Unwanted Facial and Body Hair
Unwanted Facial and Body Hair
Hair where hair ought not be, according to the current dictates of fashion, raises many an not-so-hairy eyebrow! And so, for cosmetic reasons, millions of women, and a growing number of men, spend millions each year on products and services that promise smooth, silky skin free of "unsightly," "excessive" body hair.
Many people with unwanted hair seek removal simply because of aesthetic or cosmetic reasons. Now days, our culture views hair growth in certain areas such as the underarms, bikini lines, legs and back as unattractive.
Hair removal can now be removed in a variety of ways. The cost, safety, effectiveness, and ease of use of the various methods, as well as the area and amount of hair growth to be treated, are some factors to weigh in choosing a method and deciding whether to go to a professional.
Often, different methods are better suited for different areas. We have broken down this topic so that you can peruse the method that suits you best.
For do-it-yourselfers, a variety of home-use hair removal products are available over the counter. These include shaving creams, foams, and gels; waxes; chemical depilatories; and electrolysis devices.
Professionals at beauty and skin care salons and in dermatologists' offices provide waxing, electrolysis, and, most recently, laser treatments to remove hair.
Facilitators for Hair Removal
A Smooth Upper Lip
Helpful Shaving Hints for Ladies
The Depilatory Story
Laser hair removal.
Can a Doc Help
Why Women Shave Their Legs and Underarms
Waxing is done by applying a warm, soothing wax directly to the unwanted hair and removing it with a gauze cloth, taking out the hair by the root. Hair will return within four to six weeks.
While depilatories remove hair at the skin's surface, "epilatories," such as tweezers and waxes, pluck hairs from below the surface. Waxing and tweezing may be more painful than using a depilatory, but the results are longer lasting. Because the hair is plucked at the root, new growth is not visible for several weeks after treatment.
If you don't mind pulling a sticky bandage off your own skin, and if you have too much unwanted body hair but too little time to run out to waxing salons, then you may be the perfect candidate for a home waxing kit.
Epilatory waxes are available over the counter for home use. They contain combinations of waxes, such as paraffin and beeswax, oils or fats, and a resin that makes the wax adhere to the skin.
There are "hot" and "cold" waxes. With hot waxing, a thin layer of heated wax is applied to the skin in the direction of the hair growth. The hair becomes embedded in the wax as it cools and hardens. The wax is then pulled off quickly in the opposite direction of the hair growth, taking the uprooted hair with it.
Cold waxes work similarly. Strips precoated with wax are pressed on the skin in the direction of the hair growth and pulled off in the opposite direction. The strips come in different sizes for use on the eyebrows, upper lip, chin, and bikini area.
Labeling of over-the-counter waxes cautions that these products should not be used by people with diabetes and circulatory problems, who are particularly susceptible to infection. Waxing--and tweezing as well--can leave the skin sore and open to infection.
Waxes should not be used over varicose veins, moles, or warts. They should not be used on the eyelashes, inside the nose or ears, on the nipples or genital areas, or on irritated, chapped, sunburned, or cut skin.
A small area should be tested for sensitivity or allergic reaction before treating the entire area. Some hair removal experts recommend professional waxing for the best results.
A Smooth Upper Lip
For mustache removal, waxing is often the method of choice. Big beauty salons often have a waxing section where technicians work on facial and leg hair, underarms and the bikini line. When you go in, the technician applies hot wax to an area of skin with a wooden spatula. After the wax hardens, the technician yanks it off.
Waxing keeps the mustache area hair-free for about six weeks. The new hair that grows in is usually soft and silky. Some women find waxing painful, though. And it can irritate the tender skin above the lip.
It is the most common form of hair removal. Men have been shaving their beards and mustaches for thousands of years, but cosmetic hair removal in women was relatively uncommon until after World War I. Now, many women routinely shave their legs and underarms.
A clean razor with a sharp blade is essential for a safe and comfortable shave. Skin should never be shaved dry; wet hair is soft, pliable, and easier to cut. Contrary to what many believe, shaving does not change the texture, color, or rate of hair growth. It is quick and convenient, but can cause skin irritation, ingrown hairs and cuts from the razor blade.
Helpful Shaving Hints for Ladies
a)Pre-soak the area first. You can do this by taking a bath or a shower, or placing a hot washcloth over the area to be shaved for 10-15 minutes.
b)Use a fresh double-edged disposable razor.
c)Try a shave cream or gel - anything unscented should be good.
d)Pull the skintight and shave in the direction of the hair growth. You won't get as smooth a shave by going doing this, but you'll avoid those annoying red bumps that sometimes appear in a day or two.
e)Try not to shave over the same area twice as this will cause irritation.
