Summer can be an unforgiving season for women with body hair. Hairy legs in a bikini? Doesn’t work too well. You can make a statement and do the bathing suit season au natural, but you’ll probably get a few stares in the process.
Fortunately, hair removal is an evolving field, of new and improving technologies, combined with the tried and true methods of shaving and the infamous wax. There’s a hair removal method to suit each body part, and patterns of growth and degrees of coverage.
Temporary Hair Removal
Depilation is removal of hair at the surface of the skin, with results lasting from several hours to several days. Methods include shaving and depilatories (creams or shaving powders that dissolve hair).
Epilation is removal of the entire hair from the root. Though more painful than depilation, epilation tends to produce longer results, which can vary from several days to weeks. Methods include:
- tweezing – plucking with tweezers or fingers
- waxing – a hot or cold layer is applied and then stripped away
- sugaring – like waxing, but with a sticky paste
- epilators – devices that quickly grab hairs and pull them out
Permanent Hair Removal
While depilation and epilation are popular and easily done, electrology, an electrical form of epilation, is the only permanent hair removal system. This technique destroys the germ cells that cause unwanted hair growth with a fine probe into the hair follicle and applies an electrical current adjustable to the hair type and coverage.
Forms of electrology include:
- laser hair removal
- intense pulsed light (high energy lamps)
- diode epilation (high energy LEDS)
Be aware that these methods reduce hair, but don’t eliminate it completely. Results vary according to skin type and coverage. Women with extensive body hair can require up to ten treatments to produce satisfactory results.
Which Treatment to Choose
The best hair removal method depends on the body part and is often a matter of preference. The following recommendations are guidelines only, but are among the most common treatments that women use to treat problems areas.
Legs – One of the easier areas to treat, shaving is the most popular method to remove hair from the legs. To shave your legs:
1) moisten the skin
2) apply a moisturizer or shaving cream
3) use a clean, sharp blade
4) apply moisture after shaving
Take care not to shave your legs if your skin is broken, red or otherwise irritated. On a similar note, you can also wax your legs or treat them with laser hair removal, but don’t pursue either treatment with irritated skin.
You can also have these treatments done in a salon, though try to schedule your treatment in the morning, to increase the chance they’ll use fresh utensils and wax. Use a clean salon, heated at 150 degrees fahrenheit or higher to avoid bacterial growth.
Bikini Area – Many women find that laser hair removal is the best method for this area, as shaving and waxing can cause ingrown hairs and razor bumps.
If you choose to shave your bikini area, use a sharp blade. Shave when the hair is wet and in the direction of the hair follicle, and not against the grain.
If you still get razor bumps, use a moisturizer and exfoliating agent after shaving. In addition, consider a mild hydrocortisone cream after shaving to minimize inflammation.
Face – Another area where laser hair removal is often the best hair removal method. This popular treatment removes brown and black hairs with a laser that destroys pigment in the hair bulb. The hair follicle usually pushes out the inactive hair within three to five days. Most of the thick and problematic hair is gone after five to ten visits.
Laser hair removal does not work, notably, on blond, grey or white hair, as they don’t have the pigment required for the laser to target.
As an alternative, try a prescription-based hair-removal cream or a hair-removal spray like Ultra Hair Away that works on many skin types and ethnicities. Always watch for itchy skin or irritations, regardless of the body part or treatment. The best hair removal method is often a matter of preference, but should not inflame or anger the skin.