A Simple Guide to Hair Removal

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Unless you're one of the lucky few with hairless genes, or you have a condition that causes your hair to fall out, you probably have more body hair than you want. What are some of your options if you want a less hirsute look?

First, let's break down the major areas that we're talking about. For ease of use, we'll break down into facial hair and body hair.

Facial hair encompasses everything from the neck up, including hair between the eyebrows, on the upper lip, chin, cheeks, etc. You can use most hair removal methods on facial hair, but there are some considerations, primarily that facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than skin elsewhere on your body. Whenever trying a new hair removal process, make sure you do a patch test to see how both your hair and your skin respond, and follow all directions. This goes double for facial hair.

Body hair includes everything below the neck, from the underarms, bikini area and legs to the chest and back, especially in men. Due to the expanse of skin covered, cost will be more of a consideration with removal of body hair than with facial hair.

So what are the options you have for removing hair? They are:

Pluck

Getting out the tweezers is definitely an option for facial hair. It could be an option for body hair, but it would likely take forever and by the time you finished an area, you'd have to start again. However, if you're bothered by stray facial hairs, this would be your preferred option. While it can be painful, it's not too bad if you're only after a few hairs.

Bleach

This option works well for facial hair if you don't have overly sensitive skin and your hair doesn't grow too fast. Bleaching hair on the upper lip doesn't make a difference if the hair is too long and curling into your mouth, because it doesn't remove the hair, it just makes it less noticeable. Bleaching is less of an option for those with dark hair, since the coarseness of the hair quite often doesn't allow the bleach to "take" well. Also, most people will not use this as an option on body hair, since the desired outcome there is typically to get rid of the hair, not just make it harder to see.

Shave

This is a time honored tradition because it works so well, it's cheap and it's effective. The chief disadvantage is the short period of time you're hair-free, just a couple of days. Make sure you use some type of moisturizer before and/or after shaving so that your skin isn't scraped raw. If you're a woman, and you have a little facial hair you'd like to get rid of, do not try shaving it. Yes, facial shaving works well for men, but their skin and hair growth patterns are different from a woman's, so stick to other methods.

Depilatories

This option will not work if you have sensitive skin, period. It will feel as if your face is burning off, and may leave your skin reddened for days rather than hours. However, if your skin is not sensitive, these creams may work for you. Just be careful. Do a patch test and follow all package directions. Since the skin on the rest of your body is generally less sensitive than facial hair, this may be a viable option for body hair, and it lasts longer than shaving.

Wax

This option can be rather painful. Imagine how plucking feels, then multiply exponentially. Instead of pulling one hair out by the root, you're pulling a whole section of hairs out by the root, at the same time. Waxing--whether cold wax, which often does not work well, or hot wax--is not for the faint of heart, and will generally leave your skin red for several hours. However, if you'd rather get the pain all over with in one fell swoop in exchange for weeks without hair, waxing is where it's at.

Electrolysis

Basically, a needle is put into the hair follicle (under the skin), electricity is put through the needle and the hair is 'killed'. Electrolysis has been around for decades and often provides great results. However, the skill of the practitioner will make the difference between a relatively pleasant experience and one that ends up with scarring or a nasty infection. Another consideration is the cost and time involved. While a majority of users will have little to no regrowth after the course of treatment, this is not a one-shot deal. You will see your practitioner a number of times (possibly ten or more), and you will pay for each visit.

Laser

This option is a relatively new procedure. There are concerns whether laser treatments can remove certain colors of hair, and dark-skinned patients may be advised against it due to pigmentation issues. As with electrolysis, the skill of the practitioner will make or break the treatment. Also, the treatments are fairly pricey, but you may find the price well worth a lifetime without hair in places you don't want it.

Whatever you decide to use for hair removal on your face and body, proceed with caution. Even a razor can cause a burn. Choose carefully and enjoy your hair-free future!

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