!! Strangely enough this is the one area that I feel really compromises me. I know it seems silly but I never wear tank tops or any of those cute summery dresses or shirts two days in a row because I usually only have one good shave or nair day before the hair grows back and then my skin is too sensitive to go again. ANYWAY!!!! Thanks for your help. I am looking forward to anyone’s advice

  3. OMG that Jezebel horror story and the other one almost destroyed me. I’ve had the full monty done before, but I think I’m only doing bikini and trim maintenance from now on…..this is the compromise I made with my husband. I never thought about waxing the armpits, bella. Does it really make that much of a difference? How long do you grow the hair out in the armpits before waxing? How long do results last? I hate eyebrow waxing but threading hurts so I’m not sure what to do there.

  4. Wow Lauren!, Afrobella put in some work for ya!!! Well, I use to work in a hospital and one of our cosmetic surgeons tried the laser hair removal on me. Afrobella and I have about the same skin tone. Anyhow, for some reason it does not work on people of color. He warned me it could possibly be innefective and leave some scarring. So he tested an area underneath my arm first, and sure as you’re born, I was burned.

    I just stick to shaving. I don’t really mess with the bikini area too much because of ingrowns, irritation, and scarring. I thought about a product called epil stop. The product was previously on commercials, but I never tried it.

    Have an awesome wedding!!!!

  5. I also get brazilian waxed pretty often b/c I too love the clean and smooth feeling, although I think I may switch to a Bikini wax instead. I’ve heard about getting underarms waxed- I think I may give that a try b/c I also suffer from the ‘dark pits syndrome’… I hate taking pics w/ sleeveless tops on b/c you HAVE to watch the angle in which you pose, lol…. sad but true!!! Thanks Bella!

  6. curlybean says:

    Hey Lauren-
    I have two places to recommend but unfortunately they aren’t in L.A. One of my girls gets her bikini & pits waxed at Complexions Day Spa in Seal Beach (a couple miles south of Long Beach) and loves her esthestician, Akula(not sure of spelling pronouced Ah que-la) Anyway, she SWEARS it doesn’t hurt so much and she has a low threshold for pain. There is also a woman at AcuSpa I went to in Pasadena on South Lake Ave. She uses the wax only (no strips) and like bella says, less painful. I mean still hurts but less. I don’t go often because of my in-grown hairs & the scarring but when I use Tend Skin afterwards it works wonders. I actually think I might join my girl and visit Akula soon. Good Luck & congratulations!

    PS: I used to live in Mid-Wilshire area and have tried several waxers but none I can recommend. Have you tried citysearch.com? That might help too.

  7. I am a member of the “Dark Pits” club!

  8. There is a great place in L.A. called Pink Cheeks http://www.pinkcheeks.com I just had my first brazilian there and it wasn’t that bad. Trust me I hate getting waxed too lol. But try to make the earliest appt. with them. The shop tends to get packed qiuck since they cater to celebrities and adult movie stars.
    If this place is good enough for Janet Jackson it’s good enough for me :)

  9. IvyTrini says:

    I am a fan of sugaring. Its similar to waxing but its a ‘wax’ made of sugar and water and a little lemon. It can be made at home, but I go to the professionals. It does not burn or stick to the skin like waxing does and could be used in all large areas of skin. I have been doing my underarms for a year now and the hair takes a lot longer to grow back than shaving or depilitories and there is no painful stubble. Also eventually your ‘dark armpits’ get lighter b/c its the dragging of the razor across the skin that makes it dark. I love it and would recommend it. I live in NYC where this is readily available. Look out for East Indian based spas to have this!

  10. Don’t do any waxing on any part of your body just before you get your period and during your period as your skin is even more sensitive at those times.

  11. so bellas, i can weigh in on a procedure that wasn’t mentioned…laser hair removal!

    had the upper lip done last year and am waaaaaay happy with the results!

    i was pretty much born with a mustache…you can see the shadow in my baby pictures when i was like 9 or 10 months (thank god i had a baby boy, so no daughter to have to deal with this!). i first bleached it at age 12, which was a disaster because instead of having a black mustache, i had a blond one, lol! did my first nair at like 13 or 14, which was okay for a while, but the chemicals started to make the skin on my upper lip, similar to the dark pits syndrome.

    fast forward to my grown years, and i had settled into just shaving my upper lip every few days. quick and effective for me, no ingrowns, but the hair started to become mega thick, and i was lookin’ like martin lawrence’s mama!

