From The Straits Times    |
10 common questions and misconceptions about IPL shaving & waxing thumbnail.png

10 common questions and misconceptions about IPL shaving & waxing.png

While hair removal has become an essential part of many of our beauty routines, waxing and permanent hair removal packages don’t come cheap. It’s always best to know what will work for you, and the factors you should consider before shelling out the money – it’s a long term commitment after all.

So we spoke to Qi Mantra Remedial Spa’s general manager Bernard Goh to get answers to 10 common questions and misconceptions about hair removal.

Here’s what he advises:

#1 How do you know if an Intense Pulse Light (IPL) package is right for you?
Bernard says that it may take more sessions to see results on permanent hair removal for those with extremely light hair – that is, blonde hair – and those with a darker skin tone and dark, thick hair. The reason for this? Pigment in the hair absorbs the light from the IPL handpiece and in turn kills the follicle, stopping hair growth permanently. Dark pigments attract and absorb light better. “We tend to reject clients who have a dark skin tone, and very thick, dark hair, because their skin might get burned by the light,” says Bernard.

He adds: “If a client insists on going for the treatment, we will have to lower the power dramatically so as to not burn them, so it’ll take two to three more packages for them to see an effective result, as compared to someone with a lighter skin tone.”

What about someone with very light hair, then? “Blonde hair tends to reflect light, that’s why they can’t absorb light into the roots to kill the hair follicle,” says Bernard.

Other conditions like eczema, pregnancy and acne makes anyone’s skin unsuitable for permanent hair removal for safety and hygiene reasons, too.

#2 Are there any alternatives to IPL that are better for these skin types?
“I would say Variable Pulse Light (VPL). It is an upgraded, advanced version of IPL,” says Bernard. The VPL is a new service offered at Qi Mantra and is touted as a safer, more customisable option than the IPL. It uses light of variable wavelengths in a sequence of rapid, shorter pulses which helps to control the amount that is absorbed by your skin. That means, it’s a treatment that is more customisable to your skin than IPL.

#3 What other factors should a person consider before shelling out the money for a permanent hair removal package?
Bernard says that if you’re considering signing up for a package, it’s important to note that while you’re on treatment, the hair in the treatment area will never look the same again. That is, if you’re willing to allow an area of your body to have uneven hair growth during the one or two-year course.

“For example, with male customers doing a boyzilian, I will always ask if they are certain about totally removing hair in the region, because once we begin, the hair will grow back in patches, and some patches will be bare. So it will look terrible during the transition,” he says.

#4 What should you do before a hair removal session?
Hydrate your skin well, two or three nights before the treatment. “Once you are smooth and hydrated, it doesn’t cause irritation. If your skin is really dry, it will sting after shaving, and you feel as if red spots are going to come out,” says Bernard.

This is especially so if you’re doing a IPL or a VPL treatment. While both these treatments pride themselves as being almost painless – not to mention the comfortable cooling gel that’s always applied over – the light penetrating the pores on the skin are meant to be so strong that they burn the roots. If the skin is dry and dehydrated, Bernard says that you may feel a warm sensation or discomfort the whole night.

Apart from hydrating the skin two nights before a permanent hair removal treatment like IPL and VPL, you should also shave. But do it lightly – brief, with some leftover hair – because hair is needed to attract light for the treatment to be effective.

#5 Is it normal for the area to hurt during a IPL or VPL session?
“IPL and VPL can cause pain on certain areas… on flat areas, when the area is firm and you press the IPL handpiece flat on the surface to shoot the light, it will not cause any static. You feel comfortable. But when we’re talking about, let’s say, a brazilian, or the round bone at your underarm area, the rectangular handpiece cannot be flattened, it causes static and that’s when you feel the stinging feeling. When it comes to an area that is not flat, you feel the pain. But it’s a normal, typical pain and not a burn,” says Bernard.

#6 What should you do after a hair removal session to take care of the area?
Apply a soothing balm or a calming gel, which will help to soothe the skin and prevent irritation. “If you were to shave at home, or pluck your hair, and you do not apply any substance over it immediately, you will invite bacteria… you will feel that it’s dry and a little irritated. A few days later, you may see a pimple coming out – that kind of thing can occur,” says Bernard.

He recommends the Sco Ace Cream sold at Qi Mantra, which he stresses, does not contain any alcohol in the formula. “When you apply or spray a product with alcohol immediately after shaving, it burns straightaway, right? So never use any alcoholic substance on hair removed areas,” says Bernard. If you’re on a budget, try aloe vera gel, he advises.

“Don’t go suntanning, or to heated areas like the sauna and steam room in the gym… because heat causes pores to sweat, causing bacteria,” says Bernard.

#7 How many sessions of IPL and VPL do you have to attend before you see results?
An ideal candidate for IPL is someone with a fair to medium-dark skin tone with dark hair. For someone like this, says Bernard, a difference will be seen in just one session. “On average, people in this group need about six to eight sessions to see a complete removal of hair. And as mentioned earlier, those with a dark skin tone or those with blonde hair will take more than 10 sessions,” he says.

What to do if you’ve got extra sessions leftover? “We don’t encourage customers to transfer, because we have to track how many sessions customers have done in case of complains, so what these two sessions can be used is we can switch and tune it more to skin rejuvenation,” says Bernard. Skin rejuvenation can help to correct discolouration and restore the skin back to its original tone.

#8 If you see results before you finish your package, can you stop the treatment?
“Many of us have this misconception… Once your hair stops growing after two to four sessions, you must still fulfill your six treatments – it’s a course that has to be completed, like antibiotics,” says Bernard.

He explains, “If you don’t see hair growing out, it looks clean. But no matter what, if you don’t see hair, or if it has become so micro, there will still be pores, so light can still penetrate in to maintain the dormant phase, rather than letting it be free.”

According to Bernard, if you do not return for your treatment, then you may see baby hair growing two or three months later. “Once you start to see baby hair growing, you start to shave in the shower, thinking it’s okay. But it is actually triggering [the growth] back, because under microscopic light, clean, bare skin will still have fine hair that cannot be seen with the naked eye,” he says.

#9 How do you get the most out of your money/hair removal etc.
The top-selling areas and services for permanent hair removal that Bernard sees at Qi Mantra are brazilian, underarm and bottom half-leg.

Why the bottom half-leg? “Full leg VPL causes a bomb… so what we do is to encourage clients to go for a half-leg service first. After all, ladies wear knee-length skirts or shorts, so the lower half of the leg needs to be clean,” says Bernard.

#10 What precautions must you take when doing a brazilian hair removal?
“If a client is approaching her menstruation period, or is having her period, we will encourage her not to do [a brazilian hair removal treatment], because it will cause an increase in pain. When you’re having menstruation, body areas, even the chest area, they are sensitive,” says Bernard.

He explains that when you’re having your period, a slight action can cause an area to feel sensitive and irritated. Sensitive nerves are found on parts of the pubic region, with the most at the labia, which also happens to be the most stubborn part to remove hair from.

“Therefore, when you’re shooting light from the VPL handpiece, it’s not hygienic – we won’t allow it – and secondly, it will cause a lot of pain so you can’t go through the proper treatment. There is no point coming in for a treatment and having the power [of the hair removal device] greatly reduced,” says Bernard.

Want more tips on hair removal? Check out these five unhygienic hair removal practices that women tend to overlook.

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