Hair Removal – Who, What and Where
Hair removal is definitely not a new phenomenon, men and women have practised it all over the world in a millennium – simply because some of us have more hair in places, we would rather be hair-free.
If you have only just decided to start removing hair, it is important that you find a method that works and suits you. The most common methods of hair removal are shaving, waxing, hair removal creams, laser treatments and plucking.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of each method and often large price differences. Some of the methods can be done at home, while others require a visit to the clinic or salon. Some work best on a particular part of the body, while others are better suited for elsewhere, such as the face. It is also worth noting that each individual will find some methods better suitable than others.
Make sure you carefully examine all of the different methods before deciding, that way you can avoid wasting money on a hair removal method which is not suited to your needs.
Hair Removal Techniques – Pros and Cons
Most people who remove unwanted hair growth do so for aesthetic reasons. It is primarily professional athletes, like swimmers and cyclists, who remove the hairs for more practical reasons.
In most cases, the reason for hair removal is simply that we find it unappealing to have hair growing on certain parts of the body. If you are someone who wants to be smooth and hairless in certain places, there’s no better solution than finding a good hair removal method, one that works for you.
Shaving is probably the most common method of hair removal, especially if we include men’s daily shave to remove stubble. In this article, however, we are going to focus on body hair removal rather than the routine daily facial shave.
For the vast majority of people shaving is the first hair removal method they use mainly because it is easy and straightforward. All you need is a razor so you can shave hair off anywhere on your body and face.
However, it is highly recommended that you use more than just razor blades. If your skin is not softened before shaving the razor can roughen it and cause damage. It is a good idea to moisten the skin in either a hot shower or bath before shaving.
This also causes the hair to rise up from the skin which helps to achieve a good close shave.
In addition, it is important to keep your skin clean and free from bacteria when shaving. As your skin easily can be grazed with the razor, creating a wound where bacteria can thrive. It is therefore advisable, if possible, to wash with an anti-bacterial body wash.
In addition, it is important to nourish the skin after shaving to avoid irritation and pseudo folliculitis (also known as razor bumps) which is an inflammatory condition that occurs in the skin after shaving.
It is best to finish your shave with a good antibacterial cream, such as a balm or moisturiser that contains soothing, cooling and nourishing ingredients designed for post shaving or hair removal care.
Instead of a regular razor, you could use a razor designed to remove women’s hair which is generally finer than a men’s facial hair.
Advantages of shaving:
- It is a cheap method.
- It is easy and fast.
- You can do it yourself at home.
- It is painless, unless you accidently cut yourself.
- You get a good result with soft and hairless skin right away.
Disadvantages of shaving:
- The hair grows fast, so you will need to shave regularly remove visible hair.
- The hair grows back with a blunt tip, and can sting when they break the skin.
- You risk getting razor bumps and ingrown hairs, especially on the sensitive skin around the bikini line.
- You may spread bacteria and infections to other parts of the body if the razor is not kept clean.
Using Hair Removal Cream
If you prefer to do your hair removal yourself at home, you can use a hair removal cream that is available to buy in most big supermarkets and high street pharmacies. You can get different hair removal creams for different parts of the body such as face, legs, bikini line, etc.
A hair removal cream is a chemical formula that penetrates the hair follicles and dissolves the hairs on the skin surface.
The cream must sit on the skin for a while before it, along with the hairs are removed with a spatula or by showering. It is important to follow the instructions very carefully.
If you wash your skin with hot water before applying the cream, your skin pores will be very open and you risk severe irritations and possible infection.
While some people swear by this method of hair removal, others find it leaving no results.
Advantages of hair removal cream:
- It is a relatively inexpensive method.
- It is easy and fast.
- You can do it yourself at home.
- It is painless.
- It is a good hair removal method for sensitive areas, such as the bikini line.
Disadvantages of hair removal cream:
- Not all creams will work effectively, and some people find it does not work well on their hair type.
- The hair grows back fast.
- The cream can have an unpleasant smell and contains potentially harsh chemicals.
Wax hair removal can be done at home or you can get it done at a clinic or salon by a therapist. Of course, it is more expensive to be waxed in a clinic, but you are paying for an experienced therapist who offers a professional service so you do not need to worry about waxing at home.
There is a special technique to waxing which can be difficult to master yourself especially in more delicate areas.
Hair removal by waxing, a specialist wax is heated and applied on the area to be treated. A wax strip either paper or fabric is pressed on top of the wax and is quickly pulled off. As the wax is ripped off your hair (from root to tip) is completely pulled out.
With this method you are hairless for significantly longer compared to shaving and hair removal cream but if done incorrectly at home or in the clinic it can feel painful.
Many people choose a wax treatment for intimate hair removal as it is easier and more comfortable than shaving.
For example, a “Hollywood” removes all the pubic hair whereas a Brazilian leaves what is known as a “landing strip” of hair and a traditional bikini wax (sometimes known as Californian or Tanga) removes hair that is visible outside of the underwear or bikini.
