Hair removal methods

Hair removal methods

Root hair removal methods

Root hair removal methods

With these methods you remove your body hair by the root. It takes weeks for hair to grow back, and when it does, it is usually softer and thinner than before. The great thing is that root hair removal lets you enjoy smooth skin for a very long time – up to 4 weeks.

Read on to learn about the different root hair removal methods and their individual pros and cons.

Epilating

Works by:

Using a hand-held device that has a head of rotating tweezers which you run along the skin’s surface, removing hairs as it goes.

Best for:

All body parts - legs, underarms, arms, bikini area and face

Advantages:

Ultra-smooth results, lasting up to four weeks. It is mess free and new models also come with an extra attachment for removing unwanted hair from specific areas such as the face.

Disadvantages:

It may be uncomfortable in more sensitive areas.

Beauty rating:

Epilators can remove hairs as short as 0.5mm, unlike wax which needs lengths of 2mm hair growth for optimal results – so there’s no need to wait for unsightly regrowth.

Dermatologist’s note:

“Because with epilation the hair is removed at the root, when it does grow back the tip tends to be tapered which results in it having a finer appearance. In addition, regular epilation can reduce the number of in-growing hairs.”

Waxing

Works by:

Applying hot or cold wax to the skin in the direction of hair growth. Then, once it solidifies, fabric strips are smoothed on and quickly stripped off against the direction of the growth, pulling the hair out with it. An alternative option are pre-made wax strips.

Best for:

Legs, bikini, eyebrows, underarms and upper lip

Advantages:

Wax can keep skin hair free for weeks, so you don’t have to think about hair removal for some time.

Disadvantages:

Can be painful. Plus you have to wait until hairs are long enough before you can wax them again, which can be a problem if you want to bare your legs or hate the feeling of regrowing hairs. If you do it yourself, it can be messy, and if you go to a salon, it can be expensive. Finally, wax can miss very short hairs.

Beauty rating:

Great if you find daily hair removal a ‘hassle’ – and if you’re prepared to pay for a professional treatment.

Dermatologist’s note:

When you wax, skin can be left dry afterwards. Follow with a soothing lotion, ideally one containing aloe vera.

Threading

Threading

Works by:

Taking fine pieces of cotton thread and twining the thread round each individual hair then pulling the thread quickly apart, removing the hair along with it.

Best for:

Small, delicate areas like eyebrows and upper lip.

Advantages:

Hairs are removed from the root, so regrowth is slow, and hairs don’t grow back prickly.

Disadvantages:

Fairly slow process, since hairs need to be pulled out one by one. It’s also quite a specialized procedure, so you need to go to a well-trained professional.

Beauty rating:

Great for eyebrows – once they’ve tried it, most women are converts.

Dermatologist’s note:

“Threading is not very traumatic for the skin, so is good to use on particularly sensitive areas like the upper lip or eyebrow.”

Surface hair removal methods

Surface hair removal methods

With these methods you remove the parts of body hair that have grown above the skin surface. Generally it is quite easily done, but on the other hand you need to do it pretty often.

Read on to learn about the various root hair removal methods and understand what the differences are.

Electric Shaving

Works by:

Passing a small electric machine with a fine screen at one end across the skin’s surface, trapping hair. Blades move laterally and cut the hairs against the edge of the screen.

Best for:

Legs, bikini area, underarms

Advantages:

Quick, safe and because you do it ‘dry’, it’s easy to do on the go. Also a good option for those with very sensitive skin.

Disadvantages:

The ‘hairless’ effect doesn’t last as quite as long as wet shaving. The razor also needs looking after properly, which means regular cleaning and changing the blade annually.

Beauty rating:

Great as a gentle and quick hair removal method.

Dermatologist’s note:

“This is a convenient hair removal option that’s gentle enough to be suitable for most people. Don’t use it if your skin is already irritated by cuts or rashes, though.”

Wet shaving

Works by:

Gliding blades over moistened skin to cut hair at the surface.

Best for:

Legs, underarms, bikini area

Advantages:

Fast, effective, painless and also gently exfoliates dry, flaky skin on legs to keep them looking extra-smooth.

Disadvantages:

Whilst shaving does reveal beautifully smooth skin you have to keep on doing it frequently in order to maintain the smooth results.

Beauty rating:

A great option for busy women.

Dermatologist’s note:

“Shaving is a convenient option – but it’s important to do it properly. Just using soap and water is not ideal as it often leaves skin with a dry, scaly appearance. It is better to use a moisturizing shave gel.”

Depilatory Creams

Works by:

Chemically dissolving the hair at the surface of the skin. Once applied, the cream is left on the skin for up to 10 minutes then removed by gently rubbing away at the hair.

Best for:

Upper lip, bikini area and underarms

Advantages:

Pain-free, inexpensive.

Disadvantages:

Can sometimes be messy and difficult to apply. Traditionally, products have had an unpleasant smell, though some are better than others. Skin irritation can be a problem, too, so it’s best to do a patch test 24 hours before you want to apply.

Beauty rating:

Best for small areas like face and underarms

Dermatologist’s note:

“If you have sensitive skin, depilatory creams may not be the most appropriate option, because the chemicals contained in them can cause both irritant and allergic reactions. Always carry out a patch test, ideally on the inside of the arm and better still on two separate occasions, before using it on an entire leg or face.”

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL is a comparatively new hair removal method. It works with flashes of light that affect the regrowth of body hair. It is derived from professional methods used by dermatologists.

Read on to learn what is special about this method and what to look for when you think about using it.

Intense Pulsed Light

Works by:

Focusing a narrow beam of concentrated light on to small sections of skin. The light is absorbed by pigment in the hair follicle underneath the skin surface, thus heating the hair follicle and disabling hair growth depending on growth cycle (anagen only). The paler your skin and the darker your hair, the better the treatment will work.

Best for:

Bikini, underarm, upper lip

Advantages:

Much faster and less painful than it used to be, because larger sections of skin can now be treated in one go. In many cases, hair is discouraged from ever growing back, or if it does, the hair tends to be very fine and thin.

Disadvantages:

Requires shaving of the skin before each treatment. Results are not permanent. So you need multiple treatments that can get very expensive. You also have to be careful about going in the sun for up to six weeks either side of your treatment as the changes to pigment in your skin can increase the risk of sunburn. Hormonal changes like pregnancy or the menopause can also cause hair to start growing back again.

Beauty rating:

Great for areas that cause you real distress, like the upper lip, but quite extreme as an ordinary hair removal option.

Dermatologist’s note:

“The laser works by ‘homing in’ on the pigment in the hairs – so the closer your hair colour to your skin colour, the higher the risk of burning and potential scarring. The ideal combination is therefore dark hair on pale skin. If you have dark skin, you should give careful thought before embarking on this technique.”