    last year i finally bit the bullet and did laser hair removal…5 treatments 4-8 weeks apart, with about a 20% reduction in hair regrowth after each session ($70/session). today i can say that my upper lip is 96% hair free! my last session was in december, and my laser technician told me to wait a few months to see if any hair grew back before calling for an appointment to take care of any stragglers. it’s been a huge improvement for me, and my morning routine is so much easier, and i don’t worry about it at all, nor being caught off guard all up in a cute guy’s face rockin’ some stubble on my upper lip!

    next on the list is doing the bikini area (just the sides and a lil off the top…not the full monty!) and the under arm area….price is $925 for both areas. the place that i go to has a discount offer when you buy one body part package, you get a second for half off. also, when you buy a package, you are buying enough sessions to ensure complete removal…there is an option to pay per session (as i did with the upper lip) and they say it usually takes 5 sessions but it can take more. when you purchase the package, you get as many sessions as it takes to be rid of the hair. i am going this route because of the problems i have with ingrowns…waxing and nair are not options for me. oh, i almost forgot to mention what most people want to know…is it painful? that’s a relative question to me…i have a lot of tattoos, so i do have a higher than average tolerance for pain, i suppose. but to me the pain is worth being hair free! but on the real, it’s not that bad. the spa that i go to only uses ice for numbing because of some of the medical mishaps that have come from patients using lidocaine to numb before laser hair removal. i found that if i take 2 ibuprofen an hour before my treatment, and effectively ice the area, it’s bearable.

    one last thing…if you are a lady of color, as i am, do your research! my laser tech is an RN, which helped make me feel at ease. she gives her cell number and tells you to call if you have ANY problems, and she means it. a friend of mine had a slight reaction on her first visit (turned out to be an ingrown hair) and the techhad her come in, took photographs, and scheduled a follow-up. there is a particular laser that should be used on the skin of people of color…the 1064 YAG laser…because laser hair removal targets melanin, it’s crucial that this is the type of laser that is used on people of color. otherwise the laser can target and zap your actual skin (which can cause scarring) rather than the unwanted hair.

    hope that was helpful!

  12. Thank you so much for this article, Ms. Afrobella, and thanks to all the Bellas who commented! Like Ms. N., I was also pretty much born hairy. (I love that you put it that way, Ms. N. :)

    I haven’t found any good options for underarm or bikini hair removal yet, so can’t speak to that. I will definitely check out some of these waxing options.

    For upper lip, I wax, and recently found a great product that eliminated post-waxing irritation: http://kisskissblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/happy-skin.html

    And for sideburns (yes, I was born with sideburns – sigh) I have been using the no!no! hair removal device sold at Sephora. I have found it to work great on finer hair like sideburns and under my chin, and it causes me no irritation or pain. Last time I tried to wax the sideburns, had awful irritation for about two weeks! The no!no! is much better. Oddly, I tried it on my bikini line and had no success in removing the coarser hair there.

    Good luck to all, Bellas!

    Erica
    Kiss Kiss Beauty
    http://kisskissblog.blogspot.com

  13. When I first started shaving my legs at 14 or 15, I used one of those electric “Lady Shavers”. It was cool at first, but within a few years, it left me with darker armpits and “chicken skin” on my legs. The only thing I use now is depilatory cream (I use Veet). I occasionally do a bikini wax/trim. eyebrow waxing and plucking and I pluck out those annoying hairs that seem to sprout out unexpectedly on my chin and cheeks since I got over 25.

  14. Waxing my brows hurts. I can’t imagine getting a Brazilian! I shave my legs, arms and my bikini line. I refuse to get rid of all my hair in that area. Men here are trippin. They need to stop watching porn and realize most women are not completely bare, ahem, downstairs.

    Good luck Lauren and congrats on your big day!

  15. Haitianroots says:

    here’s the deal. i was a bride-to-be back in 2005 and was dealing with this very dilemma. i was part of the dark pit crew (dpc)and i did not want to be embarrassed on my wwedding day with dark pits and embarrassed on my honeymoon with a 5 o’clock shadow around my bikini area. i have no problem shaving my legs, but when it came to the two above areas, shaving, lotions, etc. just didn’t seem to work. so i had my first waxing for my special day and was very pleased. i have been bikini and armpit waxing ever since.

    evertyhing bella and some of the other sisters wrote are pretty much on point. make sure it’s not right before or during your monthly because it will hurt like the dickens! also, no hot tubbing i believe, for at least 48 hrs. you can use a product like SkinTight, or a good natural toner to sweep over the waxed area. doing this helps to lighten/exfoliate the darkened area caused by shaving.

    hope this was helpful and whatever you decide, you are happy and smooth.

    as for the laser, my girlfriend who is around bella’s shade has been getting laser on her face. before the treatment she did extensive research to make sure she found a laser facility that has experience with women of color, because it is different. so if you are interested in going in this route, just do your research.

