Hair removal

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Bleaching

Bleaching is not actually a method of hair removal, but a way to make existing hair less noticeable. The bleach, typically in the form of a cream, is applied to the skin which then bleaches out the pigment in the hair. Bleaches of this type are generally available over the counter in most stores that sell toiletries.

Non-permanent hair removal

Shaving

Shaving is the removal of hair by using a blade, typically a razor. Shaving is most commonly practiced by individuals to remove facial hair, leg hair, and underarm hair; rates of regrowth vary widely. Preparation typically involves wetting the area to be shaved with warm water to soften the skin and hair. Shaving is the most common method of hair removal.

Plucking

Hairs are tweezed, or pulled out, with tweezers or with fingers; usually only suitable for smaller areas due to the time-consuming nature of this method.

Threading

Threading is an ancient method of hair removal in which a thin, twisted thread of cotton is placed over the area of unwanted hair and is then pulled away from the skin taking the unwanted hair with it. This is a similar method to plucking, however threading removes more than one hair at a time and can produce 'neater' effects if used to groom areas such as eyebrows.

Epilators

An epilator is an electrical device used to remove hair by mechanically grasping multiple hairs simultaneously and pulling them out. Epilators are available from most stores selling personal grooming products.

Waxing

Hair is removed using wax by heating the wax until it is soft enough to be spread on the skin, once the wax cools with the hair embedded in it, the wax is quickly pulled from the skin pulling the hairs from the root. Sugar waxing is similar to regular waxing, except that the wax is a thick sugary substance similar to caramel and is easier to clean up after removing hair as it is water soluble.

Topical treatments

Depilatory creams use a chemical called thioglycolate mixed with sodium hydroxide or calcium hydroxide to literally melt the hair away. A notable side effect of depilatory creams is skin irritation, as they can melt away skin cells. Depilatory cream is applied to an area with unwanted hair and left on for 3-15 minutes, during this time the cream dissolves the hair and the resulting jelly-like substance is simply washed off after the appropriate time.

Vaniqa (also known as Eflora) is a cream that is applied to the skin to block the enzyme ornithine decarboxylase needed for hair growth, and is used to reduce the rate of facial hair growth. It is not a depilatory (i.e., having the capability to remove hair). The cream is typically applied twice daily (morning and evening), it can take 4-8 weeks of use before the full effect is noticeable. The rate of facial hair regrowth returns to pre-treatment levels if use of the cream is discontinued. Vaniqa is available on NHS prescription in the UK.

Intense Pulsed Light

IPL hair removal is generally cheaper and quicker than laser hair removal, and works essentially in the same way - by damaging the hair follicle using heat. Although the precise effectiveness of IPL compared to Alexandrite and ND:YAG laser hair removal is debated by scientists, equipment manufacturers and practitioners, their results are generally accepted to be approximately equivalent.

Laser hair removal

Laser hair removal is widely practiced in clinics around the world. Laser treatment works by using a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to heat the dark pigment (malanin) in hairs in order to effectively damage the hair follicles, to inhibit further regrowth of hair. Laser is generally considered to be a semi-permanent form of hair removal, as the full effects of treatment tend to last only a few years before hair begins to grow back. However, regrowth is usually sparser, and with finer hairs. Laser treatment is most effective on people with light skin and dark hair.

Diode lasers such as Lightsheer and Soprano XL are reportedly more effective on male-pattern facial hair than other types such as the Alexandrite and Nd:Yag lasers. Individuals seeking to permanently remove male-pattern facial hair typically have several laser sessions (spaced approximately 6 weeks apart) followed by electrolysis.

Electrolysis

Electrology is the practice of electrical epilation to permanently remove human hair, the actual process is referred to as electrolysis. The person performing the electrolysis partially inserts a very fine metal rod into each individual hair follicle to deliver a degree of electricity which damages the follicle. Electrolysis is widely considered to be the only fully permanent method of hair removal, and works just as effectively on any skin/hair colour combination.

See also

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