Other Hair Removal Methods

1. Shaving

Shaving is the most commonly used hair removal method. It is cheap, quick, and has minimal side effects. However, its only drawback is that it is not long-lasting. In this process, a sharpened metal blade is used to cut off hair at the skin’s surface.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive, fast, usually painless, very safe, can be done at home, available almost anywhere.

Disadvantages:

  • Effect lasts a short time – anywhere from a few hours to several days.
  • Dark-haired users may have visible “shadow” of dark hair under skin.
  • Often requires daily use
  • Can cause skin irritation and cuts
  • For some, it causes ingrown hairs (esp. in women’s bikini area and African-American men’s facial hair).
  • Blades require frequent replacement

Costs: Anywhere between $1.00 to $25.00 for manual razors and supplies.

For a professional shave (barber): Between $5.00 to $30.00, depending on location and type (straight razor is usually more)

Accessories Required: Shaving creams and gels, replacement blade cartridges, before and after-shave products, usually between $1.00 and $15.00

2. Cream Depilatories

In cream depilatories, a chemical dissolves hair at the skin’s surface. Though cream depilatories are common, but the caustic ingredients have caused some consumers skin irritation or even chemical burns.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive, fast, sometimes painless, can be done at home, available almost anywhere.

Disadvantages:

  • Effect lasts a short time – between a few hours to several days. Dark-haired users may have visible “shadow” of dark hair under skin. Often requires use every two or three days.
  • Can cause skin irritation and cuts
  • Can be a severe skin and eye irritant

Costs: Anywhere between $1.00 to $8.00 a bottle

Accessories Required:Baby oil, gloves, old towel

3. Friction

Though it is a less common method of removing hair at skin’s surface, some consumers find it primarily useful for fine hair on legs. In this process, a rough surface is used to buff away hair at the skin’s surface. The mitt usually has rough strips or a smoothing surface coated directly onto the mitt.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive, fast, essentially painless
  • Can be done at home
  • Available widely
  • Many types can be used wet or dry
  • Good for legs with fine hair
  • Some use it between shaving or waxing sessions

Disadvantages:

  • Effect lasts a short time – anywhere from a few hours to several days
  • Dark-haired users may have visible “shadow” of dark hair under skin
  • Often requires use every two or three days
  • Can cause skin irritation if rubbed too hard
  • Do not use on face, arms, or bikini area
  • Do not use on irritated or damaged skin

Costs: From $2.00 to $6.00 per mitt

4. Tweezing or Plucking

Metal forceps are used manually to pull hairs out by the root, one or a few at a time.

Advantages:

  • Very useful for eyebrows or stray hairs on face

Disadvantages:

  • Should not be used for nose hairs
  • Can be painful
  • Difficult for large areas
  • May cause ingrown hairs
  • May cause pitting or scarring
  • Requires use of mirror
  • Some areas are difficult to do yourself
  • Care needs to be taken while shaping brows: one or two hairs can make a big difference in brow shape

Costs: Between $2.00 – $20.00

5. Waxing

Hot wax is applied to the skin, and a strip of cloth or paper is pressed into the preparation. The strip is then quickly pulled away, taking hairs with it.

Advantages:

  • Can be done at home
  • Fast
  • Inexpensive

Disadvantages:

  • Hairs can break off at or below surface
  • Can be messy
  • Consistency is difficult to get correct
  • One must be careful to avoid infecting skin

Costs: About $75 for home use kits; $20-$200 for professional waxing (based on areas treated)

6. Sugaring

A sticky paste is applied to the skin, and a strip of cloth or paper is pressed into the preparation. The strip is then quickly pulled away, taking hairs with it.

Advantages:

  • Can be done at home
  • Inexpensive

Disadvantages:

  • Hairs can break off at or below surface
  • Can be messy
  • Consistency is difficult to get correct

Costs: About $10-$20 for a kit

7. Threading (khite)

The practitioner holds one end of the cotton thread in his or her teeth and the other in the left hand. The middle is looped through the index and middle fingers of the right hand. The practitioner then uses the loop to trap a series of unwanted hairs and pull them from the skin. There are also devices made that can hold the thread during the procedure.

