In a culture in which smooth skin is regarded as sexy, women in the United States continue to try different hair removal methods and products. Many of these methods, such as laser hair removal and electrolysis, are cost prohibitive and time consuming. However, there are more affordable options to choose from, even if they aren’t as long-lasting.
Razors and Gels
Shaving is a temporary method of hair removal that is quick and inexpensive, requiring little more than a razor and bar of soap. Results last typically one to two days. Look for shave gels and foams with emollients, such as aloe and vitamin E, to lubricate your legs for a better shave. Emollients also protect against dryness. There are two types of razors to shave legs: disposable and electric. Electric razors protect against cuts, but they don’t provide as close a shave as disposables. A triple-blade razor with built-in lubricant strips will give a close shave while protecting your skin. To avoid nicks and ingrown hairs, soften hair with warm water and shave only in the direction hair grows.
Depilatories are creams or lotions that dissolve hair and cause it to grow back much slower and softer than shaving, reducing the appearance of stubble. You can find depilatories in most grocery stores and drug stores for a nominal price, usually between $5 and $10, as of 2010. Depilatories also come specially formulated to target specific areas of your body, such as your face, legs or bikini line. Just don’t forget to try a small area first to gauge your reaction to the chemicals.
Hot or cold waxing is a longer-lasting method of hair removal that can be done anywhere on the body. Because waxing removes the root, bulb and shaft of unwanted hair growth, the results can last up to a month. Michelle Surniuk, a waxing technician who works for Beyond Day Spa at Hackensack University Medical Center, uses a soy-based wax on her clients. It sticks to the hair and not the skin, causing less pain and irritation. Though you can buy at-home wax kits, Surniuk suggests visiting a professional. Waxing leaves skin vulnerable to infection, so it’s important to do the procedure in a clean environment.
Tweezing removes hair at the root, so hair takes anywhere from three to eight weeks to grow back. Because each hair must be removed individually, tweezing is best for smaller areas, such as eyebrows. Epilators are devices that mimic tweezing, though they are intended for larger areas, such as legs. Threading is a relatively new technique in the United States. Like tweezing, threading removes individual hairs at the root. During threading, a technician holds a piece of twisted thread between her hands and works it back and forth across the skin. The twisting motion removes the hair.
Eflornithine is a prescription cream that blocks the enzyme that stimulates hair growth. Dr. Joel Schlessinger, president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology, explains that due to cost, eflornithine should be used only for small areas on the face, such as the upper lip. For women who suffer from hirsutism, an overgrowth of hair related to an overproduction of hormones called androgens, doctors can prescribe certain birth control pills or anti-androgens medication.
- Shaving 1 image by Bruno Bernier from Fotolia.com