Ever wonder just how many ways you can remove unwanted hair? Or maybe what the pros and cons of each method really are? Well, read on...Whether you want to know more about PERMANENTLY REMOVING your hairs or want a temporary HAIR-FREE BACK, BRAZILIAN or BROW, we've got the low down on all the good and the bad right here!
Let's face it. Pretty much all of us have shaved or trimmed at one time or another. We've all also been told that shaving makes your hairs grow worse. Well, that one is, you guessed it, NOT TRUE!
An old wives tale. If you've ever gotten lazy (usually in the winter) with shaving your legs, this is the perfect example. The fully grown hairs return to their tapered shape and in turn, they feel soft again. But they are flat, blunted and stubbly when you shave them at the widest point of the hair shaft, removing their naturally tapered ends. This makes them look and feel worse, even though the hair itself is no different. Once it sheds and a new one grows in again, it will be soft an tapered, until you shave again.
Cutting, trimming and shaving hairs can not change the way hair grows, how fast it grows back, how thick it is, or anything else. Of course, this method is the most convenient but is also the one that lasts the shortest amount of time, so you will likely be shaving daily, weekly or monthly depending on where you are shaving and your growth speed. Shaving is safe for ALL skin tones and types, however, sensitive types may have irritation or be prone to ingrown hairs. We can help with that, but we'll save that for another post
The only way to effect the way a hair grows is to directly effect the follicle which is under the skin. Methods 3-9 can all change the way a hair grows. (more about that in each method)
Depilatories are chemical creams you apply to the hair you want to remove and basically, they dissolve them away. This can last an extra day or so over shaving because some of the depilatory can seep into your follicles and reach just a tad bit lower on the hair shaft than a razor can. That said, these are chemicals. They can be very harsh to the skin and toxic to the body. Many people can't tolerate them at all, especially in sensitive areas like the bikini and Brazilian areas. If you choose to try this method, ALWAYS do a patch test to see how your skin will react.
If your hairs are particularly coarse, this method may not take care of the hairs. We never recommend this method due to it's sheer toxic and irritation potential.
Out pops that hair on your chinny chin chin( or somewhere else) and all day long, your fingers go right too it! You can wait to get home and pull that sucker out! Or maybe you stop at the drugstore on the way home to pick up a pair of tweezers for the car. After all, the lighting in the rear view mirror is where we see things we don't want to see! Oh, we know!
Well DON'T! We know, this is perhaps even more convenient than shaving, infinitely more rewarding, feeling that pesky hair pop out and will stay away longer than shaving but, THE TRUTH IS, pulling a hair out traumatizes the follicle and it's the follicle that is actually responsible for growing the hair. Traumatizing sounds good though, right? Sometimes. Any time there is trauma or stimulation to the follicular structure a hair can become distorted, ingrown, decreased, stimulated or accelerated.
In other words YOU CAN MAKE THE HAIRS WORSE! I've been removing hairs and teaching since 1985 and believe me, all too often and in particular, when it comes to tweezing (pulling of any method actually, including tweezing, epilating, waxing...) it more often than not makes the hairs stronger, thicker and more numerous when done on the cheeks, chin, neck and upper lip. The eyebrows, I have see go both ways, just as with the body. Sometimes better, sometimes no difference and sometimes worse.
Hairs on the chin, neck, upper lip, cheeks (for women) is very often hormone related as much as hereditary. Because of this, they tend to be triggered by changes to the environment, medicines, tweezing/waxing/epilating, stress etc. and most often, it's for the worst. Tweezing (waxing and epilating too) also makes the skin more susceptible to accelerated sun damage. In other words, all those little hairs being pulled repeatedly can lead to hyper-pigmentation in each and every little spot. (AGE/SUN SPOTS!) Ingrown hairs are also a possibility as they grown in. We DO NOT recommend tweezing, waxing or epilating anywhere on the chin, cheeks, upper lip or neck.
Epilating is basically doing the same thing as tweezing with ALL the same potential effects and problems. What make this different is that it is done with a device that spins around with little coils as you run it over your skin/hairs that literally yank them out. Think electric shaver but no cutting, only pulling. This method has the added risk of more hairs breaking as they are being pulled out which leads to more irritation, more ingrown hairs and hairs breaking vs. being removed leading to quicker regrowth. Epilators have been known to grab skin as they are spinning on occasion too, especially when being used around bikini or on skin that is looser or older.
Not a favorite method of ours.
Sugaring is an ancient method of removing hair. Ancient Egyptians found if you heat up sugar and water to a specific temperature, it will become a sticky paste that, when applied correctly, can pull out the hairs in large quantities.
Threading is a method of hair removal originating in Iran, India, Central Asia and China.Recently it has gained popularity in Western countries.
In threading, a thin (cotton or polyester) thread is doubled, then twisted and rolled over areas of unwanted hair. This plucks the hair like tweezing, waxing, epilating etc.
Advantages cited for eyebrow threading, as opposed to eyebrow waxing, are that it provides more precise control in shaping eyebrows and is gentler on the skin. It can be painful though, since rows of multiple hairs are removed in the application and precision can be obtained with waxing and tweezing as well with a skilled esthetician.
Laser is the process of hair removal by means of exposure the hair to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. Like electrolysis, laser seeks to destroy the layers of the follicle that grow the hair and has been shown to reduce or improve the overall hairs, however; not everyone is a good candidate to laser(contrary to what those who seek your business may tell you). The best candidate is someone with the lightest of skin and the darkest of hair since the light is attracted to the dark and having the highest contrast available ensure that the light will follow the hair into the follicle where it really needs to do it's damage. While this can be a great option for those with a high contrast and epecially for large areas like backs, legs and such, laser has shown to be limiting in the actual permanency achieved. It's important to not that the FDA still only recognizes Electrolysis as truly PERMANENT hair removal.
As with electrolysis there are repeat treatments done(more costly per treatment, though fewer). There is risk of skin irritation and the risk is considerable higher less of a contrast you have as well as with skin conditions like rosascea. Light or white hairs are also not succesful with this method.
There are prescription creams available to reduce hair growth such as Vantiqa but as with all prescriptions, they come with risk of side effects. They are also typically not covered by insurance and can be quite costly. It's a rare case that we would recommend this route.
Still, after all these years (since 1875), Electrolysis remains to be the only FDA recognized and proven method of truly permanent hair removal and it's SAFE FOR ALL SKIN AND HAIR TYPES. It can be done anywhere on the face or body but that said, it is most often done on the face.
Does it hurt? For most it feels like a heat or a tingling sensation. Most clients talk and some even snooze while having it done. That said, your personal pain and sensitivity threshold is really what will determine your personal experience.
While being the over all safest and best choice for true hair removal, each hair is done individually and does require repeat treatment to become permanent so having it done on the body tends to be a bit more of a luxury, while having done on the face (for women) really more of a necessity and overall peace of mind. After all, none of us want to wind up too old to see and remove those 6 inch hairs we've accumulated on our chinny chin chin!
*Make sure you choose someone who is well trained and has years of experience when having Electrolysis done. There are 3 methods that can be applied. You want to make sure your Electrologist is able to determine and properly apply the best one for your needs. Proper sterilization and disposable probes are an absolute must as well. Applied inappropriately, treatments can result in skin damage.