The science of body hairHuman hairs are made up of two separate structures -- the follicle beneath the surface of the skin and the shaft, which is the part we see. The "bulb" or "bulge" is located at the base of the follicle and is the living part of the hair. The main component of hair is keratin, a form of hard protein.
Human body hair comes in two main types -- vellus hair and terminal hair. Vellus hair, also referred to as "peach fuzz," is a very soft and short type of hair that grows on most parts of both the male and female human body. Vellus hairs generally do not grow more than 2 cm in length and are not attached to sebaceous glands, which are found in the skin of humans and other mammals. Terminal hair, on the other hand, tends to be longer, darker, and coarser than vellus hair. During puberty the rising level of androgens causes some vellus hair to transform into terminal hair, most often in areas such as the under arms, genital areas, legs, and forearms. In addition, mostly for men, terminal hair can grow on the face, back, chest, and shoulders. Women are generally most concerned with removing hair from the eyebrows, armpits, legs, and bikini area while men mostly concentrate on hair removal from the face and shoulders.
Electrolysis hair removal
Electrolysis is a form of permanent hair removal that uses electricity. During the process of electrolysis, a qualified practitioner inserts a fine metal probe into the hair follicle, delivering an electric current which destroys the area that generates the hair. Tweezers are then used to remove the loosened hair, and the process is repeated for each individual hair. While electrolysis is the most permanent form of hair removal available, a number of treatments are usually required. This is because some hairs may be missed or may be in their dormant stage during any given treatment session. Also, electrolysis treatments should be administered carefully in order to avoid dangers such as electric shock, excessive pain, infection, and scarring. While it is costly and time-consuming, when carried out properly home electrolysis can provide effective, permanent hair removal.
Epilators are mechanical devices consisting of a coiled spring or rubber roller that catches or grasps multiple hairs and pulls them out of the skin. This form of hair removal works particularly well on arms and legs and its effect can last from several days to several weeks. However, the use of these tools is somewhat restricted. This is due to the fact that hair must be between one-quarter of an inch and one third of an inch long in order for epilators to work. In addition, the use of epilators can be quite painful for some people, especially in sensitive areas. Pulling hairs out by the roots in this fashion can also lead to ingrown hairs and irritated skin. Sometimes it is beneficial to undergo a waxing treatment prior to attempting to use epilators in order to reduce the likelihood of such occurrences.
Hair growth inhibitors
Hair growth inhibitors are pharmaceuticals designed to reduce hair by retarding or inhibiting hair's growth. Hair growth inhibitors are available as oral medications and topical preparations, some of which require a prescription from your doctor. With continued use, hair growth inhibitors can provide long-lasting or permanent hair reduction, although these products are more effective for some people than others. Even for over-the-counter brands, it is usually best to consult a physician before using hair growth inhibitors as some are only safe for certain people, or may cause unwanted side effects.
Hair removal creams / depilatories
Hair removal creams, also known as depilatories, are products which chemically dissolve hair, allowing it to be easily scraped or brushed off the skin. These creams come in several forms, including lotions, gels, aerosols, and roll-on products. Hair removal through the use of depilatories is usually effective for approximately two to five days. Hair removal creams are inexpensive, can be employed at home, and are fast to use. However, these products can also cause skin irritation and often leave a visible shadow of hair beneath the skin of dark-haired people. Some people also find the odor of depilatories very unpleasant. Those with particularly sensitive skin should be cautious when using hair removal creams and everyone should be sure to pay careful attention to any directions accompanying this type of product.
Ingrown hair treatments
Ingrown hairs occur when a hair is broken off beneath the skin and begins to grow at an angle instead of up through the skin. They appear as little red bumps on the skin and can cause irritation and an unsightly rash. Sometimes a small, sterilized needle can be used to free the hair. Otherwise, solutions containing salicylic acid can be used to treat this problem. Products containing salicylic acid act as exfoliants and target these troublesome follicles, freeing them from beneath the skin. Many of these ingrown hair treatments are safe for both men and women to use on many parts of the body.
Laser hair removal
Laser hair removal is a permanent form of hair reduction, the effectiveness of which varies from person to person. Often, follow-up treatments are necessary in order to achieve the best results. Three to six sessions are generally required, although at times even more treatments are needed. During this type of treatment, lasers generally target hair follicles, damaging them while leaving the rest of the skin intact. Laser hair removal is considered to be a safe procedure when performed properly by a qualified practitioner. It is particularly useful for large areas such as legs and backs. In addition, this form of hair removal has proved most effective for fair skinned people with dark hair, as the lasers often target the pigmented part of the hair follicle. The disadvantages of laser hair removal are that it can be painful, it tends to be expensive, and improper treatments can cause burns, skin discoloration, and patchy regrowth. When planning to undergo this type of treatment, it is important to make sure that your practitioner is experienced and qualified.
Plucking is a form of hair removal that involves pulling or plucking hairs out by the roots, one at a time, using fingers or tweezers. This method of hair removal is often used for eyebrows and other facial hair, and generally lasts for approximately three weeks. Plucking is a cheap form of hair removal that is particularly useful for removing small numbers of stray hairs. Be sure to sterilize your tweezers before using them to remove hairs in this fashion. Ingrown hairs can be caused by plucking, as can pitting and scarring. Plucking can be painful and should not be used on nose hairs in order to avoid dangerous infections.
Shaving involves using a sharp metal blade to remove hair by cutting it off at the skin's surface. This can be done either manually or with an electric razor. This method tends to be effective for body hair for approximately four days. Shaving is a fast, inexpensive, and safe way to remove body hair at home. At the same time, care must be taken to avoid cuts, skin irritation, and ingrown hairs. For sensitive areas, it is sometimes helpful to shave in the direction of hair growth in order to minimize such problems. In addition, changing blades regularly is beneficial in this regard. Lathering and soaking the skin prior to shaving is also a good idea and will reduce the likelihood of irritating problems.
Sugaring, sometimes referred to as Persian waxing, is a hair removal method that has been used for thousands of years. It involves the application of a sticky, sugary paste to the skin. A strip of paper or porous cloth is then pressed into the preparation. The strip is pulled quickly away from the skin, opposite to the direction of hair growth, removing the hairs with it. Sugaring typically lasts for about three to six weeks and is an inexpensive form of hair removal that can easily be done at home. It can be a messy undertaking, however, and can cause hairs to break off below the skin's surface.
Waxing is a form of hair removal very similar to sugaring. For this method, a layer of wax is applied to the skin and quickly removed using a strip of cloth or paper. This not only pulls hairs out by their roots, it also removes dead skin. As a result, waxing is a very effective form of temporary hair removal that leaves the skin smooth and generally lasts for three to eight weeks. It can be used on nearly any part of the body, including the eyebrows, face, legs, abdomen, and bikini area. Waxing can be carried out either on your own at home or by a qualified cosmetologist or esthetician. Repeated use of waxing often results in slower hair regrowth and, at times, the destruction of some hair roots. Eventually, this may lead to permanent hair reduction. Waxing is a fast and inexpensive hair removal method but, as with sugaring, it can be messy and can result in ingrown hairs and irritation. Exfoliating regularly and applying a solution of astringent and oil can greatly reduce the occurrence of these problems.