Hair removal is something of a lifelong chore for many women. The amount of money, time and effort we spend on the various processes can add up over the years. That is why it is always a good practice to know what will work for you, and the factors you should think about before shelling out the dough – it’s a long term commitment after all.
Regardless of whether you want to get rid of that fuzz on your legs, underarms, or bikini line – IPL, shaving, waxing and sugaring are all options to consider. So if you need some help deciding on a hair removal technique, keep reading find out more about the various hair removal processes. If you're more of a visual learner, check out our video above!
Shaving is arguably one of the cheapest forms of hair removal. Additionally, you have the convenience of doing it at home and it is also relatively pain-free compared to the other hair removal methods.
Contrary to popular belief, shaving does not change the thickness, colour or rate of growth of your body hair. According to Mayoclinic, shaving facial or body hair gives the hair a blunt tip that might feel a little rough or “stubbly” when it starts to grow out. During this phase, the hair might be a little more noticeable and might appear thicker and darker even though it really is not.
So if you feel the most comfortable with a razor, make sure to take some steps to make the process smoother like shaving after a shower or a bath to soften the hairs and or using a shaving gel to facilitate the shave and ensure the razor glides smoothly over your skin to prevent nicks, cuts, rash and razor bumps.
Razor and personal care products giant, Gilette, also recommends using a light touch with short strokes. The direction you shave will vary according to body part. If you are shaving your legs, shave from the ankles up. For the underarms, you want to shave in all directions (up, down and sideways). If you are working on the bikini area, you want to start by shaving in the direction of the hair grown (inwards) before going in the opposite direction for an extra-close shave.
If you want something that will target a large amount of hair at once and leave the skin hair-free for a longer period,
Waxing is typically done with either warm or cool wax that hardens against the area of skin with unwanted hair. It is then removed quickly (in the direction opposite of the hair growth), taking the roots along with it. That said, this practice is not for everyone.
According to an entry in healthline, waxing can cause some pain and temporary irritation – just like when you pull a bandaid off your hairy skin. The pain you experience will vary based on your skin’s sensitivity, pain tolerance, amount of hair and the area of your body that is being waxed. Waxing can also give rise to complications like ingrown hairs if the hair grows out under a layer of skin or if the hair shaft breaks below the skin. Bleeding is also another possible side effect that may occur during the waxing process. This happens because some parts of the epidermis is stripped off along with your hair.
While minor pain and irritation is inevitable after the first few minutes of waxing, other side effects like ingrown hair and bleeding are preventable. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends avoiding the use of skincare products containing retinol and prescription retinoids two to five days prior to waxing your face to avoid removing skin along with your hair. Also, never wax sunburned or very sensitive skin, and don’t wax if you have taken isotretinoin in the last six months.
Shaving and waxing are temporary methods of removing hair so they remove the hair shafts but leave the hair follicles intact, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), on the other hand, is a permanent hair removal method that results in the destruction of follicles and hair roots.
IPL uses a bright light which is converted to heat energy which travels through the tissue of the skin until it hits the hair shafts (or the bulb or root) of the hair and destroys them. Hence, with multiple sessions of treatment, it is possible to achieve long-term hair reduction. While the treated area will not be completely hair-less after laser hair removal treatments, the remaining hairs may be lighter in colour and finer in texture.
According to the National Skin Centre (NSC), IPL can cause minor side effects like swelling and pigmentation in some patients (especially those with darker skin). That said, these side effects will usually resolve with the use of SPF products and medication.
To prevent unwanted side effects, the NSC also suggests avoiding excessive sun exposure four weeks before treatment and waxing or plucking two weeks prior to the treatment. It is also advisable to shave the hairs short three to five days before the laser treatment.
Sugaring is an all-natural hair removal method that involves rolling a sugaring paste (usually made with lemon, sugar and water) onto the skin, and using a flicking motion to get rid of the hair follicles from the root.
This method is also said to reduce the risk of skin trauma, scarring, redness and irritation seen with other methods like waxing, according to a research paper entitled “Sugaring-Modern Revival of an Ancient Egyptian Technique For Hair Removal” published in the journal, JAMA Dermatology.
Unlike waxing that can only be applied to hairs that is 1/4 inch or longer, sugaring can be used on hairs as small as 1/16 inch. Additionally, sugaring also provides moisture to the skin and is hypoallergenic by nature, making it great for those with sensitive skin. More importantly, its water-based formula penetrates the follicle more easily, removing additional hairs with less breakage, which means that it’ll take a longer time for the hair to regrow.