If needed, use more razors rather than going over the same area a few times. Certain hair textures will foul a razor quickly, and a crisp edge on the razor blade is essential.
f)After shaving, dry your skin gently but thoroughly. Once completely dry; use pure Aloe Vera to sooth the skin. Once that's dried, rub baby oil into the skin to sooth it and protect it. After about 6-7 hours, wash the baby oil off using anti-bacterial soap, rubbing in the direction of the hair growth.
g)Once the skin is completely dry, use more Aloe Vera, letting it dry completely, then use Vaseline Intensive Care Lotion with Aloe and Lanolin.
h)To help control moisture, use any powder that doesn't have talc in it; there's a slight correlation between using talc and ovarian cancer in women.
After you've shaved a few times, you'll find that you can shave more often and with less itch and irritation. The itching *will* go away eventually, lessening each and every time you shave.
The Depilatory Story
Depilatories don't win any awards in the Grammies of hair removal, but some over-the-counter drugstore products are easy to use at home. Depilatories act like a chemical razor blade, available in gel, cream, lotion, aerosol, and roll-on forms, they contain a highly alkaline chemical--usually calcium thioglycolate--that dissolves the protein structure of the hair, causing it to separate easily from the skin surface.
These are chemical agents that remove hair--and while they do work, you have to be ultra careful. Many people don't like them as they're messy and have an offensive odor. Also they can irritate the skin. If you do decide to use a chemical depilatory, here's how to prevent problems.
Hold tryouts. Depilatories not only irritate sensitive skin. They can also cause allergic reactions: bumps, pimples and itching. So it's best to test a patch of skin first.
Apply a small amount to your inner arm below your elbow--a thin-skinned area that's not too noticeable. Cover that spot with a bandage. Leave the depilatory on the test area for the amount of time recommended in the instructions. If you're sensitive or allergic to the depilatory, the patch of skin will be red or broken out when you remove the bandage.
Count down carefully. You should time the application as closely as a knitter counting stitches. Set the timer when you apply the depilatory, and remove it as soon as the timer goes off as It's very easy to burn your skin if you leave it on too long.
Electrolysis damages hair follicles by passing an electric current through them. In Electrolysis an electric current travels down the wire and destroys the hair root at the bottom of the follicle. The loosened hair is then removed with tweezers. Every hair is treated individually.
Two types of devices use electric current to remove hair: the needle epilator and the tweezers epilator. Needle epilators are used in electrolysis. Because this technique destroys the hair follicle, it is considered a permanent hair removal method. The hair root may persist, however, if the needle misses the mark or if insufficient electricity is delivered to destroy it.
However, the technique is painful, time-consuming and expensive as each hair follicle must be treated separately and on multiple occasions spanning months to years. Fifty percent of hairs regrow after each treatment. There may be skin holes and redness at treatment sites. There is a risk of infection because the electrode needle must be inserted beneath the skin into each hair follicle.
Laser hair removal.
This method was discovered by chance when it was noted that birthmarks treated with certain types of laser became permanently devoid of hair. Further investigations led to the design of lasers, which were specifically designed for hair removal.
How do lasers work? A laser is simply a wavelength of light. The energy is absorbed by the pigment, or color, in the hair shaft. This light beam is focused down into the root of each hair and then transformed into heat energy. This destroys the hair follicle and cells responsible for hair growth.
Each laser pulse treats an area about half an inch in diameter, which can contain more than ten hairs. Laser is fast and long lasting, especially when treating large body areas. The only area not recommended for treatment is the eyebrows, since the laser could damage the eyes, but underarms, legs, bikini lines, faces and backs are very commonly treated.
One must remember in this treatment that your hair growth cycles are unique to you as well as to the area being treated. The laser can only eliminate hair that's currently in a growth cycle.
Since hairs enter the growth cycle at different times, three treatments are necessary over a few months' time span to remove hair from any one area. Some unwanted hair is the result of hormonal imbalances or genetics. In these cases, new hair may continue to grow, requiring periodic maintenance treatments.
Photo-epilation treatment utilizes an intense pulsed light to destroy hair follicles with minimal side effects. The physician can customize treatment for hair color, texture, location and depth and for skin type and thus achieve excellent results.
The treatment is non-invasive, requiring no needles and thus eliminating the risk of infection. There is only slight discomfort during the procedure, rather like the snap of a rubber band against the skin.
No local anesthesia or pain medications are required. Patients can resume normal activities immediately after treatment. Due to its larger spot size, photo-epilation is fast, allowing the rapid removal of hair from large body areas such as the back and legs.
A clinical study has shown that photo-epilation can provide fifty to sixty percent clearance of hair in twelve weeks. After three or four sessions, the majority of hairs are removed. Some minor regrowth of hair occurs about nine months later; this is usually of a finer texture and lighter color, and thus less noticeable than the original hair.
There are few side effects. Temporary pinkness or swelling of skin at the treatment site may be seen. Occasional changes in pigmentation are observed, but these typically disappear in several weeks.
