Most of us rejoice at the start of summer, but there is one serious downfall: depilation - and lots of it. A woman's legs and armpits amounts to around 78,000 hair follicles.
Hair removal suddenly needs to top your beauty regime so you can bare your pins quicker than someone can say 'heatwave'. Nobody wants to be that girl walking around in black opaques in 30+ degrees.
And legs aren't the only thing to consider. There's armpits, for all those sleeveless tops you can suddenly wear, and your bikini line in preparation for swimsuit season.
If everything's looking overgrown, it's time to start your deforestation, quick-smart. Here's our guide to a hair-free summer.
PREP Firstly, you'll need to decide on your de-fuzzing method. Surface hair removal methods like wet shaving or depilatory creams will give you immediacy if you want smooth skin fast, ouch-free, but you'll need to tackle the regrowth regularly.
Depilatory creams may not be the best option for sensitive skins, due to the chemicals involved, so always carry out a patch test first.
Be prepared for a small degree of discomfort with root hair removal, like epilating and waxing, but you'll be rewarded with smooth skin for longer. If you're intent on minimising your hair growth completely, invest in longer-term treatments like IPL or laser.
You'll always get the smoothest results with any treatment if you prime your skin first once or twice a week: "Exfoliating is key," says Remington's hair removal expert, Dr Barbara Kubicka. "Use a scrub or brush to n ot only invigorate the skin, but also tackle tougher and thicker areas of skin where the hair may have more trouble pushing through, which can lead to ingrown hairs."
EXECUTION Avoid shortcuts to achieve optimum hair-zapping powers. The goal is a smooth finish rather than just irritated, hair-free skin.
If you tend to grab the razor, you'll get the best results by lathering up with a shaving soap. Regular soap and water can dry out the skin leaving you with a scaly appearance, so pick out a dedicated shave soap with moisturising properties. Using a multi-blade razor will also help cut through stubble more effectively.
They're not completely pain-free, but the latest epilators and wax products on the market have minimised the pain involved with new techniques and technology. Check out the heated roll-on wax devices from Nair and Veet.
"There are two main pieces of advice to reduce pain when epilating," Kubicka says, " Firstly, you can numb the skin with ice or a numbing agent. Secondly, commit to epilating often - this weakens the hair meaning it can be removed more easily."
MAINTENANCE Shaving can dry out your skin quickly. Lock in moisture with a body oil; apply within five minutes of getting out of the shower to keep your skin super-hydrated.
If you've been removing hair at the root, be mindful of the products you're applying to the skin immediately afterwards.
"Oils and moisturisers are a big no-no if you have been epilating or waxing," Kubicka warns. "Pores are left open following these treatments, meaning they can easily be blocked and clogged by thick and sticky moisturisers, which can lead to spots, inflammation or rashes.
"Aloe vera is by far the best product to use after a treatment," she suggests. " It soothes and cools skin, so try to use a product with aloe vera that's as pure as possible."
TRIED & TESTED :: Tori Mayo avoids the pasty look with a pre-vacation DIY spray tan Hoping to get a head start on my holiday skin before jetting off to the Med (without spending a packet), I gave the Gorgeous Bronze Salon Tan at Home kit a go. It's a home spray tan with added Anti-Cellulite Formula. I'm a redhead with fair skin and a smattering of cellulite. My complexion and tans, real or fake, don't usually mix, but I was aiming for a toned, natural and sun-kissed look ahead of my holiday.
With assistance from the boyfriend for those hard to reach parts, we sprayed as instructed - horizontally and from a set distance. It wasn't the light dusting I was expecting, so I rubbed in any excess which was running down my skin - I found h olding the spray further away helped it adhere more - then I left it on for the minimum two hours before showering off.
The results were quite obvious, but I liked the bronzed effect. There were no streaks where it had been applied and coverage was even, though I could spot where I'd missed bits. The spray tan comes in two shades - Light to Medium or Medium to Dark - and (without a hint of orange) the lighter tone really suited my skin . From one attempt, I can't comment on the cellulite-reducing properties promised on the box, but having a faux colour certainly helped disguise the dimples.
I would definitely use this again and, with a further nine applications in the bottle, I'll be mastering the technique each time. At a fraction of the price of a salon spray tan, I don't mind if it takes a couple of attempts to really get the hang of it. As for my holiday glow, the tan lasted for around four days before fading - just in time to be replaced with a real holiday tan!
:: Gorgeous Bronze Salon Tan at Home, £19.99. Visit www.gorgeousbronze.co.uk for nationwide stockists BUY IT NOW Ciate's nail polish Beach House is so good you'll want to move in. The four vacation-ready, wet-look shades and glitter top coat are just the thing for a summer mani - bikini optional. Choose from P epperminty, Hopscotch, Knickerbocker Glory, Amazing G racie and Party Shoes. Ciate Beach House Collection, £20 (www.ciate.co.uk).
BEAUTY BULLETIN :: BATHROOM WARS Patiently or not, the average Brit spends 181 days over a lifetime waiting in line for the bathroom. That's the equivalent of 55 hours per year, according to a survey by Radox. We spend an average of nine minutes per day waiting our turn, while family members or housemates scrub up in the bathroom, racking up over an hour on a weekly basis. M en are just as bad as their female counterparts when it comes to bathroom-hogging, spending 20 minutes per day sprucing up, just seven minutes less than women.
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