Contrary to what you might think, hair removal has been around for centuries.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the cavemen (yes, seriously) removed hair using sharp shells or stones—not for vanity or hygiene purposes, but to prevent rival clans from pulling and tugging during an altercation. The Egyptians, on the other hand, fabricated many of the hair removal methods we still practice today. In fact, they would actually remove all of the hair from their bodies—especially hair on the bikini line or on the face (for a man) as it was considered uncivilized. Royalty and the cultured class would use beeswax, sugaring, razors, and even tweezers simulated by seashells.
We could go on in history to tell you how the hair removal methods for Romans, Persians, and Europeans, but things really get interesting when we get into modern-day society. During the war (WW I), there was a pantyhose shortage, so women were compelled to go bare-legged. This inspired companies to develop hair removal products geared towards the ladies, to include the first electric razor in 1940. Razors and tweezers eventually evolved into wax strips and laser in the 60s.
While we’ve come a long way from removing hair with a stone (thank goodness), you still may not be sure which method is the best for you, not an Egyptian princess. Not to worry. We’ve summarized everything you need to know about the three most popular hair removal methods: shaving, laser, and waxing.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s first discuss the composition of hair and how it actually grows. Just one single strand is comprised of the cortex, cuticle, and medulla. Hairs reside within a hair follicle known as the papilla—or root—which is found at the bottom of the follicle. It’s interesting to note that this is the only living portion of the hair. After the cells that encompass the hair are formed, they harden and die off. Next, the newly created hair shaft propels upward towards the surface of the skin. While it depends on genes, current state of health, diet, etc., the average rate of hair growth is approximately ¼ inch per month.
Shaving is perhaps one of the easiest and least time-consuming methods of hair removal, but that doesn’t mean you should rush the process. Contrary to what your mother or skeptical BFF may have told you, shaving does not alter the growth rate, thickness, or color of the hair, though don’t be surprised if you notice a change in the way the hair feels as it’s growing back, but this is just a temporary side effect. When shaving, it’s best to use products that make it easier for the razor to gently glide of the skin, thus minimizing nicks and cuts. Look for formulas with hydrating ingredients and lubricants (think foaming creams) versus ordinary soaps or shower gels that tend to remove lipids on the skin’s surface. While it may be tempting to grab that bag-o-razors for five bucks, invest in razors that are three blade-plus if you want a clean, smooth shave sans irritation and nicks.
- For the most part, shaving is a relatively quick process that is easy to maintain. You need not book an appointment as it can be executed anywhere at anytime—travel included.
- It’s an affordable method of hair removal and the supplies are readily available and offered in a variety of options.
- It’s pain-free, so it’s the perfect method for those with a low threshold for soreness.
- It’s easy—anyone can do it.
- It’s not uncommon to get ingrown hairs from shaving because the razor causes the follicle to change the direction in which it grows, which causes it to become trapped underneath your skin. Whatever you do, don’t pick at the ingrown. Pick up an exfoliating lotion/tonic designed for removing dead skin so that the hair can poke through the surface.
- Super-sensitive skin may not be able to tolerate shaving since you are removing a thin layer of skin at the same time.
- The effect doesn’t last a long time—some people find that they need to shave everyday or every other day, but you definitely won’t be smooth for more than a week. Keep in mind that hair typically grows faster right before your menstrual cycle.
- You can cause scarring if you press the blade down with a heavy hand and cause a deep cut. Any type of razor should be used with diligence.
- Using a unclean or overly-used razor can cause an infection or disease, so it’s best to use a new razor or blade each and every time you shave.
- Repetitive shaving can cause dark spots because you’re constantly removing a layer of skin.
- Razor burn.
Laser hair removal is a medical procedure that relies on a laser (concentrated light beam) to gradually remove unwanted hair. The light from the laser is absorbed by the melanin (pigment) in the hair follicle. This exchange is indoctrinated into heat, which in turn damages the follicles that produce the hairs. You won’t see immediate results as hairs fall out of anywhere from a period of a few days to a few weeks. It’s likely that you’ll need multiple treatments due to the cycle of hair growth and loss.
- Delaying or inhibits future hair growth so you don’t have to wax or shave.
- You can treat unwanted hair in almost every area of the body with the exception of any growth near the eyes.
- Results are typically not permanent.
- The treatment is most effective on those with light skin and dark hair—there’s a risk for skin damage when there is little contrast, such as those with hair that is blonde, gray, white, or red.
- Temporary pigment changes in the skin after treatment. Though this is typically temporary, it’s important to avoid sun exposure before and after a session.
- Temporary redness, swelling, and sensitivity after treatment.
- Results vary, so it’s hard to predict the final outcome.
- It comes with a cost—approximately $235 per session depending on demographics, the area that’s being treated, etc.—which can add up if you need multiple treatments.
Waxing is an extremely popular hair removal method because the hair is removed from the roots, thus creating a longer lasting result. Wax clings to the hair and is lifted upon removal—with or without strips like SparklyWax.
- Hair is temporarily removed for an average of three weeks but can range anywhere between two to six weeks depending on your hair type.
- Hair grows back finer than shaving.
- Skin health is improved since you’re removing dead skin cells along with the hair.
- You avoid razor burn.
- It’s relatively inexpensive if you do it yourself.
- You need at least ¼ inch of regrowth for waxing to be effective.
- The process can be somewhat painful since you’re literally removing hair from the root, but pre-waxing measures such as exfoliating popping and Ibuprofen, avoiding alcohol, and drinking plenty of water can help ease any discomfort.
- Treatments can be pricey if done in a salon or spa environment.
- May not be suitable for over sensitive skin types due to the thin removal of skin.
Remember, just because there are cons along with the pros does not mean any of these hair removal methods are bad! It’s just important to address precautionary measures so that you can keep your skin in tip-top shape. Which hair removal method do you think is best for you? Leave your comment below!
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