The cost of photo-epilation depends on the area to be treated and is generally similar to that of laser treatment. In the long run, photo-epilation is more cost-effective than monthly waxing or repeated electrolysis sessions.
Bleaching does not actually remove the hair. It lightens the hair color so it appears blonde or golden. . Several highlights of hair bleach make it an appealing choice for some women--it's accessible, quick and, best of all, painless.
All hair bleach kits come with two essential components: the actual hair bleach mixture, which is most often in cream form, and the activator mixture, which is always in powder form. Follow the instructions to obtain the proper proportion of bleach to activator.
Some words of caution, however: Never combine the two until you're ready to begin bleaching, always immediately discard any unused portions and never mix the two together in any kind of a metal bowl or container.
Whatever bleach you get, be sure to do a patch test. Instructions for the patch test come with the kit. If no redness, irritation or eruption occurs, you can proceed with the full application.
To date, no evidence has been presented of harmful effects of bleaching to the skin. However, the bleaching agents that lighten the hair can also alter the pigment in the skin. This can result in a change to the skin texture, making it thicker, coarser and sometimes darker.
Threading is an age old form of hair removal practiced in such countries as India, Pakistan and the Middle East, commonly used to lend clean lines and shape to the eyebrows and remove unwanted hair from the upper lip and areas of the face.
The procedure utilizes a piece of 100% cotton thread which is twisted and pulled along the area of unwanted hair, lifting hair directly from the follicle. The pain experienced during Threading is no worse than that experienced during tweezing or waxing. A small pinch is felt with the removal of hair which many clients find minimal due to the large coverage area treated at one time.
Unlike waxing which can be messy and time consuming, Threading requires no external products, only the use of 100% cotton thread and a minimal amount of time with a skilled cosmetician.
Threading does not have the unpleasant side effect of irritation and rashes caused by the "stripping off" of the top layer ofdead skin that accompanies waxing. The benefits of Threading also out weigh those of tweezing because unlike tweezing, Threading lifts the complete hair from the follicle while maintaining a larger coverage area.
These do not remove hair permanently, despite their carefully worded ads. Some advertise a full guarantee, but the "guarantee" is not for permanence of hair removal, only that the device is free of defects! Clever? Yes. Honest? Reliable? No.
Why aren't they effective? The manufacturer tells you that you grasp the hair with their electronic tweezer, "wait about 15-30 seconds while the current travels down the hair shaft" and then you can "slide" the hair out. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Well, here’s a bit of a information; you see, hair is not a conductor of electricity, in fact, it's an insulator.
It may be painless but it sure isn't electrolysis; it's no better than an ordinary tweezers, but can be a lot more dangerous, Although the current will not go down to the root of the hair, these devices do emit radiation.
This can be harmful to the fetus, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. (Tests performed on mice with this type of radiation resulted in deformed offspring).
If you wear a pacemaker, the Food and Drug Administration of America warns that the high frequency current of these devices can interfere with the frequency of the pacemaker which can cause cardiac arrest. There is a further warning that the radiation emitted by these devices can be very harmful to the eyes.
Can a Doctor help ?
Even though hair naturally grows in areas like the face underarms hands etc, some people have abnormal hair growth. This can be caused by various conditions. One cause for unwanted hair is a condition known as Hirsutism, which is caused by endocrine disorders or certain medications.
With this condition, females have hair growing in male patterns, primarily facial hair in the beard or upper lip region. Another common cause of unwanted hair is Hypertrichosis. This is an abnormal amount or distribution of hair in certain areas.
Why Women Shave Their Legs and Underarms -
We all know the power of advertising. At the turn of the century, for example, the South African Diamond company, DeBeers, created the image that the diamond was forever and therefore would make an excellent wedding ring.
Another marketing campaign around this time convinced the women of North America to shave their body hair. Notably, women in the other parts of the world do not engage on masse in this ritual. Even in French Canada, the habit is not largely undertaken.
It all began with the May, 1915 edition of Harper's Bazaar magazine that featured a model sporting the latest fashion. She wore a sleeveless evening gown that exposed, for the first time in fashion, her bare shoulders, and her armpits.
A young marketing executive with the Wilkinson Sword Company, who also made razor blades for men, designed a campaign to convince the women of North America that:
a)Underarm hair was unhygienic
b)It was unfeminine.
Hair removal by women became popular as fashions changed in the 20th century. Underarm shaving, or "smoothing" became fashionable prior to World War I, and safety razors were ideally suited to the job.
As hemlines rose above the ankles, women in many countries, particularly in the U.S. and Canada, adopted the custom of removing leg hair. During World War II there was a shortage of silk stockings causing many women to shave their legs and to use leg makeup to give the appearance of stockings.
Today, the custom of shaving legs and underarms continues and is gradually gaining in popularity around the world.