Safe, Effective and Painless Home Hair Removal Techniques
Home hair removal methods include shaving, tweezing, electronic tweezing, depilatory creams, home electrolysis units, bleaching, sugaring, threading, hair-reduction creams and home wax kits. But which to use?
Home Hair Removal Remedy #1: Shaving
Shaving remains the most popular form of home hair removal. However, more and more people are realizing the benefits of electrolysis, laser and home wax kits.
Shaving’s two main benefits are cost and implementation. It’s the cheapest form of home hair removal and can be completed in minutes (depending on the body part).
The most common problem with shaving is razor burn, which can lead into pseudofolliculitis barbae (PFB), a skin condition caused by enflamed hair follicles. To help prevent PFB, try a less clean shave. Leaving a small amount of stubble reduces inflammation significantly. A minor shortcoming is that skin feels less smooth, but stubble will grow back quickly anyways.
Another frequent side effect is when curly hair grows back into the skin and causes infection.
PFB should not be confused with folliculitis. Both conditions are direct results of hair follicle inflammation, though folliculitis causes boils on the skin. Folliculitis can be treated creams or through permanent hair removal.
- Shave every other day (reduces skin irritation)
- Shave each area only once
- Use mild anti-bacterial cleansers
- Keep the skin loose when shaving
- Add 2 drops of 100% tea tree oil to shaving cream
Home Hair Removal Remedy #2: Tweezing
Tweezing is a fast and effective way to remove hairs from a small region. Its results are more long-lasting than shaving because it removes the hair at the root (instead of cutting the hair at the surface of the skin). However, hair may grow back thicker, faster and darker after repeated tweezings.
Tweezing is a time consuming process and should only be used on small areas such as eyebrows or above the lips. Tweezing can cause discomfort; to minimize this, apply ice to numb the area prior to tweezing. Topical creams such as lidocaine and benzocaine are effective as well, but must be applied at least an hour before tweezing.
You can train hair regrowth based on which way you tweeze. For example, if you tweeze with a downward motion, hair will most likely grow downward. This doesn’t happen overnight; several tweezings must be done to achieve this.
Home Hair Removal Remedy #3: Depilatories
Depilatories are chemicals which remove hair just below the skin, but not the root. Depilatories come in many forms: lotions, creams, gels, aerosol sprays and roll-ons are among the most popular. Regardless of form, depilatories use calcium thioglycolate, sodium thioglycolate and sodium hydroxide to dissolve the hair.
These chemicals break down the keratin in hair, causing it to break away from the skin. The hairs clump together with the depilatory and are removed at the same time.
New hair, if growing just below the surface, may appear shortly after.
Pros of Depilatories
- Inexpensive for of hair removal (cheaper than waxing, not as cheap as shaving)
- Hair grows back smoother
Cons of Depilatories
- Results do not last as long as waxing
- Increased risk of infection and skin disease
- Unpleasant odor
Home Hair Removal Remedy #4: Abrasives
Abrasives for hair removal include sandpaper, pumice stones and abrasive gloves. Abrasives only remove hair from the skin’s surface; they do not remove hair at the root.
Generally, smaller abrasives are used for smaller body regions. Hair removal on the lip, for example, calls for an abrasive wand, while leg hair removal is done with abrasive gloves.
It should be noted abrasives only work on fine hair, not on frequently shaved hair.
Unlike shaving, skin should be held taut when using abrasives. Run your hand first clockwise, then counter-clockwise until the hair has been removed. Care should be taken to not irritate the skin.
Pros of Abrasives
- Cheaper than most home hair removal remedies
- Can be done quickly and painlessly
Cons of Abrasives
- Fast regrowth of hair (similar to shaving)
- Can irritate skin if done improperly
- Should not be used by anyone using Retin A or microdermabrasion treatments
Home Hair Removal Remedy #5: Electronic Tweezing
Electronic tweezing is often – and illegally – marketed as home electrolysis. The FDA has forbidden this labeling – only electrolysis can be labeled permanent hair loss – but many spas and salons continue this practice.
The electronic tweezing method uses a high-frequency pulse which is supposed to kill the hair at the root. The problem with this, however, is that the frequency is easily diverted. In fact, the level of frequency needed to destroy the root would completely burn off the hair before ever getting that deep. In other words, this method is simply a more expensive method of conventional tweezing.
In addition, electronic tweezers emit radiation, and should not be used by anyone with a pacemaker or current skin disease (or sunburns).
It is our opinion electronic tweezing should not be used by anyone. It is largely ineffective, costly and poses potential health risks.
Home Hair Removal Remedy #6: Home Electrolysis Kits
Home electrolysis kits should not be on the market. It requires a professional’s experience to determine the length of hair, the angle of growth and its different phases of growth. In addition, even experienced technicians find it nearly impossible to work on themselves: magnification is necessary for locating each individual hair.
Home electrolysis kits often carry a limited 1-year warranty. This does not guarantee permanent hair removal – like professional electrolysis – it only covers defective parts.
In this technique, fingers are dipped into a saline solution (salt water); this provides the conductor for electrical current. The user places on hand on a touch-band (to close the circuit) and inserts a small needle (called a stylet) into the hair follicle. The frequency is then increased until a tingling sensation is noted, presumably when the stylet has reached the hair root’s center.
Note: home electrolysis kits should not be used by anyone with a pacemaker, diabetes, hepatitis, scleroderma, lupus or any other skin disease.
Improper use of home electrolysis kits are widespread. Failure to correctly insert the needle into the hair makes hair removal impossible and can cause damage to the skin.
Home Hair Removal Remedy #7: Hair Reduction Creams
Note: Hair reduction creams are not hair removers, they merely reduce the number of hair removal treatments during a given time-frame.
The most effective hair reduction creams are on a prescription-only basis, most notably eflornithine. Eflornithine is an FDA approved hair reduction remedy which reduces hair growth by slowing the metabolic activity of hair follicles, thereby reducing the amount and rate of hair growth.
Use of hair reduction creams take 4 – 8 weeks to see results. Creams may be applied frequently; hair will grow back to its original state within 8 following termination of treatment.
Pros of Hair Reduction Creams
- No health concerns
- Ease of use and application
- Reduces cost of hair removal remedies by slowing hair growth
Cons of Hair Reduction Creams
- Can be expensive without insurance
- Prescriptions are often needed
- Temporary redness and skin irritation may follow treatment
Home Hair Removal Remedy #8: Home Wax Kits
An incredible variety of home wax kits await consumers. From cold wax to microwavable wax, the most common applications are either a spatula or rolled on directly from the container. The hair is then removed via small strips.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of home wax kits is privacy. There are a number of body parts that are either too difficult or uncomfortable for the professional to reach. Home waxing provides a solution to both concerns.
The more expensive home waxing kits have instructional videos which guide consumers step-by-step through the home hair removal process. The amount of instruction, however, is no substitute for hands-on training and experience. Novices may mistakenly apply or remove the wax, causing the hair to snap and leave the roots behind (and thereby defeating the purpose of waxing). These broken hairs can lead to folliculitis, a common skin irritation.
Waxing at home can also get messy fast. Prior to waxing, take proper precautions to ensure surfaces are not affected from waxing.
Pros of Home Wax Kits
- Cheaper than professional treatment
- Can be done whenever, wherever
- Complete privacy
Cons of Home Wax Kits
- Can be very messy if not properly planned
- Incorrect application can lead to broken hairs and skin irritation
- Many areas are hard to reach
- Waxing in the wrong direction may not effectively remove hair
In conclusion, there are many home remedies for hair removal but choosing the right one depends upon a number of factors. Review each above before deciding which is right for you.