Girls' world

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 12:00am

Beauty isn't just a blissful round of manicures, massage and make-up. Granted, playing around with cosmetics is fun, but having to deal with unsightly problems on a regular basis is not. We asked the experts the best ways to solve several beauty nightmares.

Ingrown hair: A profuse bikini area extending beyond clothing's boundaries isn't a good look - but even if the overgrowth is depilated into oblivion, the after effects can be just as much of a nightmare. Ingrown hair occurs when the shaft - after having been previously removed by waxing, shaving or other depilatory methods - fails to grow out of the skin. It curls back on itself in the follicle under the skin, often causing inflammation which leads to raised bumps on the skin's surface.

'The problem is often unavoidable because hair grows in many different directions and when you wax in one direction it's inevitable that there will be several [hairs] growing in another,' says Louise Chu, beauty therapist at Jacques Dessange (bikini wax, $180; tel: 2521 1695). 'Shaving is particularly bad if you're prone to ingrown hairs because the shaft is often cut too short below skin level and will grow through surrounding tissue rather than out of the follicle causing raised bumps and maybe infection.'

Chu recommends exfoliating the area gently once a week to prevent dead cells blocking the hair shaft exit and applying tea tree oil to prevent inflammation. A solution called Tend (about US$20 [HK$155]; available on the Internet from sites such as also helps to eliminate ingrown hairs.

Back acne: A sure-fire way to ruin the effect of a sexy spaghetti-strap number is an outbreak of pimples on your back. Unfortunately, high humidity and an oil gland-infested area such as the shoulders are a breeding ground for the little nasties due to perspiration, which can lead to clogged pores.

'Most of the time, acne is due to skin irritation so avoid wearing polyester - or any fabric that causes irritation - and tight clothing because this locks in heat and moisture,' says Mary Tong, owner of Menthoderm Skin Nursery (tel: 2147 3803). 'Don't take hot showers, use strong soaps, perfumed products or anything else that aggravates the skin. And don't eat seafood because it can cause skin allergies and spots.'

Tong also recommends Menthoderm's Purifying Back treatment ($480/60 minutes), which starts with a skin analysis - an important step, she says, because if wrongly diagnosed, the problem will be aggravated and might cause infection. 'For example, if the problem is just blemishes, we'll focus on extraction and exfoliation to decongest and renew dead skin cells. If the problem is infected acne, a disinfecting masque will be applied to dry up the pimples.'

Dry heels: We've all cringed at Miracle Foot Repair advertisements on TV, but cracked and dry heels are the bane of many people's lives. According to Samuel So, Shanghainese pedicurist at the Mandarin Oriental Beauty Salon (tel: 2522 0111), they are the result of not taking sufficient care of your feet but it can be a hereditary problem.

'For a beautiful pair of feet, always keep them clean, wear comfortable shoes and apply [moisturising] lotion after a shower or bath to keep them smooth,' he says.

The best way to cure dry feet is by having a monthly professional pedicure (an hour with So will make you feel as though you're walking on air; $600), more often if necessary, but you can also treat your feet at home.

'Soak feet in lukewarm water and scrub the dry skin gently,' says So. 'Dry the feet softly and, most importantly, apply a rich moisturising lotion all over.'

Facial hair: It's down to the gene pool whether or not you get facial hair, but if you do, and you want to remove it without resorting to lasers, threading is the best method, says Betty Leung, beauty therapist at the Mandarin Oriental, because it is more gentle than other methods and will cause minimal irritation. 'The hair is totally pulled out without leaving the root inside the pore,' she explains. 'Moreover, when the skin and hair get used to threading, regrowth will be softer with all hairs lying in the same direction, making it easier to remove next time.'

Threading ($150) is usually needed once a month to keep the face smooth and hair free but it depends on regrowth rate.

Hungry hair: According to stylists at theFirm (tel: 2525 6696), one of the most frequent problems Hong Kongers face is what they call 'hungry hair'. This generally results from one of two reasons: either humidity has left the hair dehydrated, unmanageable and wiry or it is in need of nourishment due to over-processing and colouring.

'Salon-based products provide a great solution to the hungry hair problems and products with silicone bases such as the Sebastian ranges treat the hair as fibre. Spandex shampoo [$96], for example, stretches and flattens the hair; Sexy Straight Hair [$69] smooths out and weighs down bushy hair leaving it lush and manageable,' says the salon. It also advises asking your stylist to recommend the correct professional shampoo and conditioner for your hair type.

'Consultations should be free and will ensure that you walk away with products that work and give the finish you are looking for.'

Did this woman forget to feed her hair?