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Up in the Nair — Review of Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Hair Removal Collection

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‘Tis the season for skimpy bathing suits, crop tops, and micro shorts, which means there’s no time for procrastination when it comes to trimming those hedges and removing unsightly stubble on your legs and armpits. If shaving doesn’t deliver the type of long-lasting results you desire, then you’re likely looking for alternate hair removal options — whether it’s an at-home laser (a costly but effective solution), a hair removal cream, or an at-home waxing system. Perhaps no brand is as closely associated with DIY hair removal as Nair. Even the brand’s slogans —among them “The Less That You Wear, The More You Need Nair” and “We Wear Short Shorts! Nair For Short Shorts” — have become part of pop culture lore.

Now, I’ll admit I’ve long had a stigma about Nair. Back in college, I borrowed my roommate’s Nair hair removal cream and was appalled when, within minutes of applying the wretched-smelling substance to my legs, my skin began to burn as if I was sitting on a bed of hot coals. I ran to the shower and rinsed the cream off while wincing in pain, only to discover that my skin was a beet red color, and that a gruesome-looking rash had emerged, the bumps even more unsightly than what you’d get after shaving with just soap and water. My roommate looked baffled, repeating that she’d never had a bad experience with Nair — ever. I, too, was dumbfounded, struggling to understand where the whole thing had gone awry. But most of all, I was frustrated and disappointed. I’d wanted my stems to be smooth and hairless so I could wear a mega skimpy dress on a date, and yet I now found myself scouring for a long pair of pants that would hide all of my legs. Worst of all, the rash lasted for almost a month!

Needless to say, I swore off Nair — and hair removal creams in general. I didn’t touch another Nair product for 15 years. Finally, when presented with the opportunity to review some products from Nair’s new Amazonian Spa Clay hair removal line,  I decided it was time to confront my fears and to give the brand a chance for redemption. After all, they’ve had almost two decades to perfect their formula, introduce new products, and tinker with soothing ingredients so as to cater to consumers with more delicate and sensitive skin (like myself). The Amazonian Spa Clay line seemed like one such development — the products in the line contain a mineral-rich clay meant to purify and detoxify skin, and the creams and post-wax towelettes are infused with antioxidant-rich açai extract and mango butter so as to moisturize, soften, and smooth skin. Sounds pretty great, right? That’s what I thought! And so, after giving myself a “You’re a big girl pep talk” and taking some deep breaths, I set out to give these products a whirl.

Since my nightmare experience had involved a shower cream, I decided to ease my way into the review process by first testing out the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Perfect Temp Body Wax Strips ($7.99 at mass food and drug retailers). I’d never tried any wax strips from Nair, so the experience was completely new to me. That being said, I’ve tried almost every at-home wax strip kit in the market, and I’ve never had a particularly stellar experience. Because I’m hairy (yes, I admit it), I tend to have to go over the same area several times in order to remove all unwanted hair and, since my skin is pretty sensitive to boost, the process almost inevitably irritates my skin. I’ve tried wax strips from countless brands — Nad’s, Sally Hansen, Bliss, Parissa, Gigi and Veet among them — and it’s never been a successful endeavor.

I wasn’t all that surprised, then, when my skin rebelled against the Nair Brazilian Spa Clay Perfect Temp Body Wax Strips. At first, it seemed like the endeavor would go smoothly. As the instructions mandate, I took out one of the 40  wax strips inside the box and warmed it up by rubbing the rectangular strip in between my palms until the “Nair” logo was no longer visible along the exterior of the paper holding the wax. I then carefully separated the two sheets of paper nestling the wax to reveal the viscous substance. I placed each strip along my inner upper thigh, where I wished to remove some hair, making sure to smooth it onto the skin in the direction of the hair growth. I waited a few seconds and, in one quick movement, pulled the strip off.  Perhaps because it’s a meaty area, removing the strip wasn’t particularly painful and I did manage to grip most of the hair in one fell swoop. Things were looking good.

It was with renewed confidence, then, that I moved onto other areas where the skin is thinner and more vulnerable — mainly, my armpits. And that, folks, is when it all fell apart. No matter how throughly I warmed up the wax strips or how much pressure I applied when smoothing them onto my pits, they never seemed to grip more than a a few hairs, making the experience incredibly frustrating. As I worked, I noticed these strips only seemed to remove hair that was already embarrassingly long (maybe a third of an inch), proving useless in eradicating stubborn stubble. And let’s not mince words — waxing any area where skin is delicate will prove painful, and this was no exception. To add insult to injury, when I opened one of the four packets of post-wipes and smoothed the towelette on my skin, it left me feeling greasier than a slab of bacon. Yes, the towelette removed any sticky wax left on the area, but it left me looking like I had spritzed on a bottle of Canola oil.

After several valiant efforts, I gave up on waxing my underarms and instead settled on shaving as usual. A full two days later, when I was wearing a sleeveless dress, my son looked at me curiously and asked, “Mommy, do you have a sunburn on your armpits? Why is it so red?” I assured him I was fine, while cursing Nair in my mind. Foiled again!

It took another week of meditation before I even dared to try the new Nair Amazonian Spa Clay Total Care Body Trio ($13.99 at mass food and drug retailers). This boxed kit contains two pre-use wipes meant to clean the area and prepare it for hair removal; a 12 oz. tub of hair removal cream, formulated with the brand’s Shower Power technology, which allows users to apply the product onto skin and enjoy a nice shower without the cream being rinsed off so that, in theory, when they step out of the shower, their legs will be smooth and hair-free; a spatula with which to dispense the product and a sponge with which to apply it; and a 1 oz. moisturizer meant to be applied after drying the treated area.

This time around, I was astute enough to try the product along an area of the body that’s not quite as readily visible (my upper leg area). To my surprise (and delight), the cream didn’t make me howl in pain, but I did feel an uncomfortable burning sensation that indicated it was time to take that bad boy off. And that, folks, is when I panicked — normally, I would’ve jumped in the shower and washed the offensive substance off but, in this case, the culprit was designed to resist rinsing. All of a sudden, I felt like the Nair Shower Power Hair Removal Cream had taken me hostage. My skin was at its cruel mercy! I reached for some body wash and scrubbed the area as best I could, hoping it would remove any trace of the cream (which, though not visible to the eye, felt like it was clinging to my skin like Saran wrap). Eventually, I stepped out of the shower and the burning (which had gotten worse) subsided. But, of course, I was once again left behind with a patch of red, angry-looking skin. Great. Just great.

Was my Nair experience as bad as the grand catastrophe of 1998? Well, no. But it could hardly qualify as a good time.

Bottom line: if you have sensitive skin, steer clear. The only thing more unsightly than hairy legs and pits is beet red, swollen, bumpy, scabby, inflamed hairy legs and pits. Just say no.

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