Although not seen as the most glamourous of subjects, hair removal is something that concerns both men and women and is a huge industry in the UK today, with a bewildering number of options available to choose from. You only have to turn the pages of a magazine, walk down a supermarket aisle or visit your beauty clinic to be bombarded with choice, from temporary fixes like shaving, hair removal creams, threading and waxing, to more permanent professional solutions such as Electrolysis, IPL (Intense Pulsed Light) and Laser hair removal.
Razors may provide a quick and easy fix to hair removal but there are many negatives to consider. The hair returns quickly and abundantly and feels spiky, you run the risk of damage to the skin, and skin becomes dehydrated as shaving removes the top layer of skin cells as well as the protruding hair. Shaving can also cause in-growing hairs which can leave the skin vulnerable to infection.
Hair removal creams
Also known as depilatory creams, these creams come in varying strengths for hair removal on different parts of your body and contain chemicals which act to dissolve the hair. However, only the hair shaft protruding from the skin is dissolved, so re-growth is rapid and abundant and feels similar to shaven hair when it returns. The chemical nature of these creams can also be very dehydrating to skin and can burn skin with improper use, or trigger an allergic reaction if skin is sensitive. Depilatory creams can also smell very unpleasant.
DestinationSkin Clinic Manager Debra Smyth said: “DestinationSkin would not recommend our clients use hair removal creams, as they can leave the skin feeling dehydrated and can cause irritation to more sensitive skins. As these creams do not work at the root of the hair follicle the creams have to be used frequently which can lead to sensitivity to the skin.”
Threading has been used for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in Asia or India. It involves one or several hairs being removed at once by a thread which is woven through the hair and pulled taught to remove the hair from the skin temporarily. It is best used on smaller areas of skin, such as eyebrows as it allows for precision shaping, or for upper lips. Threading causes temporary redness and discomfort, and over time can result in sparser hair re-growth.
Waxing effectively pulls the hair follicle out from the root, so the results can last from 3 to 6 weeks depending on skin-type. There are two types of wax, warm or strip wax and hot wax, and either can be used at home as well as in a salon.
Strip wax uses gently heated wax which is applied to the hair and skin and covered in a strip of fabric which is then quickly ripped off, removing the hair with it. Hot wax is applied directly to skin and left to cool slightly, so that when the wax itself is removed it takes the hairs with it. Whilst strip waxing tends to be more painful and can be more damaging to skin, hot waxing runs the risk of burning skin and both options can result in ingrowing hairs. With frequent waxing the hair will become sparser.
Electrolysis uses tiny electrical currents to target each individual hair follicle, destroying it and preventing any future hair growth. A tiny metal probe is carefully inserted into the hair follicle, without puncturing the skin which conveys an electrical charge, destroying the cells which cause hair growth. Electrolysis uses either the galvanic method (causing the formation of sodium hydroxide), thermolysis (heating) or both which is called the blend method. It is best used for smaller areas of hair growth but can result in 100% of hair removal.
Intense Pulsed Light, known as IPL, is a form of light treatment which can be used to treat skin complaints and was popular for hair removal before the development of more effective laser treatments. At DestinationSkin, IPL is used very effectively to treat other skin conditions, such as acne.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is considered by experts to be the most effective, safest and long-term, making it the most cost-efficient method of hair removal today. Laser hair removal works by emitting targeted wavelengths of light into the skin, which create heat that is then absorbed by the pigment in the hair itself. This heat then destroys the cells which cause the hair follicle to grow, and prevents it growing back. As with all light treatments, laser hair removal works on hair which is actively growing or in the anagen growth phase at the time of treatment
Laser hair removal is most effective on dark hair, as darker hair contains more pigment and absorbs more light. . Laser hair removal is said to feel like elastic bands being snapped against your skin.
Traditionally it was most suitable for lighter skin tones too, as the light waves can affect the pigment in the skin surrounding the hair. Laser treatments are now available for Asian and darker skin tones however, with the advance of laser technology.
Debra Smyth explains: “Laser treatments provide long lasting effective results for hair removal. Compared with other hair removal methods, our clients experience long term results leaving the skin silky smooth and relieving the unwanted stress of having to use alternative temporary methods more frequently.
“Laser can also be used as a management program which is the other great benefit for our clients that suffer with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) resulting in increased hair growth; we can help our clients with the low self-esteem that they can experience with the increased hair growth.
“It is also the best way to help our clients that suffer with ingrown hairs, other hair removal methods can make this condition worse, laser hair removal is the most effective treatment to prevent and treat ingrown hairs.”
What happens if I stop laser hair removal?
The effectiveness of laser hair removal will depend on the colour of your hair and skin, the number of treatments you have had and your hair’s active growth cycle. If you stop early on in your course you are more likely to experience re-growth, but after completion of a course you are likely to need only sporadic top-ups to capture any spare hairs that were missed.
Want to find out more about our hair removal solution? Take a look at the full range of treatments we offer and book a consultation with one of our experts today.