Although laser hair removal is currently one of the most effective methods in permanently reducing
growth, there are still many options out there which can sometimes seem a little daunting. In this
article we will discuss the seven most popular methods used and how they compare to laser hair
From peach-fuzz to long, dark, or coarse growth, men and women have been battling excess and unwanted hair growth for centuries. For some, the cause is hereditary or related to ethnic heritage. For others, it can be caused by a medical condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome or the result of hormonal changes like menopause or pregnancy.
How it works: Currently the most
popular and effective way to remove hair is via laser. Laser light is able to heat the melanin in a
follicle without heating the rest of the skin this destroys the tiny blood vessels and nerves that
supply nourishment and stimulus to the hair follicle with several treatments it loses the ability to
grow a hair. The hair does not immediately come out during laser hair removal treatment. Instead, it
weakens and then falls out generally over a two week period. Laser hair removal has a specific
wavelength of 755nm.
Laser hair removal is an incredibly special type of light it is the brightest and most powerful light to date. The following three characteristics are why laser hair removal is the most effective hair reduction method:
*Monochromatic - this means nearly 100% of laser hair removal light is ONE pure colour.
*Collimated - laser hair removal is slow to spread out. This is what makes laser hair removal so powerful and effective in treating hair as nearly 100% of the light can be harnessed to remove hair
*Coherent -this means that the light is reinforcing in the way that it does not cancel itself out.
The pain factor: Laser hair removal is comparable to an elastic band being flicked against the skin. The majority of people do no find it painful, in fact most consider waxing as being much more painful. Medical grade laser hair removal machines have an inbuilt dynamic cooling system which sprays cryogen (frozen air) onto the skin with each pulse of light immediately cooling soothing the area.
Best For: Laser hair removal can be done anywhere on the body except the eyebrows. The best candidates are mean and women with dark hair and light skin. Laser hair removal is not effective on grey, blonde or red hair.
How Long Does It Take: It usually requires 8-12 sessions to produce an 85-90% reduction though some see more and others less. Treatments are scheduled at 6 week intervals. Treatment duration vary depending on the area being treated and can be anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour.
Price: Laser hair removal can range between $10 and $500 per treatment depending on the body part. Though this may seem like a lot, remember treatments are spaced six weeks apart and the reduction is generally permanent meaning after your treatment plan has ceased you will only need the odd touch up which may only be once a year.
How it works: Although the
principle behind IPL is similar to that of laser hair removal , using heat to disable the papilla,
results are far less effective for the following reasons.
*Non-Monochromatic -meaning that IPL has many different colours and only a small percentage of these colours are effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
*Non-Collimated - is quick to spread out making it less effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
*Non-Coherent - is not reinforcing and liking to cancel itself out making it less effective in the treatment of hair reduction.
IPL does not have a specific wavelength, the wavelength ranges from 500 nm to 1200 nm.
Though Intense Pulse Light (IPL) has its place in the cosmetic market as an effective photo rejuvenator helping to improve the signs of sun damage, it simply does not have the tools that laser hair removal does when it comes to hair reduction.
The pain factor: Though some also describe the feel IPL to that of an elastic band being flicked against the skin, most compare it to hot grease popping out on you. Because IPL uses a broad spectrum wavelength the surrounding skin heats up, which is why IPL has also been described to feel like a bad sunburn post treatment.
How Long Does It Take: Intense Pulsed Light treatment takes around the same amount of time as a wax treatment for the same area, though generally it can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 1 hour. Though most practitioners will state that it will take the same amount of treatments as laser hair removal to achieve an 85%-90% reduction, I have not seen this to date.
Price: Depending on the area being treated price can range from $30-$350 per treatment
Potential Drawback: In addition to the above points deeming IPL NOT as effective as laser hair removal, the same above characteristics of IPL mean that skin burns and complications are increased if not preformed correctly. IPL can only be used on very fair individuals whereas laser hair removal can be used on a broader range of people and even darker skins using the Nd-YAG.
How it works: Electrolysis is
the use of a very fine sterilized needle. The needle is inserted into the hair follicle; no skin is
or pierced as the follicle is a natural opening in the skin. Once inserted a small amount of current
applied which cauterizes the papilla, a tiny capillary responsible for causing hair to grow. The
loosens the hair within the follicle, then with tweezers the hair slides out effortlessly the hair
being tweezed by force. The process is repeated for each unwanted hair. With each treatment the
to the hair diminishes until it is completely destroyed and the follicle can no longer produce hair.
The Pain Factor: Tolerances vary from person to person. Most people feel a mild stinging sensation. others describe it as a hot pinch beneath the skin. If preformed correctly you should not feel the need being inserted into the follicle or the removal of the hair with tweezers. Though the current is felt, it is generally tolerable for most people.
How Long It Takes: Electrolysis is a longer procedure than that of laser hair removal simply because it requires that the removal be done hair-by-hair. An upper lip appointment would take about 15 minutes; while an underarm treatment could be an hour or more as opposed to 2 minutes with laser hair removal.
Price: Costs run between $40 and $90 per treatment, with 10 to 25 treatments (or more) sometimes necessary for permanent, lasting results.
