In today’s society body hair is not seen as something that is desired or wanted. I have seen many people for consultations for hair removal for very fine downy hair, which is completely normal and natural.
Yet, to that person in particular it affects their mental well-being.
This is why I specialise in hair removal, being pale skin with dark hair, I understand the effects it can have on someone. When they feel they can’t go out or have to sit in a particular seat, so the light doesn’t shine on the hair and make it feel or look worse to them.
So, you’ve decided to get rid of some hair that you dislike, now the decision is how to get rid of it?
These are all valid questions and you will read lots of pros and cons to all the different removal methods. I have provided this guide for hair removal treatments.
I hope this helps you to decide which is suitable for you and the area of hair you would like to disappear.
To understand hair removal, we first need to understand hair growth.
All hairs have a growth cycle. A growing, transitional, and resting stage.
Depending on the area of the body the growing stage can last from 1 month (eyebrows) to 6 years (hair on the scalp). When hair is removed from the hair follicle (plucking, waxing) a new hair will replace the old.
The only way to stop hair growth is to destroy the hair follicle. The best time to have any treatment to destroy the hair is during the growing stage. This is when the blood is feeding the hair, if this is cut off the hair will stop or weaken its growth.
Let's discuss the three main, widely used methods of hair removal, Waxing, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and Electrolysis.
Waxing has been used for years, first used in ancient egypt. There are different types of wax;
Cold wax strips (which I think feels a little like Sellotape).
Warm wax; where the wax is roughly 38 degrees and can be applied by a wooden stick or an applicator, onto the body, in the direction of the hair growth. This is then quickly removed by a paper or cotton strip. The warm wax sticks to the hair and skin so can give a gentle exfoliation.
Hot wax, which is at a slightly higher temperature, almost spreads like butter over the area, which then hardens and is then pulled off. Oil is applied to the area before waxing, so the wax will stick to the hair and not the skin. This is perfect for intimate areas, where the skin is thin and sensitive.
You can find out what waxing is available at Positive Skin here
To have waxing done, the hair needs to be a length of around 5mm, this ensures that it can stick to the wax and be ripped out of the hair follicle quickly. This will leave the waxed area feeling silky smooth for around 2-4 weeks when the hair starts growing again. After 4-6 weeks the area will need waxing again.
All hair types and skin types can be treated with waxing.
This is dependant on your pain threshold and the area that is being treated.
Areas that are more ‘fleshy’ or sensitive can feel more uncomfortable, but some describe it as a big plaster being ripped off. Some people have often described the skin to feel a little tingly for a few hours after. Although, the more you have it done, the more you get used to it.
Intense Pulse Light is also known as Selective Photo-thermolysis. Where the wavelength is absorbed into the pigmentation of the hair. Heating the hair follicle and destroying it, without damaging the skin.
This treatment is based on the wavelength of the light, using the pigmentation of the hair to absorb the energy from the lightbeam to travel down the hair shaft and destroy the hair follicle.
Fair, white, and grey hair have little to no pigmentation, so IPL is not recommended for these hair types. Also, Fitzpatrick type 6 (darker skin) with dark hair is not suitable for treatment.
This treatment gradually destroys the hair follicle. Regular treatments are needed. Which should be every 4-6 weeks on the face and 6- 8 weeks on the body, this keeps in time with the hair growth patterns. As the best time to destroy the hair is during the growing stage. The hair follicle is gradually destroyed with each treatment. So, it is recommended to have up to 12 treatments to ensure success.
Depending on the area and the amount of hair and your pain threshold, it can feel uncomfortable. I have heard it being described as an elastic band flicking on the skin surface. Although the skin does not feel sore after treatment. Sometimes, very rarely the skin can look a little red after.
Electrolysis is where a little probe is inserted into the hair follicle, then an electrical current will travel down the probe to cauterise the blood flow to the hair follicle. This can stop the hair from growing or weaken it and as the best time to get the hair is at the growing stage, it can take several treatments before the hair has completely gone.
This treatment has been around since 1875. So, there are enough studies to prove this permanently destroys the hair follicle. Because of this, it is the only method legally allowed to state it permanently reduces hair growth.
This treatment can take a while, as each hair is treated individually and larger areas like the legs or back can take a lot longer than a smaller area like the lip or chin.
What is great with Electrolysis, all hairs and skin types are suitable for this treatment, as each hair is treated individually.
Regular, monthly treatments are recommended and it is advisable to completely clear the area of all hairs to ensure the area and all hairs are treated.
It can take on average 18 months to 2 years, (depending on area) to treat an area and remove the majority of all the hairs.
To find out more you can read the Frequently asked questions I receive.
This is very much dependant on your pain threshold. The probe is inserted into the hair follicle following the shaft of the hair. You should not feel anything as the probe enters the skin as it is very fine needle.
When the current is switched on you may feel a heat sensation and some hairs may feel more uncomfortable than others, as they may be closer to a nerve.
The skin can feel a little tender to touch after as there has been some heat applied into the skin and any redness should subside within 12 hours.
This infographic will tell you which method will work on what hair pigmentation and skin type.
Skin Type 1 is the palest skin, blonde hair, Skin Type 6 is the darkest skin with black hair.
These are the different options for hair removal, which one would I choose?
This depends on several factors:
IPL or electrolysis is the best method for hair removal but which one is better?
Ok, so if you came to see me, and you’ve been shaving your face and had strong hair growth, I would suggest an IPL course initially and then progress onto electrolysis to get the remaining hair.
Why? Most people who have facial hair, want it gone and are often self-conscious and want it gone quickly, they have most likely been plucking or shaving, so there is no hair there at any point.
If I ask someone to grow the hair for even a couple of days, they look at me in shock horror! IPL allows you to continue to shave the area and keep the hair short, while we treat it and get rid of the bulk of hair within 6-12 months after which we have a 70%-95% reduction.
We would then start using electrolysis to get rid of the rest. At this point, there isn’t as much hair there, so you are more comfortable letting a few hairs grow a little longer to be treated with electrolysis and at the same time feeling a lot less self-conscious.
However, if you came in and only have a few odd hairs or patches of hairs, then it’s easy to start with electrolysis and stay with electrolysis.
IPL is fantastic for larger areas of the body, as it’s not that uncomfortable and can be very quick.
A rough average back treatment can take 30 minutes and electrolysis can take 4 hours per treatment.
This is also the same as ‘half leg’ treatment (from just above the knees to the ankles) a treatment will take half an hour with IPL, yet can take 3 to 4 hours with electrolysis.
For me, it makes sense to go with the quicker option, if that is available to you.
I hope this helps you with your decision about hair removal. If you would like some more help or further information. I am available for a free online consultation and we can decide together which option could suit your needs.