Hair removal seems to have evolved alongside human existence, or so it seems. For centuries, women and men have had to contend with unwanted hair on their bodies. Whether its a lot or a little, the majority of humanity feels that they have a hair or two that would not be missed if it were gone.
There are several methods of hair removal out there, but perhaps the most common are the at-home hair removal products and methods. These include waxing, shaving, plucking and depilatory creams. As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to each method, which we will explore here.
Common At-home Hair Removal Options
Shaving is the hair removal method most well known and used by both women and men. It’s easy, fast and fairly inexpensive. Shaving can be performed on almost any body part and is easily done at home. It is an effective short-term method, but it does have its downsides.
Shaving can cause razor bumps and ingrown hairs, and broken or irritated skin should not be shaved. The results are very temporary, as hair is only cut at the surface of the skin and grows back within a day or two.
When hair grows back it is rough and stubbly and may appear thicker; this is because the hair is blunt from shaving. Razor blades need to be changed frequently to maintain a clean shave and minimize irritation. The cost of buying new blades and shaving cream can add up over the months and years.
Waxing strips and kits can be purchased for at-home use, and offers a more long term removal of hairs. Wax is applied to the skin and hair in the direction of hair growth and then quickly removed in the opposite direction with a cloth strip.
Hair is removed from the root, leaving a smooth hair free surface that lasts anywhere from 1-4 weeks. There is a big ouch factor with waxing, after all, you are pulling the hair out from the root! Depending on the area you are waxing, the pain can be more or less tolerable. At home waxing is not for the squeamish, you may find that it is better left in the hands of the professionals. Ingrown hairs, irritation and “lifted” or ripped skin can also result from waxing.
Tweezing or plucking is performed with tweezers, grabbing one hair at time and pulling it out from the root. Best suited for small areas like the eyebrows or for light maintenance in other areas. The hair is removed from the root and, like waxing, can be accompanied by ingrown hairs.
Depilatory creams are another common over the counter hair removal method. This method is probably the most fool proof and painless.
Depilatory creams are chemical based, they work by dissolving the hair-structure, breaking it down to a mushy consistency that is easily wiped away with a damp washcloth.
There is an unpleasant chemical smell to depilatory creams, and it is possible to damage the skin if left on for too long. If putting hair dissolving chemicals on your skin isn’t your thing, you will want to steer clear of this one.
Results typically last somewhere between shaving and waxing regrowth, from a few days to a week.
The Pros and Cons of at Home Hair Removal
So there you have it, the four most common at home hair removal methods. As you can see, there are pros and cons to each method. Overall, the allure of at home methods is the relatively low cost, ability to perform them in the privacy of your own home, and the instant gratification of seeing yourself go from hairy to hair free! The cons are ingrown hairs, irritation, frequent regrowth and potential for damage of the skin with improper use.
When you decide that you are fed up with this cycle of regrowth and removal, related skin irritation and the regular time commitment of at home hair removal methods, there are other options for you to explore.
Laser Hair Removal: The Only Permanent Solution to Being Hair Free and Carefree
The most popular modern day answer to unwanted hair is laser hair removal. This procedure should be performed by a medical professional who has extensive experience with lasers. Laser treatments are very successful for removing hair from the body by using an intense pulse light, over the area of treatment.
The laser light penetrates the skin entering the hair follicle, damaging it at the root. The laser deadens the hair follicle by cutting of the blood supply that feed the follicle and causes it to produce hair.
Because not all of your hair is growing at the same time, you will need to have a series of treatments to make sure each follicle is treated several times. The follicles are damaged with each treatment, meaning the follicle shrinks in size and once sealed completely the follicle no longer produces hair.
Laser hair removal is not painless and certain areas can be more uncomfortable than others. A numbing cream can be applied prior to treatment to make sessions more comfortable. Laser hair removal is most effective at targeting dark hair. Lasers are not one size fits all. Some lasers are not safe for all skin types. Lasers are designed to target melanin(pigment). Individuals with darker skin types need to be particularly careful. The Nd: YAG laser is a great choice for darker skin types.
Laser hair removal is costly, but with the increased popularity of this procedure treatment costs have stabilized and in some markets have actually gone down. A series of several treatments are required for the best results. It’s also important to note that while you can achieve significant reduction in the amount of hair you have, you will never be 100% hair-free.
This is a common misconception with laser hair removal. Remember we are mammals and we produce hormones that cause us to make hair. After completing a series of treatments you should expect to see anywhere from a 75% to 90% hair reduction in the are treated. Faces tend to require maintenance treatments a couple times a year to keep the hair at bay. The maintenance you can expect post laser hair removal treatments should be minimal, needing only to shave a couple of times a month.
Weighing the Pros and Cons
At home hair removal is cheaper and short-term, but can be more costly long term. It also requires regular and frequent repeat treatments and can produce undesirable side effects such as itchy, unsightly razor bumps, ingrown hairs, scarring and irritation. They are not permanent solutions. Laser hair removal is more costly up front, but you are left with a smooth, hair free skin surface with no or little maintenance.
Life is short, and worrying about unwanted body hair is the last thing you need occupying your mind and your time. Visit your local medical professional to learn if permanent laser hair removal is right for you.