As the Chicago Triathlon and Ironman Madison approach, we will have many different tips and ideas to help you get ready for your races, from tapering to training, we want to make sure you are armed with the right tools to have a fun, safe, successful event. With that in mind, I went on a journey of discovery, that left me bloody, swollen, cut to shreds and exposed to the world. I tried to unlock the secrets of successful hair removal. I went seeking out the knowledge and wisdom of some of the finest hair removal experts in the country to not answer the question of why, but how. Here's what I found out.
Endurance athletes shave.
Why do we shave ? (ladies don't zone out, there are going to be tips later) In a 112 mile bike ride, it doesn't make us that much faster, and yes if you've ever wiped on your bike, it does help with the road rash. Lets face it, a hairy chest or back and a wet suit coming off, can be a little "uncomfortable."
Ironman champion Peter Reid understands that shaving doesn't make you that much faster, but also admits there is something about a clean close shave. "I usually use an electric clipper once or twice a week, but right before a race then I go with the full on super close shave...It psyches me up, like a special weapon for race day."
Listen up Kona qualifiers, Peter shared his secret grooming weapon that he only brings out for the Big Island. " Hawaii is the only race I shave my arms...I get in the water and I feel smoother, then I know I'm ready."
So there is the psychological factor? Or is it that we are taking a page from our over tanned, over muscular friends the body builders, and know that we look a little more sexy and a little more cut, with silky smooth "bits."
I now spend more time in the shower than my wife, making sure I'm all slick and smooth before heading off to a group ride or masters swim class with the other shaved down boys in spandex.
If you have ever felt the pleasure of cutting your nipple with a razor, then you know there is a right way and a wrong way to hair removal. Basically there are four main ways to remove hair from your body. Shaving, waxing, lotions and laser hair removal.
Shaving is relatively quick, more or less painless, and inexpensive, it acts as an exfoliate (remember that word), done properly it can be good for your skin.
Most of us have been shaving one part of our bodies or another for years, but have we been doing it right. Razor bumps, in grown hairs, razor burn and even infection are all a cause of shaving gone wrong.
James Davis knows the ins and outs of shaving. James aka Elaine Lancaster is "the" Diva Drag Queen of South Beach society and has spent a little time with a razor.
"There are just some parts of your body that don't need razor bumps, so I make sure I take very good care of every inch of my skin. That's key, take care of your skin, wash with warm water, use an exfoliating soap or loofa to bring out all the ingrown hairs, shave, with shaving cream, condition with an after shave balm or lotion, you'll feel the difference"
James told me, "your skin and hair, just like your muscles need to be conditioned to shaving." Following a shaving routine, that includes two different/clean razors for your face and body. In other words don't use the same razor on your face and body, and change the blades!
Equally important is the type of razor. Come to find out that I haven't been doing everything wrong in the shower. James and I both use the Gillette Mach 3 Turbo with vibrating head (insert joke here). Three razors instead of the cheap single blade disposable really make a difference. By letting the razor do the work and not rushing through the shave like an amped up age grouper bursting through T2, will give you a close smooth shave.
Lotions can leave skin smooth and clean and also avoid nicks and razor stubble. You won't have to use them every day, and many act as an exfoliate, so if you don't have the time to start a good shaving routine, this may be a good alternative.
However, if you have sensitive skin like I do, you may want to steer clear. How did I find out that I have sensitive skin? Well, after being given a complimentary bottle of Nair for men at the gay pride parade ( I know, it's a theme, strictly coincidental) I rushed home to try it on my chest, and though it clearly states that you should test a small area before using, I decided "hell, I'm an Ironman, how bad could this cream be?"
5-7 minutes later I found out. My skin was so burned and blistered, I thought I would have to go to the hospital, I looked like a shaved down Freddy Kruger. Test a small area first.
It was my fault, however, I will never use that stuff again, to me it makes more sense to rub your skin on the sidewalk until the hair falls off. Not for me.
I have always been an admirer of a good wax job.
This is a pretty cool option if you want to keep the hair off for a while and take care of your skin. Waxing like lotions works below the hairs surface and keeps you hair free for days or even weeks. The one thing about waxing is that before you get waxed, you have to let the hair in the area you want to be waxed grow out a bit, so in your quest to be hair free, you will have to cope with being hairy for a little while.
My wife set a challenge and dared me to not just wax my legs but to go for the whole Matzo ball, from my waste down.
A Brief Aside:
Before being waxed I used to say that if I was ever President I would make it mandatory that all women should have the "Brazilian." Now that I have been through the torture that is waxing, I have changed my view on the subject, it should no longer be mandatory, but it sure would be appreciated.
Waxing is a little intense. Having the hot wax put on my legs
and man bits was actually very nice. Women are wimps, how do they not
like this? Then it started! Tearing the hair out of my body, strip by
agonizing strip! I realized I was in way over my head, yet there was
no escape. Forget the water boarding controversy, this is real
torture. "I give in, I give in!!!! I'll tell you anything you want to
know, just make it stop!!!"
I was crying like a 17:01 Ironman finisher, not happy! I found out that
the things to look for if you go the waxing route is in the wax. DO
NOT DO THIS AT HOME! That wax is usually cheap, and I can't imagine
doing this to yourself! Make sure the wax has essential minerals and
natural ingredients, and a good mix of Gatorade and vodka might not
hurt either. Guys, if you are foolish enough to go for "the whole
matzo ball," call and make sure they provide that service. You don't
want to end up in the County lock up with newly waxed legs.
When it was all said and done, and my tears dried, my legs and "stuff"
looked great! Very smooth, very nice. Would I do it again, yes,
though legs only. Do I recommend it, yes, just be warned.
Laser Hair Removal.
My new best friend. After bring cut, burnt and plucked, Laser hair
removal is a walk in the park. I went to the American Laser Centers. After talking to their medical director Dr.
Kathleen Gilmore, she told me that laser hair removal is a medical
procedure (though not too risky) and it's better to go to a place that
has a doctor on staff, just in case (which they do).
At the very least, I thought if it was as painful as waxing, having a
doctor around they might be able to write me a prescription for a
"Laser hair removal is relatively new science and American Laser
Centers use the most advanced laser on the market, which means great
results and minimal pain. " A good thing.
It's different than electrolysis, in electrolysis there are a lot of
factors that depend on the quality of technician, and if you have a bad
or inexperienced technician you could end up with burns or scars on
"The type of energy is different, safer and easier to have done. There
is no yanking or other type of major discomfort that normally comes
with hair removal, a laser light travels down the hair shaft, and
permanently removes those hairs."
It is permanent, let me say this again, permanent. Once it's gone,
it's not coming back, so think before you jump. Normally it takes
about 6-10 visits, and will cost you anywhere from hundreds to a few
thousand dollars, but if you spread the cost of shaving cream, razors
and time over the rest of your life, it's not all that bad of an option.
I got my chest and back lasered, and it felt like I was being snapped
over and over by a rubber band, uncomfortable and I can't imagine that
feeling on my junk, but much better than waxing! Would I do it again,
yes, do I recommend it yes, if you have the time for many visits and
I have been shaved, waxed, burned and lasered, I feel like Darth Vader,
but the bottom line is that I am smooth, silky and ready to train, race
and just look groovy.