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Gain From the Pain : Waxing takes hair growth of from one to two weeks as a base and a strong measure of courage because it is going to hurt.

June 18, 1993|CINDY LaFAVRE YORKS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Cindy LaFavre Yorks is a regular contributor to Valley Life

With summer's arrival, the never-ending battle of the nub intensifies.

You know, the con stant struggle to keep legs their smoothest. (Blame it on those Nair models.)

Models aside, some women just say no to sharp blades and smelly lotions. This courageous handful accepts a trade-off. The pain of molten wax against human skin is endured in exchange for the pleasure of baring smooth legs with unbridled bravado.

Waxing provides an ultra-smooth finish no razor or depilatory can match. Any body hair--particularly areas that should not be shaved--can be removed in this manner. Because hairs are removed from the follicle, results usually last two weeks or more, rather than a few days after using a razor. Depilatories--chemical hair removers in a lotion or cream base--only provide a two- to three-day hair-free period.

Two important requirements are needed for waxing: a growth of anywhere from one to two weeks as a base and a strong measure of courage because you know it is going to hurt. And you must be prepared to fork over good money--anywhere from $18 to $50 at area salons--for the privilege.

Although waxing can be done at home, most "waxees" rely on trained cosmetology professionals to get at hard-to-reach angles. At A Touch of Beauty in Northridge Fashion Center, Karole Obrikat closes the door of her private room and the client bares both legs for the procedure. Most clients, Obrikat says, undergo half-leg waxes ($18 a set). Full-leg waxes start at $40 and include the tops of the feet.

To prepare the skin for the wax procedure, Obrikat dusts on a light application of baby powder on the area to be waxed. This foundation serves as a dry base for the warm beeswax used to remove the hair from the follicle and proves to be the most soothing part of the 15-minute procedure.

Then, the warm wax is scooped out of a modified "crock pot" with a large disposable wooden tongue depressor. Obrikat applies the wax in vertical motions from just above the knee to any hair-ridden areas of the feet until the entire leg is covered. The wax is warm to the touch but does not burn.

As suspense builds--HOW MUCH WILL IT HURT???--Obrikat collects muslin strips about 3 1/2 inches wide. One at a time, she presses them against the wax-laden areas. After the pressing motion is repeated a few times, and your dread reaches its zenith, Obrikat rapidly pulls the strips away from the skin from the bottom up.

Yes, it REALLY hurts. Obrikat likens the pain to removing adhesive bandages from the skin. The pain is actually somewhere between that and a minor curling iron burn. It's not that you need to scream exactly, but you may release an audible moan, if not a mild expletive. To offset the ouch factor, Obrikat is quick with the visuals. She eagerly shows you a waxy muslin strip rife with hairs, like so many dead flies on a no-pest strip.

The idea is that you will see the gain from the pain. So you press on like a Lee Nail, awaiting velvety smooth legs worthy of short shorts and Victoria's Secret lingerie.

Once the tops are smooth, you flip over and the process is repeated. Knowing what is to come, you revel in the knowledge that the torture--er, uh--treatment is more than half over.

Just as you begin to wonder why your legs are covered with measle-size bumps, Obrikat explains that your follicles are traumatized. This too will pass, she reassures. Obrikat smoothes on some lotion, the final step, and you're off.

Hyper-awareness of your open follicles lasts for an hour or so. Pantyhose will feel like a vinyl raincoat in 98-degree weather. But after a few hours, you will marvel at the smoothness of your legs and the airy feeling of your skin. Regrowth will reappear in two to three weeks, but the more often you have them waxed, the longer the waiting period. Obrikat says longtime clients eventually go four or five weeks between treatments.

If you can withstand the pain and the expense, you may find that you are easily hooked on waxing. It will cost you $468 a year, excluding gratuities, if you have it done every two weeks, $306 if you need it every three at A Touch of Beauty. Have the whole leg done from toe to hip and it's even more.

But don't bother asking Obrikat if she minds getting waxed. Sheepishly, she admits that she shaves her legs and is convinced that only a man could have come up with the idea in the first place.


What: A Touch of Beauty, Northridge Fashion Center, 9301 Tampa Ave.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, to 6 p.m. Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.

Price: $18 for half-legs, $40 full legs.

Call: (818) 886-0717.

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