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Permanent Hair Removal – The Science behind It

Permanent-Hair-Removal

You can love it or hate it but the politics with body hair never goes out of fashion. Some people prefer the au natural way and some like it gone. Out of all the beauty treatments, the most sought after are hair removal treatments. Removing body hair to get that silky-smooth skin has been a practice since dating back millennia. Only the techniques involved have changed or evolved over the years. You may find that you prefer to get rid of hair regularly and the time constraint doesn’t bother you or you may even opt for a more permanent hair removal solution. There are aspects of the permanent removal techniques that can be very confusing. You have to understand that when clinics promise you permanent it may not well, be forever. Also, how do you choose whether you even want permanent, to begin with? And if you do then what are the factors involved in that technique? You can gain complete insight on the knowhow of permanent hair removal through this article.

How Do We Define Permanent Hair Removal?

Hair generally grows all over the body barring the underside of hands, feet, and certain private areas. Some people are fortunate enough to have very little or sparse hair growth, but others are not so lucky. Hair growth also varies between the sexes. Men tend to be hairier than women and also have coarser hair. The deliberate act of removing unwanted hair from our body including facial hair is known as hair removal. It can involve various processes depending on the hair removal technique used. The two broad ways of achieving this state are:

  • Hair removal from the surface
  • Hair removal from the follicles

From the surface, removal is limited to shaving. The removal from follicle involves a few other techniques.

The Types of Hair Removal – Permanent and Temporary

A lot of options are available to you on the hair removal front. Following are the main types of permanent hair removal techniques:

  • Laser: This technique involves beaming a laser at the hair follicles thereby damaging the follicle and preventing fresh growth of hair. It targets the melanin in the hair. Therefore the darker the hairs better the results.
  • Intense Pulse Light (IPL): This technique is also based on selective photothermolysis targeting the melanin found in the hair follicles. But unlike laser, it applies concentrated pulses of light at the hair follicle. However despite what the name suggests these pulses are far from concentrated.
  • Electrolysis: It is the permanent form of removing unwanted hair. It’s the most progressive treatment for permanent hair removal. It works by delivering tiny current pulses with as little length as one-thousandth a second into the skin directly targeting the hair follicles. It can be used on any part of the body and offers a much better and effective solution than laser or IPL.

Intense Pulse Light, on the other hand, displays none of these three properties. And therefore, it cannot be classified as laser light. The traditional methods which are also temporary methods of hair removal include:

  • Waxing
  • Threading
  • Tweezing
  • Creams and ointments
  • Shaving

Is IPL the Same as Laser?

Many clinics simply try to pass off Intense Pulse Light (IPL) as laser treatment since both involve beaming “laser” at the hair follicle. IPL, however, is not a laser. It is a broad spectrum of wavelengths and hence cannot be beamed. It’s like a light bulb to be exact. It further has the following properties:

  • Monochromatic: This means that the light emitted by the laser is of one wavelength only ensuring uniformity.
  • Coherent: This implies that laser emits light which is reinforcing with each other and hence will not cancel each other out. It is because the light generated by the laser is of the same wavelength and phases, unlike the normal light which is made up of both different wavelengths and phases.
  • Collimated: Entails that the light is 100 percent parallel thereby making it very strong. This, in turn, allows for the laser to be very effective in the treatment giving you the optimal results.

Does Hair Removal Technique Depend on Your Skin Tone and Hair Colour?

When opting for permanent hair removal it is important to do your research. You need to understand which technique will suit your skin tone, texture and hair quality optimally, thereby wielding the best possible results. Following are a few guidelines to help you make the connection:

  • Laser removal works best for people with light to medium skin tone and having dark hair. The darker the hair the more melanin it has and hence it’s easier for the laser beam to target it and destroy the follicle.
  • Even IPL works best on lighter skin tones with darker hair. Darker skin tones have more melanin and the difference between the melanin concentration between skin and hair is reduced making the treatment difficult to administer. Coarser darker hairs are the most ideal for this technique.
  • Electrolysis is the only technique that works independently of the skin tone and hair color. It can be targeted and used by any with the best possible results.

How Fast Does Hair Grow?

On average body hair takes about a month to grow. It is also dependant on factors like:

  • Gender with male hair grow faster than female hair
  • Nutrition
  • Medication
  • Genetics
  • Age

It can be useful to know about the stages of hair growth as well. The three stages of hair growth are:

  • Anagen: The active phase lasting for about 2 to 8 years
  • Catagen: Transition phase when the hair stops growing. Lasts for 4 to 6 weeks
  • Telogen: Resting phase when the hair falls. Lasts for 2 to 3 months

About 90 to 95 percent of your hair follicles are in the “Anagen” phase. Of all these phases the hair removal techniques are best targeted at the “Anagen” phase when the hair is active and growing.

