Different Types of of Hair Removal
FEELING hairy? You're not alone. Thankfully, you have several ways to deal with unwanted hair.
The easiest, fastest and least traumatic way to get rid of unwanted body hair, is clippering with a set of electric hair trimmers, also referred to as clippers.
The results don't last very long and the result won't be perfectly smooth, but clippering does hold its own special place in the list of hair removal methods, most notably in terms of convenience.
Next is shaving. Again, it's an easy option with the added advantage that you will get a smooth result at least for the short term. It doesn't last long because you're only removing the hair at the surface of the skin.
Stubble quickly reappears and shaving becomes a daily affair, with cuts, bumps, itching, and shaving rash soon becoming a new fact of life.
Depilatory Creams & Sprays
As for Creams, use them with caution. Depilatory creams (yes, sprays are the same thing in different packaging) have come under intense scrutiny during recent years.
Keratin, the substance which is targeted and dissolved by depilatory creams, is a vital substance in both hair and skin, and unfortunately the keratin in your skin can be damaged as well.
You also run the risk of absorbing chemicals into your blood, plus other more common symptoms such as pimples, folliculitis, skin aging, cracking, and thickening of the epidermis.
For the same short term result, you're better off shaving.
By a very long shot, the most common form of commercial hair removal is waxing. It removes the hair shaft and root, but unlike electrolysis, IPL and laser, waxing leaves the hair bulb intact.
New hair will usually regrow in 4-6 weeks but comes back finer after each treatment.
Electrolysis is an old but effective way of removing hair for the long term, as it destroys the bulb of each hair one at a time. The down side is that electrolysis is costly, quite painful, takes a very long time to perform, and requires many treatments.
All those negatives aside, electrolysis is regarded by most government and industry bodies as the only 100% permanent method of hair removal.
For that reason, only electrolysis can be advertised as 'permanent hair removal', where IPL and laser have to use the somewhat watered down term 'permanent hair reduction'.
Unfortunately, very few new therapists receive training in electrolysis as there are many big hurdles (in Australia at least) to become qualified nowadays. Due to those difficulties, it is becoming a dying art form and finding a reputable therapist can be difficult.
Several types of lasers are used for hair removal. Yag and Alexandrite are common examples. They differentiate from one another by frequency, with each type generally claiming to be the best and/or newest.
Laser achieves a lesser long-term result than electrolysis, however it can treat larger areas more quickly. In the 2020s, laser is usually only found in the franchised laser chains that you generally find at shopping centres.
Treatments are usually cheap but somewhat painful without a numbing cream. Results are not terribly consistent, which is reflected in most laser chains offering blocks of ten treatments. Low efficacy is partly due to the high staff turnover rate at discount laser clinics.
Trainee placements are quite common in order for students - who often pay for the privilege of working - to complete their mandatory clinic hours in order to become qualified. It is unfortunately the nature of the beast in many states of Australia. This low perception of the industry is one of the reasons I won't use laser equipment in my clinics any more.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
Last but definitely not least is IPL, or Intense Pulsed Light. It works in a similar manner to laser, i.e., a bright flash of light targets melanin in the hair with a pulse of heat energy.
The principal difference is that where laser operates on a pre-set wavelength, IPL is variable. It can operate on many frequencies between 430 and 1200 nM.
Filters can also be applied to enable the light to pass more effectively through different shades of skin.
With all of the above said, many different types of IPL are on the market. These range from the useless toy hair removal units you can buy from razor and shaver shops to high end medical grade equipment such as the PTF units we use at Reef.
Future improvements for IPL and Laser
Just as the various laser manufacturers all claim to be better than each other, the same can be said of IPL. There is always some new 'wonder variation' being offered to clinics, and really, it's nonsense.
SHR is probably the worst of these shonky offerings in recent years; a fast-flashing, low joule, high-shot-count, high-cost IPL variant designed to pump clients through quickly but with rubbish results. This horrible tech helped lead to the financial collapse of my main competitor in Brisbane and country Queensland several years ago.
So basically, do your research when shopping about for permanent hair reduction.
The reality is I have seen no major improvements to laser or IPL technology *released to the market* in the last 15 years. I emphasised that point because both technologies have developed as far as machine manufacturers want them to develop.
With both laser and IPL enjoying around 50% market share each, there is zero commercial value in manufacturers releasing more effective tech, as they will only sell less consumables.
Maybe one day we will finally see a variation of IPL or laser that effectively removes blonde, red, and grey hairs. Half the population still can't get IPL or laser due to their hair colour.
Back in the mid-2000s, a brand called ELOS was the most promising variant technology, combining IPL with RF (radio frequency), but it proved ineffective and fizzled out to nothing. So, that's it, for now at least.
Whatever method of hair removal you choose, remember that hair grows in cycles, and not all of your hair will be present at the time of treatment.
On the Articles index page, you can find more quick reads about the subject plus many other topics that delve into the human condition.
Have a brilliant day,