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Monday, August 18, 2014

Thoughts about Hair Removal Options

One of the leading health magazines called, asking me to contribute to an article for “painless at-home hair removal.” The first words out of my mouth to the interviewer were, “There is no such thing!” Truly, there really are very few painless ways to get rid of unwanted hair. But there are several ways of removing hair that vary on the pain scale and are readily available to you. Some of these methods can be done in the privacy of your home, while others require going to either a salon or doctor’s office.

You have hair covering your entire body—for several purposes. Not only does it help keep dirt and debris away from your skin, but hair also helps combat water loss and keeps you insulated, protecting you against extremes of hot and cold. The hair on your body plays a sensory role as well. The movement that occurs with the hair on top of your skin helps to detect the slightest change in temperature and touch.

If you think about it, hair protects you against all kinds of daily offenders you probably never consider.
  • The hair on your head protects your scalp against the harsh burning rays of the sun.
  • Hair, which is made from keratin (a durable protein that also makes up the outer skin and nails), has a high sulfur content, giving it heat-retaining properties.
  • Did you know that up to 60% of heat loss comes from your head? So hair can keep you warmer on a cold winter’s day.
  • Eyebrows can help keep sweat from reaching your eyes, and eyelashes keep dirt, debris, and foreign objects away from the delicate eye tissue.
  • Hair in your ears also keeps foreign offenders such as dirt and bugs away from the inner ear, due in part to the waxy substance this hair is coated with.
  • Finally, nose hair filters out all kinds of debris from the air like dirt, pollen, and germs.
The bottom line is hair has an important function and should be looked at as an asset, rather than a liability. With that said, and although you may be able to live with some hair, there is still the problem of unsightly or objectionable hair that remains to be dealt with. In (several) upcoming posts, I will discuss different tools and techniques available for removing unwelcome hair. One approach may be better suited to a certain part of the body than another, so read through all the entries to find the best removal process for you.

There are a few things I want to define before going further in order to bypass any confusion about the words being used.
  • Depilation removes part of the hair from the surface of the skin. Depilation methods include shaving, trimming, and depilatory creams. Depilation has the shortest regrowth time; usually within a day or two you will start seeing hair reappearing on the surface of your skin.
  • Epilation takes the entire hair or root from the hair follicle. Techniques for epilation include tweezing, waxing, sugaring, threading, and rotary epilators. Hair reappearance after epilation takes anywhere from several days to several weeks. Both depilation and epilation are considered temporary ways to remove unwanted hair.
  • Permanent (or close to permanent) methods I will discuss are electrolysis and laser hair removal. The recurrence of hair growth with these more permanent procedures varies a great deal. It can take up to a year of treatments to keep the hair from returning, and even then there are no guarantees. More often than not, however, these techniques can permanently get rid of unwanted hair.
Finally, when I mention the upper lip or upper lip area, I am referring to the area where a man’s moustache would grow, the skin and hair above the upper lip. Using the term upper lip just requires fewer words, but I am not referring to the actual upper lip of the mouth. For instance, a woman  getting a lip wax is obviously not waxing the actual lip, but the hair above it. 

In conclusion, although there are many routes to hair removal, you must be careful to find the technique that is not only right for you, but for the area you are removing hair from. Not all techniques are right for all body parts. If you ever have a reaction from removing hair from your body and/or face, reassess your options and consider using a different procedure.

For all the articles in this Hair Removal Options series that have posted so far, see: