A woman spends on average more than $10,000 and nearly two month of their lives, managing unwanted hair. The woman who waxes once or twice a month will spend more than $23,000 over the course of her lifetime.14 The practice is not just for women. Even though women are twice as likely to remove body hair, a study found that 46% of men remove hair from their bodies.2,3
Unwanted hair can have a negative impact on a person’s life and can be a source of anxiety. Luckily, there are several effective ways of removing unwanted facial or body hair to improve your self-image and boost your self-confidence. With most methods, some of the hair will grow back the same or less, but there is always a hair removal method right for everyone and every budget.
The most common areas to remove hair from are1:
Removing hair at home is the most popular method of hair removal, and for good reason. It is relatively cheap, the supplies are readily available, and it is easy to incorporate into your routine.4 Almost half of all Americans remove their body hair within reachable areas, at least once a week using at-home methods.1 It does not come without risks though, a quarter of Americans have injured themselves while grooming private hair.2
Shaving involves using a razor to cut the hair at the surface of the skin. Shaving is a pain-free, cheap, and accessible hair removal method, with razors available to buy almost anywhere. Hairless skin with shaving usually only lasts about one to three days, and it can cause painful razor bumps and ingrown hairs, especially in sensitive areas.5
Plucking uses tweezers to pull hair out at the root. This is a good option when there are just a few hairs to remove. Plucking is a cheap hair removal method, but it can be time-consuming since you only pull out one hair at a time. A device called an epilator can grasp multiple hairs at once. Results last a little longer than shaving, usually three to eight weeks with plucking, but it can be painful and can cause ingrown hairs if the hair breaks off below the skin.6
Hair removal creams, also known as depilatory creams, use chemicals to dissolve the shaft of the hair. The results usually last about two weeks. Depilatory creams are available over the counter and are relatively inexpensive. As long as you follow the directions closely, depilatory creams are painless, but they can smell bad. If the cream is left on too long or if you have sensitive skin, it can cause irritation.4
Depilatory creams are made for different parts of the body like the face, legs, or bikini area.
There are several at-home, hand-held intense pulsed light (IPL) devices on the market. These devices use light waves to create heat that destroys the hair shaft. These devices can decrease hair growth by 50 to 80%. Most people experience mild redness and swelling after treatment.7
Most of these devices come with a steep price tag. Some examples of IPL devices for use at home are Philips Lumea*, Braun Silk-expert Pro*, Tria*, Diamond IPL*, Silk’n Flash&Go*.
In-office face and body hair removal are done by trained professionals and can have more long-lasting or permanent effects than at-home methods.
Large areas of hair can be removed with hot wax and a cloth strip to pull hair out at the root. The wax is applied in the direction of hair growth and becomes embedded in the wax as it cools. A cloth strip adheres to the wax and helps to pull the hair out when it is quickly pulled in the opposite direction of hair growth. Waxing can be painful and may cause ingrown hairs and torn skin. The hot wax can also burn the skin if care is not taken.
Results are long-lasting, usually about three to six weeks. The hair must be one-quarter to a half inch long to be waxed, which means you have to wait until your hair grows out to wax it.5
Threading is a traditional method from India. This hair removal technique uses a doubled and twisted string of cotton thread to pull hair out at the root. This method is usually used to shape eyebrows, and other small areas on the face.4 Hair grows back so threading is an on-going treatment, it depends on the treatment area and the life cycle of your hair.
Electrolysis uses a thin metal probe or small needle to deliver a low-level electrical current to the hair follicle. The electric current destroys the hair follicle, so hair cannot grow back. The results of electrolysis are permanent, but it is costly and time-consuming since each hair follicle must be treated. Electrolysis can be painful and has risks of infection and scar formation.8
IPL devices or light-based devices use similar technology to the IPL hand-held devices—a pulse of broad-spectrum light but with higher intensity with more effectiveness.9
An IPL machine, like the Sirius™ or Nordlys™, delivers light energy into the hair follicle that transforms the light into heat energy. The heat creates targeted tissue damage to the hair follicle so hair growth is diminished. The system’s applicator delivers short bursts of light so it’s less heat in your skin. The treatment is very fast from a few minutes to 30 minutes on the whole back.
Most people will need several sessions to achieve their desired result. Those with light skin and dark hair will benefit most from IPL hair removal because lighter skin allows IPL to target the melanin that colors the hair.4
Laser hair removal is also known as laser hair reduction. This treatment is one of the most effective non-invasive aesthetic treatments to remove unwanted hair on the face and body.13
Laser for hair removal is safe and effective at reducing hair growth on the legs, underarms, private areas, and the chest and back for men. This method is for a permanent hair reduction, the results last for months or years for most people. If hair does grow back, it will be less noticeable than before treatment.10
Like IPL machines, laser hair removal machines also use light to destroy the hair follicle. The Gentle® Nd:YAG laser machines are FDA and CE cleared. Gentle system uses a burst of gentle energy, and therapeutic heat to target the hair follicle at the root, within the exact treatment area. The device comes with very small treatment tip for the hard-to-reach areas.
Most people will need several sessions to reduce hair growth enough for the skin to look smooth and even. Laser hair removal is an effective choice for people with darker skin types because the laser can penetrate deeper into the skin.11
Interested in laser hair removal treatment? Whenever you are ready, you can look up for a hair removal treatment provider such as a laser clinic or a medical spa in your neighborhood.
When you go in for laser hair removal, the treatment area will first be cleaned. To protect the eyes, everyone in the room during treatment will wear protective eyewear. During treatment, you may experience slight discomfort as the laser reaches the hair follicle. You may also see small puffs of smoke that smell like sulfur.10
Laser hair removal is safe when performed by licensed healthcare professionals at laser clinics or MedSpas.12
Insurance does not cover laser hair removal. The cost will depend on the size of the area treated and the number of treatments required. Please connect with a local treatment provider for consultation, pricing, and payment plan.
Because every hair grows for a period of time, you may need to repeat the treatment at intervals until all hair follicles have been treated while growing. According to clinical studies, you should expect 4-6 treatments, typically spaced 1-3 months apart.