Modest Style

Hair Removal: The Long and Short of It

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Tired of dealing with regrowth on your body every 48 hours, it seems? Check out what these futuristic and old-school hair removal methods have to offer, and say bye-bye to embarrassing stubble forever (well, almost!). By Patricea Chow-Capodieci.

AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA
AFP PHOTO / YASUYOSHI CHIBA

Our body hair exists not merely to annoy—it has various roles: to control body temperature, reduce friction on contact areas such as under the arms, and aid in non-verbal communication between humans by way of trapping pheromones, which is very helpful for a tiny baby to pick out Mommy from among many mothers present.

As humans and the variety of personal products evolve, the purpose of body hair becomes less obvious. Coupled with our quest for flawless beauty, the presence of body hair is today regarded as unsightly and thus, it is to be removed.

With the development of science and technologies, there are many hair removal methods using laser, which some consider to be more effective than more traditional methods such as waxing or sugaring, shaving or epilating in delaying the regrowth of hair. Aquila Style rounds up popular methods of hair removal, both modern and time-honoured.

LASER HAIR REMOVAL METHODS

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

IPL uses light of various wavelengths to remove hair at the roots

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) uses a process called photothermolysis, more commonly referred to as photorejuvenation or photofacial, which uses the melanin in hair to convert light energy to heat energy to remove hair. A full spectrum of light wavelengths is used to destroy hair at the roots. Some practitioners claim that this provides a larger range for the intensity of ‘burn’ to target hair follicles with and causes less trauma to the skin. Yet others claim that this wide spectrum gives less precision in treating certain areas, which may result in unintentional burning or less effective hair removal. IPL costs less than most other laser hair treatment methods, though, and this makes it a popular hair removal choice.

Areas of Treatment
Face, bikini, chest, back and underarms

Duration per Session
Depending on the area to be treated, an IPL session can last from 15 minutes to beyond an hour. Usually a total of four to five sessions, spaced two weeks apart, are required for significant results to show

Attention
This treatment is effective only on hair that is still growing, as it attacks the roots. To support this, the treatment area should be shaved two days prior to a session.

Cost per Session
From US$100

Light & Heat Energy (LHE)

A variation of IPL, LHE lasers provide higher control of the light and heat used in removing hair. The overall energy emitted by LHE lasers is lower than that of IPL, making it a preferred option for those with low pain threshold.

Areas of Treatment
While it is good for large areas like the chest, back and legs, LHE can also treat more sensitive regions like the face, bikini area and underarms.

Duration per Session
From 15 minutes to one hour. Around six to 10 sessions, spaced anywhere from three to eight weeks apart, are required for total hair removal.

Attention
The treatment area should not have been exposed to direct sunlight, tanning or other hair removal methods within three weeks of a treatment session. Make sure stubble of 1 to 2mm is present on the day of treatment.

Cost per Session
From US$60

Nd:YAG

Pronounced ‘en-dee-yag’, this laser treatment typically delivers a 1,064-nanometre wavelength of light to zap hair follicles. Nd:YAG is commonly used together with a device or spray that simultaneously applies super-cooling liquid cryogen to the skin’s surface to counter heat from the laser. This reduces pain without the need for topical anaesthetic. Treated over an extended period of time, hair regrowth becomes thinner and more delayed. Immediately after the treatment, a non-irritant skin-soothing lotion such as aloe vera gel is applied to soothe the treated area.

Areas of Treatment
Suitable anywhere, including the legs, face, underarms and bikini region.

GENERAL NOTE 

Results of each treatment differ from person to person, and also on the area treated. The general advice is to avoid exposure to direct sunlight for a minimum of 24 hours after each session and to not apply any essential oil, body lotion, deodorant, makeup, or alcohol-based products like perfume or aftershave.

Duration per Session
Depends on the area being treated, but starts from 15 minutes. A four to eight week lapse is normal before another session is required, and it may take between two and six sessions for hair growth to be significantly reduced.

Attention
Depending on the sensitivity of your skin, it is possible to experience redness on the treatment area together with either lightening or darkening of the affected skin area. It is also advisable to avoid prolonged exposure to direct sunlight for one to two weeks before and after each treatment to minimise any pigmentation effects.

Cost per Session
From US$100

Diode Laser

This type of laser hair removal treatment is recommended for people with dark skin and hair because its longer light wavelengths can penetrate more deeply under the skin. The range of diode laser equipment available includes Soprano(XLi), SLP 100 and LaserLite. All use a wavelength of 800 to 810 nanometres at fast repetition rates, which means this laser treatment works well in removing hair from large areas in as few sessions as possible. This form of hair removal does not require the application of any form of anaesthetic, as it is supposedly pain-free.

Areas of Treatment

Back, chest, legs, underarms, bikini

Duration per Session

Approximately 30 minutes, and it is recommended that a five-session treatment be spread out over six to 10 months.Attention Risks include burns, scars, discolouration, redness or swelling after each treatment if not administered by qualified practitioners. It is not recommended on areas where there is infection.

Cost per Session

From US$90

TIME-HONOURED HAIR REMOVAL METHODS

Waxing or Sugaring 

Waxing removes hair from the roots. These methods use cold or hot wax to remove hair from the roots. The latter is a mixture of honey and resin heated to slightly above normal body temperature.Hot wax is applied with a wooden spatula to the area of hair removal and allowed to cool for about 30 to 60 seconds. This enables it to enter the follicles and stick to hair roots. A strip of fabric is then smoothed down in the direction of hair growth over the wax, and immediately yanked off with a quick action in the opposite direction. Cold wax is most commonly found on pre-coated fabric strips that follow the same method of application and removal.

Sugaring is similar to waxing except that a sugar- or honey-based substance is used in place of wax, purportedly causing less pain than waxing. Treated this way over an extended period of time, fewer hairs grow back, and even if some do, they are finer than before.

Areas of Treatment

Most body parts including eyebrows, upper lip, underarm and the pubic region.

Duration per Session

From 10 minutes (upper lip, eyebrows, chin) to 30 minutes (upper or lower limbs, crotch, back or chest). The treated area remains hair-free for approximately three weeks—some individuals get up to eight hair-free weeks before another session is required.

Attention

For waxing to be effective, hair has to be at least 0.5cm long. Some people may experience soreness and redness on the waxed area, which should dissipate within 24 hours. The general advice is to protect the affected area from direct sunlight for 24 hours and avoid applying alcohol or perfume to the waxed area.

Cost per Session

From US$38 at salons and from US$25 for store-bought waxing systems.

Threading

This ancient method of removing facial hair involves the twisting and manipulating of two strands of cotton threads in such a way that they spiral up and down to grab bits of hair and yank them out. Threading is usually done sans any cream, lotion or chemicals. It is extremely popular in places like India, China and Egypt. In the past few years, there has been a resurgence of threading in modern cities like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Areas of Treatment

Most ideal for the face

Duration per Session

Under expert and deft hands, threading eyebrows takes between two and five minutes, and the entire face should take no more than 15 minutes.

Attention

As hair has to be at least 2mm for threading to be effective, an experienced pair of hands is required—otherwise there is a high chance of hair breakage not at the roots, resulting in regrowth that may be thicker.

Cost per Session

From US$4.90 for upper or lower lip, US$6.50 for fingers, US$8 for forehead or chin, US$16 for cheeks or sideburns; from US$32 for women and US$38 for men (full face).

Pictures PHOTOLIBRARY

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