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Desi Diva

By Shweta Govindarajan

Smooth Spring Stomachs

Plus, easy steps to keep your polish picture-perfect, and why sunny days call for sunscreen.

Q: I saw a bikini that I have to have. Trouble is, I have a hairy stomach, but I don't think I want to wax that area in case I get a rash. Is there anything else in the drugstore I can try?

A: Nothing says summer like smooth skin and a bikini! If waxing isn't your bag, your next option is a depilatory lotion, such as Nair, which you can find in most drugstores. Depilatory lotions are a good choice provided you don't have sensitive skin because they dissolve the hair right below the surface of the skin instead of pulling it out from the root, à la waxing. However, depilatory lotions have a warning of their own—since they use chemicals to “burn” the hair, they can cause serious irritation, and even scarring, if you're not careful.

As with any product, be sure to read the instructions. Before you begin, it’s a good idea to shower or prep the area with a warm towel to help the hair follicles absorb the cream. Spread a thick layer of lotion on the area and leave on for about three to four minutes. Use a damp washcloth on a portion of the area and wipe—don’t rub away the cream. If the hair isn’t coming off, you'll need to keep the lotion on longer. Just make sure you don't exceed ten minutes or you can really burn your skin. Tip: Try using the cream in sections—it’ll help you remove unwanted hair in an organized way to make sure you don’t miss any patches.

Like shaving, the effects will last a few days, and you might even see some stubble. Make sure never to apply depilatories on broken or wounded skin. And if you do burn yourself, wash the area off with soap or facial cleanser and apply Neosporin to reduce the swelling.

Q: I love painting my fingernails but the polish never lasts very long. Any tips?

A: We at ABCDLady are first in line for polish that never chips or peels, but sadly, that seems a long way off. Meanwhile, there are a few things you can do to keep your polish pretty. Before painting your nails, clean your fingernails with remover to get rid of any dirt and grease. Brush on a thin coat of polish, starting from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. Resist the urge to glop it on—that may be faster, but it’ll take forever to dry. Usually two to three coats is all you’ll need to bring the color to the desired shade. When your nails are totally dry, apply a top coat (try Sally Hansen’s Super Shine) to seal in color. Tip: For extra protection, apply a base coat before painting on color—it’ll help the polish better stick to the nail surface better.

Q: Whenever I'm on the beach my friends are always slathering on sunscreen. I've always figured I didn't need to because I have darker skin, but I recently heard that even dark-skinned women are at risk for skin cancer. Is this true? Does this mean I have to wear sunscreen?

A: Yes, and yes. While dark skin definitely helps, it's not a foolproof guard against skin cancer, which is the most common kind of cancer. And malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, affects darker complexioned people, and it's the most deadly. But the good news is that skin cancer is preventable, and one of the ways to protect yourself is to religiously wear sunscreen with an SPF–sun protection factor–of at least 15. (Of course, the best way is to avoid sun exposure altogether, but that's easier said than done.) The general rule is to liberally apply sunscreen on all exposed body parts (including using lip sunscreen on your lips) every two hours, but be sure to adjust this depending on your level of activity. For example, if you've been swimming, sweating a lot, or if you've just toweled off, you'll probably need to reapply more frequently. Don't be confused by the higher-SPF sunscreens out there–using an SPF 15 sunscreen every day you're outside is just as effective.

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And for the record, developing skin cancer from lounging around in the sun isn't all you have to worry about. Excessive sun exposure also can cause wrinkles, speed up aging and make you peel—more good reasons to ask your friends next time you hit the beach to please pass the sunscreen.

Shweta Govindarajan is a congressional reporter who wouldn't mind teaching Capitol Hill a thing or two about undertones. In addition to feeding her Sephora addiction every chance she gets, Shweta writes about all things beauty for ABCDLady.

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