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Hair removal

Unwanted hair can affect how you look and feel about yourself. Luckily there are many ways to help you get that hair-free smooth skin. Shaving, threading, plucking, epilators and other more advanced treatments such as laser hair removal and electrolysis.

Here, we will look at some of the more popular hair removal methods, how effective they are and their potential side effects. Wherever you’re removing hair from, this guide will help you make the best choice for you.

Understanding hair growth

Hair growth begins under the skin in our hair follicles. It varies from person to person and is affected by our genetics, hormones, and overall state of health.

The two main types of hair on our bodies are

  • Vellus hair: Soft, fine, short hair, found on the chest, back, and face
  • Terminal hair: Coarse, dark, long hair, normally found on our scalps, underarms, and pubic area

Temporary hair removal methods

Shaving

Shaving is the most common method of hair removal. It uses a razor or electric shaver to cut the hair off at the skin’s surface and is effective for leg, arm, and facial hair. It is however, a temporary measure.

  • Shaving is affordable and convenient, and suitable for large treatment areas
  • Shaving can cause razor burns, ingrown hairs, stubble regrowth, and requires frequent maintenance
  • You should use a sharp razor and moisturise the skin before shaving and shave in the direction of hair growth

Plucking

Plucking involves pulling each hair out individually using tweezers. This is a good way to remove hair from eyebrows or stray hairs on the face. This provides longer-lasting results as it removes the entire hair shaft.

  • Plucking is not expensive, but is precise. It is particularly effective for shaping eyebrows
  • This can be time-consuming and painful. Ingrown hairs and scarring may occur if not done correctly. It is not recommended for hair removal from larger areas
  • Tweezers should be sterilised before and after use for good hygiene

Hair removal creams

Hair removal creams (depilatory creams), are applied to the skin. Hair removal creams contain chemicals that work by dissolving the hair shaft, allowing the hair to be wiped away.

  • Hair removal creams are easy to use, affordable, and provide longer-lasting results compared to shaving. They can be used on various parts of the body
  • Some individuals may experience skin irritation or allergic reactions to the chemicals in depilatory creams. It is important to follow the instructions carefully and perform a patch test before applying the cream to larger areas
  • Read the product labels to ensure you are using the right cream for the intended area. Test a small area of skin first to check for any adverse reactions. Be cautious not to exceed the recommended application time to avoid skin burns

Waxing

Waxing provides longer-lasting results than shaving or creams, as it removes the hair from the follicle.

  • Waxing leaves the skin smooth and hair-free for several weeks. It can be done at home or by a professional. Waxing can be used on various body parts, including the legs, bikini area, and upper lip. Use moisturisers or lotions after treatment to soothe your skin
  • Waxing can be painful, especially for individuals with sensitive skin. Improper waxing technique can lead to skin burns, redness, and ingrown hairs. It is not recommended for individuals using certain acne medications or with certain skin conditions
  • Ensure the hair is long enough for effective waxing (around ¼ inch). Apply the wax in the direction of hair growth and remove the strip quickly against the direction of hair growth. Consider seeking professional waxing services for sensitive areas or if you are new to waxing

Long-lasting hair removal methods

Laser hair removal

This method of hair removal is more long-term. It uses an intense pulsed light (IPL) to destroy hair follicles, disrupting their growth. The laser heats the pigment in hair follicles, preventing it from regrowing. Laser therapy is mainly used on areas such as the chest, arms, underarms, legs, face, and bikini line.

Treated areas can develop rashes. Using a cool ice pack on the skin will help reduce the redness and swelling, as well as giving pain relief. Avoid direct sunlight on the treated area after treatment as your skin will be more sensitive. Also, use sunscreen (SPF30) for at least 4 weeks after treatment on treated areas, regardless of the weather.

Laser hair removal can have side effects, including:

  • Tenderness, pain, or discomfort
  • Reddening or swelling of the skin
  • Blistering, crusting, or bruising
  • Change in colour of the skin, either lightening or darkening
  • Scarring
  • Burns from the laser
  • Bacterial infections

The cost of laser treatment will depend on the area of the body you have treated and how many treatments you need.

  • Laser hair removal offers long-lasting results, with many individuals experiencing permanent hair reduction over multiple sessions. It can be used on larger areas of the body and is suitable for most skin types. There’s no evidence, suggesting laser hair removal causes skin cancer
  • Laser hair removal can be expensive and may require several sessions to achieve the desired results. Laser hair removal is safe, but some individuals may experience side effects such as temporary skin redness, swelling, or pain and discomfort after treatment that may last for some time. Laser therapy may not be suitable for pregnant women or those with certain skin types. Laser hair removal does not work as well on darker skin tones. It works better on those with pale skin and dark hair. It is not as effective on tanned skin or hair that has been bleached by the sun. You will need to let your tan fade before having laser treatment. Also, it is not guaranteed that laser hair removal will remove of all the hair
  • Choose a reputable clinic or provider with experienced professionals. Follow the recommended treatment schedule and avoid sun exposure before and after laser sessions to minimize the risk of complications

You will need further treatments depending on you as an individual and the part of your body you are have treated. Removal of facial hair may need treating every 4 weeks, while the removal of body hair may need treating every 6 to 8 weeks.

Electrolysis

Electrolysis removes hair permanently. Needles are inserted into each hair follicle to deliver an electric current that destroys the root of the hair. There are two primary methods of electrolysis: galvanic and thermolytic. Galvanic electrolysis uses chemicals while thermolytic electrolysis uses heat.

  • This is a permanent hair removal method and is suitable for all types of skin and hair colour
  • Electrolysis may need multiple treatments making it time-consuming. It can be painful causing redness of the skin with scabbing and swelling
  • You should look for an experienced dermatologist to perform the procedure

Considerations and additional tips

  • Consider your skin type, hair colour, and preferences when choosing a hair removal method
  • Perform a patch test on a small area of skin before trying any hair removal method to check for any adverse reactions
  • Follow the instructions provided with each method of hair removal and consult a dermatologist if you have any concerns
  • If you are taking medications that may affect hair growth, speak to your healthcare provider before starting any treatments
  • Hair removal may not provide permanent results as pattern and regrowth rates can vary from person to person
  • Exfoliate and moisturise to maintain smooth and healthy skin between sessions
  • Speak to a dermatologist if you have persistent or excessive hair growth to rule out any underlying medical conditions
  • Hair removal is a personal choice. Choose the method that best suits your needs

Conclusion

There are many different techniques available for the removal of hair. When deciding you should think about how effective it will be, the cost and potential side effects of the method you are planning to use. Remember to follow the correct instructions to achieve the best results.

Speak to a hair removal specialist for recommendations tailored to you and your needs. With the right advice and knowledge, you can enjoy smooth, hair-free skin.

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