  16. The fact that you devoted a paragraph to questioning whether there is even a need for hair removal makes me so happy. I am a person who does not want to waste time trying to remove the hair from my legs, but I do it anyway from time to time just because I know I would practically be ostracized from American society if I did not. I am so sick of articles acting like shaving is mandatory or messages that make me feel like I am some kind of hideous anomaly for not shaving. It is nice to hear someone present being natural as a realistic alternative. I appreciate it so much. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  17. To fade dark underarms and other areas–USE AMBI. I had the same problem at one time.

  18. Naturally DevaSTing says:

    Hi Lauren:

    I live in LA and get my wax done at Painless Waxing on Beverly and Fairfax. The woman’s name is Larissa, and she is amazing!!!! I usually get what I like to call a brizini, which is somewhere in between a bikini and a brazilian, and she is fast, thorough, knowledgeable, super-friendly and fairly cheap. It is just her so when you call you will speak directly with her, and she always tries to work with your schedule, even at the last minute! I canot speak highly enough of her!!!! One thing to note: she works in the back of a salon, so although it is clean, it is not fancy by any means, so if that is of importance to you then this wont be a good fit. Here are a couple of other reviews about Larissa if you want to get another opinion

    http://www.yelp.com/biz/painless-waxing-los-angeles

    Lastly, have you tried Magic Shave? It is a depillatory cream created by Soft Sheen for black men for their beards/facial hair. When I dont have time/$$$ to wax, I use that everywhere from the pits to the legs and it works perfectly. It is specifically created for black men who get ingrowns in their beard, so it is perfect for us women who have similar issues elsewhere. Hope that helps

  19. Ladies, this is my two cents on this matter.

    WAX ON!!!! I wax eyebrows, underarms, and bikini. I don’t wax my legs as the hair is sparse there…

    My eyebrows were the last thing I started waxing because an error on my brow would be visible on my face. That I could not take and the natural shape of my brows I love and so the waxing is just a bit of edging.

    I have had my underarms both “threaded” and waxed. The waxing is easier and the pain has decreased over time and repetition. I don’t have the darkened skin there.

    My first bikini wax was by a wonderful, professional and humorous woman at Skin Lounge by the name of Dawn. It was not as painful as I thought it would be. I loved the results. So I ventured to the next step. I had it all come off. Yep, I sure did. I had a small, dainty, strip left here. The rest was baby bottom smooth. The most uncomfortable part was the waxing of my inner thigh. The labia and perineum were not as painful as I thought it would be. Surprise, surprise! I am very glad that it wasn’t the worst. That might have been a deal breaker.

    Helpful tips that I would suggest are not waxing a few days before or after your menstrual cycle. Eating foods that are high in potassium such as bananas an hour or more before the procedure. Consider a vaginal powder if you have some sensitivity after the waxing. And exfoliating (gently) to ward off ingrown hairs. I have not had a problem with ingrown hair in either the underarm or vaginal area after waxing. I did not exfoliate however I was advised to do so by the aesthetician.

    Congrats to the bride to be! Cheers to bella, Patrice!

    WAX ON!!!!

  20. miss smith says:

    i’ve been going to laser hair removal for awhile now. i can deal with the hair i have everywhere except my face. it’s s gross to me. i had sideburns and a beard and it was just out of control. so i hear ya. i was told it would take longer than the average patient to see results so i’m just trying to stick with it. hair growth definitely reduces itself and the technicians are really professional. i would stop in to your local american laser center and have a free consultation for permanent removal. in betweeen treatments i dry shave. good luck. and happy wedding.

  21. Lauren,Jodi Shays

    Congrats on you big day! I would like to recommend Jody Shays (Queen Bee Waxing) in Culver City for all your waxing – legs, eyebrows, bikini, etc. She does it all and she is super fast and experienced with people of color. I have been getting my bikini line done for the last 16 years and brazillian waxes for the last 13 and she is one of the best there is. I have been to several waxers her in LA – lots of them good but Jodi is the BEST hands done. Check her website out (www.queenbeewaxing.com)and read her reviews on Citysearch. She is the only person I trusted to do my waxing before my wedding two years ago.

    On laser: I had it done by a friend of mine in Westwood and I loved it. I even did my bikini line! My freind is a RN at a platic surgery center. She was basically using me as a guinea pig for a ultra senstive laser machine they were thinking of getting. It worked for me but like my friend said she would not use any other laser machine on me or other women of color. So even through lasering is a great alterative – please, please make sure it is done by someone who is not only experienced with lasering but also knowledgeable about African American skin.

