Believe it or not, the human body is covered with just as much hair as any primate you might see at the zoo. The majority of our body hair is fine, allowing your skin to show through rather than it appearing like the fur you see on a gorilla or chimpanzee. Body hair is used to help the human body regulate the internal temperatures necessary for the body to run at peak performance, but in today's modern world, where most buildings are climate controlled, the need for body hair for insulation is largely no longer necessary.
Although cultural concepts of beauty can vary widely, many people are troubled by noticeable body hair, particularly on women. The quest for smooth skin that is free of unwanted hair has led to the development of many different hair removal techniques. All of these techniques have their own set of benefits, but come with some drawbacks as well. To make an informed decision about the hair removal technique that is ideal for you, it is important to understand all of the options available on the market today.
Shaving involves using one or more sharp metal blades to cut hairs off where they emerge from the hair follicle, while leaving the root of the hair in place. To prevent irritation, the skin must be lubricated with a gel, cream or lotion prior to shaving.
Shaving can be performed at home on yourself with no professional training.
Manual razors require a low cost investment, while electric and manual non-disposable razors have no repeated expenses.
Shaving is an easy and quick method for eliminating hair in large areas.
Once hairs are able to be felt or seen, they can typically be removed by shaving.
Shaving does not typically cause discomfort when performed correctly.
Results last only a few days and in some cases, hair regrowth is visible or palpable the day after shaving.
Manual disposable razors require you to spend money continuously buying new razors, while electric and some manual non-disposable razors have a high cost initial investment.
Missed spots are possible, particularly if you use a thick shaving lather.
It is often hard to move the razor over curved surfaces of the body, which can cause poor results.
Shaving does not offer as much control as other hair removal methods.
Even after the hair is removed, a shadow may be visible where the root lingers in the skin.
Shaving can cause minor redness, shaving bumps and irritation as well as nicks and cuts. In some cases ingrown hairs can result.
Tweezing is the process of removing one to a few hairs at a time with a device called tweezers. The device features two metal arms that are squeezed together around the hair. When you pull the tweezers away, the hair is yanked out, root and all.
Results generally last for 2 to 8 weeks.
Tweezing not require professional training and is safe to do at home on yourself.
Tweezers are an inexpensive, one-time purchase.
Tweezing can be performed on any area of the body, including on curved surfaces.
Since you remove one hair at a time, tweezers provide a high level of control and are suitable for shaping the eyebrows.
Tweezing leaves behind no shadow where the hair was removed.
Tweezers do not pose a risk for nicks and cuts.
Since tweezing allows you to remove only one to a few hairs at a time, the process is time consuming.
Generally, tweezing alone is not effective for removing hair from large areas.
Short hairs may be too difficult to grasp with tweezers.
Tweezing causes brief discomfort when hairs are removed, but it is generally less uncomfortable than wax and epilators, since only a few hairs can be removed at once.
There is a risk that you can pinch the skin and cause redness when removing hairs. Typically, this irritation lasts for less than 48 hours.
Depilatories are chemical solutions that are applied to the surface of the skin. The chemicals in the depilatory products dissolve the protein fibers in the hairs, making them turn to jelly. The depilatory is left in place for several minutes and then wiped away, removing the hairs with it. The roots of the hairs remain in tact below the surface of the skin.
No special training is necessary, making depilatories safe to use at home.
Depilatory products are generally inexpensive to purchase.
Since depilatories are in a liquid or cream form, they can be applied to large areas of the body.
Depilatories will remove hair uniformly across the surface of the skin where they are placed, so there are no missed spots.
Typically, depilatories are effective on hairs of any length.
Depilatories are suitable for curved areas of the body.
There is no pain associated with depilatory treatments.
Depilatories leave behind no shadow in the hair follicles.
There is no risk for nicks and cuts.
Hair growth can be noticeable again within days of depilatory treatments; results typically last for less than 2 weeks.
To maintain your hair removal results, you must continuously purchase depilatory products.
Some depilatory products cannot be used on the face.
Since they involve putting a cream or gel on your skin and leaving it in place for several minutes, depilatories are messier than other hair removal methods.
Depilatories generally cause some form of redness and skin irritation after, treatments as the chemicals they contain have an adverse effect upon proteins in the skin. The irritation can last for several days. Some people develop severe irritation from depilatories and cannot use them as a result.
Hot waxing involves applying a heated, sticky material to the area plagued by unwanted hairs. Then, strips of paper or cloth are pressed to the wax until they adhere to its surface. When the strips are pulled away from the face with force, the hairs are lifted out completely, including their roots.
Results last 2 to 8 weeks.
Hot waxing treatments are generally not expensive.
The hair removal treatment allows a large amount of control and is suitable for the eyebrows.
Waxing can be used to quickly remove hair in large areas.
Since waxing uses a gel-type substance and fabric or paper that is easily bent and folded, it can be performed on curved surfaces of the body.
Waxing does not leave behind any shadow in the hair follicles.
Hot waxing does not cause nicks or cuts in the skin.
Burns are possible if waxing is performed incorrectly.
Due to the risk of burns, hot waxing is typically best left to a professional beautician or esthetician.
Repeated waxing treatments are needed throughout your life to maintain results.
In order for hairs to be easily caught in the wax, they must be allowed to grow for a set period of time between treatments.
If the wax does not properly adhere to the hair or to the fabric, missed spots are possible.
Waxing can be extremely painful when the hairs are pulled away.
Waxing can cause redness and irritation, but generally this does not persist for longer than 48 hours.
Epilators are handheld devices that typically contain motors. The heads of epilators are mounted with a series of metal springs or wheels. As you glide the epilator over your skin, the hairs become entangled in the metal heads and are completely pulled out.
Results can typically last up to 6 weeks.
It is easy to learn how to use an epilator, and it is safe to use it without professional assistance.
Epilators have no continued costs after your initial investment.
Because they glide over your skin, epilators can be used to remove hair over large areas of the body.
Since epilators do not require gel, cream or lotion lubricants, missed spots are less common than with shaving.
Epilators leave behind no visible shadow and do not cause nicks or cuts.
A large initial cost is necessary to purchase an epilator.
Epilators do not allow for as much control as some other hair removal methods.
It can be difficult to remove hair from curved areas of the body with an epilator.
Very short hairs may not be long enough to become entangled with the epilator heads.
Redness and irritation are possible the first 48 hours after epilating. There is a risk for ingrown hairs as your hair grows back.
Laser hair removal involves the use of highly concentrated beams of light. The lasers can detect differences in the color of the hairs and your skin and target them specifically. The energy in the laser destroys not only the hair, but also the follicle.
Results are usually permanent or require touch-ups infrequently, such as one every several years.
After treatments are finished, the results from laser hair removal are largely permanent, meaning you do not have to continuously pay for hair removal products throughout your life.
Lasers can cover large areas, but still offer enough control for selectively removing hairs from smaller areas.
Laser hair removal can be performed on all parts of the body, including curved surfaces.
The procedure is largely painless and poses no risk for nicks and cuts.
Laser hair removal sessions are costly, and several sessions may be necessary to achieve the results you are looking for. At home devices are less costly in the long run but are a significant investment upfront.
The results from laser hair removal are not always immediate. It can take several days for the hairs to begin to fall out.
In rare cases, laser hair removal does not work, and there is no reduction in the amount of hairs on the skin.
Your hair must be allowed to grow for one month prior to most laser hair removal procedures.
Symptoms similar to a sunburn are common for 24 to 48 hours after treatment.
The procedure cannot be performed on naturally dark or tanned skin.