Body hair is integral to life. All humans have some. Some individuals will have more than others. Some will be comfortable with their hair, while others will not.
When looking to remove unwanted body hair, you may be presented with a lot of options. However, not all methods are equal. Some remove hair permanently, while others do not.
If you want to be rid of your hair forever, there is just one way possible. Permanent hair removal.
This can be achieved with the right hair removal option. But first, how does it even work?
How does hair growth work?
Body hair plays a vital role in the appearance of men and women. Regardless of gender, it helps transmit sensory information and protect sensitive areas.
Body hair has two distinct structures: the follicle and the shaft. The follicle resides in the skin. The shaft is the visible part of the hair. Many factors determine hair growth: pilosity, genetics, hormones, gender, etc.
Each hair on the body has a lifetime and goes through three stages as part of the hair growth cycle. Those stages are the anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen phases. At any point in time, a random amount of hair is going to be in any of the four stages.
Those phases can be described as follow:
- Anagen phase: It is the active phase of the cycle. The hair is growing and the root is attached to the follicle.
- Catagen phase: It is a transitional stage. The hair has stopped growing and separates from the bottom of the hair follicle.
- Telogen phase: It is the resting phase. The hair does not grow nor fall. A new hair starts forming in the follicle.
- Exogen phase: It is the shedding phase and an extension of the previous stage. The hair sheds and fall, pushed by new hair growing.
Hair growth is cyclical and a natural function of the body. It cannot be interrupted nor naturally stopped. Factors such as age, weight loss, or medical conditions may slow hair growth.
What are the most common hair removal options?
Shaving is one of the oldest hair removal methods. It uses blades to cut the hair at the surface of the skin. Cut flat, it looks thicker and darker when it grows back. As the hair is cut, it does not stop growth.
A fast procedure and a low short-term cost are some pros of shaving. However, side effects include razor burns and cuts, skin irritation, and infection.
Chemical creams use chemical components to dissolve the hair. However, it is a treatment that only works on hair at the surface of the skin. Just like shaving, the remaining hair still sits in the follicle. Therefore, hair growth is not impacted.
It is an affordable option in the short term. Chemical creams are also easy to use and provide fast results. However, they can be very damageable for sensitive skin and lead to irritation and redness.
Waxing, sugaring, and plucking
Sugaring, plucking, and depilating is often compared to waxing. Even though the procedure differs, the process and results are similar. The goal is to remove both the hair and the root. Thus, the hair follicle needs to produce new hair.
This process can take up to six weeks for each hair. Patients are left with smooth skin for several weeks. However, waxing is a painful treatment with side effects such as ingrown hair, red bumps, and infection.
However, waxing contributes to hair growth reduction in the very long term. Indeed, after years of waxing, patients may notice permanent hair reduction.
How does permanent hair removal work?
Hair growth is a natural occurrence of the body. It is a process that follows a specific cycle. Specific conditions may slow down growth. However, there is no real way to naturally interrupt the process.
Indeed, the hair follicle is programmed to create new hair once the previous one has stopped growing. Thus, should you want to stop hair growth permanently, your hair follicles would have to stop producing new hair.
This can be done artificially, using specific machines and procedures. To stop hair growth, the procedure will permanently damage the hair follicle. Thus, it won’t be able to grow any new hair.
The main goal behind the process is to stop blood from getting to the follicle. Indeed, blood serves as fuel for the follicle to be active and grow hair. If it is no longer fed, it can no longer sustain itself and becomes inactive.
Thus, to remove hair permanently, patients need to find a hair removal method that will damage the hair follicles beyond repair. Fortunately, this is not a difficult task. There are indeed two methods that do just that.
How can I remove unwanted hair permanently?
Electrolysis is a cosmetic procedure for removing undesired hair. Its technology consists of a thin metal probe that delivers a low-level electrical pulse to each ready-to-go hair follicle and stops new hair growth. In contrast, Laser hair removal uses specific wavelengths of light. It targets the melanin in dark hair follicles in a specific area, not individual follicles.
During a treatment, an electrologist inserts a tiny probe into the follicle without puncturing the surrounding skin. Once inserted, the probe delivers an electric current in the milliamperes range to the skin tissue. The electrical current irreparably damages the follicle, allowing the hair to come out of the follicle easily, and removing the ability of the follicle to produce hair in the future. Electrolysis is capable of eliminating white and blonde hair exceptionally effectively. In contrast, removing hair with minimal pigment can be increasingly difficult with laser hair removal, particularly when treating tanned skin.
Laser Hair Removal
Laser hair removal is also approved by the FDA. However, it is a fairly recent hair removal method. Research on long-term results is still ongoing. Thus, for now, it is considered a hair growth reduction method.
Laser hair removal works on all skin complexions, including darker skin tones.
Laser treatment uses light energy to damage hair follicles. The laser targets the pigments in the hair. Once the melanin has absorbed the light, the latter goes down to the follicle. There, the energy turns into thermal energy.
The heat damages the follicle which is unable to produce new hair. Laser hair removal relies on the hair growth cycle. It can only target hair in the anagen phase of growth. 20% of hair is on the stage at any point in time.
Thus one laser session can treat up to 20% of hair. This is why patients need several sessions to achieve good results.