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cosmetics   -   cosmetical hair removal

(d)epilating | shaving | bleaching | waxing | threading | sugaring | plucking | abrasives | laser | electrolysis | ingrown hairs |


Many men and women choose to remove unwanted body hair for cosmetic, social, cultural or medical reasons. Fortunately, there are several methods to get rid of those difficult hairs, for example on your legs, face and bikini area.
HairWeb gives you information about the various possibilities and their advantages and disadvantages. Which method is suitable for you? It depends amongst others on the location of the hairs to be removed, your personal preference and last but not least the main factor: available time!

Different methods for the removal of body hair include the following:

  • Temporary hair removal: Shaving, (d)epilation, plucking, waxing, threading, abrasives, sugaring, depilation and bleaching.
  • Temporary hair reduction: Laser assisted-hair removal.
  • Permanent hair removal: Electrolysis (galvanic electrolysis, thermolysis or blend method).

temporary hair removal



Shaving is the method used most frequently to temporarily remove unwanted hair. Shaving is fast, easy, painless, effective and inexpensive. The results are temporary, lasting 1-3 days and shaving requires a constant commitment to maintain a hair-free appearance.

Shaving is performed with a razor on wet skin using shaving cream or other lubricants with the razor oriented against the direction of hair growth.

For sensitive areas, shaving with the direction of hair growth may reduce cuts. Contrary to a widespread misconception shaving does not result in increased hair growth. The primary disadvantages and/or adverse effects of shaving include skin irritation, cuts in the skin, the need to shave daily and stubble.



Epilation involves the removal of the entire hair shaft and is the most effective method for temporarily removing hair. Epilation includes waxing, plucking, threading, sugaring and using abrasives or mechanical devices (e.g. Epilady). For epilation to be effective treated hairs should be long enough for the device to grasp.

The long term effects of epilation on the hair follicle are not known and whether this practice may result in long-term reduction of hair regrowth is unclear. Because epilaton wounds the hair follicle and repetitive epilation may result in permanent matrix damage, resulting in finer or thinner hairs.


Plucking is best performed using tweezers and is a beneficial and economic method for removing the occasional coarse hair or a small group of hairs such as those found on the eyebrows, chin or nipples. The results of plucking last longer than shaving because hair is pulled from the hair shaft, as within waxing. This method is time consuming, tedious and painful. The reaction of the hair follicle to plucking can be unpredictable, possibly resulting in hyperpigmentation, scarring and ingrown hairs.



Waxing is similar to plucking and involves applying warm or cold wax onto hair-bearing skin and quickly stripping off the hardened wax and embedded hairs against the direction of hair growth. Waxing is the most expensive but most effective method of epilation because hair is removed completely from the hair shaft in large quantities.

Often hair can take 2-3 weeks to regrow. The effects on the hair follicle of long-term waxing are unknown. However, theoretically, this modality may reduce regrowth because repeated waxing may destroy follicles. Although many kits are offered for use at home, faster and more successful results are obtained by experienced professionals.

Waxing should not be performed on moles or skin that is irritated, sunburned or broken. Pay special attention to the temperature of the wax to avoid burning the skin. Adverse effects from waxing include pain, hyperpigmentation and scarring.



Threading is an ancient manual technique, that is very popular in many Arabic countries. It is a less common method in the West for removing hair at the root, used primarily on facial hair. Rows of hairs are twisted out with twists of cotton threads. Results can last up to two to four weeks. Adverse effects from threading include pain, hyperpigmentation and scarring.



Abrasives such as pumice stones and devices or gloves made of fine sandpaper work by physically rubbing the hair away from the skin surface. This method can be irritating to the skin and is not commonly used today for hair removal.


Sugaring is similar to waxing. The sugar mixture is prepared by heating sugar, lemon juice and water to form a syrup. The syrup is formed into a ball, flattened onto the skin, then quickly stripped away. Similar to waxing the hair is removed entirely from the hair shaft. It is an alternative to waxing for people sensitive to wax. Adverse effects from sugaring include pain, hyperpigmentation and scarring.


