The best way to think about hair removal methods is to break them down into temporary and permanent methods of removal. Read more...
What can women do to prevent ingrown hairs (around the bikini area, legs, face, and underarms)? What are the safest and most effective ways to eliminate ingrown hair bumps and soothe irritation or shaving rashes (around the bikini area, legs, face, and underarms)? Which methods of hair removal are suitable for women with sensitive skin? What can they do differently to prevent soreness, burning, and irritation?
What is the most effective and long-lasting way for women to shave their legs? Can you share advice on the most effective leg waxing methods, and how to avoid/reduce pain when waxing? Why do redness and inflammation occur post-body wax?
How can women decide if laser hair removal is the right choice? How long will it last and is it more suitable for certain body areas than others? Can you provide any top safety tips for women who want to try laser hair removal?
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What are the different ways that hair can be removed?
The best way to think about hair removal methods is to break them down into temporary and permanent methods of removal.
Temporary methods of hair removal include:
Permanent methods of hair removal or at least hair reduction include:
Laser Hair Removal
What are the most effective and painless ways for women to remove facial hair?
When it comes to hair removal, the most effective and painless may not necessarily go together.
Depilatory creams may be both effective and painless, however, there is a significant risk of skin irritation from depilatory creams left on too long in those with sensitive skin.
Shaving is effective and painless, however, the hair may return faster with this method relative to other options.
Waxing, plucking, threading, and epilation involve pulling the hair from the root. These are likely the most effective but also the most painful!
Myth or not: If you remove facial hair, it will come back twice-fold and tougher.
This myth was dispelled about 90 years ago by scientists in 1928. We are born with a certain number of hair follicles on our bodies. We do not get more. Hair grows in a cycle and it may stop growing once it enters a resting phase but we cannot grow more than we have! What is likely occurring to give this impression is that new hairs growing in are fine and tapered (almost like peach fuzz). If these hairs are cut, then the fine tapered end is no longer there and it will appear coarser. Shaving hair is only removing the surface hair and does not impact the hair matrix where the hair develops under the surface. Often times waxing, plucking, and threading pull the hair out from underneath the surface. When this occurs the hair has to reenter the growth phase and may start off fine and tapered again. Ultimately as each hair grows longer the barrel of each hair gets wider and coarser (just like a blade of grass).
Dr. Erum Ilyas' Top Picks for At home Waxing
What can women do to prevent ingrown hairs (around the bikini area, legs, face, and underarms)?
It’s best to shave when your skin is adequately hydrated- towards the end of a shower, not necessarily the beginning.
Try to make sure the water temperature is not too hot to avoid the skin swelling around the hair follicle as your shave will not be as close as you like.
If you tend to get recurrent ingrown hairs or inflamed it follicles, try out these steps:
Wash with an antibacterial soap to reduce bacteria around and in our hair follicles
Change your razors routinely to avoid bacteria from building up on the blade that can spread bacteria into small nicks or cuts in your skin
Consider using an antibacterial topical after shaving to reduce residual bacteria left on the skin after hair removal
If persistent consider a trip to your dermatologist to make sure you are not a carrier for bacteria that makes these breakouts persistent- this may be your key to clearing your skin!
What are the safest and most effective ways to eliminate ingrown hair bumps and soothe irritation or shaving rashes (around the bikini area, legs, face, and underarms)?
To eliminate ingrown hairs and soothe the skin, understanding the cause of these issues is important. Ingrown hairs are often the result of infected or inflamed hair follicles. To reduce this tendency, taking steps to avoid excess irritation to reduce swelling and inflammation in the skin as well as possibly using an antibacterial lotion, gel, or cream after shaving can help. Using aloe vera or other emollients can also serve to soothe the skin post-shave.
Which methods of hair removal are suitable for women with sensitive skin? What can they do differently to prevent soreness, burning, and irritation?
Truly any method of hair removal can be suitable if the right precautions are taken to soothe and protect the skin. However, threading or plucking tend to be ideal for the simple reason that these two methods do not impact the skin directly the way other hair removal methods do. Most hair removal methods such as shaving, depilatory creams, and waxing irritate or inflame the skin in the process of hair removal.
What is the most effective and long-lasting way for women to shave their legs?
When it comes to a close shave with less irritation and longer-lasting results, ensuring the skin is not excessively dry by using shaving gels or creams can help the razor glide smoothly and easily across the skin. Hair grows at a different pace for everyone so the closer the shave the longer lasting the result.
Can you share advice on the most effective leg waxing methods, and how to avoid/reduce pain when waxing?
Most of the excess sensitivity and irritation the skin can experience after waxing is the result of the integrity of the skin prior to treating it. For example, when people use retinol or other acne and anti-aging products, many people find that the wax will strip their skin and leave their skin appearing as though they had a chemical burn. It is important to routinely moisturize and hydrate the skin and stop acne and anti-aging products the week before a wax appointment to reduce the chances of severe pain or irritation.
Why do redness and inflammation occur post-body wax?
The process of waxing relies on the wax and in its liquid state drying on the skin and solidifying around the hair follicle so that the hair can be stripped away when pulled. Immediately upon waxing, even though the intention is to remove hairs, superficially in the skin there are layers of keratin, a skin protein, that also get removed or dislodged with the wax. By stripping away keratin, natural oils, and some superficial layers of skin, there is redness and inflammation that results right after waxing. The inflammation is likely the result of attempted healing that the skin has to restore these layers of skin. It can also result from our skin’s immune cells recognizing bacteria and other pathogens on the skin and mounting a reaction to keep them in check.
How do hair removal creams (depilatory creams) actually work to remove hair? What safety tips and risks should women be aware of, especially when using them around the bikini area?
Depilatory creams target the protein structure of hair called keratin. They work to dissolve the hair follicles by breaking apart the sulfur bonds that hold the hair together. The risk with these products is that they cannot discern between hair and skin. If they are left on too long or on sensitive skin areas, then irritant contact dermatitis can develop.
Depilatory Definition | A cream or lotion used to remove unwanted hair
How can women decide if laser hair removal is the right choice? How long will it last and is it more suitable for certain body areas than others?
When considering laser hair removal, it is first important to really assess the type of hair you are trying to treat. Coarse, dark, actively growing hair tends to respond best to laser hair removal. Fine, light, peach fuzz type hair does not. Many women inquire about laser hair removal for the upper lip and chin area. Although there can be coarse dark hairs dispersed through this area, the bulk of the hair growth tends to be lighter or finer. Underarms and bikini areas in contrast tend to have coarse dark hair which will likely respond better.
Can you provide any top safety tips for women who want to try laser hair removal?
The main side effects I have seen with laser hair removal deal with hypopigmentation in the areas treated. Laser hair removal works by detecting the pigment in the hair to target its removal. The challenge is that the pigment in the hair is the same as the pigment in our skin. If you have darker skin or a tan the risk of side effects does increase if the provider does not take this into account. For this reason, it is best to seek a doctor with expertise in treating skin of color to minimize the risk of side effects while still maximizing the benefits of treatment.
What is electrolysis?
Many people are shocked to learn that technically electrolysis is the only FDA-approved option for permanent hair removal. By contrast, hair lasers tend to be approved for permanent hair reduction. This is because hair lasers can only target actively growing hairs, which may change over time. For electrolysis, the hairs treated are destroyed as the follicle itself is destroyed and can no longer grow hair. Although a bit more tedious, it is a very important option for those with small areas or persistent areas of hair growth that they would like to target.
Related | Dr. Ilyas discusses hair removal for sensitive skin with Woman and Home