Unwanted hair removal, also known as epilation or depilation, is the deliberate removal of body hair.
7 ways to remove unwanted hair
When it comes to removing unwanted hair, you have options. With so much misinformation available about these options, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. To help you make an informed decision, here are the basic facts that dermatologists share with their patients on 7 popular ways to remove unwanted hair.
When you shave, the razor cuts the hair on the surface of your skin so you cannot see it.
Fast facts: Here are the long and short points of the shave:
- You can shave any area of the body.
- You can quickly learn to shave.
- Shaving is painless (unless you cut yourself), unlike waxing or laser hair removal.
- Results are short-lived, so you may need to shave daily or every few days to maintain results.
- Frequent shaving can irritate your skin.
- Injuries, such as cuts, nicks, and razor burns occur.
- Some people who shave develop ingrown hairs.
How to get the best results: The following tips from dermatologists can help you reduce injuries and get a close, comfortable shave.
- How to shave – for men and women: Discover 6 easy steps that can help you get a clean, comfortable shave and minimize irritated skin. (video)
- How to shave your face: Men, with the right technique, can be of great help to achieve smooth, smooth, and hair-free skin. (video)
- 7 Ways To Prevent Injury While Trimming Your Pubic Hair: Find research-proven ways to reduce these very common injuries.
Wax (hot or cold) is applied to the skin and then quickly removed, pulling out the hairs.
Fast facts: Here is the cold facts on this option:
- Results can last a few weeks or longer.
- You can wax any area of your body, including large areas, such as the legs, and delicate areas, such as the skin over the upper lip.
- Waxing takes practice to learn.
- Removing the wax can be painful.
- Your freshly waxed skin may become red and irritated for a time after waxing.
- If the wax is too hot, it can burn your skin.
How to get the best results – These tips from dermatologists can help you keep it safe and effective:
- Waxing is not recommended if you currently:
- Taking isotretinoin (a prescription drug approved to treat severe acne) or have taken it in the past 6 months.
- Using an antibiotic
- Apply tretinoin (also known as retinoic acid) to the skin.
These medicines thin your skin. When the wax is removed, your skin may tear.
- If you are waxing at home, be sure to see what dermatologists recommend by watching this short video, Waxing: How to Depilate.
- If you go to a salon to wax, make sure the estheticians:
- Use wooden sticks instead of a metal putty knife to apply the hot wax.
- Dip an unused wooden stick into the wax each time you apply wax to the skin.
Dipping the stick in the wax more than once is called a double-dip. This unhealthy practice can transfer bacteria and other germs from previous clients to you. The heated wax is not hot enough to kill bacteria and other germs.
A cream, lotion, or gel is applied to the skin, which can dissolve unwanted hair.
Fast Facts: The following can help eliminate any misconceptions about using a depilatory:
- Results tend to last longer than when shaving.
- It is quick and easy to use at home. Simply apply, wait, and rinse the product at the time indicated in the instructions.
- These products can irritate your skin, which is why dermatologists recommend that you try them. (instructions below in How to get better results with a depilatory).
- Some people can use a product for months or years before it starts to irritate their skin.
- Some people do not like the smell of these products.
How to get the best results with a depilatory: Always, try first. Before using a depilatory for the first time or using it on a different part of your body, here’s how to test the product:
- Apply a small amount to the area where you want to use it.
- Keep it on your skin for the time indicated in the instructions (or until your skin starts to burn or burn)
- Rinse immediately and thoroughly at the indicated time or at the first sign of burning or stinging.
- If you feel burning or stinging, do not use the product. Find another depilatory to try.
- If within 24 hours of applying the product you do not have a skin reaction, you can use the product in that area.
This option involves winding two twisted cotton threads over the unwanted hairs, pulling them out.
Fast facts: To help you analyze the pros and cons of this option, here are the key facts:
- Since threading only removes unwanted hair, it is an option for areas, like the eyebrows, where you want to keep some hair.