Chemical depilatories remove part of the hair shaft and are easy and painless to use. The standard chemical depilatories are available in gels, creams, lotions, aerosols or roll-on forms. They are good for use on the legs, bikini line, face and underarms. They perform best when hair is at a reasonable length. Before using a depilatory you should carefully read the manufacturer's instructions. Test a small area before use to avoid irritation or allergic reactions.
Do not use them on eyebrows or on broken skin. Adverse effects from depilating include skin irritation, burns, ingrown hairs and allergic reactions.


Bleaching is not a method of hair removal, but many women use bleaching as an inexpensive method of disquising the presence of unwanted hair by removing the hair's natural pigment. Common sites for bleaching include the upper lip, beard area and arms. A variety of commercial bleaches are available and the manufacturer's instructions are easy to follow. As with chemical depilatories, perform a small patch test to assess for allergic reaction. The disadvantages of bleaching include skin irritation and temporary skin discoloration.

Temporary hair reduction


Laser-assisted hair removal

Laser-assisted hair removal is a relatively new method available for long-term hair reduction. The different lasers available for hair removal are the ruby laser (694 nm), alexandrite laser (755 nm), diode laser (800 nm) and Nd YAG laser (1064 nm). These lasers target melanin and subsequently produce selective photothermolysis of the hair follicles. The longer wavelengths are safer for darker skin types.


Intense pulsed light sources for hair removal

Intense pulsed light sources use the same principle of selective photothermolysis used with lasers to target melanin in hair follicles; however, a noncoherent filtered flashlamp that emits wavelengths ranging from 500-1200 nm is used in this process rather than a laser. Different cut off filters are used to select the appropriate wavelength for each patient.

Permanent hair removal


Electrolysis - electrology

Electrolysis involves the insertion of a small, fine needle into the hair follicle, followed by the firing of a pulse of electric current that damages and eventually destroys the hair follicle. Multiple treatment sessions are required to achieve a clinically significant result. The two types of electrolysis are galvanic electrolysis (direct current electrolysis) and thermolysis (alternating current electrolysis).

Galvanic electrolysis

A direct electric current is passed down a needle inserted into the hair follicle, where it acts on tissue saline to produce sodium hydroxide (lye), a caustic agent that destroys the hair bulb and dermal papilla. During the procedure the patient holds a metal rod covered with conductive cream, gel or a metal plate attached to a moistened pad. The current (milliamperes) is set by the technician based on the patient's pain treshold and the duration of the pulse is controlled by how long the technician presses down on the hand or foot pedal. Galvanic electrolysis is slow and may require a minute or more for each hair, including repeated insertions into the follicle.


Thermolysis uses a high-frequency alternating current that is passed down the needle into the follicle. The high-frequency alternating current produces heat in the hair follicle via molecular vibration, resulting in destruction of the hair bulb by thermal, not chemical, means.

Most modern electrolysis machines use thermolysis or the blend methode: A combination of galvanic electrolysis and thermolysis. Unfortunately, no controlled clinical trials have compared the two methods and claims of superiority of one method over the other are based on anecdotal evidence.

Proper electrolysis requires accurate needle insertion technique and appropriate intensities and duration of current. In addition, only anagen-phase hairs should be treated because telogen-phase hairs are believed to be more resistant to damage. Anagen-phase hairs can be distinguished easily from telogen-phase hairs by shaving the area to be treated and, in a few days, treating only those hairs visible on the skin surface (anagen-phase hairs).

Important and potentially permanent adverse effects of electrolysis include scarring and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Adverse effects that are dependent on technician experience and the duration and intensity of the current pain, a primary adverse effect of electrolysis, can be diminished with the use of new topical anesthetic creams one hour prior to the procedure. Maintaining some sensation is desirable because pain is related to the amount of damage to the hair follicle. Electrolysis is not safe for patients with pacemakers and should not be used on these patients.


Ingrown hairs - what to do?

Ingrown hairs are side effects of shaving. They occur when hairs are cut below skin level. When the hair begins to grow it will grow within the hair follicle rather than out of the hair follicle. You can get it out by removing the dead skin cells and try to pluck out the ingrown hair.

You can avoid ingrown hairs by shaving in the direction the hair grows.