Body hair becomes prominent after puberty and may be seen as a symbol of adulthood. It is normal and grows on all human bodies (1). They are pronounced on body parts such as the head, armpits, eyebrows, arms, legs, pubic region, and eyelashes.
Everyone grows one, but some people grow thicker and more abundant body hairs. This could be genetic or a result of health conditions such as Polycystic ovary syndrome and Cushing disease (2). Depending on specific reasons or personal preferences, you may want to remove some of your body hair. A process referred to as “Hair removal.”
Hair removal is the deliberate removal of unwanted body hair. There are various ways to get rid of body hair, even for more extended periods. This article explores the hair removal processes, techniques, and mistakes to stay clear during these processes.
Why Remove Body Hair?
You may seek to remove your body hair for various reasons. Some of which includes
Aesthetics: Over the years, the standards for human physical appearance and attractiveness have evolved. This includes fashion trends of clothing with exposure to body parts where body hair is normally found. As a result, you may need to shave the legs, underarms, bikini line to suit aesthetic purposes (3).
Medical: Body hair may be removed for specific surgical procedures. It may also be recommended for conditions such as cancer, trichiasis – abnormally positioned eyelashes, body odor, and eradication of hair lice.
Hygiene: Hair removal may be for personal cleanliness purposes.
Sexual appeal: Body hair may be removed in anticipation of a sexual encounter for reasons such as increased sensitivity during sexual activity.
4 Steps of Hair Removal Processes
Cleaning – Before your hair removal, wash the target skin areas with soap and clean water to remove bacteria and residual skin dirt.
Hair removal – Here, the appropriate hair removal technique is used to get rid of the body hair.
Aftercare – This is the tender care given to the skin after hair removal. Hair removal may leave the skin sensitive, itchy, or irritated. The use of oil or cream to moisturize the skin may reduce this sensitivity.
Hair Removal Methods
1. Depilation: This method of hair removal gets rid of hair above the skin surface. The resulting hairless skin could last several days. Depilation techniques include
Shaving or trimming – Shaving is the process of cutting off hair at the skin level. This may be done manually – using razors or electronically using electric shavers. It is the most common hair removal method.
Chemical depilatories – This hair removal technique uses gels, creams, or powders that chemically break down hair structure. It is an application technique; you put the cream directly on your skin and wait for 5 to 10 minutes for the chemical action. The technique works by weakening the protein in your hair called keratin, causing the hair to fall off. Then the cream is wiped off the skin, along with the hair.
2. Epilation: This hair removal method pulls the entire hair from the roots, including the part under the skin. The resulting hairless skin could last several weeks. Epilation techniques include
Tweezing – This is the pulling of individual hairs by the roots. It could be done with a pair of tweezers or with fingers.
Waxing – This technique uses wax to remove hair from the roots; a hot sticky layer is applied on the skin and removed with porous strips. It leaves the skin feeling silky to the touch, and the hair regrowth is slower (5).
Sugaring – This process is similar to waxing; however, here, a sticky, sugary paste is applied to the skin in the direction of hair growth. Then it is peeled off with a porous strip.
Threading – In this technique, the thread is twisted across the target areas of the skin until it catches hairs. The thread is then pulled gently. This hair removal process is used for eyebrows, upper lip, neck, and chin.
Epilators – This technique uses a mechanical device – the epilation device. This device is battery-operated and rapidly grasps hairs to pull them out. It removes the hair from the follicles.
Drugs and prescription creams – This technique is used to directly attack hair growth and inhibit the development of new hair cells. This process does not lead to immediate hair removal; rather, the hair growth reduces gradually until it finally stops. If the product is discontinued, hair growth returns. Some drugs used include Vaniqa and antiandrogens.
3. Permanent Hair Removal
Electrolysis – This technique is carried out by a professional – a certified dermatologist. It involves the use of fine needles to deliver short blasts of an electric current into hair follicles. The short wave radio frequencies are distributed to destroy hair follicles so that it does not stimulate new hair growth. The hair is removed individually, one at a time. Hence, this is a much slower process and may be painful. This process, although referred to as permanent, would require multiple follow-up appointments.
4. Permanent Hair Reduction
Laser Hair Removal – In this technique, light is directed at the hair and is absorbed by dark pigments, destroying the hair follicle. It is a long-term option that destroys hair follicles with light. The laser destroys pigment cells and is best recommended for those with darker and thicker hair follicles (6). Laser treatment could be Intense pulsed light (IPL) or Diode epilation.
12 Hair Removal Mistakes to Avoid
Everyone has body hair and may remove them by any of the methods mentioned above. However, the hair removal process could go wrong, especially if you opt to remove them yourself. Most of the mistakes may be avoided using a few tips. Here are some mistakes to stay clear of.
1. Not Preparing your skin – Before your hair removal process, wash your skin with soap and warm water, also clean with a hot towel. This cleanses the skin of residual dirt, which may result in infection.