Advantages:

  • Inexpensive, fast, neat, considered less painful than plucking for many
  • Good for eyebrows and facial hair
  • Results can last up to two to four weeks

Disadvantages:

  • Hard to find a professional practitioner outside large cities.
  • Can be painful and cause itching afterwards
  • Side effects can include folliculitis, a bacterial infection in the hair follicles, skin reddening or puffiness, and changes in skin pigment

Costs: $5 per treatment for eyebrows; more for larger areas

8. Rotary Epilators

These devices are similar to electric razors, except instead of a cutting blade on a rotary head, they have rows of tweezers which can pull hairs out by the root.

Advantages:

  • Good for legs and arms
  • Can last from several days to several weeks

Disadvantages:

  • Can be hard to use on backs of legs
  • Skin must be pulled tight to avoid pinching
  • Some find it uncomfortable, especially on sensitive areas
  • Harder to use on fine hairs
  • Hair must be grown long enough for tweezers to grasp
  • Plucking hairs can lead to irritated skin and ingrown hairs

Costs: Between $40.00 to $120.00

9. Electrolysis

A hair-thin metal probe is slid into a hair follicle and electricity is delivered to the follicle through the probe, which causes localized damage to the areas that generate hairs. Electrolysis results in permanent hair removal for most consumers if performed correctly.

Advantages:

  • Long track records of results
  • Generally proven to be safe

Disadvantages:

  • Can be expensive
  • Can be painful
  • Can be tedious
  • Can be difficult for large amounts of hair
  • If done improperly, it can result in partial to full regrowth, lasting skin damage, and spread of infection.
  • Regulation varies by state, so inadequate controls exist to ensure competent practitioners.
  • Regrowth rates have not been accurately established and cannot be predicted due to numerous variables.
  • Some consumers do not respond to treatment

10. Flashlamp

Though less commonly used, some consumers have experienced permanent hair reduction through this process. However, there is limited data on how much hair reduction is typical, and how often hair reduction occurs. The process works in the following manner: Full spectrum (non-coherent) light and low-range infrared radiation is filtered to allow a specified range of wavelengths. This filtered light is delivered from a hand piece into the skin, where it targets dark material such as the pigment in hair.

This is intended to cause thermal and/or mechanical damage to a hair follicle while sparing surrounding tissues.

Advantages:

  • Some consumers have experienced long-lasting to permanent hair removal
  • Considered safe if performed properly
  • Useful for large areas such as backs or legs
  • Regrowth can come back lighter in color or finer in texture
  • Light-skinned consumers with dark hair have the best results

Disadvantages:

  • Long-term data on safety and effectiveness have not been established
  • Response rates have not been established
  • Not as effective on unpigmented hairs and red or blonde hair
  • Must be used with caution on darker skin tones or on consumers who tan themselves
  • Improper treatment can cause burns, skin discoloration lasting several months, or patchy/grid-like regrowth
  • Requires eye protection
  • Is expensive and some find it to be painful
  • Regulation varies by state, so inadequate controls exist to ensure competent practitioners
  • Some consumers do not respond to treatment

Difference between flashlamps and lasers are:

a. Kind of light: flashlamps do not use one wavelength of light the way a laser does. Flashlamps emit every wavelength of light in the visible spectrum, and a little into the band of infrared radiation (up to about 1200 nm). Practitioners select a cutoff filter to block out lower wavelengths.

b. Size and shape of the spot (beam): Most flashlamps emit a beam that covers more area than a laser and have a rectangular spot, rather than the round type usually standard on lasers.

11. Prescription Oral Medications

Some prescription oral medications have been found to affect hair growth. They can be helpful in reducing hair growth in some consumers, though in many cases there may be serious side effects.

12. Vaniqa

Vaniqa is a prescription cream applied to the skin for the reduction of unwanted facial hair in women ages 12 and older. However, for unknown reasons, Vaniqa does not work for everyone. A prescription is needed from the doctor and insurance policies do not cover Vaniqa. Effectiveness: About 58% of women who tried Vaniqa in clinical trials had improvement. The other 42% had no improvement.

The medication simply retards hair growth to improve the condition and the appearance of some consumers. An individual will still need to continue using a hair removal method along with Vaniqa. It usually takes about two months of treatment before the results are obvious. If you stop taking Vaniqa, your hair may come back to previous levels within two months after stopping.

The active ingredient in Vaniqa is eflornithine hydrochloride, which inhibits an enzyme that affects hair growth, called ornithine decarboxylase ( ODC ).

Vaniqa should not be used:

  • By men
  • By women who are pregnant or nursing
  • By females under age 12
  • Anywhere except on the face and chin
  • In the eyes, nose, mouth, or vagina
  • If you have severe acne or broken skin

13. Photodynamic Therapy

This is mainly an experimental method combining chemicals and radiation to induce controlled hair loss or reduction, in which a chemical is administered which selectively pigments a follicle’s regenerative structures. The laser or other radiation selectively targets the darkened cells while sparing surrounding tissue.

Advantages:

  • Theoretically could target any hair color

Disadvantages:

  • It is experimental
  • Commercial use is not expected in the foreseeable futur

14. Electric Tweezers

Electric tweezers and treatments with them should be avoided by all consumers. They are often promoted as permanent, though data has proven otherwise. In this process, an electric current is applied to a hair through an electrified tweezer. The tweezer grasps the hair above the skin’s surface and holds it anywhere from 15 seconds to several minutes. Promoters claim (without adequate proof) that the electricity travels down the hair and permanently damages the hair root.

Advantages:

  • Some find treatment has less associated pain and side effects compared to ordinary tweezing
  • Safe if performed properly
  • Results can last up to two to four weeks

Disadvantages:

  • No published clinical proof of claims that they can achieve permanent hair removal
  • No published clinical proof that electricity can travel through a hair and cause permanent damage to the root
  • Up to 100 times slower than ordinary tweezing
  • Can be expensive despite no published proof of permanence

Costs: Between $100.00 to $5,000.00+

Accessories Required: Some brands sell items like conductive gels, humidifiers, or pre and post-treatment products to “increase effectiveness”.

15. Transdermal Electrolysis

A conductive gel is spread on the skin and electricity is passed through a cotton swab which is touched to the gel. Electricity supposedly travels down the hair follicle and permanently damages the hair root. Similar to the transcutaneous method, the validity of this method is yet to be proven.

16. Transcutaneous Hair Removal

A conductive gel is spread on the skin. Electricity is passed through an adhesive patch which is touched to the gel. Electricity supposedly travels down the hair follicle and permanently damages the hair root. No proven records of the validity of this method.

17. Microwave Hair Removal

Very limited data on safety and effectiveness (especially for use on the face) is available, which makes this a device to avoid until more data is available. How it works: Microwave radiation is sent through a hand piece into the skin, where the energy causes thermal damage

Advantages:

  • Targets all colors of hair

Disadvantages:

  • Targets everything else in the skin as well
  • Not cleared for use on the face
  • Not enough data on safety or effectiveness

18. Dietary Supplements

It is important to note that there are no published clinical data to back up claims that certain foods, over-the-counter medications, vitamins or other preparations taken by mouth can slow or stop hair growth. The only oral products that have demonstrated they can affect hair growth are prescription oral medications.


19. Photoepilators

A burst of filtered light is aimed at one hair at a time, which is then tweezed. However, there is no proof that this lasts longer than just tweezing. How it works: A fiber optic probe is placed in or directly above a follicle and light-based energy is then sent through the probe and into the follicle. Promoters claim (without adequate proof) that the light can cause permanent damage to the hair follicle.

Advantages:

  • Some find treatment has less associated pain and side effects compared to tweezing
  • Safe if performed properly

Disadvantages:

  • No published clinical data demonstrating long-term effectiveness
  • Expensive and slow


20. At Home Lasers and Other Devices

Metal forceps are used manually to pull hairs out by the root, one or a few at a time. The Tria personal laser, Silk’n, and No!No! Hair Remover are the big three in the home device market. All three devices operate on different technologies. The No!No! uses heat, the Silk’n operates on pulsed light technology and the Tria is an actual laser. While results can vary, none of these devices are a substitute for a physician’s office.

Related posts:

  1. Intense Pulsed Light for Hair Removal
  2. What if I’m tan or a person of color?
  3. What is Laser Hair Removal?
  4. Does Laser Hair Removal Hurt?
  5. Home Laser Hair Removal
  6. Facial Laser Hair Removal
  7. Underarm Laser Hair Removal
  8. Leg Laser Hair Removal
  9. Who is a good candidate?
  10. Arm Laser Hair Removal
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