4 popular treatments for summer skin that are best done in the winter

A head start is key to getting the results you want mid-year.

A head start is key to getting the results you want mid-year

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Raise your hand if you're in full-on hibernation mode! While the colder months are known for many things — cozy fires, ice skating, layers upon layers  — summer beauty prep isn't exactly one of them.

But there are a few skin-enhancing treatments that are best done when it's cold outside. So, while you're hunkering down until April, here are a few things you may want to add to your beauty to-do list.

Laser hair removal

Whether you go hairless or rock a full '70s look is entirely up to you. In fact, more and more of us are choosing to forego waxing and shaving by sporting what our bodies grow naturally.

But for those who want a few specific areas handled, laser hair removal is a welcome option. Long practised, but often misunderstood, laser hair removal technology hasn't changed much over the years. Still, that's not to say it isn't getting better — today's lasers can be used on almost every skintone and hair type, and have shown to be less irritating than previous iterations.  

While it isn't permanent, per se (our ever-changing hormones mean that sometimes unwanted hair can come back), it's the most lasting solution we've got. And if you're interested in a hair-free summer, the time to get started is now.

"For small areas, such as the face or underarms, the frequency is every four weeks; for below the belt, six weeks; and large areas such as legs and back, eight weeks," says Amy Finnegan Burns, director of operations at Waxon Laser + Waxbar, adding that a complete underarm laser treatment typically takes five months from start to finish.

Not only is timing a major factor, but you also need to be wary of the sun while receiving laser treatments — they can cause unsightly irritation and may even result in brown spots.

"One thing we do recommend is avoiding UV rays. That's why laser works best in fall, winter or spring," adds Finnegan Burns. "In summer, if you decide to laser a typically exposed area, you would just need to wear SPF 50 on the area during the course of your laser treatment — and you can't receive laser services if you have burned skin."

Waxon Laser + Waxbar laser removal services range from $65 (upper lip) to $370 (full leg) per session, depending on the treatment area.

Sclerotherapy for veins

Sclerotherapy involves a doctor injecting a medical liquid to help diminish the appearance of those pesky little veins that creep up your ankles and legs. It generally just needs to be done once to see results — and winter is an ideal time to do it.

Dr. Sandy Skotnicki of Toronto's Bay Dermatology Centre points out you could experience bruising and welts anywhere from two to four weeks post treatment, explaining why you may not want to do this when it's bare-leg season.

"There are no restrictions before and after [treatment]," Dr. Skotnicki says. "However, I would not recommend Aspirin or NSAIDS before as they make patients bruise more after injections."

The cost of sclerotherapy treatments varies widely depending on where you seek treatment, the nature of your veins and the number you're treating.

IPL for dark spots

IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) treatments can help diminish the look of brown spots, boost collagen and decrease the appearance of fine lines, but also require some advance planning.

"IPL works best for pigmentation issues, but to really benefit from the treatment several sessions are needed," says aesthetician Victoria Radford, owner of Radford salon and spa in Toronto.

"Procedures like IPL or laser treatments will definitely increase skin's sensitivity to sun and UV rays, so applying sunscreen days before and after the procedure is highly recommended," she adds. "I see too many of my clients reversing all the benefits of the treatment from damaging sun exposure after a laser session."

Dr. Skotnicki recommends staying out of the sun four weeks prior to your treatment, so schedule your mid-winter beach holiday accordingly. She also advises stopping the use of retinoid products and AHAs two weeks beforehand (since these products can make skin even more prone to sun damage).

Directly after your treatment, Radford recommends a healing sheet mask, like the 24K Gold Hydrogel Face Mask ($16, radford.com), one she created specifically for clients post IPL.

Anna Koniaris, national face expert and supervisor of retail operations at Caryl Baker Visage, adds that "healthy skin is a hydrated skin," and also cautions against doing different treatments too close together. "Laser treatments can be aggressive once a client is finished, so it is recommended that they wait four to six weeks to safely have any other treatments performed."

IPL treatments vary in price depending on the spa or dermatologist that you go to, in the range of $500 to $1,000 per session according to Radford.

Body-smoothing treatments

Is fading the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks on the top of your list? If you're planning to head south this winter, look to start any topical treatments, like Volition Beauty's Eucalyptus Stretch Mark Minimizer ($60, sephora.com), four to six weeks prior to getting on that airplane — just like most skincare, you'll start to see results after a few weeks of consistent use.

If you need something more intensive, most medi-spas will perform toning body treatments. However, if you really want to see results, you may need to go more than once and certain treatments should ideally be done every one to two weeks. So think about this at least one-month pre-vacay or as you head into spring.

Gee Beauty offers two body slimming and toning treatments, which range from $195 to $300.

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