Advantages of hair removal with wax:
- It lasts a long time – up to several weeks.
- It is a relatively quick method.
- You avoid razor bumps because the hairs are soft and new when they grow out again.
- You can wax hair anywhere on the body and face.
Disadvantages of hair removal with wax:
- It can be painful – especially if you have a low threshold to pain.
- It is not always cheap – especially if you are waxed at a clinic.
- It can be hard to master yourself at home.
- You may get irritated skin or ingrown hair for a few days after treatment.
- The hair must be a certain length (usually about half a centimetre), otherwise it may be too short for the wax to adhere to and pull out. This means you will need to grow your hair between waxing treatments rather than staying hairless.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal requires visits to a specialist clinic. It is a very effective hair removal method, thus it takes time. The treatment itself does not take long, but you will need multiple treatments over a period before you are hairless.
Laser hair removal also called IPL (intense pulsed light) or ellipse hair removal. During laser treatment a beam of light hits the hair, causing the hair, root and follicle to burn, thus destroying them. It is not dangerous in any way, but it can be painful.
Advantages of laser hair removal:
- After multiple treatments you will be more or less completely hairless.
- The whole body can be treated, even the face.
Disadvantages of laser hair removal:
- It is very expensive.
- It works best on dark hair. Red, very light and grey hair cannot be removed with the laser.
- Hair removal is not 100% permanent.
Other Methods of Hair Removal
The most common methods of hair removal are those already mentioned: shaving, hair removal cream, waxing and laser treatment. However, there are also some other less common methods.
Sugaring is an ancient method from the Middle East. It is very similar to a wax treatment, but instead of wax you use warm, melted sugar.
The method is said to be less painful than waxing and is gentler on the skin. The hairs do not need to be a certain length before you can sugar them again, so there is less waiting compared to waxing.
However, not all clinics offer sugaring and, like a wax treatment, it is not cheap to do.
Plucking is probably the one method nearly everyone has tried. Using a pair of tweezers you can quickly remove hair by pulling out one hair strand at a time.
It is a very effective method, but it’s not completely painless and it is very time consuming even when you are removing a very small patch of hair.
Therefore, this method is primarily suited for eyebrows and small areas around the body and face.
As it only requires tweezers it is a cheap method, however, be careful when plucking your eyebrows: the hairs do not grow back right away.
So, pluck a single hair at a time and make sure you have a good light so you can see which hairs need removing and which can remain.
Hair removal with an epilator is similar to shaving. However, with this method you use a special razor that pulls your hair out as it is moved across your skin, rather than cutting the hairs.
Of course, it hurts a great deal and is time consuming, especially if you are treating a large area like your legs, however, it can be done at home when it suits you, rather than at the clinic.
Not everyone has great success with an epilator – and many give up because it is simply too painful. Once you have used it, it will be several weeks before the hairs are ready to be removed again.
However, epilation is tough and damaging to the skin so you risk irritation, razor bumps and ingrown hair – just as you would from waxing.
Threading is an ancient Middle Eastern hair removal method. For successful threading, you need a professional who knows the special technique and has a lot of experience.
Using both bands, you work a thin cotton thread over the hairs snapping the thread to remove them.
It is a very effective method if you can find a threading specialist, and it’s not as painful as a wax treatment.
It will take a long time to treat a larger area so threading is more suitable for removing hair from the face.
Important Things to Remember Before and After Hair Removal
Hair removal often damages the skin and you want to avoid this. Therefore, it is a good idea to soothe and treat the skin before and after hair removal.
Before you start removing hair wash your skin with a good anti-bacterial soap, this both cleans and softens the skin.
If you are shaving your body hair, it is good to start with a hot bath or shower.
This softens the hair and skin and makes it easier to cut the hair.
However, even when using other hair removal methods, such as the hair removal cream or wax, it is important to clean the skin of bacteria before you get started.
When you have finished removing your hair, your skin will really benefit from loving care. Moisturise the skin using a good body lotion or, even better, a special aftershave conditioner designed for use after shaving.
It will feel pleasing and cooling on irritated skin. It can also help prevent razor bumps, ingrown hair and irritated skin, which is the skin’s reaction to the rough treatment.
Ingrown hairs occur when infection in the hair follicles cause the hair to grow under the skin.
Whichever method you choose for hair removal, you need to ensure the hair follicles are closed after the hair is pulled out or shaved.
If there are bacteria on the skin, they may penetrate the open hair follicles and cause an infection.
Therefore, it is very important to keep the skin clean with an anti-bacterial soap and nourish it with an anti-septic lotion.
These will close the pores and remove bacteria after you have removed the hair.
Video: How to do hair removal – before and after
Can Hair Removal Be Permanent?
When we talk about permanent hair removal, we are usually referring to laser hair removal, also called IPL (intense pulsed light) or ellipse hair removal.
Laser hair removal works via light energy that is converted into heat energy. When the light beam hits the hair, the hair, root and follicle is heated, burned and thus destroyed.