Potential Drawback: Electrolysis is a hair by hair method, making larger areas seem daunting unlike laser hair removal which allows you to treat larger areas quickly. Tiny scars can form where the needle is inserted. Though for most these scars fade with time, for darker skin types it means an increased risk of hyperpigmentation and formation of keloids (raised scars).
How it works: In earlier centuries
waxes were made of sticky honey. Today most use soy-based compounds that sticks only to the
and not your skin. Strip waxing involves the warm wax being applied to the skin in a very thin layer
covered with special cloth strips. When strips are removed they take the hair and follicle with it.
waxing utilizes hot wax which is applied thickly. As the wax cools it hardens allowing the therapist
remove it without the aid of cloths
The Pain Factor: Waxing can be painful as the strip is removed from the skin. Although the pain is not long-lasting, it can be intense, particularly in more sensitive areas.
How Long It Takes: Depending on the body part and the density of the hair growth it can take between 5 minutes to one hour.
Price: The cost of waxing runs from about $15 for upper lip, to $70 for upper and lower legs or a Brazilian wax.
Potential Drawback: Waxing removes the entire hair, root, bulb and shaft this leaves the follicle open which increases the risk of infections if an antibacterial lotion is not use post treatment. If not preformed correctly waxing causes multiple painful and unsightly ingrowns which can be difficult to treat and can sometimes leave scars. To date laser hair removal is the only method that not only prevents ingrowns but effectively treats existing ones. Too often we have seen wax that is too hot beong used which either causes burns or can take skin away along with the hair leaving makes and possible scars. If not preformed correctly the wax can become stuck to the skin, once pulled bruising can occur. Waxing must be repeated every 2 to 4 weeks as opposed to every 6-8 weeks with laser hair removal.
How it works: Shaving whether using
an electric or straight razor cuts the hair ultra-close to the skins surface. Shaving does not
at the root, does not disturb the follicle or have any effect on the papilla. No permanent hair
achieved and the effects are very temporary, lasting anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
The Pain Factor: For most there is no pain involved in shaving except if you pierce the skin in the process which can be uncomfortable. However for some with very coarse hair of sensitive skin shaving can infact be an uncomfortable experience that can cause further irritation to the skin. This is especially true for men when shaving their neck/throat area.
How Long It Takes: Shaving can take anywhere from a minute for the underarms or 30minutes for full legs.
Price: Good quality razors range from $15 to $150. Generally the blades on straight razors need replacing frequently which could be a further $15 to $20 for a 4 pack every few months.
Potential Drawback: As mentioned if hair is coarse particularly in the bikini area or the neck of men shaving can not only be uncomfortable but can cause ingrown hairs. These ingrown hairs can cause major infections and an abscess can form. In some cases medical intervention such as surgery is then required, but for the majority the only non-invasive cure is laser hair removal.
How does it work? Our hair is made up of different proteins. Depilatory cream formulas use a chemical compound
dissolve these proteins that hence dissolving the hair. When compared to shaving which cuts the hair
sharp, hard stubble just below the skin, depilatory creams leave rounded, smoother edges. This means
stubble is minimized and regrowth appears to take a little longer. Treatments usually need to be
least weekly, if not more often.
The Pain Factor: Depilatory creams are generally not painful. A tingling sensation can be felt on application though for some a burning sensation is felt in this case depilatories many not be for you.
How Long It Takes: Depending on the area being treated it can take 5 to 15 minutes to apply the cream. It is then left on for a maximum of 6 minutes before being wiped off.
Price: Between $10-$20 per tube
Potential Drawback: A test patch must be performed each time to avoid any adverse reactions to the ingredients of the products. If left on even a minute longer than advised skin can break out into a rash and/or skin burns can occur. For most whose hair may grow 2 days post treatment they must wait until the advised 72 hours between applications.
How does it work: Tweezing pulls
hair out at the root. However, it does not affect the root, follicle or papilla from which hair
grows in cycles, so the time in the cycle when the hair is tweezed out determines in part how
another will take its place
The Pain Factor: Tweezing has a very similar sensation to waxing and the principle is the same, pulling hair out from the root. However seeing as waxing enables larger areas to be treated at once compared to the hair by hair method of tweezing, waxing to most is more comfortable.
How Long It Takes: Tweezing is a hair by hair method so generally is best for smaller areas such as the eyebrows, top lip and chin which can take 5-10minutes.
Price: A good quality tweezer ranges from $5 to $15
Potential Drawback: It is a hair by hair method which limits it to smaller areas. If not done correcting the hair can break at the service which my result in an ingrown. Laser hair removal can be used to treat smaller and larger area quickly and with permanent results it not only prevents ingrown hair but treats them as well.
To conclude, laser hair removal may seem daunting at first whether due to the unknown or because of the cost. Though once educated, for most it is the only way to go. Laser hair removal uses state of the art technology, and when performed by a professional is not only very effective but safe. As for the cost well you can do the math ???..a few hundred dollars spread out over time for permanent results, I'd choose that over a life time of razors, waxing mess and strips, even tweezers any day. Mostly we hope that this article has given you the information you needed to make choosing the right hair removal method for you an easy choice.