Secrets to Hair Removalby Lisa Sefcik
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results," a quote commonly attributed to Albert Einstein, might describe your chosen method of hair removal. From the shave that's never close enough to the electric tweezers that promise you permanent results, the secret to sleek, silky hair-free legs can be elusive. Explore your full range of options before you decide what hair removal technique is best for you.
Temporary Hair Removal
Hair removal techniques fall into one of two categories. There are temporary forms of hair removal, such as shaving, waxing, tweezing and buffing; and permanent and semi-permanent hair removal methods, which include laser treatment and electrolysis. Time and money largely differentiate the two; shaving, for example, is one of the quickest and least costly ways to get rid of body hair -- however, it also gives you only short-term results. Laser hair removal and electrolysis require numerous sessions to get the results you expect. These lasting methods of hair removal can also be extremely costly; according to HairLasers.com, removing hair from the bikini line using either of these methods can range between $900 and $2,000 or more.
Epilation v. Depilation
Razors, buffers and cream depilatories remove hair through depilation -- the hair follicle itself is shorn off, removed through friction or melted away using chemical ingredients right down to the part of your skin where the follicle goes "underground." Depilation, by its very definition, gives you the most short-term results: a few hours to several days, according to HairFacts.com. Epilation, on the other hand, removes the entire hair follicle right down to the root. Tweezing, threading, waxing, sugaring and using an electric epilator are all forms of epilation. Body and facial hair grows back much slower, with results usually lasting between three and eight weeks.
Laser hair removal can yield long-lasting, if not permanent, results. Beauty expert Paula Begoun indicates that, depending on how much hair you need to remove, it may take only a few sessions. This method uses a laser device, which delivers a strong light that's absorbed by the pigment in your hair follicle, thus putting it in the resting stage of growth. Because body hair grows in cycles, you need more than one treatment to get results. Maintenance treatments are also necessary to keep hair growth in check. Women with fair skin and dark hair tend to see the best results from laser hair removal, whereas it tends to be less effective on those with lighter hair.
Permanent Hair Removal
The only truly permanent method of hair removal as defined by the US FDA is electrolysis and it's also the most time-consuming and costly of all hair removal techniques. During this hair removal procedure, a professional electrologist uses a hand-held device with a fine probe, which is inserted into the skin next to the hair follicle. A jolt of electricity is delivered to the hair root, destroying it forever. As with laser hair removal, a series of treatment sessions is required.
Hair Removal Myths
As the American Academy of Family Physicians points out, most methods of hair removal are only temporary. The HairFacts website lists dubious methods of hair removal, including dietary supplements and electric tweezers. Topical hair growth inhibitors have been around since the 19th century. The success of many of these topical products is due to the a topical prescription cream called Vaniqa, used to reduce the presence of facial hair growth in women with hirsutism. There's no big secret to hair removal; there are simply methods that work and those that probably won't. The best technique for you is generally the one you can perform at home with the least amount of discomfort and side effects.
- HairFacts: Hair removal facts for consumers
- American Academy of Family Physicians: What Should I Know About Removing Unwanted Facial Hair?
- Paula Begoun: Hair Removal Options
- American Academy of Dermatology: Laser Hair Removal
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Removing Hair Safely
- HairLasers.com: Electrolysis
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images