Hair Removal Options: Are There Permanent Solutions?
The question “Is there any way to completely remove all hair from my body?”
is one of the most common questions asked by men and women seeking to have their bodies transformed into something different. For some it’s just a cosmetic goal; others want to get rid of their unwanted facial hair or unwanted pubic hair. Some are looking for a cure for baldness, while others want to look like models. Whatever your reason may be, you’ve probably come across the following solutions: waxing, laser hair removal (light), electrolysis (heavy) and chemical peels.
Each solution has its pros and cons, but which one is best?
In order to answer this question properly, we need to first understand what makes up our skin. Your skin is made up of three main layers: epidermis, dermis and hypodermis. Epidermal cells make up the bulk of your skin, whereas dermal cells make up the rest. Dermatocytes are responsible for producing collagen fibers that give your skin its strength and elasticity. Finally, hypodermis contains fat cells that provide energy to keep your body running smoothly.
Hair removal works in one of two ways: either the hair is forcibly removed at the surface level (waxing, tweezing) or the hair’s growth cycle is interrupted so that it cannot grow out of the skin (laser hair removal). The former options are more of a short-term solution, as they don’t actually remove the root of the hair.
This means that after a week or so, your hair will start to grow back in. The latter options (laser hair removal) are the only ones that actually kill the root of the hair. This means that you should be able to go several weeks, if not months without seeing any regrowth.
Waxing involves applying a warm wax on the area you wish to remove hair from and then mushing the hair against the skin so that it sticks to the wax. After this, you simply peel off the wax, taking the hair with it.
The benefit of waxing over tweezing is that it is less time-consuming and less painful. Contrary for what you may think, waxing causes less pain because the hairs are removed from the root, not from the tips. There is no regrowth with waxing, although it takes longer for hair to start growing back than if you were tweezing. The only drawback is that it can be painful, and sometimes the pain can last several hours after waxing.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal involves a device that targets and kills the root of your body hair. It’s important to go to a qualified medical specialist when using a laser, as you don’t want the laser to be set at the wrong wavelength or you might get burned.
The energy from the laser is absorbed by the pigment in your hair, and since skin doesn’t contain any pigment, it is safe. It usually takes several sessions to completely remove all of the targeted hairs. The benefit of laser hair removal is that it lasts a long time; some people report not seeing any regrowth for years after their last session. The downside is that it can be expensive (upwards of several thousand dollars) and can cause burns if done incorrectly.
Electrolysis is a process in which individual hairs are zapped with a fine needle that has an electrical current running through it. The downside of this method is that can be very time-consuming and painful.
This method also has a reputation for being extremely painful.
One of the most common questions I get about laser hair removal is how it works on dark skin. The answer is: it doesn’t.
At least, not for very long. Most places that offer laser hair removal won’t treat you if your skin is darker than a paper bag, and with good reason: it’s painful and the treatments don’t work. Laser hair removal is performed on the basis of “treated hairs.” This means that if your skin is dark but the hairs are light enough to be treated, the machine will zap those hairs but will not treat the surrounding hairs. This can create a patchy, ugly mess. This does not mean you will always have a patchy, ugly mess, but it’s something to keep in mind. Laser hair removal works best on light-colored hairs on parts of your body that get a decent amount of sunlight.
If I were to recommend any form of hair removal, I would say waxing is probably the best and laser hair removal is a close second. If you’re going to get waxed, I would go to a place that specializes in intimate waxing.
Sources & references used in this article:
Laser hair removal: a review by SD Gan, EM Graber – Dermatologic Surgery, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
The removal of unwanted hair using a ruby laser by DT Gault, AO Grobbelaar, R Grover, SH Liew… – British journal of plastic …, 1999 – Elsevier
Methods of hair removal by EA Olsen – Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 1999 – Elsevier
Comparison of alexandrite laser and electrolysis for hair removal by M Görgü, G Aslan, T Aköz, B Erdoğan – Dermatologic surgery, 2000 – Wiley Online Library
Best practice options for hair removal in patients with unwanted facial hair using combination therapy with laser: guidelines drawn up by an expert working group by M Lapidoth, C Dierickx, S Lanigan, U Paasch… – Dermatology, 2010 – karger.com
An overview of unwanted female hair by U Blume‐Peytavi – British Journal of Dermatology, 2011 – Wiley Online Library
A clinical overview of hair removal using lasers and light sources by C Dierickx, MB Alora, JS Dover – Dermatologic clinics, 1999 – Elsevier
Long‐term efficacy of linear‐scanning 808 nm diode laser for hair removal compared to a scanned alexandrite laser by S Grunewald, MO Bodendorf, A Zygouris… – Lasers in Surgery …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library