- It is as accurate as waxing, but much faster. You can remove many hairs at once.
- Results can last 4 to 5 weeks.
- It causes little irritation, making it an option for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
- Threading is not suitable for large areas.
How to get the best results: Ask hair salons from people you trust for recommendations. Threading takes time to learn. In inexperienced hands, it can make your eyebrows look uneven or even cause ingrown hairs.
Women apply this cream to the areas of the face where they want less hair. The active ingredient, eflornithine hydrochloride, helps prevent new hair growth. You may see this drug advertised as Vaniqa® or Eflora®.
Quick Facts: If this option sounds appealing to you, here’s what you need to know:
- This medicine can slow hair growth so that you have less hair in the treated areas, usually within 4 to 8 weeks.
- You need a prescription for this medication, so you will need to consult a physician, such as a board-certified dermatologist, who has experience treating patients with this medication.
- The cream cannot remove existing hair, so you must remove unwanted hair in that area and any loose hairs that grow.
- You should apply for this medicine twice a day for as long as you want to see results. Once you stop applying for medicine, your hair will grow back.
- Like all medicines, this one has possible side effects.
How to get the best results: If this option appeals to you, consult a board-certified dermatologist who has experience treating patients with this drug. This is not a hair removal option for everyone. Your dermatologist can tell you if you are a good candidate.
Laser hair removal
The laser emits a beam of light, which absorbs the pigment (colour) in your hair. Over time, this can destroy the hair follicle, so the hair cannot grow back. While it takes about 6 treatments from a dermatologist to destroy a follicle, the hair will grow back thinner and finer after each treatment.
If you use laser hair removal at home, you will need to wear the device for much longer to see results. You will also need to use it periodically to maintain results.
Quick Facts: The following can help clarify whether this may be an option for you:
- 6 more treatments may be needed, but laser hair removal is permanent, except on a woman’s face.
- People of all skin colours can safely undergo laser hair removal, but the person performing the procedure on people who have the skin colour should have experience with laser hair removal on darker skin tones.
- There is no downtime.
- Men who suffer constant razor burn or ingrown hairs from shaving can permanently remove their beards with laser hair removal. Once you stop shaving, razor burns and ingrown hairs won’t bother you.
- Laser hair removal does not work on blonde, white, grey, or red hair because lasers cannot effectively target light-coloured hair.
- You will need to keep the treated area covered and out of the sun until the skin heals.
- If you are tanned, you should wait for the tan to completely fade before it is safe to undergo laser hair removal.
How to get the best results: Your results are highly dependent on the experience and knowledge of the person performing the procedure, so it is essential to:
- Have an experienced doctor perform laser hair removal. While laser hair removal may seem easy to do, it can damage your skin if the person performing the treatment is inexperienced. Possible injuries include burns, blisters, infections, or dark spots.
- Find out if this is a safe and effective option for you. A board-certified dermatologist can tell you if you are a good candidate for laser hair removal. Not everyone is.
- Consult your dermatologist before using a laser at home. These home devices are not for everyone. There are many home devices to choose from, so it can be difficult to know which one to buy.
This method sends an electrical current through a hair follicle, which will damage the follicle and prevent hair from growing. Because hair grows in cycles, it takes several sessions to get permanent hair removal.
You will also find kits that will allow you to perform electrolysis at home. Unlike professional electrolysis, the kits do not involve inserting probes into hair follicles.
Fast Facts: If this sounds appealing to you, you may find the following electrifying facts:
- Electrolysis can permanently remove unwanted hair.
- Once your hair is gone, you won’t need maintenance treatments.
- It works on all hair types, including light-coloured ones, which lasers can’t remove.
- There is no downtime.
- If your operator uses non-sterile probes, it can cause a skin or blood infection.
- In inexperienced hands, electrolysis can cause scars and burns.
- People with darker skin can develop a type of raised scar called a keloid.
- Some people say that electrolysis feels uncomfortable or painful because every time a hair is treated, a stinging sensation is felt.