Whether it is hair on the face, armpits, legs, bikini line, or other body parts, many women and also men are now intent upon having hair on their scalp be the only hair visible.
There are many options available to remove unwanted hair, but there are only a few options to get rid of them permanently.
It is advisable for each person, man or woman, of any age, to choose a method, or combination of methods, that works best for them depending on cost, time available, skin type, and the desired hair-free area.
Option 1 Bleaching
Bleaching is actually not a hair removal method, but rather a way to make your hair less noticeable. It is especially useful for areas that already have thin, but dark, and, therefore, noticeable hair, like the arms, face, or neck. Bleaching is performed by applying a chemical to the desired area. This removes the pigment from the hair.
Option 2 Shaving
Shaving is the most temporary method of hair removal. It merely cuts the hair off at the skin surface. Shaving does not make the hair shaft thicker, darker, or help it grow faster or slower. However, short hair shaft may be more noticeable as it grows out, or has a blunt tip instead of a normal tapered tip. Shaving should be done after applying a moisturiser to the skin. This helps the razor glide over the skin, not cut or scrape it.
Best for: Any area of the back, shoulders, or buttocks. Shaving the genital area is possible, but is not recommended.
How long it takes: Anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
Cost: Rs 10-50, plus additional blades and shaving creams.
My view: While shaving is quick and easy, it can increase the risk of ingrown hair, which occurs when cut hairs curl back into the skinned instead of growing outwards. This can be a problem for dark skinned people; they are more likely to develop infections caused by ingrown hairs. To help avoid problems, make sure that the hair you shave is wet [You may use a moisturiser]. One disadvantage is the hair grows back very fast.
Option 3 Depilatories/cream hair removers/growth inhibitors
What it does: They are chemical compounds suspended in a gel or cream base; they attack the proteins in hair and dissolve them. This causes the hair to loosen and fall out instantly. Depilatory creams dissolve the hair at the base of the follicle. They are ideal for widespread areas [like the legs], but can be problematic when used on the face, because they irritate the skin and usually don’t remove all the hair. On the plus-side, depilatory creams are a relatively inexpensive option. Growth inhibitors are products containing Efflornithine hydrochloride — for example, Efflora, Vaniqua. They retard hair growth through daily application.
Best for: Back, chest, arms, and legs. The skin around the brow and the genitals may be too sensitive for this hair removal treatment.
How long it takes: Half to one hour, though the compounds sit on the skin for about 5 minutes.
Cost: Rs 40-100 with a home kit; Rs 200-350 or more for salon treatment.
Results last for a week to several weeks.
My view: Because some chemicals used in depilatories can be extremely harsh, particularly on sensitive areas like underarms and bikini line, it is always better to do a small patch test prior to removal. If you have any type of reaction — burning, redness, blisters, or itching – wipe immediately, and don’t use them. Since every formulation is slightly different, you may want to try a different brand before giving up on this method.
Option 4 Waxing/sugaring
Waxing is an effective method for removing large amounts of hair at one time. Wax is warmed to allow it to spread easily over the skin in the direction of hair growth. The hair now becomes embedded in the wax, which cools and firms up to grasp the hair. The wax is then quickly pulled off in the opposite direction of the hair growth; the hair is pulled out of the follicles. Cold waxes are available, usually attached to strips, which are patted onto the skin. Wax that is left on the skin must be peeled, or scratched off. When heating wax, take care not to burn skin!
Sugaring is a popular form of hair removal that works in the same way as traditional waxing. A thick sugary substance similar to caramel is spread on the skin in the direction of hair growth. The hair becomes embedded in the caramel. A cloth or paper strip is patted onto the caramel and then pulled off quickly in the opposite direction of hair growth, pulling the hairs out of the follicles. The advantage of this method over traditional waxing is the clean-up. The sugar substance is water-soluble and can be removed easily, unlike wax, by rinsing with water.
How long it takes: Anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, or more, depending on what area is being waxed.
Cost: From Rs 50-200, depending on what you want to be done.
Results last for about 4-8 weeks.
My view: Waxing is one of the most popular solutions among my patients. Generally, it is an effective method to remove hair on the upper lip and fine hair on the side of the face. I don’t recommend it for the chin area, where hair tends to be more coarse. Waxing can also be problematic for darker-skinned women, who may experience discolouration due to irritation and inflammation. Avoid sugaring when you have your periods; you’ll be extra-sensitive to pain.
Option 5 Epilators
How does it work? Hand-held epilator has a special high-speed tweezing mechanism or spinning discs that grasp individual hair and pluck them out. All you have to do is glide the device in small circles over the area you want to epilate. Once the hair is pulled out at the root, it usually takes a week or two to return. So, you’ll have smooth, hairless legs for a while!
