Hair Removal

Removal of unwanted hair is common to nearly every culture, and in the modern Western world, every option of personal preference is both acceptable and available.

There are two basic methods of hair removal, they are, depilation and epilation.  Depilation removes only the part of the hair above the skin; epilation removes the entire hair and follicle.

In the first case the treatment lasts from a few hours to a few days.  In the second case the hair almost always grows back eventually, but takes a lot longer.  There is no established method of hair removal that is both permanent and harmless, so it is best to be informed and be cautious when trying to get rid of the hair you do not want.

The two common methods of depilation are shaving and depilatories and they are the simplest and quickest approaches.  Neither method lasts for long, and depilatory crèmes that dissolve the hair shaft can also cause minor burns to the skin.  Shaving in some areas of the body can also cause ingrown hairs.

Epilation can involve several different approaches, with varying costs and results.

Plucking is effective, but it is still only temporary, and should only be done in small increments such as shaping eyebrows or removing a couple of grey hairs here and there.

Waxing, in which a hot or cold layer is applied and then stripped off, yanking most of the attached hair with it, is popular with women who wear bikinis.  Sugaring is a similar process using a sticky paste.

Laser hair removal is quite long lasting, but it is expensive and usually requires at least four treatments.  With this method the hair follicle is destroyed with a fine-tuned laser beam or pulse.  Another option is electrolysis, which may be either galvanic or thermolytic, and destroys the hair follicle with chemicals or heat, respectively.  Laser or electrolysis treatments should be done only by a trained professional in a supervised facility.

There are both oral and topical medications on the market that can reduce or retard the growth of hair.  An example is the prescription drug Vaneqa, which with continued use will stop the growth of hair altogether.  However, when use is discontinued, the hair resumes its growth.  Permanently destroying the areas that regulate hair growth without damaging the surrounding tissue is a challenge that so far has not been satisfactorily met.

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