Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Methods of Hair Removal

Spring has sprung and it is time to get ready for shorts, dresses and swimwear. Today's health and beauty buzz is on methods of removing unwanted hair.There are many different methods of hair removal, some working better than others depending on the area being treated.                                     
You too can run faster with shaved legs!

1. Shaving - Shaving cuts the hair off at the surface of the skin. It is a quick hair removal method and is suited for large areas such as the legs, underarms, bikini line and pubic area. Shaving does not alter the hair or make it grow quicker. Allow the water and steam from the shower to soften the skin for about 10 minutes. Apply a generous amount of shaving gel or cream. If you have sensitive skin with a tendency towards irritation, use one formulated for sensitive skin without added perfume. Use a good quality razor and change the blade frequently. There are some pretty good disposables razors on the market. Make sure the blade is clean and sharp. There will be less drag on the skin. For shaving the legs, hold the skin taut and shave against the growth beginning at the ankles and moving upwards. Don't go over the same area too frequently as this may cause irritation and razor burn. Underarms should be shaved in both directions of hair growth. Do not spray deodorant onto skin immediately after shaving. Clean the blade as you shave to prevent clogging. For the bikini/pubic area, shave in the direction of growth first and then against the growth keeping the skin taught.  Pat dry and apply a soothing lotion. Clean and dry your razor to prevent the growth of bacteria.

Tend Skin Tend Skin           Advantages of shaving
  • It is cheap and quick.
         Disadvantages of shaving
  • Risk of cutting.
  • Razor bumps- Razor bumps are hairs that grow out of the skin and then grow back into the skin. There are many products on the market to treat razor bumps. Prevention is better than cure. Exfoliating skin gently can often prevent razor bumps.
2. Waxing, sugaring, tweezing, threading- These are all methods of hair removal which entail the hair being ripped out with it's root in tact. Waxing is a suitable method of hair removal for legs, bikini/pubic region, underarms, tummy and eyebrows. Waxing should probably be left to the professionals especially when it comes to eyebrows, underarms and Brazilian unless you are a proficient waxer.
Be cautious to select a salon with good hygiene standards. Contaminated wax cannot be sterilized as temperatures sufficient to do this would damage the wax. STD's can be passed on through contaminated bikini wax. Salons often don't change their wax frequently enough due to cost. Use an antibiotic cream after a wax in a salon.

       Steps for a professional wax

There are many different types of waxes. I prefer hot wax. It grips better and is less painful. Some waxes are used with muslin wax strips and some are not. Clean the area with a disinfecting solution. I used isoprophyl alcohol on my clients in my salon.  Apply a very fine layer of baby powder and rub well into the skin. Test the temperature of the wax on your wrist so you don't burn yourself. Apply the wax in a thin strip in the direction of the hair growth i.e. from knee towards ankle. Place muslin strip (if called for)on top of wax smoothing down onto the wax in the direction of hair growth. Lift up an area at the ankle so that you have a good grip. Support the skin at the starting point with your other hand and pull the strip up against the hair growth towards the knee. Try to keep the wax strip parallel to your leg as you pull upwards. Discard used wax. When the wax is complete, clean the area off using a mild disinfecting solution- witch hazel is good. Apply a soothing lotion such as aloe vera to calm inflammation.

  Advantages of waxing
  • Because the root of the hair is pulled out along with the hair shaft, the area remains hair free for a longer period of time. This is particularly useful if going on vacation and during the summer season.
  • Large areas can be treated relatively quickly.
  • It is more affordable than some other methods of hair removal.
           Disadvantages of waxing
  • It is uncomfortable and can be painful depending on the area being waxed.
  • The hair needs to be grown out of the skin 1/4 " or the wax will not be able to grip it. Growing the hair long enough for waxing is often very inconvenient especially during the summer months. Hair grows at different stages and some hairs may appear soon after waxing.
  • Ingrown hairs are common with waxing-The hair is pulled out at an angle and an ingrown hair is a hair that grows back into the follicle instead of growing straight out. Ingrown hairs can become infected resulting in pustules and even cysts. Exfoliation before waxing as well as once the hairs start to emerge through the skin, is helpful.
  • Skin can be bruised and grazed during waxing.
3. Depilatory creams- These are a mixture of chemicals in a cream carrier. The cream is applied to the area and left on for the specific time indicated on the container. The chemicals dissolve the hair and it is wiped away with the cream upon removal.
                 Disadvantages of depilatories
  • It is messy and time consuming.
  • Allergies to the product can be an issue causing rashes, irritation and itching.
  • The hair grows back rapidly.
4. Electrolysis- This is a permanent method of hair removal and in my opinion should be the only method of hair removal used on the face. It is safe for any area of the body but because of the cost, it is not financially viable for large areas of hair removal such as the legs. It is also time consuming. It is perfect for permanent removal of hair from the tummy, around the nipples, any area of the face and bikini line.  A fine needle is inserted into the hair follicle and a current is then applied at the base. This current  cauterizes the tiny veins cutting off the blood supply to the follicle and rendering it unable to produce a hair. Hair goes through different stages of growth. It is best treated with electrolysis when in the "anagen" stage of growth. This is when it is emerging through the skin, but visible. Because of the stages of hair growth, it is somewhat impossible to treat each hair just once and so often multiple treatments on the same hair may be required. 

                 Advantages of electrolysis
  • It is the only FDA recognised method of permanent hair removal.
                 Disadvantages of electrolysis
  • It is moderately painful depending on the area being treated.
  • It is a lengthy procedure in that each individual hair follicle has to be treated.
  • Expense involved. Electrologists charge for their time and not by the number of hairs treated.
  • If treated by an inexperienced electrologist, skin damage can occur resulting in scarring and pitting of the skin as well as a poor success rate. Do research as described in my permanent make up blog to find a well qualified practitioner in your area.
5. Laser hair removal- Laser hair removal is not permanent and it is unethical for it to be advertised as being so. The lasers used for hair removal, work by targeting melanin and so the lighter the skin and the darker the hair, the better they work. Whilst laser hair removal does not cause permanent damage to all the hair follicles, it does retard new hair growth. New and better lasers are being continually introduced. Hopefully one day we will have the perfect solution to an age old problem for women.

                 Advantages of Laser
  • Large areas can be treated. Men's backs and chests are often treated using this method.
  • Hair growth is retarded.
                 Disadvantages of Laser
  • It is expensive.
  • It is not permanent.
  • It is painful.
 6.  Bleaching- This is not a method of hair removal, but fine dark hair especially on the face can be successfully bleached rendering it unnoticeable.
Stay healthy, happy and safe.

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