It may feel as though winter is never going to go away, but rest assured … it will. And despite that all of us are longing for the balmy days of summer, many of us don’t have our skin in summer-ready shape. Furthermore, some of us may not know the ins and outs of maintaining our skin throughout the warmer months. On Monday, March 31, this writer caught up with Celebrity Dermatologist, Dr. Jody Levine to get the full 411 on Summer Skincare 101.
Dr. Jody Levine is an internationally renowned physician, who is board certified by the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dr. Levine, together with her husband, has a private practice on the Upper East Side, Plastic Surgery & Dermatology of NYC. She is also the “resident” Venus Dermatologist and the go-to source for everyone from The Rachael Ray Show to W magazine and Elle to The New York Times.
Yvonne P. Mazzulo: We’re all coming out of the polar vortex, some of us with polar bear hair on our legs. For those women who skip shaving during the winter months, how should they approach removing an abundance of hair?
Dr. Jody Levine: I feel like we’ve been living in winter all year! The trick to removing an abundance of hair is making sure you follow the right steps. First, I recommend hydrating your hair with warm water and waiting two to three minutes from when you step into the shower before shaving. This will make the hair softer and easier to cut. Next, be sure to apply ample amounts of moisture rich-shave gel like the Satin Care Ultra Sensitive Shave Gel. Incorporating a shave gel is an important step in getting a great shave. Not only does it allow your razor to glide better and easier over the skin, but it also helps lubricate the hairs – so they’re soft and stand up at attention, making them easier to cut. The type of razor you use is also crucial when it comes to removing a lot of hair. Make sure you use a high quality razor, with five sharp blades – so you’re getting a smooth, ultra-close shave. Finally, shave with light, gentle strokes and exert as little pressure as possible – this will help reduce your chances of skin irritation.
What causes razor burn and how can we avoid it?
Razor burn is caused by using a low quality or dull razor with inadequate lubrication. Using this type of razor will cause you to shave the same area several times with added pressure, causing irritation to the skin. But, this can be avoided by using a high quality razor, like the new Venus Embrace Sensitive razor. The new Embrace Sensitive features a Ribbon of Moisture with a touch of aloe and increased protective lubricants to ensure a smooth shave before and after each stroke. It also has five thin-spring mounted blades that are spaced closely together, which allows for reduced and uniform pressure when gliding across the skin. This ensures there are fewer skin bulges between each blade while shaving, which helps to minimize the chances of nicks and cuts and prevents the need to shave areas multiple times. The less interaction there is with the razor and skin, the less chance you’ll have in getting skin irritation and razor burn!
I’ve read that we should exfoliate more often during the warmer months. What are your thoughts about the frequency of exfoliation?
If you’re exfoliating on a daily basis, I recommend using a tool that will gently exfoliate your skin. For example, using skin care products that contain glycolic or lactic acid can provide you with a gentle exfoliation that’s safe for daily use. Shaving is also actually a gentle form of exfoliation and will help remove dead cells from your skin’s surface. If you’re looking to do more of a hard manual exfoliation with a scrub or a loofah, I’d recommend incorporating this into your beauty routine no more than twice a week. Too much exfoliation actually promotes dead skin cell creation, so in the warmer months keep it to what your skin needs.
There are products on that market that claim to hamper hair growth. Do they really work?
The only product that I am aware of that is proven to hamper hair growth is a prescription cream. However, results are only seen as long as you continue using the product.
Some women use soap to shave. What are your thoughts on this? What products would you recommend for shaving?
I don’t typically recommend using soap while shaving. In fact, ordinary bar soap can actually clog your razor and leave your skin feeling dry and flakey. Instead, I recommend shaving with the Satin Care Ultra Sensitive Shave Gel (as I mentioned above). This shave gel has lubricating agents and is fragrance and dye free – so your razor glides better over your skin for a smooth, irritation free shave.
For readers who want to use self-tanners, how should they approach shaving before and after tanning?
Self tanners tend to stick to your dead skin cells and since some areas of your body might have more dead skin cells than others, this can result in an overall uneven tan. Before applying any self tanner, I recommend a gentle form of exfoliation, so your skin’s surface is smooth and even. If applying self-tanner to your legs, you should shave before applying. This will allow the self tanner to smooth on evenly. Once you’ve applied the self tanner, be sure to let it dry for about 20 minutes before applying any other moisturizers on top.
The bikini area can be super sensitive. What’s the best way to remove hair from this area?
You are correct – the bikini area can be super sensitive, this is actually a frequently asked question from my patients. Given that the hair on your bikini line can be more coarse and curved and the area has many contours, the best way to remove hair from this area is by using a sharp, fresh razor that is designed to adjust to the contours of your body. While shaving, be sure to pull the skin taut and shave in the direction that feels most comfortable in this area. This will allow for a smooth, irritation free shave. Also, if you tend to get ingrown hairs in this area, it’s a good idea to exfoliate prior to your shave. This will help remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface and allow for the hair follicles to open up – allowing for the hair to grow out!
Sun and saltwater can be irritating, but impossible to avoid at the beach. How can we stay hair free during our beach-bound vacations?
First, always be sure to apply sunblock, as sunburnt skin can be very sensitive when it comes to hair removal. Being in the sun can also really dry your skin out, so be sure to use a fresh, sharp razor so it glides over your skin smoothly and easily, reducing your chances of nicks and cuts. The fewer nicks and cuts you have, the less irritation you’ll get from saltwater!
Summer usually brings impromptu weekend getaways. What advice can you offer for shaving on-the-go?
Venus now has the first truly portable razor – the Venus Snap with Embrace – which you can pop into your bag, so that you can easily shave on-the-go. The Snap features a mini-handle and a full Venus Embrace head – all put together in a friendly travel compact case – so you can have smooth skin anytime.
Summer simply calls for skin-baring clothes, so underarm hair has to go. What’s the best way to avoid getting those unattractive bumps from shaving?
Razor bumps or ingrown hairs are often formed from dead skin cells that grow over the hair. This occurs when the razor is not sharp enough and is not exfoliating the skin properly and evenly in the underarm area. Using a sharp razor that contours to your underarms and remembering to change your razor blades at the first sign of dullness is crucial to avoiding unattractive bumps from shaving. Most people tend to forget this step and will notice that they start to get bumps because they’re still shaving with a dull razor. If you’re still noticing that you’re getting razor bumps, consider changing your deodorant to one that is less irritating – this could help improve the health of the skin in this area.
Note: A special thank you to Dr. Jodi Levine for taking time from her extremely busy schedule to share tips with readers!
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