Image: The original Silky Mit
When I was 12, my mother waxed my legs for the first time. She did it on the kitchen table. I lay on a beach towel and she smeared hot wax onto my skinny wee shins. She did so to appease my steadfast desire to shave my legs. It was peer pressure – all the other kids were doing it but I had not.
Ever since that day I have waxed, shaved and plucked at myself. If only I’d known what I was getting myself into, perhaps I would’ve given it more time. But who can tell a 12-year-old girl just how taxing a life-long commitment to hair removal will become?
It was after a game of bowls and over my third glass of wine that the topic of ingrown hairs – the ugly side of hair removal – came up. A co-ed barbecue at a friends’ place had separated into two camps. A boys’ club and a girls’ sewing circle. The girls talked girl stuff, and this of course means hair removal. We were divided. There were some who never shaved (…bitches) and others who waxed and suffered the bumps. That’s when one of the ladies mentioned the Silky Mit.
“What? You mean those sand paper things from the 90s?” I laughed, though I’d never tried them.
“Yeah, they’re actually really good, they totally get rid of ingrown hairs and they are great for between waxes. They make your legs feel amazing.” I was curious.
If the idea of Silky- Mitting makes your eyes water, fear not – there are other ways to remove unwanted body hair:
The next day I headed down to my chemist but I couldn’t find any Silky Mits. I asked one of the shop assistants who had to think for a minute before she knew what I meant. “Oh yes!” she said. “I remember those old things.” She dusted off an old box and pulled out some packs of Silky Mit. They may be retro but they ain’t cheap. A three pack cost me just over $15.00.
I headed home with my new glorified sandpaper and set to work on my left upper leg. I carefully read the instructions: Rub over the legs gently in a circular motion several times and then repeat in the opposite direction. I wasn't really expecting much from my Silky Mit experience but I figured what the heck, let's give it a whirl. Low and behold! After my several circular rotations the area I had rubbed was super silky smooth. It felt just like my baby son's bottom. Any hair on the area was gone! And all ingrown hairs had vanished!
I got excited. I started making larger circular rotations all over my leg. More and more silky baby skin appeared. "It's magic!" I shrieked. My whole left leg was like a soft hairless kitten. I started on the other leg until it too was as smooth as silk. Finally I was done. I put away my silky mitt and revelled at my super-smooth legs, thinking something along the lines of, "Why have I not used these before?"
That's when it started. At first just a tingle. A tiny, tiny tingle on my left upper leg where I had first started the rotations. Slowly the tingle grew and grew until it had developed into a mild sting. Hmmm, I thought. Surely it's just that area, nothing to worry about, just a slight chafing - OH MY GOD IT BURNS!
My whole left leg was on fire.
I ran to the tap and wet off a flannel. Surely a cold flannel will help I thought. I plastered the flannel onto my leg as the right leg chimed in, starting to burn too. For a moment it was cool and soothing. All of a sudden the fire returned! Both legs now on fire. I looked down at my legs and they were bright red and spotty. My poor follicles reeling in pain.
I dived into the medicine cabinet. 'There's gotta be something in here that'll help,' I thought. I found some old Aloe Vera sunburn gel and quickly dumped it onto my screaming left leg. 'Ahhh, sweet relief,' I sighed as the burning subsided, and slathered more of it onto the other leg. But the relief only lasted for a minute. The burning quickly returned. But worse. By now, it looked like I had a horrible skin condition.
I ran back to the basin to wash the gel from my legs. The wash-cloth and water combo also causing my legs to burn again. I finally got it off, but the burning pain remained. I tried again, this time with Savlon - no luck. I screamed again and again until finally I gave up on any topical applications. GOD DAMN YOU SILKY MIT! I cursed and I muttered as I stomped to the freezer and pulled out a bag of old peas that are usually reserved for when my kids accidentally head butt the walls. Finally the burning subsided.
Eventually the pain eased. But it took a whole week for the red spots on my legs to scab and then fade.
A few weeks later I saw the lady who had recommended Silky Mit to me and I told her of The Great Silky Mitt Disaster. "Oh God no!" she said. "Don't actually try to remove any hair with it, just exfoliate with it, otherwise it'll kill your legs!"
Have you ever suffered a hair removal disaster?
This piece originally appeared on Le Petite Mania
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