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Hair Removal Methods – Problems and Solutions

Men and women have been fighting the battle of follicle for centuries. They have been cutting, shaving, dissolving, burning, pulling, plucking, digging out and rubbing away unwanted hair and invariably to no avail. The hair always grows back. Nowadays there are so many different methods of hair removal that claim to be able to leave your skin silky smooth, and plethora of advice from various quarters, that it is difficult to know which method to choose. This article discusses the various methods of hair removal, how they work, their possible consequences and how and when to use them.

Hair Removal

Plucking and Tweezing

Probably the very first way anyone removed unwanted hair was by simply pulling it out. Women are very fond of tweezing; they believe it to be the safest way to remove hair. In fact, exactly the opposite is true. Plucking or tweezing creates additional problems and is one of the least desirable ways to remove facial or body hair, with the possible exception of the eyebrows, an area where you can tweeze if you are looking for a temporary method of removal.

Eyebrow hair responds differently to all other facial hair. Even then you have begun a never ending cycle which will tend to hasten the rate of re growth. It will also build up the thickness and strengthen and deepen the re growing hair, thus making it darker. If tweezing is done on the chin, cheeks or body, you may also notice some irritation frequently due to hair growing so crookedly out of a distorted follicle that it begins to grow back into the skin again. An additional cause of irritation is that the follicle becomes an excellent breeding ground for possible infections, resulting in pitting or scarring.

Waxing

Waxing is performed by spreading warm softened wax over the area from which the hair is to be removed. It is allowed to cool then quickly stripped of, tearing the hair out with it but not destroying the roots. The hairs are pulled out from just below the surface of the skin which means new hair are only visible after some time, perhaps as long as a month. For legs, waxing is regarded as one of the best methods because there is no re growth stubble and in time waxing retards and weakens re growth.

Alternative ways of waxing

A variation is to spread warm wax over the area to be treated using a material such as a gauze. When the wax is cool the material will have become fastened to it. The gauze is ripped off the skin, taking with it both the wax and the hair that is embedded in it.

A home-made recipe for wax is to mix 5 tablespoons of sugar 5 tablespoons of water and the juice of half a lemon. Cook the mixture slowly in a saucepan or in a double boiler stirring all the time until it turns a caramel colour. Pour on to a plate and work into little balls. Press each ball firmly on to the skin, hold it for a while then pull it up sharply extracting excess hair with it. Of course the bigger the surface area to be treated the larger the quantity ingredients required.

The wax can also be applied to the skin while still warm with the help of a spatula. You can then pull it off before it solidifies on the skin with a tough piece of cloth or a wax strip. Make sure you do not apply really hot wax to the skin as it can cause burning.

Shaving

Shaving is the quickest, easiest and cheapest method, but you will have to bear the consequences. While accepting razors on legs and under the arms, a woman will do almost anything else in the world rather than shave her face. Shaving this area is considered unfeminine, but when the growth of facial hair seems to become impossible to control any other way, she is often forced to turn to the razor.

Razor Blades

The result when you shave, you are cutting all the hair that the edge of the razorblade encounters on the skin’s surface. This includes all the fine blond vellus hair as well as any coarser hair in that area. Knowing what you know about hair re growth, you must expect the result. Each hair will now begin to grow thicker and thicker, and of course each time you shave you have a heavier growth than before.

Depilatories

It has been recorded that primitive civilizations used animal, vegetable or mineral matter in ointment and paste form to get rid of unwanted hair. Medical recipes from the Papyrus Ebers included “burned leaf of lotus in oil, shell of tortoise with the fat of hippopotamus” for the removal of hair. It is fascinating that all through history men and women have attempted so many different methods of hair removal.

Nowadays the depilatory creams or powders, made of inorganic sulphites or organic thiols chemically degrade or break down the cell structure of the hair, but also react the same way to the skin. This is why so many people who use depilatory creams or pastes find them unsatisfactory. Depilatories are applied to the hairy areas of the skin, allowed to remain long enough for the chemical action to take place and then washed or wiped off taking the hair with them.

Bleaching

This does not actually remove hair but lightens its appearance. Another method of coping with unwanted hair, bleaching can be effective for very fine hair through not very successful with heavier hair, with the following drawbacks. When you bleach hair you not only lighten its pigment or colouring, but you also remove its elasticity. This causes it to become stiffer and to stand away from the skin, thus reflecting light and often becoming more noticeable. Add to this the possibility of some skin reaction to the strong chemicals, and we find that bleaching is far from an ideal solution to the problem of unwanted hair.

Threading

With this method, a thread or string is used to remove hair. Pieces of thread are manipulated between the fingers in such a way that they glide along various skin areas in a pincer like arrangement, pulling the hair out. This is similar to tweezing only faster and with the same likelihood of skin irritation or infection of the follicles.

To sum up plucking, tweezing, waxing or any method of forcibly tearing the hair out of the follicle tends to increase the depth, thickness and darkness of the hair, causes the hair to regrow more rapidly and more distorted and increases the possibility of bacterial infections of the follicle, resulting in possible pitting and scars.

With the occasional exception of eyebrows and those cases of waxing where a decrease in the amount of hair occurs naturally, none of these methods of hair removal are permanent and they usually make hair removal more difficult.

Some of the new advancements of hair removal include electrolysis and laser hair removal / laser hair reduction, which may be a bit more expensive as compared to the hair removal methods listed above, but they do give permanent results.

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