Pros and Cons of Permanent Hair Removal

With so many options available in the market making a choice can become a very daunting task. When you think about which hair removal method to use try to think systematically step by step. Here’s a guide to help you through this:

  • The first step will be choosing which resolution you want to opt for, temporary or permanent.
  • Based on the above decision, now decide on the technique you want to go for either in the permanent resolution or in the temporary resolution.

In choosing your resolution on whether you want it permanent on not you have to think about:

  • Personal preference: It is a very important factor. Some people just are not comfortable with a permanent solution. So first decide which solution is more comfortable for you.
  • Repetition: How often do you get your hair removed? If it’s regularly throughout the year then it makes more sense for you to opt for a permanent solution rather than temporary.
  • Budget: Money plays an important role. Remember that permanent solutions are more expensive than the traditional methods in the form of one-off cost and the subsequent follow up costs.
  • Pain: The temporary solutions are more painful especially waxing and threading than permanent solutions like laser treatment and electrolysis.

After deciding on the solution, the following list can help you to decide on the type. The advantages and disadvantages of various permanent hair removal techniques are:

  • Laser Hair Removal: The biggest advantage it has over other permanent hair removal techniques is that it is quick, relatively painless and gives good results. The biggest disadvantage is that it does not permanently remove hair. The possibility of your hair growing back eventually is very high. Also, it works best on the darker hair and lighter skin tone combination. Other risks involved are skin irritation, burns, and hyperpigmentation.
  • Intense Pulsed Light: This is a very inefficient way of hair removal largely because the light concentration is very light and cannot target the chromophores within the skin. The adverse effects include blistering, hyper-pigmentation, hypo-pigmentation and even scarring. All in all, it is an inferior method of hair removal especially in comparison to lasers.
  • Electrolysis: By far your best bet to permanent hair removal. Electrolysis is the only method that delivers on the permanency promise. It does not depend on the skin tone of the client and works effectively on both light and dark tones. It is also low on the side-effects.

The only flip side is that it is more painful than the other methods as well. Though the pain is not very intense and can be adjusted by the physician by adjusting the pace of the treatment. You might want to know the comparison factors for temporary removal techniques as well. Below are a few pointers on that:

  • Waxing: The most common method for hair removal. It is effective but very cumbersome and time-consuming. Further waxing also causes ingrown hair, skin allergies, and irritations.
  • Threading: Only suitable for a small area like the upper lips and eyebrows. It is also painful and causes skin irritations.
  • Plucking or Tweezing: Again, a painful method and a time-consuming method especially since every hair has to be removed singularly.
  • Creams and Ointments: Using chemical creams or ointments can cause skin allergies and rashes. Over time they spoil the skin texture and quality as well.
  • Shaving: Once again time-consuming but on the other hand it’s also painless. Will cause skin irritations though and itchiness.

Which Type is Best for You?

This is a very personal choice. Some people prefer waxing over threading and yet others prefer laser to electrolysis. In short, the type best suited for you is very subjective and conditional to your wants entirely. However, you should keep certain points in mind while making the decision:

  • Cost
  • Effectiveness
  • Pain
  • Recovery time
  • Skin type

In Preparation of Permanent Hair Removal

  • Pre-treatment counseling is given to the client to manage their expectations optimally
  • You need to mentally prepare yourself that multiple sessions will be required to get the desired result and understand the complications that can arise as well.
  • MayoClinic advises to avoid any other hair removal methods like shaving or waxing and limit sun exposure at least 6 weeks before the treatment date.
  • Avoiding blood-thinning medication.
  • Prepping the skin area to be treated with topical anesthetic ointment to ease the discomfort if judged necessary.

Is Removing Hair Permanently a Medical Procedure

There is debate on whether permanent hair removal techniques are a medical procedure or purely cosmetic treatment. Given the complications that can arise, and the risks involved it will be in your best interests to get the treatment done from an experienced physician as opposed to a beautician. Unfortunately, due to lack of regulation these treatments are available in the neighborhood “beauty salon”. But the rationale with these beauticians is that these treatments are minimally invasive and carry a lot less risk than the traditional hair removal options.

Settling Your Doubts

Some very basic questions that you must be wondering about at this point are:

  • What exactly eliminates hair permanently?
  • Can you get rid of hair permanently?
  • Is there a specific name for permanent hair removal?
  • What are the main ways of removing hair permanently?

The only treatment that eliminates hair permanently is electrolysis. Rest all are semi-permanent. So yes, hair can be removed permanently with the help of electrolysis. No there is no specific name as such for removing hair permanently. And lastly, the main ways of permanent hair removal are laser, IPL, and electrolysis.

Conclusion

Like it, love it and leave it or hate and remove it. It is all your choice. You have countless options at your fingertips or rather for your face, arms, and legs. Societal pressures aside remember that the choice is completely personal, and nature did put those hairs on your body for a reason. That said if you want a removal then that too is a very viable option with little to no side effects on the skin or body. Of course, a 100 percent assurance is impossible to give but statistically, you can simply close your eyes and go for it.

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