A Hairy Situation: A Review on Super Hair Removal (SHR)

I am a hairy person.

I have always wanted to have my leg hair removed SINCE FOREVER because for years and years it was a constant source of frustration and esteem issues. Shaving was such a trauma because for some reason I always tended to get ingrown hair on my legs, which would result in angry, inflamed bumps all over my legs, leaving — gasp — SCARS that would take forever to go away! Not pretty at all.

And I have tried them all — Veet, waxing, epilating, ingrown hair treatment (salicylic acid, basically), exfoliating regularly, but NOTHING helped.

So one of my life priorities when I started working 3 years ago was to nip that problem in the bud — go for hair removal! It was the perfect time to go because 1) I finally had the money and 2) I was going to be married and wanted to look good for myself, and for my husband.

And so I went! One of the best decisions I’ve made in my life EVER. It may seem like an exaggeration, but if you knew how much unhappiness these hairs have caused me, you’ll see how it’s true. I completed my sessions just before the wedding, and have since gone on to remove underarm hair and now, facial hair. I didn’t have any gripes about my facial hair really, but I caved in to vanity. My justification? That makeup will go onto the skin better! I’ll admit the packages are not cheap, but this will be my last course of hair removal. I’m not addicted to aesthetic treatments, I promise!

It is absolute bliss that I don’t have to fuss over leg and underarm hair ever again (or at least for a very long time, because no hair removal is permanent — it’s subjected to factors like hormone changes in your body). I really can’t imagine now if I hadn’t gone — Faz would’ve probably had to bear some of the brunt!

After doing my research, I went with a hair removal technology called Super Hair Removal (SHR). It’s touted as a painless process because the light delivered to the hair follicles is low-intensity but delivered rapidly, therefore heating the follicles just enough to kill them, without any pain. Previously, as with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), it was thought that the light must be strong and targeted at the follicles long enough in order to kill them, and this was why it was so painful. Now, isn’t R&D amazing?

Despite this promising premise, my first few sessions were EXCRUCIATING. It felt just like how IPL users describe it — rubber bands snapping against my skin — but worse. I only found out why it was excruciating later when my beautician rotated to another outlet and another attended to me — and no, it wasn’t because my hairs were too thick, or that the claims of SHR being painless were invalid. It was because she had been moving the machine over my legs perhaps a bit too slowly, therefore heating up my hair follicles longer than necessary!

With my new beautician, there was still some heat but it was never painful because she takes extra care to move the machine over my legs quickly. The heat and smell of burnt hair can be a bit of a discomfort at first but as the hairs get finer and lesser, you won’t even feel the heat anymore and it’s virtually painless.

SHR is effective for all skin, dark or fair. But as with all lasers, it’s most effective when the hairs are darker and thicker — the light targets darker and thicker hairs more easily than fine hairs. That’s why you’ll need multiple sessions before the hairs are completely gone. OH and the great thing about SHR is that it lightens the skin too! The scars on my legs are practically gone, and my underarms are the fairest it’s ever been! And now I’m hoping for the scars on my face to be lightened too.

I’ve been going for my SHR sessions at CSK Aesthetics, which has been superb. It’s an aesthetic clinic run by doctors whom you can get professional advice from. The procedures are mostly done by the beauticians, but it’s just reassuring to have the option to see a doctor regarding your procedure if you need to. Going to a beauty centre may be cheaper but I was looking to sign up with a doctor-guided centre that knows what they’re doing and can give me advice that’s backed by science. They don’t hardsell either, which is great!

P/S: This is not an advertorial. Been really happy with my results so far, and just wanted to share the good stuff!


Project Wedding Body

Yesterday, the boyfriend and I started running again. We’ve abandoned our running shoes for about a year now…boy oh boy, what a difference a year makes.

In fact, I had put on my running gear and was about to step out of the house when I realised I didn’t even know where my running shoes were! I finally found them in a shoe bag in my big Ikea tin can where I chuck all my unused bags. They were in there long enough that they even had this store room smell. I was just hoping they weren’t going disintegrate halfway — I bought them back in 2008 to train for my first half marathon.

I think I’ve a pretty good idea what my next paycheck will go to.

