Two days after tearing her skin off with Sally Hansen’s Wax Strips, Kristen Gourrier ’16 was in the emergency room with a third-degree chemical burn. Gourrier’s friend had placed a waxing strip made of chemicals rather than wax on her upper lip, and when she ripped the strip off, Gourrier’s skin had turned red.
“I thought it wasn’t a big deal because it always was red, but it got darker instead of lighter after a couple hours,” Gourrier said.
Gourrier had been using an acne cream, and was later informed by her doctor that she was not supposed to wax while on acne medication, as it made her skin more sensitive.
“My friend and I thought it would be fun to wax ourselves so we went to Walgreens to buy hair removal products, but now I will only go to a professional after what happened to me,” Gourrier said.
The first area where girls most commonly begin removing their hair is on their face, usually around age 12, pediatrician and hair removal specialist Dr. Anita Sabeti (Nikta Mansouri ’15) said. The most common methods for removing hair are waxing, shaving and laser hair removal, which is a fairly recent technique that removes hair for a longer period of time. Girls remove hair mainly on their legs, underarms and bikini lines, Sabeti said. She believes that laser hair removal is the best method for hair removal since it lasts longer than other treatments. Laser hair removal removes hair after four to six sessions on average, which are done every two to six weeks.
“I like waxing my legs because I think it is more natural, and also my hair doesn’t grow back as quickly or as thick,” Lili Cohen ’15 said. “I have a high pain tolerance so it doesn’t hurt, but I think it could sometimes hurt.”
While some prefer waxing their legs, others favor shaving their legs, as it is less painful and time consuming.
“I shave mostly in the summer, and I barely shave my legs in the winter,” Audrey Chambers ’15 said.
Chambers believes that girls remove their leg hair less often in the winter because they do not show their legs in public as much, while others remove their leg hair just as often as in any other season due to personal comfort. During the warmer months, when wearing clothing that reveals their legs, girls tend to shave their legs more often, as they feel uncomfortable with others, mainly men, seeing them with leg hair.
“Guys do like shaved legs and I think it does influence what they do,” Cameron Kao ’15 said. “It’s all about sex appeal.”
While both leg and armpit hair grow naturally on women, some men believe that it is unnatural and unattractive, and should be removed.
“I think women’s leg hair is gross because society told me it is, and I agree with them for the most part,” Matt Klein ’14 said.
While Noah Gains ’15 believes leg hair on men is socially acceptable, he does not believe the same for leg hair on women.
“I feel that hair is a sign of masculinity, and for girls to have leg hair, it makes them less feminine,” Gains said.
Marianne Verrone ’15, however, believes that leg hair on women is normal and should be socially acceptable.
“I think it has become something that our society has made a norm, when it really is not,“ Verrone said. “It shouldn’t be that necessary; it’s not a normal thing. But since it is the ideal for beauty, I guess women feel that they need to do it.”
Girls use various methods to maintain their eyebrows such as tweezing, threading and most commonly, waxing.
“I maintain my eyebrows every morning,” Erica Jaffe ’15 said. “You can always wear pants to hide your legs, but you can’t do the same with your eyebrows, which is why I think it is important to keep them groomed.”
With removing hair on the bikini line, views differ. Some get Brazilian waxes, which remove all hair on the bikini line; others remove smaller amounts. Some shave or wax their bikini lines every couple of weeks; others do it every couple of months.
While removing hair on the bikini line is common, it has health risks. Hair defends from infections, and removing it makes that area more vulnerable, dermatologist Joshua Zeichner said. Waxing can also cause microscopic wounds, irritation and burns when done improperly.
“If you [wax it] at a clean place it is very rare, but it can happen,” Sabeti said.