    Good luck and have a fantastic wedding!!!

    Queen Bee Waxing
    10182 Culver Blvd
    Culver City, CA 90232
    Phone: (310) 922-7039
    Email: http://www.queenbeewaxing.com

  22. Hey Lauren,

    I live in LA (Westside) and funnily enough, I just went for my monthly today! This is the second time I’ve gone to Queen Bee Waxing in Culver City and I highly recommend. Adorable boutique location and quick, efficient, and friendly waxers. I’m usually in and out in 15 minutes and that’s the full monty! they are also very reasonably priced ($50)– I’ve seen some places go for $80+. If you decide to try them, here’s their website http://www.queenbeewaxing.com/. Good luck!

  23. I just realized the commenter right before me recommended the same place. How’s that for an endorsement!

  24. Bella,

    What wonderful info! I too am a member of the dpc, as a previous commenter named it. I use an epilady on my legs. Yes, it’s painful. To me it is less painful than waxing. And yet it gives me the same effect, smooth silky legs for at least 4 weeks. Yesterday, I had the thought why not use it on my pits too? I hesitate because pain might make this a no go. I may have to pop an aspirin or two and give it a try.

    I love threading for my sneaky facial hair. Brows and chin were hair free in less than 2 minutes. However, the woman I found here in FL closed her shop. I have been wandering the streets aimlessy ever since…

    I would love to try sugaring. I am all about the less pain thing.

    Magic Shave is what my dad used. Warning, it stinks to high heaven but it does the job, lol.

    I think it’s very important to take into consideration the texture of the hair and sensitivity of the skin. Find out what works for you. My body hair is kinda kooky. It grows straight out. It is easy for the hairs to be plucked out by the opposing coils of the epilady. I guess this is one of those beauty arenas where research is mandatory. I have not had any bad hair removal experiences because I will not be talked into the latest and greatest. I make sure it is something that I think will work for me.

    That being said, sometimes I’m so India Arie. Sometimes I shave my legs Sometimes I don’t. What can I say, I’m just lazy :)

  25. @nyc/caribbean ragazza — LOLOLOLL!!! I so agree about the hair “down there.” I’m fairly hairy, and I like to be smooth, so I shave and wax various areas, but some places I’m just too scared. I would like to find an effective way to get rid of belly hair…I hate it, but I guess some men think it’s sexy, I don’t know (I had a boyfriend once who called it the “happy trail” — not that HE ever got to the end :-]). Anyway, is there a way to deal with that without having to dehair your entire thorax? I tried it once, but instead of a hairy belly area, I had this weird grayish lighter area that looked worse than the hair. Also, I haven’t seen this mentioned…does anyone else have problems with hair growing, um, well, on the cousins? What’s the best way to deal with this?

    I get my eyebrows waxed, and it hurts less every time. I used to get a bump or two afterwards, but I found that if I use an exfoliating cleanser in the eyebrow area, like Oil of Olay exfoliating cleanser, and scrub my brow area with a baby washcloth 30-60 minutes before, I don’t get any bumps.

  26. Thank you so much Bella! Can’t tell you how helpful this post was. Not only the information given by you, but also by the feedback and comments that were made by other women.

  27. Actually, I’m pretty dark (right from Nigeria) and laser hair removal was the BEST investment I have ever made. I suffered from excessive hair growth, walked into a laser center in 2001 and haven’t looked back since. 6 treatments later (every 6 weeks) and all I have now is beautiful, smooth skin. I was bit aprehensive – not because of my color – but I have sensitive, dry skin that I thought would ruin under the intense laser. No problems! I swear by SONA Laser. Find one in your hometown!

  28. Thank you everyone for your answers!!! I really, really appreciate all of them. Naturally DevaSTing, I’m trying Larissa this weekend and Kerry and DScottGRRL, I’m trying Queen Bee Waxing for the next appointment! I’m so glad to you all as such great sources of information. Thanks for the post Bella!!!!!

  29. Oh and as for the Laser thing…. I’m going to start research some of the places and types that some of you mentioned! I’m so excited to have a place to start!

  30. clean shaved females – send me emails. jk

  31. bonifant says:

    Wow great info here.

    Chelle you mentioned THREADING for facial hair. How does the hair grow back, meaning is it the same “thickness” as before. I too have a bit of “from birth” moustache. I’d asked my boyfriend about it and he was like “what moustache??” but I know my face and I see it lol. But I don’t want to have a sob story regretting that I ever messed with it (never have before now).
    So, does the hair grow back how it looked before?
    How often before regrowth and does it regrow as stubble?
    Any irritation afterwards and what do you use to soothe it?