2. Shaving with a dull blade – When shaving, it is appropriate to have more than one blade and use sharp blades. This would prevent cuts and skin irritation which may result from repeated strokes of a dull blade.
3. Removing hair daily – Shaving takes out the grown hair at skin level; shaving daily fuels this growth and results in thicker, fuller hair.
4. Shaving hair against its growth – Running the blade in the opposite direction of hair growth may seem a smart thing to do, but it isn’t. It increases the number of ingrown hairs on the skin and causes razor burns.
5. Not exfoliating the skin before hair removal – Exfoliating the skin with a scrub before hair removal gently eliminates ingrown hair and gives a smooth finished result. Not exfoliating your skin makes the hair removal process harder and leaves your skin with an uneven finish.
6. Not exfoliating the skin regularly – Regular exfoliation may convert dry, flaky skin into soft and smooth skin. This prevents scratches and cuts during hair removal processes. Regular exfoliation also prevents ingrown hairs.
7. Waxing right before or after your period – Hormonal changes during this period can cause skin sensitivity and make waxing more painful.
8. Using Chemical exfoliation – It is preferred to use natural scrubs for exfoliation ahead of a hair removal procedure. The chemicals may affect the skin surface and expose the cells to further damages. And any attempt of hair removal afterward would significantly damage the top layer of the skin.
9. Not using sunscreen after waxing – Your skin is more sensitive to damage from the sun after waxing. This could lead to sunburns or hyperpigmentation.
10. Improper waxing – If you opt for waxing, you will need to identify your skin type. This would influence the choice of waxing to be made, as the wrong wax may burn the skin.
11. Shaving dry skin – Running blades on dry skin could lead to various skin injuries. The extra minute used to lather the skin generously could save your skin from irritation after hair removal.
12. Shaving with hot or cold water – Use of warm water is recommended as either very hot or very cold water will lead to improper shaving.
Possible Side Effects of Hair Removal
- Pain and redness from skin irritation – usually subsides after a few hours.
- Scarring and infection from needles (a rare occurrence) – the electrolysis method may cause scarring and infection.
- Keloid – a lumpy, benign scar caused by an excess of protein in the skin during healing (7).
- Temporary pigment changes – May be triggered by laser hair removal.
- Blistering and scarring
- Burning, rashes, Acne breakout – Drugs and prescription creams may cause a burning sensation, rashes, and breakout.
- Mild rashes and irritation – Tweezing and waxing methods can result in rashes and irritation.
- Chemical burns, rashes, Blisters – Chemical depilation method may cause burns, rashes, etc.
Hair Removal Tips
Some preventive tips during hair removal include
- If you sneeze when threading triggered by the trigeminal nerve stimulation, you may drink an antihistamine an hour before your hair removal process.
- When waxing, press the hand of the arm you are waxing high up against the wall; this would give the pit a full extension and ease the pain from the pull-out.
- Do not shave your armpit before a workout.
- Powder your armpits to keep them dry before your waxing procedure.
- When using a chemical depilator or prescription cream, do a patch test on a small spot to check your skin sensitivity to the product.
- Waxing your full body may be a big task. You can set yourself up on a schedule. One week, do your legs, then the next week, your arms, and so on.
Body hairs are normal, and removing them is optional. If you choose to remove some of your body hairs there are various techniques of removal to choose from. The technique you chose could depend on your reason for hair removal as well as how long you want the skin hairless – weeks, months, or longer periods. If you opt to remove the body hair yourself, there are tips to help make this regular task an easy one, as well as common mistakes that can be avoided. For long-term removal processes, you may have to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about the appropriate option for you, in order to meet your intended goals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)
Is it possible to remove hairs permanently?
Although the electrolysis method of hair removal is considered permanent, you may have some follow-up appointments subsequently. The electrolysis method removes hair by completely damaging the hair follicles beyond possible repair. The procedure is performed by a professional using fine needles.
Is Waxing permanent?
No, waxing may last several weeks, but the technique does not get rid of your body hairs permanently.
Should you shave or wax?
Choosing a method will be dependent on your skin and how long you want the skin to be hairless. For sensitive skin, shaving may be a better option, as waxing triggers sensitivity. For thick hairs, waxing may be a better option as it will slow down your hair growth.
How fast can hair grow?
Body hair may grow to its full length in a month. However, some factors may affect this growth rate, such as genetics, medication, and nutrition.
Can you take a hot shower after waxing?
No, do not take a hot shower immediately after a waxing procedure. Your skin may be sensitive, and a shower could cause irritation- ranging from mild to severe.
- “Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History” – Books.google.com
- “A Full-Body Guide to Removing Stubborn, Thick Hair” – healthline.com
- “Who decided women should shave their legs and underarms?” -straightdope.com
- “Everything You Need to Know About Exfoliating Your Skin Safely” -healthline.com
- “Which Wax Should I be Using for Hair Removal?” -byrdie.com
- “Unwanted hair removal by laser systems and intense pulsed light sources” -cochrane.org
- “Keloid Scar” -medicinenet.com