Does it hurt? Yes, a little. And, it takes a lot longer than waxing or sugaring, so the pain lasts longer. If you have a low pain threshold it is more likely you will not be able to use an epilator.
- You might get red bumps where the hair got pulled out.
- Stretch your skin as much as possible during the process. This will help prevent red bumps, or bleeding, caused by the skin being pulled up with the hair.
My view: It is useful when you are travelling.
Option 6 Electrolysis
What it does: Using an ultra-slim needle to penetrate each individual hair shaft, this system delivers tiny shocks of electricity to the hair follicle, killing the cells that actually make hair. Once a cell is gone, it’s gone, so no hair will grow there again. It is permanent. You might have redness and swelling of the treated area, but this should go within a few hours.
How long it takes: Takes a long time as hair has to be taken out individually. You need many sessions to permanently remove the hair; for larger areas, like legs, a few sessions.
Best for: Electrolysis works for hair removal equally well on all areas. Small areas, such as brows and neck, are often a good place to start. If used for genital hair removal, a local anaesthetic can help, although many men find treatment very painful.
Cost: About Rs 500-1,000 per hour.
Does it hurt? Some people describe it only as discomfort, others say it hurts. However, a local anaesthetic cream can be used before treatment.
My view: I personally do electrolysis only for white/grey hair, where laser hair removal does not work. I find it a very time-consuming and tedious procedure.
Option 7 Laser Removal
Unwanted facial hair in women often appears on the upper lip, chin and sides of the face. Before you decide on proper removal method, you need to first determine the cause of hair growth is not hormonal. If you are experiencing an abnormal growth of hair on facial areas, or if the hair is very thick, you should consult your physician to determine the underlying cause before you embark on a hair removal regimen
How long it takes: It depends on the area to be treated. It may take five minutes [for upper lip and chin] to one hour [for legs] per treatment. Up to eight treatments may be needed.
Best for: Removing, or reducing, hair on face, back, chest, stomach, shoulders, and genital area. For our type of skin, mainly two types of laser technology can be used safely, and with good results, Diode and NdYag [Neodymium: Yttrium Aluminum Garnet].
- This procedure is not for everyone. Laser is attracted to dark pigment, so your hair must be considerably darker than your skin. If your hair is very light, or if your skin is quite dark, the results may not be impressive. The best candidate will have light skin and dark hair.
- On an average 5-8 treatments are needed. However, this may vary greatly, depending on the skin tone, hair colour and coarseness
- Not painful, but there can be mild discomfort. If you don’t bear pain well, topical anaesthetics can be used.
- There are no side-effects. Some people may experience temporary skin redness that might feel like sunburn
Cost: Depends on the area. Upper lip, Rs 1,000; underarms, Rs 2,000; legs, Rs 12,000 per treatment.
My view: Laser hair removal is the most common laser treatment done at my clinic, today.
Not only women, even men are now opting for this treatment. Results are very good and permanent. I feel it is the best option we have, for everyone, today.
Hair Removal: FAQs
What are the various methods for body hair removal?
Unwanted hair on the body can be removed using various techniques — creams, lotions, waxes, shaving, sprays etc.
Does removing hair from the body affect the skin?
As long as the method used suits the skin type, the skin is not affected by removal of body hair.
Which is the best method to remove unwanted hair?
The choice of method is dependant on the person. While some prefer creams, some prefer waxes. Creams seem to be the choice of ladies since it can be done at home, in privacy, and at any time of the day. It also does not require the help of others.
Are creams safe to use?
Creams are safe to use. However, the consumer should do a “patch” test before applying the cream to check for skin sensitivity. Also, the cream must not be used near the eyes, or on broken, or inflamed skin.
Where can I apply the cream?
Creams can be used safely on any part of the body like the legs, hands, under arms, bikini lines etc.
Do creams cause blackening of the skin?
Creams do not cause blackening of the skin.
How fast does the hair grow back after hair removal?
Hair growth varies from person to person, so it is difficult to note the time taken for hair re-growth.
Most creams give bad smell during usage.
Yes. Hence, it is essential to choose a product that has been specially formulated to mask the smell. Anne French Hair Remover is one such product. Its new improved choice of fragrances masks the smell post-use.
How are such creams used?
Squeeze cream directly on to the skin. Use the curved surface of the dual action spatula [provided in the pack] to spread cream evenly and cover the hair. Do not rub in. Wait for 5 minutes. Use the head of the spatula for gentle and painless removal of the cream along with unwanted hair. Do not exceed the application time beyond 10 minutes. Wash with lukewarm water and dry with soft towel. Now, experience the magic of silky smooth skin with the lingering fragrance.
Are there are any side-effects?
Side-effects are uncommon. Most creams are made under strict quality standards and with approved ingredients.
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