Hair removal is just one of those little annoyances in life that seem to have no way around it. A smooth and silky look is something most are trying to achieve when wearing outfits that show a hint of skin. The fact is that there are so many methods to go about it, depending on where and how much one is looking to remove, some methods work better than others. When taking into account, pain factors, cost and time each method has it wins and downfalls.
Hair Growth Cycle
Hair growth occurs in three distinct cycles: anagen, catagen and telogen phase. Each hair strand of your hair is undergoing all these cycles at any given time.
During this phase, hair can grow approximately half an inch per month. This phase is the longest with a phase lasting as long as 3-5 years. Considering that body hair is constantly being removed, it would be difficult to reach these lengths for the average person. This phase is the common phase, given that 80-90% of your hair is undergoing this phase.
This phase is known as the breakdown process and one of the shortest with as period lasting between 7-10 days. Anywhere between 1-3% of hair is undergoing this phase. During this period hair follicles shrink or cease to grow all together.
This period is known as the shedding phase, because hairs will be released or shed. This period can last for months and will have as much as 10% of hair undergoing this phase. The roots of the hair become detached, which allows the hairs to be pushed out, allowing for the new cycle to begin.
Hair Removal Techniques
This seems to be the method that introduces us to the world of hair removal due to its accessibility and quick painless process. Given that you can go to any drugstore to purchase razors and shaving cream for less than 10 dollars, it is also cost-efficient. Consider companies like Dollar Shave Club that have created a business solely revolved around delivering razors with little hassle. Given the pros and cons, there are a few tips that help you achieve a closer shave to get that smooth look.
For starters, shaving removes hair at the surface level. Hair follicles begin underneath the surface of skin in the deep dermal layers. Shaving only grazes the top, therefore leaving a faint sight of stubble.
How To Get A Better Shave
- Always shave with wet skin, use warm water/steam to prompt hair follicles to open
- Exfoliate skin with a sugar scrub to remove dead skin cells
- Use shaving cream with a fresh blade razor (dull razor blades drag and cause ingrown hairs)
- Shave against the grain in a smooth seamless motion
- Rinse and dab skin with alcohol free witch hazel to prevent razor bumps/ingrowns
Shaving is best to remove large areas of hair; but, it carries the risk of nicks that can lead to irritation. The time table is also very short, given that most people have to shave every couple days due to stubble sprouting up. This method works best for a quick event; but, as a long term method it can add up in time and money.
This product gained massive popularity due to brands like, Nair. It works by using a combination of chemicals to break down protein bonds found in Keratin (the building block of hair). As this product sits on the surface of skin, it can cause a tingling sensation as the chemicals are activated. When it comes to this product, those with sensitive skin should steer away due to the irritation that can often follow.
This product comes in varieties designed for different parts of the skin. The ones designed for the body, should only be used on the body and not on face due to the delicacy of facial hair.
Like shaving, this method works at the surface level, which ones regrowth carries the same time table. This method is best to use on smaller areas due to the distribution of product can become uneven on larger area; therefore, causing a patchy appearance.
Waxing is often the preferred method due to the smooth appearance is can provide without stubble. It can also be one of the more painful methods due to abrasive action needed to remove the hair. Essentially wax is heated to an almost boiling temperature and applied directly onto skin, then removed with a cotton based strip. The heat generated from this method causes hair follicles to open up more, therefore latching onto to the wax strips easier.
This method is perfect for any area of the skin; large or small. However it works the best for eyebrows, bikini and underarms. Another perk of waxing is that it removes hair from beneath the surface and the surface layer of skin. Over time the area being waxed will lighten due to dead skin cells being removed at the root.
While providing an ultra smooth appearance and results lasting an average of two weeks, the pain may be a little too much for some to tolerate. While the pain is temporary, the skin can be left with a red appearance. Solutions such as aloe vera gel can be a sufficient soothing agent for inflamed skin. It is also rare to experience ingrown hairs from this method, given that the hair is removed at the root.
Disclaimer: Getting a wax near menstruation causes skin to be more sensitive, which can cause a more painful waxing experience.
This method branches off from the waxing method. Seen as a natural alternative, this process only three simple ingredients. The three ingredients used are: sugar, lemon juice and water to create a thick paste. The paste is then applied to skin and removed with strips like waxing. This method is typically best for underarms and the bikini line. The biggest draw to this method is its natural ingredients; which makes it perfect for those with sensitive skin. This method will keep you hair free for an average of two to four weeks, depending on how quickly one’s hair grows.
Laser Hair Removal
This method is one of the only permanent solutions available. Essentially a concentrated beam of light is directed at hair and is absorbed. As the hair follicle absorbs the light beam, it becomes damaged enough to stunt growth permanently. The light beam works better with darker pigmented hair because of how well it responds with melanin. This method has to be done in multiple sessions in order for the hair to be fully removed. The pulse of the laser is able to remove approximately the size of a quarter within milliseconds. It can take about five visits, approximately a month a part to see permanent growth.
Now the cost of this method averages about $500 per session and is also dependent on how coarse the hair is and the area size. This method is also the most painful of the current methods available. The pain can best described as a snapping rubber band sensation that can leave the surrounding skin tender.