Let’s face it: women have been battling with unwanted body hair for centuries. And some women have had an easier time of it than others. Some struggle with a bit of peach-fuzz, others have to battle with tufts of dark, coarse hair. For some, the problem is hereditary or related to ethnic heritage, and for others, excessive hair growth is due to hormonal changes linked to menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome. And then there are those women who are interested in hair removal for areas such as the legs, underarms, or bikini area, where growth is completely normal—but often undesirable.
Rest assured, though, that no matter what the reason for removing unwanted hair, there is no shortage of treatment options. Read on for a guide to help you decide which hair removal method is right for you.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal uses laser light pulses that selectively destroy hair follicles by targeting the melanin in them. More specifically, the hair follicle’s pigment absorbs the laser’s light pulse, damaging the follicle enough to significantly slow down hair regrowth. Laser hair removal can be performed anywhere on the body. The best candidates are women with dark hair and light skin, since the lasers target melanin. Lasers won’t work on white hair unless it’s dyed a darker color, and they are much less effective on blond hair, which usually responds best to electrolysis.
While most lasers work on the skin of Hispanics, only one, called the Nd:YAG, is safe for African American skin. All other hair removal lasers increase the risk of hyperpigmentation, as well as burning and scarring, which can lead to keloids.
Laser hair removal usually requires 5-7 sessions, with a touch-up session needed once a year. The cost runs between $150 and $500, or sometimes more depending on how many treatments are needed.
Electrolysis works by inserting a small needle or thin metal probe into the hair follicle. A low-level electrical current then passes through the needle or probe into the skin and destroys the follicle. Hair is unable to grow back in the area where the follicle has been destroyed. Electrolysis is the only hair removal method that is permitted to be called “permanent,” and it’s most commonly used for facial hair. The downside to electrolysis is that it requires that the removal be done hair-by-hair, a tedious process that can take up to 25 sessions. Another downside is that electrolysis can cause tiny scars where the needle is inserted. For most people, these minuscule wounds heal unnoticed, but for African Americans, they can mean an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and keloid formation.
Electrolysis costs between $40 and $90 per treatment. It can take as many as 10 to 25 treatments to see permanent results.
Also known as eflornithine, Vaniqa works by blocking an enzyme that would otherwise stimulate hair growth. Without the enzyme, hair growth is retarded in that area and eventually may stop growing altogether. Because Vaniqa is not a hair remover per se, it is best used in conjunction with other hair removal methods such as lasers. The longer the cream is used, the better the results will be. Vaniqa is most effective on facial hair growth, particularly upper lip, chin and cheek hair. Vaniqa does have an edge over other hair removal methods because it is an effective way to remove white or non-pigmented hair, which doesn’t respond to laser treatment.
Vaniqa is budget-friendly, costing between $80 and $225 per tube.
Waxing has been around for centuries as a hair removal technique. And the technique hasn’t changed too much. Wax is warmed until it’s soft and spreadable (it shouldn’t be boiling hot or feel uncomfortably warm). Using a wooden stick that looks a lot like a tongue depressor, the warm wax is spread on the treatment area. Usually, the wax is applied in small portions at a time. Then a clean white cloth is pressed down on top of the warm wax and is yanked off quickly, pulling out the hair with it—roots and all. Waxing can remove hair anywhere on the body, including the upper lip, chin, eyebrows, bikini area, arms, and legs.
Waxing is best done in a spa or a salon, but home kits are available. It is vital however to do the procedure in hygienic conditions and to follow treatment with an antibacterial lotion. Done incorrectly, waxing can lead to a nasty skin infection.
The cost of waxing runs from about $10 for an upper lip to $70 for upper and lower legs or Brazilian wax. The procedure must be repeated every few weeks.
Whether done with an electric or straight razor, shaving is akin to cutting hair, only it does so close to the skin. Shaving doesn’t remove hair at the root, nor does it disturb the follicle. This means the effects are only temporary, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Though it’s one of the easiest hair removal methods, shaving does have several drawbacks, including the risk of getting ingrown hairs, irritated skin, and cuts. You can minimize shaving problems by making sure hair is thoroughly wet first, shaving in the direction the hair grows, avoiding repeating strokes, and keeping skin relaxed while shaving.
Depilatories use an active ingredient to dissolve the hair shaft. The mechanical action of removing the cream using a spatula or sponge helps pull away the dissolved hair from the surface of the skin. Unlike shaving, which leaves sharp, hard hair stubble just below the skin, depilatories leave a rounded, smoother edge. It effectively minimizes stubble, making hair regrowth appear to take longer. Still, treatments need to be repeated at least weekly, if not more often.
Depilatories are best used for hair on the face, arms, and legs. And be careful which one you choose. Many depilatories are not recommended for use on eyebrows or in the bikini area. Depilatories are one of the cheapest methods of hair removal, costing between $5 and $10 per tube.
Tweezing pulls hair out at the root. It doesn’t affect the follicle, from which hair grows, so it’s only a matter of time before another one sprouts up. Hair grows in cycles, so the time in the cycle when you remove it determines in part how quickly another will take its place. Unlike shaving, which allows hair to grow back the same size as the follicle, hair that is plucked grows back with a tapered end, meaning it is softer and less noticeable when it first comes in. Eventually, it will grow back to its normal thickness.
Tweezing is best used to remove hair on small areas of the face, such as the upper lip, chin, or eyebrows.
Oral Contraceptives and Hormonal Treatments
For women who experience excessive hair growth as a result of a hormonal change due to menopause or polycystic ovary syndrome, medications can offer hope. Treatment include drugs designed to reduce levels of androgens, the hormones linked to excess hair growth. Common medications that retard excess hair growth include birth control pills and anti-androgens such as spironolactone, acetate, and flutamide.
Choose LaserAway for All Your Laser Hair Removal Needs
Want to try laser hair removal? Come to LaserAway. We’re proud to offer the most medical spa service options of any national skincare provider. We hire only the most highly trained staff experienced and certified in administering laser and other dermatological procedures. What’s more, we use only innovative techniques and cutting-edge laser technology. We aim to make your medical spa experience comfortable, enjoyable and satisfying. Want to learn more about laser hair removal? Then schedule a free, no-obligation consultation today by emailing LaserAway.net or calling the staff at LaserAway at (888) 965-2737. LaserAway looks forward to making sure you never have to shave or wax again.