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Sports Illustrated Model Nina Agdal’s Secrets to Getting the Perfect Wax

Written on October 7, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

For most of us who wax, the act is kept private. But for Sports Illustrated model, Nina Agdal, it’s just part of her job. So much so that she has teamed up with European Wax Center as their new brand ambassador. We caught up with Nina to find out how to get the perfect wax as well as some of her off-duty beauty secrets.

What interested you in being a brand ambassador for European Wax Center?
“Since my job is to always be kind of half-naked in swimsuits and lingerie, it’s important for me to have good skin, so European Wax Center is a great fit. They have a great waxing procedure that’s painless and makes your skin so smooth. I always make sure to go before a shoot to get my skin ready and I like going there specifically because it’s comfortable, everyone’s so nice, it’s clean and it’s pretty.”

Do you have any tips on getting the perfect wax, or products you use pre/post wax?
“I use The Exfoliate ($38, waxcenter.com) before I get waxed just to make sure my skin is clean and smooth. Their waxing is so painless that after, you don’t really need anything. They have products to use after if you’re in pain, but you don’t really need it. Just put on some lotion and you’re good to go.”

What’s you’re favorite part of being a Sports Illustrated model?
“It’s just like a family, honestly. To be a part of that family is such a pleasure. Everybody is so nice and they help you a lot with putting your name out there and you do a lot of PR stuff for them and of course you get to go on great trips and do great events because of it and I’m just so happy to be a part of that.”

Since you are out on the beach in the water and sun for these Sports Illustrated photo-shoots, what tips do you have for keeping your makeup in place?
“I think when you’re going to the beach; you have to keep it as natural as possible. Of course, put on sunscreen to protect your skin both for now and for later but besides that, waterproof mascara and a little brow. European Wax Center has a Natural Brow Powder ($20, waxcenter.com) too which I use. It’s not a pencil; a pencil can be too stiff but this is really easy. When you’re going to the beach, curl your lashes, [apply] waterproof mascara, a little brow and maybe a little bronzer. I feel like the worst mistake you can make is putting on foundation before going to the beach because it’s just going to melt down your face and look like a disaster.”

What are your beauty must haves when you’re off-duty?
“I really like the ck One Cream + Powder Bronzer Duo ($25, Ulta.com). I use it on my cheekbones but you can also use it on your nose or eyelids and it just gives you a nice glow. And then I use Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm ($33, elizabetharden.com) hour on my lips. You can even put it on your eyelids too if you just want them to be a little glossy.”

—Chelsea Burns, beauty intern

Pro Waxing Secrets and How Hair Removal Affects Your Workout

Written on September 17, 2013 at 10:24 am , by

Ever wonder how your wax might be affecting your workouts, or vice versa? Us, too. So we tapped Noemi Grupenmager, Founder and CEO of Uni K wax centers (with locations in California, Florida and New York) to get the scoop on how your hair removal habits and your hustle in the gym are related. Below, she spills some of her best waxing secrets as well as offers tips to help you get your sweat on while still maintaining soft and smooth skin.

For an athlete or someone who enjoys working out, what are the benefits of waxing over shaving?
“A big plus is that waxing is safer than shaving and will help you avoid the daily risk of nicks, cuts, ingrown hair and razor burn that can irritate you while you’re working out and wearing tight clothing. Waxing removes hair below skin level making it a fairly long-lasting method of hair removal. Results can last from three to six weeks, which is ideal for those of us who swim regularly, or want to save time in the shower after a workout.”

Should you refrain from certain workouts like cycling or Spin class after a Brazilian or bikini wax?
“With the right wax, you can enjoy any workout without a worry. I have my own trick to ensure clients can go straight to the gym after their service. Uni K uses an all-natural elastic wax made for sensitive areas and after the elastic wax is removed, we apply an individual ice pack, which closes the pores quickly to minimize any redness or irritation. We then apply a gel made from cool and calming cucumber, chamomile and calendula extract to comfort, refresh and hydrate the waxed area. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory, prepping your skin to feel even better and more ready for a workout (or the beach, etc.) than when you walked in! If you don’t have access to Uni K, simulate these treatments on your own by bringing a cold pack and a cucumber-rich moisturizer to use post-wax. It’s important to note that hard wax or strip wax can irritate the skin more than elastic wax, so if you do feel uncomfortable after using those types of waxes, opt for a workout that doesn’t stress the bikini area and start spin class again the next day.”

Can swimming—in the pool or ocean—post-wax cause irritation?
“Typically you can go swimming and not experience any post-wax irritation. The secret is to apply wax at body temperature so it doesn’t burn or aggravate the skin. This calms and gently opens pores, and using the cold pack described above closes them again, so you’re no more vulnerable to irritants in the water like chlorine or salt. Just be mindful that tight swimsuits can increase the likelihood of an ingrown hair.”

I was just going to ask, can tight leggings cause ingrown hairs? If so, how can you treat or avoid them?
“If you wax regularly, you will have a slim chance of getting an ingrown hair. However, tight clothes, like workout leggings compress the hair against your body most of the time, and the chances of getting an ingrown hair increase. Don’t stay in your wet swimsuit or sweaty leggings longer than necessary after your workout. Exfoliating regularly will help to diminish your chance of getting an ingrown hair. I do recommend avoiding exfoliating one to two days before and after you wax because the wax will exfoliate your skin while removing unwanted hair. If you do experience ingrown hairs, try a gel formulated to gently exfoliate, like Uni K Ingrown Hair Roll-On ($22, unikwax.com).”