We took it easy yesterday. We knew we weren’t going to (and probably couldn’t) push ourselves to run in a day what we missed out in a year. I was also wary of how my problematic knee would react to the impact, so I went really slow. As expected, my stamina was really crappy. Fats could be felt jiggling in all places. But I was happy enough that I started because to start, as we all know, is biggest challenge of all.

I really hope that this was the workout to officially kickstart Project Wedding Body!

I leave you with something to think about:

A one hour workout is 4% of your day. No excuses.

The Regimen Update #2

Here’s a bit of an overdue, albeit important update on The Regimen: I’ve stopped the routine.

In the last update, I was talking about stopping for a while to let my skin recover from the benzoyl peroxide and then building up again slowly by applying it only to the affected areas first. I did just that, and it was fine when it was just the affected areas I was applying BP to, but when I started to build up the application in area and amount, the same thing happened the first time — it became too itchy and painful to continue.

And so I stopped. I had my reservations about slapping something so explicitly chemical so liberally onto my skin, actually. My organic-obsessed uncle would die if he knew this was exactly what I did. But when you’re in dire need of a solution, you’ll see light at the end of any tunnel….or what seems like light, anyway. Besides, netizens sing praises about the routine, so I didn’t see why I shouldn’t try it.

For the record, I’m not denouncing The Regimen. There may have been several factors as to why it didn’t work for me. Note that I didn’t purchase acne.org’s products. The website says it’s fine to use other products, so that’s what I did. I tried to follow as close as possible which ingredients to avoid, and which to look out for.

Yet, my skin didn’t seem to accustom itself to the effects of the BP. Maybe it would be a different story if I’d used acne.org products — afterall, they were formulated with the application of BP in mind.

And, of course that everyone’s skin is different. One man’s meat is another’s poison. What may work for you may not work for me.

I didn’t get nothing out of the whole process, though. I learnt the proper way to cleanse my face: the lesser friction the better, and no longer than 10 seconds (although I still tend to go on a bit longer, but considerably shorter compared to what I was previously used to). Also, to never pick on your face. Everyone knows this, obviously, but how many of us can proudly proclaim we don’t? Hence, the importance can never be stressed enough.

Pure jojoba oil is probably the best thing I got out of The Regimen. This has since replaced my MAC Cleanse Off Oil as makeup remover, and I’m totally loving it. Not that the MAC Cleanse Off Oil didn’t do a good job in removing makeup, but it does contain chemicals, so the natural contender jojoba oil gets my vote. Plus, it’s highly moisturising. Seriously, I love it. You can use it on chapped lips and dry scalp too.

I don’t want to jinx it, but my skin’s improved a lot since my pre-Regimen days. It’s not flawless like it was when I was on Roaccutane, obviously, because that perfection wasn’t natural — it was chemically-induced.

My improved skin can be attributed, quite possibly, to the use of jojoba oil and Living Nature, a brand of 100% natural skincare, which I started using during The Regimen. I’ve been using their products for about 3 months plus now, but it was only shortly after I stopped with the BP (I was on The Regimen for about a month) that I realised this Living Nature stuff actually works! Normally the positive effects of facial products I’ve tried so far don’t last. They seem to work at first, but later on my skin goes back to the way it was.

I’m a fan of Living Nature’s Purifying Cleanser and Balancing Day Lotion. I really like the feel of my skin after usage of these two products. I have some of their other products, namely their exfoliant, toner, rescue gel and night cream — all of which I’m supposed to be sharing with my mom, but can’t be arsed to put on…except for the exfoliant once in a while, which is good too. The rescue gel doesn’t work for me, though. I don’t like putting on so many products because it’s suffocating. Speaking from experience, so many products will only result in oiliness and breakouts. And besides, I don’t believe in toners. Nobody can give me a concrete or even remotely convincing answer on what toners really do or if they’re really necessary, so I’ll just leave it out of the equation.

With the Purifying Cleanser, it’s so lightweight you’ll doubt if  it’s actually doing anything for your skin if you’re used to those foam-type facial cleansers. But it’ll still feel thoroughly cleansed and supple afterward, without feeling taut and aggravated, especially if your skin is already irritated. It doesn’t sting.

The Balancing Day Lotion went on a bit weird at first, like it was too thick or rich or something. But after a while, it sort of dissolves into your skin, without leaving a layer of shine like some moisturisers do.