    I’m thinking about it seriously because if I try to wear lipstick vs lipgloss it just looks so much more noticeable. Eek gad!

  32. Speaking as one of the clean-shaven women here (and a serious feminist, as well, which only means that *I* decide what I do with my body, and my life), after I left the NYC area, and my favorite waxer at J Sisters in Manhattan, I had no other choice but to suck it up and do it myself – yep, I give myself Brazilians. Does it hurt? Hell yes, but it’s definitely worth it. A woman at one salon I tried acted as though she couldn’t even look at me “there,” kept telling me to pull my skin taught, and took about five seconds to remove each strip. I seriously though I was going to either die, or kick her until she was dead. I buy $4-and-change Surgi-Wax from Walmart, which lasts me two or three applications, and doesn’t need muslin strips -yay! I find that if I just take a deep breath and yank, it goes by much quicker. Don’t get me wrong – it still hurts, but it would hurt worse if I lingered.

    As for my eyebrows, I did find one woman in my area who can do it without me trying to slither off the chair – when she’s not in the shop, I wait until she comes back. It’s hard to find good hair pluckers these days.

  33. some things that i have tried that really work for me in the hair removal arena are:
    Underarms- sometimes the deoderant you use may be a bit harsh and contribute to te darkening under the aarms. i usually moisturise my uderarms with skin cream/lotion wait for it to dry and then apply deoderant.
    Legs: i shave with a good hair conditioner as my shave cream. i lather it on and wait for it to “soften” my stubborn hairs. it also provides a good non-abrasive surface for the razor to move along.
    Bikini: nothing beats waxing and though not pain free, it does get that hair gone with no lingering irritation.
    Eyebrow/upper lip: i get that threaded, and it hurts beyond compare (i don’t use any numbing creams, etc.) but i cannot get over how smooth it feels afterward and the hair seems to stay away for ages. not to mention i go to an indian/pakistani place and i love the eyebrow shapes that are used in that part of the world.

  34. Heya! I’ve been getting brazilians ever since I could afford it – about 6 years ago – and I love them! But what I don’t love is that they can hurt like a biatch, especially on the pubic mound. For years, I was suffering with the hot wax and cloth technique, but since having my first touchy wax in Japan a year ago, I’ve been converted. I’ve since moved to England and need to find someone who does that kind of waxing, but the search is one. Touchy waxing is simply the best. In the mean time, I use my epilator to keep my bikini line, legs and pits in check. It is effective, giving me a better end result than shaving (haven’t touch a razor in years), but it can hurt, though not as much as waxing since you can control the pain.

    I also have dark pits, but I think they’ve been getting lighter since I’ve been using the Dove deodorant, but maybe I’m also more confident. I won’t be striking the Beyonce pose in public too often, but I don’t keep my arms glued to my sides either. So many women of colour of the same issue that I think it’s a given that you’re going to see some darkness in that area. There’s no point being so embarrassed about it.

  35. Oh, hair removal. I personally am all for it and quite frankly, I wish more men did it! I started waxing almost ten years ago and it is true that it stops hurting as much after awhile. I’ve never done a full brazilian but I’m always tempted to try it. I go to Stark Waxing Studio in LA and they’re awesome but pricey — $45 for a frontal Brazilian. I get my eyebrows done at a nail shop though because they only charge $6 and the woman who does them is amazing.

    BTW, Afrobella, I got the Mariah DVD. Thank you!

  36. bonifant- I get my upper lip and eyebrows threaded and I love it. It hurts, but there is no irritation from the wax afterwards and it leaves your sking incredibly smooth. I say go for it.

  37. bonifant says:

    Thanks for the input Lauren

  38. desertflower says:

    Hair removal…YAY!!I prefer threading for facial hair and hot wax for legs and underarms. Had my underarms done with cold wax once and could not bring my arms close to my body for about two days. Talk about sore..LOL. My husband uses a great product for razor bumps. It also works well for those bumps men get at the back of their necks. I tried it and helps reduce my ingrown hairs. You can find it here http://www.secretbarber.com

    I have not worked up the nerve to get a brazilian though, LOL I’ll stick with the clippers for “lawn maintenance”. LOL

  39. GottaSay says:

    Also, it goes against the sensibilities of most feminists — why should we conform to male standards of beauty? Why is looking like a prepubescent girl the standard for women in Western society? The Europeans don’t do it, so why should we? All good, valid questions that are worth considering before you make a decision.