However, the light can only pick up dark hair pigments in the skin, and therefore the laser treatment works only on dark hair, and not on light, grey or red hair.
The use of lasers might seem extreme, but the treatment is not dangerous at all when done correctly. It is all about light transforming into heat.
That being said, there may be some pain during treatment, especially in sensitive areas.
It feels a bit like a flick of an elastic bank on your skin, and there is often a short-lived warmth or burning sensation. Once the treatment is complete, there is no pain at all.
You need several laser treatments before you are completely free of hair, as at any time the individual hair follicles are in different growth stages. The laser can only remove hairs at a certain point in the growth stage.
The number of treatments necessary depends on several factors including hormone levels, age and hair type.
Usually you should expect 5-10 treatments, even after you are hair free in the treated area, do not expect those areas to stay 100% hair free forever.
The individual treated hair follicle is broken, but new hair follicles can start to grow, so over time, new hair will develop; you will need to follow up with subsequent laser treatments.
A laser treatment requires a visit to a clinic. It is a rather expensive method since every treatment costs a lot and there are many treatments to be done.
You can buy laser treatment devices to use at home, but they can be quite expensive, and both experts and the National Board of Health have warned against using them.
Problems That May Arise from Hair Removal
Hair removal stresses the skin as you are using tough methods to remove the hair. Some people have more sensitive skin than others do, and therefore everyone’s skin will react differently to hair removal methods.
Some of the typical problems that may arise from hair removal are skin irritation, red spots, ingrown hair, especially when shaving, red razor bumps on the surface of the skin.
This can be hard to avoid, especially if you have delicate skin, however, you can do a lot to prevent these problems. Before you begin hair removal, clean and soften your skin with a good anti-bacterial body soap.
When you are finished removing your hair be sure to care and soothe your skin with an aftershave conditioner or post hair removal.
7 Myths: Things You Didn’t Know About Hair Removal
Myth 1: Hair grows back thicker after shaving
It is an old myth that has no scientific evidence backing it. It is probably assumed true as shorter hair often seems thicker and stiffer than longer hair.
Myth 2: Hair grows back thinner when using hair removal cream
When using hair removal cream you remove more of the hair root compared to shaving, but the hairs are exactly as thick and stiff when they grow back again.
Myth 3: Laser treatment is dangerous
Laser hair removal works by transforming light energy into heat energy that burns and destroys the hair follicle. It is not dangerous in any way as the laser destroys nothing but the hair follicle itself.
Myth 4: You grow back fewer hairs after waxing
When waxing you fully pull out the hair from the follicle, thus removing more hair compared to shaving, for example. It takes more time for the hair to grow back, but it will definitely grow back because the hair follicle has not been removed.
Myth 5: You can be burned by waxing
It is important to perform the wax treatment properly. The wax must be warm to work, but not so hot that you burn yourself, if it is overheated, you can burn your skin. Therefore, it is important to choose a therapist who has experience with wax treatments and knows how to heat and use the wax properly.
Myth 6: When you remove hair, more hair will grow back in its place
This is not true. Removing your hair does not cause double the amount of hair to grow back in its place. The individual hair strands that grow back may seem thicker when they are short.
Myth 7: The hair grows faster when removed
Hair does not grow faster or slower because you remove it. In addition you do not get more hair or thicker hair because of hair removal!
FAQ About Hair Removal
How long does hair removal last?
It depends on which method you use. Shaving is the least permanent method while laser treatment tends to last the longest.
How long does hair removal cream last?
Using hair removal cream will remove more of the hair strand than shaving, so therefore it will take just a little longer for the hair to grow back.
Can you get hair removal with health care?
You cannot get a subsidy for regular cosmetic hair removal. However, in special cases where hair growth is due to an illness and is visible on your face (as a woman) and / or is overly thick, you may be able to receive pre-paid treatment to remove your hair via laser.
Is permanent laser hair removal dangerous?
It is not dangerous to remove your hair with laser treatment. The laser uses light energy, which converts to heat energy to burns and destroy the hair follicle. however, it is only the follicle that is affected, not the skin that surrounds it or your internal organs.
Is laser hair removal permanent?
Laser hair removal requires several treatments before hair is completely gone. Each individual hair follicle is broken, but over time new hair follicles may develop and you may need subsequent treatments. Therefore, laser treatment does not make you 100% hair free for life, although it is very effective.
How many treatments do you need by laser hair removal to be permanent?
It varies greatly from person to person, and depends, among other things, on hormone levels, age and hair type. You may need anywhere from five to 10 treatments.
How much does laser hair removal cost?
Laser hair removal is the most expensive hair removal method, but also the most effective. Prices vary widely from clinic to clinic, so check multiple places before booking a session. The total cost will also depend on how many treatments you need, which varies from person to person.
Where can I buy wax for hair removal?
You can buy wax for hair removal in larger supermarkets if you want to try at waxing at home. Otherwise, therapists will use their own wax when you book a waxing session at the clinic and salon.