Waxing for Hair Removal: Dipping Into Danger?

Lenore Skomal

Americais fast becoming a hairless nation. To help achieve that goal, there are many methods to become free of unwanted hair. Once they reach puberty, American women start the ritual of removing unsightly hair from their legs, underarms, bikini area, eyebrows and upper lip. These days, it's not uncommon for young men to join in the ritual.

"I've noticed in the past 10 to 15 years how men -- not only women -- have become more conscious about body hair than ever before," says Peter Lamas, a beauty consultant and owner of Lamas Beauty International, with offices in Santa Monica, Calif. and Houston, Texas, and owner of www.beautywalk.com. "Body hair is just not acceptable anymore. Period."

To do this, both men and women use electric shavers, depilatories (creams and lotions), razors, electrolysis, lasers and waxes. While shaving is still the most popular method, waxing runs a close second (along with depilatories) as the hair remover of choice.

Waxing at Home
"I can tell you that 14 percent of all women have used a home waxing product in the last year, which is about the same percentage who get waxed in salons," says David Fox, vice president of marketing for
New York, based Carter-Wallace, Inc., the manufacturers of Nair® hair removal products. In fact, home waxing and depilatories are both $70 million industries. "But we also know that most women, in fact almost all women, shave. The women who use waxes and depilatories do so in addition to shaving. Maybe they have a special occasion like going to the beach or whatever, but most women still own a razor."

With the increase in hair removal options, companies like Nair have added more dimension to their over-the-counter products, says Fox. In addition to the line of depilatories and lotions, the company has do-it-yourself waxing kits that include cold wax strips, and several products know as "sugaring" which have the look and feel of a wax resin, but are actually a sugar-based product. The kits come either in small tubs, which can be heated or spread on cold, or in a roll-on applicator. After applying the substance with a small spatula, a cloth strip is placed on top, and then pulled off in the same manner as the hot waxing procedure, leaving the surface hairless.

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