    I want to say something about this part and I thank you for bringing that up. First off, waxing on your body was invented by Egyptians, men and women did it back then, most of the time this has nothing to do with men’s standards of beauty (I even know men who love hairy women), it’s a matter of hygiene, and men do it themselves now. Second, most Europeans go to beauty salon and shave their hair, I’ve lived in France and I don’t know where people got that from but that’s a stereotype. Third, being a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine. And I don’t believe people are free when all they do is “react”. If you don’t shave your hair because you don’t like it, you’re choosing freely and big up to you!! If you don’t do it just because “you don’t want to do what men like” but deep inside you want to do it then you’re just reacting and not following your real desire. This reminds me of a feminist friend of mine who doesn’t wear makeup “not to become men’s fantasy” when deep in her heart she WANTS to wear make up and does it only at home. How is she free? She doesn’t do what she really wants regardless of what men (or ppl in general) think, she is just reacting.

    Thanks for the tips Afrobella, I just really needed to say this.

  40. miss belle says:

    ** To GottaSay: I cannot agree more with your “just because you’re a feminist doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine” take. I too have friends who seem to be denying themselves what they want simply because they don’t want to do what they think men want. It’s a lot of blah blah blah, I just roll my eyes and put on my lipstick and change the subject.
    *** I’m also in the dpc, and while I realized that many black girls were in it with me, I had no idea until I read this blog that there was a way to get out! Thanks so much, bellas! I have found, to lessen the darkness, that shaving more than once a month (now I shave once a week, but I just can’t bring myself to shave daily) and using Dove for sensitive skin deoderant — it helps some, I went from 5 shade darker in the pits to 2 shades darker…
    I’m in the Bay Area so if anyone has a recommendation for a place to get my pits waxed in SanFran or Oaktown, it would be appreciated.

  41. GottaSay,
    Hair removal has nothing to do with hygiene. That does not make any sense at all. Obviously, you can let your hair grow naturally and still be hygienic.

    Who said anything about not being feminine? The fact that you automatically equate being hairless with being feminine and hygienic just shows how much you’ve bought into advertising. You couldn’t stop removing your hair if you wanted to. You’re not even making a real choice anymore.

    I do not think there is anything wrong with making a choice to remove your hair, but you cannot make a real choice on the matter if both options are not given equal respect. Currently, the choice of people to not remove hair is not respected. Until people have the option to do that without the (false) stigma of being unhygienic and unfeminine, without strange looks and judgments, without having to worry about how it affect their ability to get a partner or a job, then hair removal is not a real choice.

    Wearing make-up, shaving, being “feminine” are NOT mutually exclusive with being a feminist. You CAN do these things if you want because feminism is about choice. What feminists take issue with is the fact that women do these things because it is expected of them (in order to be feminine as you yourself pointed out), not necessarily because they want to, and the fact that if you do not do them your gender (or in your case, femininity) is questioned. What sparks the ire of a feminist like me is that you try so hard to justify this “choice” and you do not even question why you do it. You would rather defend the “choice” based on a gut reaction rather than have a real dialogue about it.

    A Proud Feminist Who Believes in Real Choice

  42. You ladies are so lucky to have this information at this stage of your lives, information I wish I’d had 30 yrs ago. I’m in my 50s and just now getting answers to some of the same questions you all have. I, too , was born with a slight moustache and side burns. It’s all I can do to keep up with the plucking of my eyebrows and chin and I refuse to shave the ‘stache. The stubble would worry me, so I let it ride. I can tell you this: When you get my age, your dark pits start getting lighter as less hair grows there and you get a somewhat “natural” brazilian bikini line for the same reason (less estrogen). Unfortunately, I’ve noticed no change to the moustache. Thank you all for sharing your ideas and good luck Lauren on your big day.

  43. Angel,

    Who said anything about not being feminine? The fact that you automatically equate being hairless with being feminine and hygienic just shows how much you’ve bought into advertising. You couldn’t stop removing your hair if you wanted to. You’re not even making a real choice anymore.
    * I don’t associate waxing with feminity, why would I bring up men waxing their bodies if I thought it had to do with feminity? I don’t find having hairy legs hygienic FOR ME, and that’s how I personally feel. I didn’t buy into advertising, please no assumptions. For instance, I don’t believe that having nappy hair makes you un-feminine unlike what society promotes. My hair is natural. So basically I do what I feel like doing and regardless of society. If some of my choices are considered popular by society, I don’t care, if they aren’t popular, I don’t care either. All that matters is that I please myself. My beef with some people is that they automatically reject ANYTHING that is considered “popular” to prove how “free” they are. They don’t follow their hearts. When you do this you still base ALL your choices on society’s beliefs, the only difference is that you automatically do the opposite. Some feminists(not ALL), my friend included, are that way, that’s what I talked about.

