The Complete One Page Guide to Hair Removal

Hair is the biggest enemy of silk like skin. In this post will take a look at different methods of hair removal including the pros and cons of each. But first to get started lets take a quick intro to the growth cycle of hair…

Hair Growth Cycle:

There are three stages being  Growth, Regression and Resting stages.  The length of the growth cycle differs depending on the location of the body hair, every treatment interval has its differences.

Growth Stage:
At any time under normal conditions, around 85% of the body hair is in its growing stage. This stage can last 2-6 years. Our hair grows 10cm a year but will not exceed 1 m.

Regression Stage:
After growth stage comes the regression stage which will generally last for 1-2 weeks. During this stage the hair follicle will contract 1/6 of it’s normal length.

Resting Stage:
Hair will not grow during regression and resting stages but is still connected to hair follicle. Normally, 10-15% of our body hair is at resting stage.

Hair Removal Methods

There are many different treatments available to remove unwanted hair from the face, armpits, legs, bikini line, arm or any other body part, some of the treatments provide temporary results and a few of them can offer a permanent result.

We will discuss below the different hair removal treatments and how the treatments are done. It’s helpful for you to go through them and chose the treatment that works best for you considering safety, cost, time available, skin type, and the desired area for hair removal.

Bleaching

Bleaching is a way to make the hair lighter and less noticeable, it doesn’t actually remove hair. By removing the pigment from the hair with chemical, bleaching treatment is useful on face, arm, legs, back that may have fine hair but noticeable due to its dark color.

Don’t use near eyes, inside nose, ears, on nipples, scar tissue, warts, moles or near genitals. Bleach shouldn’t be used over sunburned, irritated, inflamed or chapped skin, or an area that is freshly tweezed, shaved or exfoliated.

The results can last for 2- 6 weeks. Bleaching treatment is not that suitable for dark or tanned skin tone as the bleached hair stand out due to the color contrast (light hair against dark skin).

Waxing

Waxing is an effective method of removing hair from its root. The result will last for two to eight weeks. Almost any area of the body can be waxed, including eyebrows, face, bikini area, legs, arms, back, abdomen and feet.

Waxing is accomplished by spreading a warm wax combination thinly over the skin. A cloth or paper strip is then pressed on the top, the hair becomes embedded in the wax, which cools and firms locking itself onto the hair. The wax is then quickly pulled off in the opposite direction of the hair growth, pulling the hairs out of the follicles.

Cold waxes are available usually attached to strips, which are patted onto the skin. This removes the wax along with the hair. Another method utilizes hard wax (as opposed to strip wax). In this case, the wax is applied somewhat thickly and with no cloth or paper strips. The wax then hardens when it cools, thus allowing the easy removal by a therapist without the aid of cloths. This waxing method is very beneficial to people who have sensitive skin.

Waxing has many benefits when compared to shaving, bleaching or depilatories, however there are drawbacks that we should consider:

  • Hair removal is not permanent.
  • When removed against the direction of hair growth, the wax strip may disturb hair follicles, causing hair to begin to grow in different directions. This may cause hair growth to be more noticeable and make other methods of hair removal more difficult.
  •  Some people experience ingrown hairs, red bumps, and minor bleeding. This is more likely to occur when waxing areas with thick hair ingrown hairs. These effects can be reduced by regularly exfoliating, and applying an astringent or a solution of both astringent and oil (typically baby or azulene oil).
  • Waxing can be painful when the strip is removed from the skin. Although the pain will gone after some time, it can be intense, particularly in more sensitive areas. And the skin will remain red for some time.

Depilatories

A chemical cream solution for hair removal. Depilatories use the active ingredient calcium thioglycolateto break down the ‘disulfide bonds’ in keratin (a protein) which weakens the hair and this break down reaction is boosted along by calcium hydroxide (an alkali). The combination of calcium hydroxide and thioglycolic literally melt the hair away.

The chemical should be tested first on a small skin area for 48 hours before applying on large area, as the epidermis (our outer layer of skin) is also rich in keratin, so in some cases the skin may become irritated.

The treatment time is 3 to 15 minutes. During this time the chemical dissolves the hair and the resulting jelly-like substance is wiped or washed off.

The use of a depilatory is fast, convenient and the product is available just over the counter, however the result will usually only last for 2-5 days, and could result in pigment for those with dark-hair and cause skin irritation for some.

Hair Removal with Electrolysis

Electrolysis involves applying an electrical current with a fine needle-shaped electrode, or metal probe into each hair follicle to destroy the root. This procedure burns the hair root to prevent it from producing more hair. Each hair follicle must be treated individually and several treatments may require destroying the follicle. Because the current is only effective on the hair that is on growth stage. There are three types of electrolysis: Galvanic, Thermolysis and Blend.

3 Types of Electrolysis:

  • Galvanic:  the original electrolysis method. Galvanic applies direct current, resulting in a chemical change of salt and water kills the hair matrix cells. Galvanic epilators automatically adjust the voltage to maintain constant current.
  • Thermolysis:  Also Known as Radio-frequency (RF), uses RF current to provide heat in the follicle. The energy emanates from the probe tip to tissue within about a millimeter. Themolysis works by heating the follicle to about 48°C (118°F), causing damage of follicle.
  • Blend:  A combination of the direct and RF current, so that a chemical and heating action occur together or sequentially in the follicle. Blend combines many of the advantages of galvanic and thermolysis .

Electrolysis offers a permanent form of hair removal, but there are many factors that will determine the treatment result. Selecting a skilled and experienced practitioner is most important.

Hair Removal with Laser

The principle of laser hair removal technology is selective photothermolysis (SPTL). The technology can selectively heat and damage the dark matter (melanin) to destroy the hair follicle (where nutrients are supplied for hair growth) while not heating the rest of the skin. Melanin is considered the primary chromospheres for laser hair removal.

Melanin occurs naturally in hair and also the skin, it gives skin and hair its color. There are two types of melanin in hair: eumelanin, which gives hair brown or black color and pheomelanin, which gives hair blonde or red color.

Because of the selective absorption of photons of laser light, only black or brown hair can be removed. As with electrolysis, hair follicles in the growth stage are more easily destroyed than those in the regression and resting stages. As the result, laser hair removal will need about 5-7 treatments.

Laser hair removal can come with some unwanted side effects as it is done via causing damage to the skin hair follicle. Normal side effects are redness, swelling and itching around the treatment area. Some level of pain, tingling and numbness can be expected during the treatment.

There is a chance of burning the skin or causing discoloration for dark skin with laser, along with a flare of acne, and swelling around the follicle. Another possible and serious risk of the treatment is infection.