Modern style dictates that certain body hair is not attractive. This mostly includes the torso in men, but it tends to apply to all body hair in women. However, most people have some degree of hair on body. Removing this hair is common, and there are many different methods of doing so. They all fall into two main categories, though.
Epilation is the removal of hair at the roots. Methods of epilation include:
- laser treatments
Waxing is the most common method of epilation. It involves spreading a hot wax or sugar solution on the skin where hair is to be removed, and then covering it with a piece of cloth. Rapidly removing the cloth in the opposite direction to the hair growth also removes most of the hairs at the root.
Devices called epilators also exist. These machines look like electric razors, but the rotating heads are full of mechanical tweezers instead of blades. Moving the rotating head over the skin removes hair at the roots by plucking it out.
Tweezing is typically used on small areas of the body. Many women tweeze their eyebrows or other unwanted facial hair. This method involves removing a single hair, or at most, a few hairs at a time.
Threading is the use of rapidly moving pieces of thread or string to pull hair at the roots. It is commonly used to shape the eyebrows, but is an uncommon method for removing hair from other areas of the body. Typically, threading is only performed by aestheticians, since it takes practice to learn to do it correctly.
Laser treatments destroy the hair follicle permanently. However, they do not necessarily cause permanent hairlessness, since new follicles can grow. Most people treated with lasers experience a 90% reduction in hair growth in the treated area.
The main advantage of epilation is that it lasts longer than depilation. Depending on the rate of hair regrowth, smooth skin after epilation lasts 2-8 weeks. After 6-12 sessions, laser treatments cause permanent hair reduction. The main disadvantages include time, discomfort, and cost.
Depilation is the removal of hair at the surface of the skin. Methods of depilation include:
- depilatory creams
The most common method of depilation is shaving. This can be done using a safety razor and shaving cream, or using an electric razor. Electric razors are typically used on dry skin, but some are made to be used on wet skin for those who prefer to shave in the shower.
Depilatory creams dissolve the hair at the surface of the skin. They do not penetrate the follicle, so the root of the hair remains intact, just as with shaving. Typically, the cream is spread over the area being treated, left for several minutes, and then washed away, taking the hair with it.
Abrasion has been posited as a possible method of hair removal. This includes products that are rubbed on the surface of the skin with the intention of removing hair. However, an abrasive that is harsh enough to remove hair is also harsh enough to cause damage to the skin.
The advantages of depilation are that it is quick and painless. The major disadvantage is that the hair grows back quickly. On people with light skin and dark hair, depilation can also leave dark spots where the roots of the hair can be seen under the skin.