    I do not think there is anything wrong with making a choice to remove your hair, but you cannot make a real choice on the matter if both options are not given equal respect.
    * I personally did say “big up to you” in my previous post if it’s a free choice.

    What feminists take issue with is the fact that women do these things because it is expected of them (in order to be feminine as you yourself pointed out), not necessarily because they want to, and the fact that if you do not do them your gender (or in your case, femininity) is questioned.
    * That’s not what I believe. I’ll try to word it differently. Actress Joy Bryant doesn’t wear make up and is one of the most feminine and beautiful women I’ve ever seen. I don’t question her feminity. But dresses, jewels, makeup, heels are all “female stuff” hence me using “feminine” when I talk about them. Do all those things make the woman? Absolutely NOT. Do you HAVE to like/wear all those to feel feminine? Absolutely NOT. I don’t LIKE/WEAR skirts and heels. But do I HAVE to reject THEM ALL to prove that I’m FREE even if I LIKE some of those “female stuff”? NOPE! But my friend who is a feminist doesn’t wear makeup (and jewels), not because she “doesn’t like it”, but because “as a feminist” she feels obligated to reject it. Otherwise her FEMINIST BELIEFS and FREEDOM will be questionned by other feminists that she’s in touch with (like my freedom is being questionned here). So the “questioning thing” goes both ways.

    What sparks the ire of a feminist like me is that you try so hard to justify this “choice” and you do not even question why you do it. You would rather defend the “choice” based on a gut reaction rather than have a real dialogue about it.
    * You’re not in my mind. I do it because I LOVE IT regardless of popularity, I don’t do it “for a man”, or to “avoid criticism” or cause “society said so”. Like I said I kept my hair nappy so if I feared criticism, society or men’s opinions, I’d have bought a honey blonde laced-font wig Tyra Banks style a long time ago. I do what I do because, indeed, I choose to. It’s my friend who doesn’t do what she really wants to do because she feels pressured to “represent feminism”. Where is her power of choice in that? She is a feminist who is NOT free.

    A Proud Feminist Who Believes in Real Choice
    Same here! Maybe we just see real choice differently.

  44. Oh yeah I wanted to add that my friend also does this “not to please men”. But does she please herself? She reacts to both “men’s opinions” and “some feminists opinions”. What about HER opinions? Her desires?

  45. Bonifant- Sorry for the lateness. I just saw your question. For me, threading did not alter the hair structure. My hairs remained thick and dark. However, I was not able to have multiple treatments over a long period of time. It was just a couple of months before the small salon I was going to closed and/or relocated. Hence, the search for a new threader. Hopefully, you got some insight from Lauren and Afrobella’s second post.

    I totally agree with you Bella, threading gave my thick brows a beautiful shape. My arch was flawless. Most waxers give me the plucked chicken look. Threading gives you defined brows that look natural. Who doesn’t want that?

    Thanks for the links to the tutorials. I will be checking those out. Just think we can floss our teeth and thread our eyebrows all at the same time. j/k :)

  46. timarasa says:

    I’ve jumped on the laser hair removal bandwagon, too :o)

    Lauren, I live in San Diego and did a lot of research on going to a place that specializes in laser hair removal on diverse skin types. I ended up getting treatments for my underarms all the way in LA…that’s right I drove 1.5-2.5 hours (depending on traffic) each way, every 6 weeks, for just 15 minutes of lasering :o) But the clinic boasts a client base of all shades, has ALL the laser types to treat dark skin and is headed by a medical doctor with trained staff. It’s called The Institute of Laser Medicine — http://www.universitylaser.com/ — and is located on the UCLA Med School Campus.

    For reference, I’d say I’m around Angela Basset’s complexion. After 5 treatments I’m not 100% hair free, but I have A LOT less hair growing under my arms, the hair is finer, and I also find that my hair grows much more slowly when I do shave (which is once in a blue moon). I guess if I had done more treatments, I wouldn’t have to shave period; but I can’t lie, the treatments were expensive ($150/$200) each time, and I stopped when my financial situation became a bit tighter.

    Sorry if this sounds like a late-night infomercial, but just wanted to share my positive experience there :o) There are probably less expensive places to go to in LA that have experience treating black clients, but I figured going to a place headed by an MD whose part of the UCLA Medical School staff was a safe bet :o)

    Good luck in all of your hair removal endeavors!!