Often after any type of facial wax (eyebrows, lip, chin, etc.) and a workout, a breakout ensues. Is there any way to avoid post-wax zits?
“To minimize breakouts, choose a wax that is not hot, contains no chemicals, is gentle on the skin and does not cause discomfort. It’s also important to hydrate with plenty of water and moisturizers before and between waxing to achieve a better hair removal result and reduce any irritation. Avoid applying retinol products to skin 24-48 hours before facial waxing. Retinol is the purest form of Vitamin A, and while it’s a great ingredient for treating adult acne, it’s extremely potent and even applying a thin layer makes skin more sensitive and prone to redness and irritation.”

If you wax your underarms, is it okay to use deodorant immediately? 
“Yes, it is okay to use a deodorant after waxing as long as the deodorant itself is not irritating for you. When considering what type of deodorant to use, it is always better to use bars and roll-ons over sprays, as sprays tend to be more harsh and difficult to control during application. Try to choose products that contain natural ingredients and skin soothers (like aloe, chamomile, cucumber, etc.) without synthetic fragrances which can be irritating to some people.”

How I Survived Second-Degree Burns From A Hair Removal Fail

Written on July 23, 2013 at 12:58 pm , by

As a beauty editor, it’s part of my job to lug home a bajillion products and test, try, swipe, soak, spray, spritz, apply, etc. to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Although there isn’t an inch to spare in my medicine cabinet due to my product hoarding, testing gives us key insight into the user experience. Now trust me; I get it—we’re not saving lives here, and there are far more dangerous jobs than that of a beauty-obsessed journalist writing about the mascara she can’t live without, but sometimes this testing could be considered, well.….an occupational hazard. Take, for instance, the time I suffered second degree burns from an at-home hair-removal wax kit.

To explain: I heated up the wax in my microwave according to the directions and although the bottom of the pot was thoroughly melted, the top portion never liquefied. This created a hard disk, which misled me to believe the entire pot was still solid. When I went to test this “solid” theory with the wood stick by inserting it into the jar, it pushed one side of the hard disk down into the liquid bottom and created a catapult-like effect that launched lava-level hot wax straight onto my wrist and arm.

Ouch would be an understatement. My reaction involved something more along the lines of a lot of text symbols like: $@#!%&@#!!!!!!

My burn one day after the accident.

This is actually not an uncommon incident. Debora Heslin, RPA-C, who treated me along with Neal Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist at Park Avenue Skin Care, let me know that their practice sees many patients who come in with this exact issue, whether it happened at the salon or was self-inflicted at home. However, as a beauty editor experienced with not only using these kits, but also writing the directions on how to use them, I felt like a total dope for hurting myself so severely. On the bright side, I now consider myself an expert at all things burn-related (adding that to my resume!).  Here are the best tips I picked up along the way:

1.    Release The Heat: After arriving at my derm’s office, Heslin first froze the wax to make it easier to remove. This also helped reduce the heat stuck beneath the skin’s surface and it felt insanely blissful on my burn. I spent the next two days icing my arm on and off which helped ease the pain.

2.    Keep It Moist: Heslin described that when it comes to skin treatments, usually less is more, but not when it comes to burns. She urged me to slather my prescription ointment on excessively multiple times a day, then later, I switched to BeautyRx Healing Balm ($9, call 855.BEAUTY.RX to order).

3.    Don’t Suffer: In an attempt to act all cavalier about my injury, I told everyone I was fine, but the truth is a burn is a very different kind of pain and it hurts! It’s like a dull, pulsing sensation mixed with a stinging feeling, which is the strongest during the first few days. Heslin said popping a few aspirin is best for treating burns for its anti-inflammatory properties.

4.    Cover Up: Protecting the burn with bandages and changing the dressings two to three times a day is the most annoying part, but it’s so important. It not only keeps your ointment in place, but it also protects your burn from dirt and germs that can cause an infection. I went through boxes of Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Mirasorb Gauze Sponges ($11, walgreens.com), Johnson & Johnson Red Cross Hurt-Free Wrap ($5, walgreens.com), and Band Aid Large Waterblock Plus Bandages ($5, walgreens.com). Although bandages are really not the chicest things to wear around for weeks, you just have to do it (when I had to attend a black-tie wedding, I disguised them with an oversized gold cuff bracelet).

5.    Hands Off: As your burn starts to heal, it could be tempting to pick the dead, fried skin that is shedding off or mess with the blisters but it’s crucial not to touch. Your skin will heal without your help and you could risk worse scarring if you pick.

6.    Keep It Clean: My incident happened right before I was headed to the beach so Heslin told me to keep my arm out of the sun, sand and ocean water. Shower water is OK and you can rinse it with a gentle soap and warm water when showering or bathing.

7.    Milk It: No, I don’t mean make your boyfriend and your mom wait on you hand and foot due to your “very painful, badly burned arm” (though this kind of manipulation will work and you should use it to your advantage). Once the blisters have emptied, Dr. Schultz advised soaking the burn in equal parts skim milk and water. The milk has proteins in it that help reduce inflammation and the burning discomfort.

8.    No Sunshine When It’s Gone: Once the burn is healed enough (meaning no blisters, shedding skin or scabs) it will just look raw and pink. During this stage, it’s crucial to keep it out of the sun, which can turn the pink pigments brown causing annoying hyperpigmentation which can be difficult to remove.. Apply an SPF of at least 30 to the area daily, reapply after swimming or sweating and cover it with a zinc-based sunscreen if outdoors for an extended period of time. Also, don’t reach for scar creams or patches right away—those are made for raised scars, which are more common from things like cuts or surgery. Plus, if you take really good care of your burn (like me!) you won’t have any scarring.

The progress one month after my #hairremovalfail.

Listen, accidents happen. And even the most skilled person can flub when it comes to hair removal so follow the directions and use caution. If you get badly burned, see a medical professional and reference the tips above. Otherwise, you might just want to leave the tough stuff to the pros.