I’ve not banished the BP completely, though. I still use it topically as and when the situation calls for it (which isn’t very often or horrible now) and more importantly, in very small amounts.

Drinking lots of water helps too. My new office can practically double up as a freezer, so I’m constantly refilling my mug with hot water every half hour or so…which means I’ll be skipping to the lou loo every two hours to flush out toxins which may be causing those breakouts.

Anyway Living Nature in Singapore has a facebook page which you can check out if you’re interested. Quite often they have promotions which they announce on their FB page too.

The Regimen Update #1

I’ve decided to stop the benzoyl peroxide treatment for the time being. Three or four days into The Regimen my skin became unbearably itchy and I couldn’t bear to slap on some more BP because it felt like I was setting my skin on fire.

I may have made the mistake of starting out with too much BP. Although the amount that I put on was the recommended amount for beginners, it may have been for people with more severe acne. Or maybe my skin was just more sensitive. I acknowledge — everyone’s skin is different.

The itchiness went away about two or three days after I stopped the BP, and my skin is now recovering from the dryness. I’m still pretty positive about The Regimen, so I’ll try it again in a few days, starting by treating just the affected areas first. All that dryness from the first try has pretty much zapped away most of the white-filled pustules I mentioned in my earlier post, leaving a pimple or two that surfaced just recently.

Hopefully it’ll work this time.

Skin woes.

I don’t have good skin. Some days my skin is better, but I’d say those days are rare and few. I tend to break out very frequently. I’ll admit, it’s not like really bad acne where you have these ginormous cystic pimples, and I thank god for that. The type I get a lot is small pustules with white or yellow centres and they mostly appear on my cheeks and jawline.

It’s really annoying because although it’s not that bad, at the same time you wouldn’t wanna go out with yellow-centred pustules on your face. If you pop them, the whole area just gets inflamed and what started out as a small pustule becomes like a full-blown pimple.

There was a point in my life that I was really affected by these breakouts. That was when I decided to try Roaccutane. At $180 for a month’s supply, it was pretty pricey. But it worked, when no other topical product did. I was on it for a little over a year and enjoyed the clearest skin for another six months after I stopped. But sadly the effect of Roaccutane didn’t last. The oiliness came back, and then bit by bit the pustules reappeared.

Nowadays I’m not really as affected by the state of my skin. I still do want clear skin (who doesn’t?), but not by Roaccutane. As it is, I’m already on some strong medication for my arthritis and cholesterol, and I don’t want to destroy my body by taking another strong pill.

So I was randomly googling (I LOVE GOOGLE!) and I chanced upon acne.org‘s The Regimen. Dan Kern, the founder of acne.org had been battling acne throughout his teens and had tried almost everything on the market. Through trial and error, he finally found a regimen that worked for him. He decided to share his success story through acne.org to help others battling the same problem avoid aimless experimentation with the gazillion products available on the market. And so far he’s gotten feedback from an astounding number of people that his regimen has worked for them too!

The Regimen basically consists of three steps: cleansing, treatment with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and LOTS of moisturising. Over the years, Dan has educated himself considerably in skincare, so he has come up with a list of ingredients or products to be avoided or recommended when buying skincare products. He’s also formulated his own line of products for The Regimen to make it easier for people to access the exact same products he uses. But he stresses that clear skin IS achievable even if you don’t use his products. By finding the right product with the right ingredients, and by the right methods of application (common skincare mistakes listed here), anyone can achieve clear skin.

I was so excited to try out The Regimen that I went out to get two tubes of PanOxyl 2.5% benzoyl peroxide from Guardian pharmacy and a bottle of pure jojoba oil from Nature’s Farm the very next day. Jojoba moisturises well, and Dan says you can mix it with your everyday moisturiser to prevent your skin from flaking from the benzoyl peroxide. It also works well as a makeup remover!

It’s my second day into The Regimen. My skin has started to flake from the benzoyl peroxide but the jojoba oil is keeping the dryness under control. The BP stings my skin after application and upon contact with my moisturiser, but this effect is known to subside in time, after your skin’s gotten used to the BP.

I’ll write an update if and when I see a noticeable, hopefully positive difference!