Body Hair Removal
Everything you need to know
Waxing, shaving, depilatory creams, electrolysis, laser removal - it seems that everyday there is a new hair removal product advertised. So what do all these terms actually mean? And which provide the best results?
Waxing is an efficient approach to eliminating large areas of hair quickly. Wax is heated and spread over an area of skin in the direction of hair growth. It is then covered with a cotton or cloth strip and smoothed down or left to cool for 40 to 60 seconds. Then, it is pulled off quickly in the opposite direction to hair growth.
Waxing is generally effective for all but sensitive skin types, and lasts an average of 4 to 6 weeks. A home waxing kit averages $10 and $20, while treatment from a beautician or waxing specialist averages between $15 and $50 per treated area.
Shaving is probably the least effective method of hair removal because it is very temporary, simply cutting the hair off at the skin's surface. It is however probably the cheapest approach, with razors costing between $5 and $15, and they can be used multiple times.
Depilatory creams use chemicals which quite literally melt away the hair by disrupting the chemical bonds which hold skin and hair cells together. The cream is applied to the required area and left for 3 to 15 minutes. The cream is then wiped or washed away.
Be warned: many people (including those who don't have sensitive skin) experience skin irritation after using a depilatory cream, as the chemical often dissolves skin cells along with hair cells.
Electrolysis is performed by inserting a slender needle into the hair follicle and sending an electric current into the hair root to destroy it. It is then removed by tweezers. As each hair must be treated individually, this is a slow process, though it is the only treatment under FDA regulations that can claim to remove hair permanently.
Due to the slowness of the procedure, only 30 to 40 hair follicles can be treated during a 15 to 20 minute session. Assuming it is carried out by a reputable practitioner, it is considered safe for all skin types. The average price of a single session is $25 to $30, though many places offer discount packages for 5 or 10 sessions.
Laser hair removal utilizes a high temperature laser to heat and destroy hair follicles. Most people find a considerable reduction in hair growth in treated areas, though practitioners are unable to claim that hair will be permanently removed. As large areas can be treated, laser removal is more time-effective than electrolysis. On average most people require between 4 and 6 sessions on each area.
Unlike other hair removal processes, laser hair removal is only highly effective on people with a light skin tone and dark hairs. People who have a dark skin tone can be treated assuming that their hair is darker than their skin, but they need to be treated with extreme care as skin damage and / or pigmentation can occur.
Prices vary significantly depending on the size of the area being treated. Average prices for a small area range between $60 and $90 while large areas range between $150 and $250 per session. Many places offer discount packages if you purchase sessions together.
Choosing the right hair removal treatment is an individual choice - it depends entirely on the time, money and effort you want to spend, as well as consideration of the effectiveness of each option.
By Kris Zelunka