Hair Removal - The Latest Techniques

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Hair removal techniques including laser hair removal are rapidly gaining popularity as more and more people seek to be hair free. In fact, even men currently seek out new and efficient methods for removing hair from unwanted locations. This may include the pubic area, arms, legs, back and face. Women have been removing their hair since the dawn of time. Many different methods currently exist for hair removal. Some are more effective than others. Here are some of the more popular methods for removing hair.

Depilatories are chemical agents that cause hair to 'fall out'. They usually come in a cream or liquid form you apply to the surface of the skin. Depilatories are usually quick working and you can buy them over-the-counter at most stores. Be aware that they may cause skin irritation, burning and redness in some people. Your best bet is to test a small area first to see how your skin reacts. Most depilatories will remove hair for a few days to a couple of weeks.

Waxing is a popular, although somewhat painful way to remove hair. While it does not remove hair permanently, it does remove hair for longer periods than shaving. Waxing can help keep your body parts hair free for several weeks instead of days. Some people have even reported a permanent decrease in hair with regular and consistent waxing. How does it work? You simply apply wax to your 'hairy' body party, place a cotton strip over the wax and... pull. Yes, waxing has a high ouch factor. Fortunately you can pay someone in a salon to do it for you. This is usually much quicker and less painful than trying this on your own. If you are feeling brave however, there are some pre-waxed strips you can now buy over-the-counter that purportedly make home waxing much less messy and more convenient.

Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is the wave of the future. It permanently reduces the hair on your body. Keep in mind that most people will need several treatments before hair is permanently reduced. Laser hair removal is also expensive, with a typical session usually costing a few hundred dollars. That said, many people believe the expense is worth a lifetime without hair.

Laser hair removal works better on people with dark hair and lighter colored skin. While some newer lasers can work on all skin and hair types, some people are not as well suited for laser hair removal. An experienced hair laser removal technician can evaluate your hair and skin and let you know if you are a good candidate. How does a laser work? It targets the source of the problem... hair follicles. Hair follicles underneath the skin are responsible for hair growth. Lasers create heat while passing through the skin and kill hair follicles. This prevents new hair from growing. Lasers usually work better on people with dark colored hair because the lasers are attracted to melanin, the substance in hair that gives it its color.

Most people need several laser treatments before they see effective results because hair follicles all grow in different stages. Thus some follicles are likely to be active during your first session but others will remain dormant, thus the laser won't affect them until they become active again.

How much will you pay for laser hair removal? Expect to pay from $250 to $600 for every session. The price depends in part on how large an area you want to cover. Remember that you may have to go back for repeat sessions, usually between 3 and 6 to see permanent results. That said, for most people laser hair removal is safe and effective. Don't think it's not without pain though. There is some pain and discomfort involved, similar to what you feel when you pluck your hair out with tweezers.

Of course, you can always decide to just shave. Shaving is a quick and easy way to remove hair, though most hair grows back within a day, or in the same day. It is inexpensive, and all you need is a razor and some water, though you may prefer to use some shaving cream. The biggest downside? You have to do it often, and your skin is susceptible to razor burn, cuts and ingrown hairs. This is especially the case if you have coarse hair or shave frequently. Fortunately, you can minimize the impact on your skin by investing in a good razor. You should also reserve shaving for when you are in the shower. This helps soften your skin and reduces the likelihood of nicks and cuts. You can also minimize ingrown hairs by shaving your hair in the direction it grows.

Hair removal is largely a matter of personal preference. If you have the money to invest, you might consider a more permanent alternative like laser hair removal. There are dozens of clinics that now offer this specialized service. Some spas even offer it to patrons. Just be sure to verify the credentials of any technician who plans to aim a laser at your sensitive regions. Best of luck!