For as long as most of us can remember, women have been on the quest for smooth and hair free skin. Hair removal dates back to ancient Egypt and Roman times, with women making tweezers out of all sorts of materials and creating waxes with honey. The Romans even got classist with their body hair, where women with less hair were considered to be wealthier. Throughout the ages, women have concocted a range of hair removal remedies – from ammonia (from pets) and depilatory creams, to the first Gillette razor marketed to women.
While at Pure we fully support a woman’s choice to either keep or remove her hair, the fact is that there are still many questions surrounding the best hair removal method. So with all these methods available and the luxury of choice, how do you know which hair removal method is actually the best? In this blog we explore some common hair removal techniques, and provide a verdict on how effective they are.
Pros and cons of shaving
Obviously the biggest pro of shaving is how quick and easy it is! Many of us resort to a razor while on holiday to touch up those underarms and legs. However you may have also heard the rumor that shaving makes your hair grow back thicker/faster. This is actually untrue. As hairs grow out they rub on your clothes and other surfaces which tapers the ends, leaving them feeling thinner. When you shave, you cut the hair mid-way down leaving a blunt cut making the hair feel thicker. Remember that hair is not a live substance that can be stimulated, and the bulb that nourishes the hair cannot be stimulated from a razor above the skin to increase hair growth.
However this does present a con of shaving – the fact that you only cut the hair mid-way at the surface of your skin means it will grow back faster than other hair removal methods. This is especially true in warmer areas of your body like the bikini line and underarms, where heat stimulates hair growth. If you have thicker hair, you may find that you are more likely to develop ingrown hairs from shaving too, as the hairs curl after being shaved.
Verdict: A great, cost effective way to remove hair, but may not be the best option long term if you’re looking for longer lasting hair removal.
Pros and cons of depilatory creams
Depilatory creams work by applying an alkaline chemical concoction to your skin which breaks down the proteins of the hair, leaving the hair brittle enough to break off when you wipe the cream off. This leaves a rounded hair edge just below the surface of your skin. Because the hair is rounded, it may feel softer when it grows back compared to shaving. Hair growth also tends to appear a bit slower than shaving as the hair is removed slightly more than shaving.
However if you have sensitive skin you may find that depilatory creams can be quite irritating. If you are going to use these creams, it’s important to do a patch test on your skin first to see how you react. The ingredients in depilatory creams they can also smell bad, which is a challenge if you are sensitive to smells especially considering the wait time to ensure it has worked effectively.
Verdict: Great option for those who want an easy hair removal method at home that lasts longer than shaving, and only if you don’t have sensitive skin.
Pros and cons of epilators
Epilators are a good at home method for those who want longer lasting results from their hair removal. Epilators look a lot like electric shavers, however they work by plucking hairs individually from the hair root. This results in longer lasting hair removal, as you are pulling the hair out completely and not just cutting it off.
While epilators will last you a long time, they can be an expensive investment at first. The method can also be time consuming, particularly if you are epilating large areas like your legs – so make sure you’ve got time to dedicate to it! Lastly, epilating can be painful particularly when you’re starting out, and you can break hairs easily if you’re not doing it properly. Be sure to read your manual thoroughly first to ensure you’re making the most of your epilator.
Verdict: Great option for those who want longer lasting hair removal from home, and have the time to invest in regular removal.
Pros and cons of waxing
Various forms of waxing have been around for centuries, and for good reason. Waxing can either be done at home or professionally in a salon, and provides long lasting hair removal that can decrease hair growth over time. Waxing works by applying warm wax to your skin, and removing the wax either on its own or with a cloth to remove hair from the root. When you regularly remove the hair from the root, the hair root will eventually weaken and grow slower or stop growing altogether. This is a huge draw card for waxing, especially for those with thicker, darker hairs. Getting waxed professionally can provide less irritation to your skin, and is relatively quick and painless (depending on the skill level of the beautician). Professionals also have different wax types they can use on different areas of your body, depending on the sensitivity of your skin and level of precision needed for certain areas of your body. It may also be worthwhile to note that sugaring has not been proven to be any more beneficial than regular waxing.
Some cons of waxing can include the pain associated with removal, particularly when you first start with this method. If waxing at home, it’s important to follow any instructions carefully to avoid burning or pulling the skin (both of which are painful), or breaking hairs. If seeing a professional beautician, be sure to select someone you are comfortable with and who listens to your needs. An experienced beautician will support the skin properly which will be less painful, and will move quickly making it less time consuming for you. Unfortunately, sometimes you do need to pay more for a quality service, but if this ultimately leads to less hair growth it can be worthwhile (especially considering that your monetary investment is staggered over a longer period of time).
Verdict: Waxing is a great long term hair removal option (although we may be biased). At home waxing can be challenging, so professional services are generally more effective. Waxing can also be therapeutic if you find a beautician you can chat with!
Pros and cons of threading
Threading is the latest hair removal craze to sweep Western countries, however it has been used in Middle Eastern and Asian countries for a long, long time. Threading uses a piece of cotton thread to trap and essentially pluck the hair from the skin (so similar to an epilator). Threading can be quite precise and good for those who experience skin irritations (as nothing is applied to the skin), so is quite popular for facial hair removal.
Threading can be quite time consuming and expensive, so isn’t recommended for larger areas of your body. It’s also important to find a properly qualified beautician to ensure your skin isn’t pulled and damaged, and your hairs are actually removed instead of broken (this will result in longer lasting hair removal).
Verdict: Good for those who experience skin irritations from waxing, but may not be cost or time effective for larger areas of the body.
Pros and cons of laser hair removal
Laser hair removal treatments have grown in popularity in more recent years, mainly due to the fact that it visibly lessens hair growth quite quickly after treatment. Laser hair removal works by using intense pulsed light (IPL) technology which targets the melanin (dark colour pigment) in hairs, which essentially fries the hair and weakens the hair root. There are some at home treatments becoming more available, however these are not as strong as those offered in a professional setting (due to safety risks). Professional laser technicians are required in Australia to gain safety and operational certifications before using IPL technology on clients, to ensure the safety of everyone involved.
Laser hair removal generally works best on people with light skin and dark hair, as the laser is able to target the hair better. The number of treatments you will require depends on your hair and skin type, which can be discussed with a technician. Laser treatments can be expensive and do not guarantee that your hair will be removed completely, but can be effective at reducing the amount of hair you grow. It’s important to do your research carefully and ensure your technician is fully qualified, to avoid nasty laser burns and permanent scarring.
Verdict: Laser is a great option for people with thick, dark hair to reduce the amount of hair growth and can greatly improve the confidence of many women. Be prepared to do you research, and invest time and money into this treatment to achieve the best results.
So what’s the overall verdict?
I hope you now have a pretty thorough summary of the most popular types of hair removal available to you. As you can see, each removal technique will essentially provide a similar function, but may be more or less suitable to each individual. Everyone is different, and has different needs based on their skin, hair and lifestyle, so there really is no right or wrong option! Be sure to try a few methods to see what you’re most comfortable with and what works best for you.