    (p.s. went the laser route b/c ingrown hairs from shaving my underarms were horrifically painful & many! plus my underarms are slightly concave which makes shaving & waxing more difficult. the laser didn’t burn nor discolor my skin anymore than it was…after awhile my pits looked LESS discolored b/c i wasn’t shaving regularly like before)

  47. bonifant says:

    Thanks Chelle but I got punked out of doing it this weekend. Between my 2 girlfriends they badgered me ABSOLUTELY NOT to mess with it, so maybe the stache is in my head cuz they are really honest. If I had a situation they would say. But who knows maybe one day I’ll break free and satisfy my curiousity.

  48. Los Angelista;
    Where do you go in LA to get your eyebrows done for 6.00? Haven’t found that price yet since relocating from NY.

    AM

  49. I shaved when I was younger…not the best for the underarms, dang it! To lessen the darkness under there, I decided to try Nair for a while, but the hair grew back too quickly and the stubble was too apparent. Since that failed, I thought I’d tried waxing. I liked the results. I used to go to a nail/waxing place to wax my underarms and legs. To save money, I decided to do it myself and it works great! It takes some practice, but Nads works great for me. I like to use the Sangria Punch Nads. I buy the epilating strips from the beauty supply store to use with it. I would prefer to have a professional do it, but to save money I do it myself. Queen Bee Waxing sounds interesting… I think I’ll check it out! For my upper lip, I use Surgi-Cream depilatory. It works great and the results last a long time – just don’t leave it on too long! My next challenge is the bikini area…that’s a work in progress! The do-it-yourself method is a bit difficult down there!

  50. I am one of your readers who appreciates this post. I am going to look into the Magic Shave option for underarms. I tried waxing my own arm pits and it hurt and I could not get everything. Right now I am shaving everywhere except the face and I thought that dark armpits was just the way it was going to be for me. Now I know I need to exfoliate and try a different deodorant. I appreciate all the tips here. I am Muslim and I wanted to share that part of hygeine care for Muslim men and women is to remove their pubic hair. I have not ever tried a waxing salon, though because mostly I am just to shy, but I am considering it more and more.

  51. Naturally DevaSTing says:

    AM,

    If you want to get your eyebrows threaded, there is a salon called Rozina’s in Venice that is completely run by Inidan women with fantastic eyebrwos and they charge $5. If that is too far, then there is another spot in Hollywood at the back of a beauty supply store run also by an Indian woman called Rubindra 323-463-2274 who charges $10. Unfortunately, she is going to India for a month in the first week of April so you will have to hurry up to get an appt. Hope that helps.

    p.s. Ladies, even though Magic Shave is for the face, it works perfectly fine all over the body and it is cheap too compared to other depillatory creams. All the drugstores carry it, and it is usually stocked in the men’s shaving section right often next to the just for men beard dye.

  52. AM-

    I go to Vinita in Westwood- but it is a chain with a few locations. Eybrow waxing is $8.99 Upper lip $5 I think Sideburns and chin cost 5 as well.

    PS: Larissa was great!

  53. Naturally DevaSTing says:

    Glad you liked her Lauren, yipee!!!

  54. stargaze says:

    timarasa- i live in san diego too! i just arrived from chicago and i am looking for a great place for natural hair and waxing- i am glad i stumbled upon this wonderful blog- if you have any recommendations feel free to reach out to me!

    forever_stargaze3@yahoo.com- thanks so much afrobella, you are a gem!

  55. Why remove any hair at all? Let it grow! I do!

  56. The Scientist says:

    Hi all of you out there, I am going to talk something which is definitely going to please you all, I am talking about a method of “painless waxing”. Sounds interesting isnt it? While I was going through this blog and the replies, all I could make out is all you women prefer waxing as the primary hair removal method but then have to sustain the pain associated with that!! I thought how about devicing a method which will have all the benifits of waxing and absolute zero pain… So here it goes

    In soccer or rugby matches, if a player gets injured the physio immediately take out a spray called as “magic spray” and sprays it on to the injured area, which provides temporary anesthesia and the player is back on the field again… He no longer feels the pain of the injury…

    Now we shall use precisely this technique for painless waxing. You can simply purchase this spray which is readily available in the market. Apply the spary on your legs, arms, underarms whereever you want to wax. Just wait for 5 minutes. That area will become completely insensitive (temporary anesthesia). and then carry out your normal waxing. Since that area is insensitive, you wont feel absoltely any pain at all!!!!
    After some time the sensation will be restored in the area…..

    I hope this technique will help you all for painless waxing……So enjoy your waxings henceforth..
    Cheers….

  57. hi im tanu. im from india. ive been shaving my underarms . the hair which now comes are coarse and now after waxing also it doesnt become smooth .i want smooth underarms arms and legs . ive tried almost all the methods but all in vain. i want the skin like heroines. can u suggest something.

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